Horse Trailer Conversion?

Hey, long time reader, first time caller. I've got this idea to build an aluminum flatbed for my truck and convert a horse trailer into a slide-on cabover camper.

First issue, even most of the nice horse trailers out there are too narrow for my purposes. My truck is a dually and I'd like to cover the wheels up with an 8' wide bed and camper. Ideally the front of the box be living quarters with a covered rear area framed in with some tubing so it stays together when dismounted. Ideally big enough to pull the jeep or chevette onto, or the bike, etc.

Widening a horse trailer seems like a pain but I'm here to ask for opinions about it. Making the roof sturdy enough to have a second level would be awesome. Cutting the tongue would probably destabilize the cabover area, I'm not sure though. I need to get in a few trailers and have a look at how they're framed. The flooring and axle removal is another thing. Not to mention I'm hoping I can get away with a 15ft bed (maybe rollback) without having to lengthen the frame or wheelbase. I've considered a tandem axle as well but seems like overkill.

Anyhow, great to be here. Any ideas?


Expedition Leader
I remember YEARS ago someone asked about converting a horse trailer to a camper..... many people posted they are REALLY heavy! That is all I know.
I've thought about cutting one down in the back to allow the loading of a Jeep and convert, or better yet start with a trailer that the front of is living quarters...


Expedition Leader
Eclipse Aluminum Trailers in Ohio will make a custom design for you. Ask them to make a trailer, but leave out the suspension, wheels and hitch! I think a trailer designed for two horses will be 8 feet wide.
I'm not sure what truck you have, but nice horse trailers are expensive and cutting one up to widen, remove axles, remove fenders, possibly shorten , somehow mount and make it look somewhat nice seems like a waste of a good trailer and making a lot of work. There are tons of custom box builds, some are built from scratch and others started with a commercial truck body. I would read these forums for a while and you might come up with a better idea.
The truck is rated for about 3500lbs onboard, but I know it could do a little better. It's only 2wd though. I think stripping the weight from the horse trailer, widening and whatnot would be more expensive than just copying the general shape and a couple features into a build from the ground up. However there are a lot of old horse trailers around here. I'm just trying to do something cheap and spacious on a big flatbed. I'll figure it out.


West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
I have a small, two axle horse trailer we have up armored for a trash trailer in Bear Country. It is heavy. I would say at least 2000 pounds. They are made heavy enough so the horses don't kick their way out of the stall. It doesn't even keep the bears out! They pulled the 1/2" bars down and helped themselves to an anniversary leftover party.

Those claws were powerful: Bear pop tops.

My advice for a trailer based camper that would fit on a 8 to 12 foot flat bed would be an old Hi-Low trailer where the walls crank up like an Alaskan Camper. Remove the rolling trailer part. Or just get an long Alaskan.
If you do happen to succeed in making a horse trailer work, by all means post the results.
Just to dig this back up, I'm not really afraid of the weight, although saving some is nice. Seems with what I may do to the truck its load capabilities are gonna be pretty high, and I do like the idea of something so sturdy you can walk around on it. Maybe even a pop-up over the cab section. So a "rollback-esque" flatbed complete with frame enhancements, maybe even to the tune of a third axle, although it's not necessary with a boxed stretched frame.

The only thing that seems better than a gutted horse trailer would be a 20" shipping container notched for the cab. Also very heavy, but within range. Extremely tough.

If it were a ground-up build (which the bed will probably be) bent alloy tube would be lovely, with some bedliner or some kinda coating thrown on the metal. Or since you guys seem into it, thin wood studs (but I'd still like to slather something over it to make it a little time resistant at least)

The bed itself would be cool in aluminum as well, but I'd say I'm gonna be using treadplate steel for the deck and steel tubing for frame, some kinda storage boxes underneath. Maybe try to save weight with those at least, I dunno.

Any tips, insights? Questions?
I don't have any first-hand experience, but I've seen cargo trailer builds where people installed RV-style slide-outs for extra width room inside. Could be a solution for a more straight forward install, if you could call it that, more so than reconfiguring the whole trailer structure.
Well doing some research, I'm still unsure whether or not my frame can handle the potential weight of a car and shipping container (that's the would-be camper this week) no matter how boxed or long it is. It may be able, maybe not. In which case I've been looking at the medium and heavy duty chebbies of the era, asking around, and the body work to have a crew cab may or may not be worth it, depending on the truck I can find. Folks seem to prefer the dedicated brands for big trucks but finding one will cost it seems, especially with the right drivetrain and a crew cab, so I'm entertaining ideas. Ideas of how to build a big truck like this and how to build something more modest that uses what I've already got are both nice. I've got options, at least. The body on something totally different is an idea I can't say no to, however if it's an M35A2, I think I'd rather just find two and build a crew cab of it. It's a different kinda pretty, and the drivetrain is definitely one I like. However, I'm also down with the idea of chopping up a bus to do this, given what I've seen lately. Lots of ways to do this.