After years of searching for a tent trailer that I could haul my toys and sleep my family of 4 comfortably, I decided to build my own, that's kind of what I wanted to do from the start. I enlisted some good friends that helped with the welding and fabrication. The concept of setting up camp in minutes was my goal so that I could get off to chasing my kids and enjoy being outside.
I started with a steel frame on a torsion style axle. I decided that since I drive a '04 Tacoma in the mountains of Colorado that I should have brakes on the trailer to control down hill decents on gravel roads better. I also wanted the wheels to be the same bolt pattern as my truck so that my truck spare could double as a trailer spare, besides it just looks cool. I tend to need a utility trailer on occasion so I built the camper separate from the trailer so that the camper can be removed like a topper and stored. Leaving a 10ft long utility trailer. I added 2 locking boxes on the sides for more secure storage that could be accessed with the trailer in the travel position. I also added a locking box at the tongue for the electronics and more storage. On each side I left open shelves to carry anything that didn't need to be locked or kept dry, like fire wood and water tanks.
Next I had friends help me fabricate an aluminum lid that could be built in parts and assembled after the pieces were powder coated. I had the parts powder coated white to reflect as much high altitude sun as possible and to match my truck since I had the opportunity. I also wanted to the ability to secure my bike rack to the trailer so I installed aluminum slip clip tracks. I then epoxied a carpet liner into the top and installed a LED light.
Creating a system to lift the lid like a tonneau cover on my truck posed to be more difficult than I first thought. I tried to calculate the lift power I would need and after some bad math used the rule that bigger is better. I was then able to fabricate the fold out beds for each side of the trailer using an aluminum frame to keep weight down, with sheet aluminum welded to the frames. Simple angle brackets that would fold away were added to support the beds as kickers. This makes the set up go twice as fast since I don't have to dig around for the poles.
With all the systems working correctly without interference I decided to start the canopy portion. I enlisted a local tent and awning company that had access to the proper sized sewing machines/tables and could get flame resistant materials. We added ventilation windows at the lower part of the tent (near my feet when I'm sleeping) and then 2 near the doorway. I also picked up an aluminum tent pole that I could create an awning over the entry for added protection from the sun and rain.
For beds I used a high density 3" upholstery cushion that could be trimmed to fit the space properly and then covered with removable sheets. The 3" foam is just the right amount to get a comfortable night sleep. Any less and I think I would feel like I slept on the floor. Since the camper portion is basically installed atop a utility trailer there is a lot of room for storage under the beds while the trailer is set up for camping and even more when on the road. The steel tailgate is a little on the heavy side and might get switched out with aluminum at some point but it does the job. I also installed a locking latch on the tailgate so everything inside can be locked while traveling.
So far I've been out a dozen times with the trailer and haven't had any problems. Although next time I will move the axle back on the trailer about 6-12" to aid in my departure angle. The tent is perfect sized for my family of 4 and has held up very well to the weather. We sat out a 2 hour long downpour in Estes Park with the door open and nothing got wet. Then this summer we endured some of Wyomings wonderfull wind. It held up great, in fact better than I thought a soft sided camper would. I was delibrate in parking the hinged end towards the west when we arrived. I hope to get some more pictures of the trailer out being used soon.