The 4x4 Podcast Expedition Trailer Build Journal

I interviewed Scott from Dinoot Trailers on my podcast a long time ago and ever since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about building a trailer for my adventures. The biggest thing doing me though was the logistics of moving. Let me explain a bit. I drive a 99 Jeep Cherokee. My wife drives a 2007 Yukon XL. Since I'm in the Army, I frequently move across the country. To save money and travel more comfortably as a family with the 3 kids and a dog, we like to all ride in the Yukon and tow the XJ on a car hauler trailer. My 16' car hauler just wasn't big enough to hold the Jeep and an expedition trailer. In June I'll be moving for the 10th time in 10 years. But the difference is that this time we're heading to Alaska! The more important bit here is that the Army is paying to haul one vehicle for me. That means my XJ can take a commercial transport up to Alaska and I can haul an expedition trailer across the country and I'll the Alaskan highway!

I'm so excited that is finally my turn to start building a trailer! The first step was selling my car hauler. So I posted it up on Craigslist for the same price that I paid for it 7 years ago.

Within 24 hours of listing it, I had $1300 cash in my hands! Now on to the the new project.

I bought their extreme duty 4x8 trailer frame and some other bits to get started. I'm ordering the Explorer Box plans from Compact Camping Concepts. The finer details of the plan aren't set yet but here's some of the things I'm thinking right now.

- I want to be able to remove the box and use the trailer to haul general cargo occasionally.
- I want to haul a family load of bicycles
- Needs too have a propane tank, fresh water tank, a spot for my chuck box, a cooler, on board battery for 12 volt stuff, and other camping kit of course
- I'm thinking about having the box fully enclosed for security and to keep to things from being abused too much on the gravel roads
- I will likely swap the able to a heavier one and the tires to match the Yukon size/bolt pattern
- I am also planning on adding a stick of 2x2 square running the length of the trailer for added strength

I'm looking forward to working on this and starting to use it. It's going to be a lot of fun and will of course be great content for The 4x4 Podcast.


Typos courtesy of Tapatalk
Thanks! It's been a lot of hard work in addition to my day job and having a family. I'm looking forward to this build serving as a project for the whole family.

Well, maybe not the whole family.

I worked on it for a few hours today.

My 7yr old photographer caught some of the action.

Gotta make sure everything is square.

And now it's a rolling trailer! This week I'll do the wiring and bring home the lumber to start building the box. And of course order some additional bits and components. First thing to order is some different springs and a mount that involves a proper leaf spring setup with a shackle. I also need to replace the axle with a 3500lb one. And source some wheels to match the bolt pattern in my Yukon.




Expedition Leader
Hi Dan,

Looks like it's going to a fun build. Scott has some some great ideas, and time proven methods.

Good luck with the build, be sure to use lots of glue and screws!
When I buy lumber, I'm going to get a bucket of glue as well. And all joints will be held together with a combination of pocket hole screws and dados. And then sealed up for water resistance. The paint finish is something I'm still trying to work out though.

Typos courtesy of Tapatalk
So I'm putting together the list of essential components. Here's my list so far but I feel like I'm overlooking some items.

Fresh water storage - 20 gallon minimum
Deep cycle battery with ability to charge from vehicle while towing and shore power
Propane storage
Luggage storage
Chuck box does storage
LED camp lights
Shower/toilet tent
Hot water shower system
Gas can storage
Solar - I'm not sold on this yet because I'll be moving each day, therefore also charging, so is solar necessary? Maybe I can leave that for stage 2 once I get past the initial use expedition.

What am I missing?

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Expedition Leader
Sleeping bag(s)/pad storage(s)

Rear stabilizers

12V water pump

Some USB/12V outlets

folding table/chairs

Stackable boxes/containers to hold gear
Solar is definitely out for stage one of the project. I've heard that the 7 pin connector is not sufficient to charge the battery if it'd really drained. So I've purchased the T-Max dual battery system. It comes with the isolator, the monitor, and some other bits. It has some intelligence to it so it knows when to charge and when to isolate. It also gives me the option to "self jump" in the event that my starting battery goes flat. That also gives me the flexibility to have a dual battery setup while exploring in my XJ and the trailer.

I also purchased the pieces for the hot water shower. That includes the Triton tankless water heater, a 12 volt pump, and a 20 gallon molded tank.

It was kind of an expensive trip to

Today was a really big day in the trailer build. I didn't actually do any building, but I picked up a whole bunch of important pieces. I picked up the marine grade plywood from a real lumber yard, not a big box store. Marine grade plywood is usually not stocked at your average store. it's constructed with much better materials and a stronger more durable adhesive between the plies. I also picked up a piece of square tubing to run the length of the trailer to stiffen it up. I also picked up a set of used wheels that match the bolt pattern and size on the Yukon. The last stop before heading home was to the trailer shop. There I had one of the guys help me measure for the right width for the new axle. The new axle with the correct hubs and bearings should arrive in about 2 weeks. Tomorrow I'll make a trip to the regular big box store to pick up a couple boxes of screws a bucket of glue, and some less important pieces of wood for the assembly.

I expect to receive a replacement set of springs and a spring hanger bracket this weekend. And it's a good thing too! Because these this slipper springs are complete garbage! The maiden voyage with the trailer went well but I still avoided the highway because it was bouncing like crazy.

This weekend I expect to see some pretty serious progress on this trailer project.

Typos courtesy of Tapatalk
Oh I nearly forgot to share the animated rendering of what I think the finished trailer will look like. There's two trailers in the clip but that is just a way to show it in two different configurations.

This weekend I spent quite a bit of time working the trailer but I also had more interruptions than I had expected. The first job was to attach the base board. I want to be able to remove the box on occasion and be left with basically a flat bed trailer.*

First thing was to clearance the wood around the trailer frame bolts do that the board sits completely flat against the frame. I simply marked or the areas and ran a router around those sections. Then I lined up the board and marked and drilled holes in the 3/4" board that lined up with existing holes in the trailer frame. I then used T-Nuts on the top of the board and ran 3/8" bolts up from the bottom. The result was a board mounted to the trailer and the surface is completely devoid of bolt heads or nuts. I love using t-nuts for that reason.

With the trailer bed taken care of it was time start tackling the box. I laid out my gear on the trailer and built in some extra room in each compartment to leave some room for possible gear upgrades in the future. After I had my wife look at it and try to sharp shoot my design (I asked her to do that to help force me to think through the whole thing) I was ready to start cutting. The plans look like they call for 2x2s as corner blocks.* All the 2x2s at the big box lumber yard were complete crap. So instead I decided to pick up a bunch of 2x4s and rip them in half on the table saw. The results were 10x better than buying them pre cut and cheaper in the end. The next step was to glue and screw the 2x2 corner blocks to the box base.

I ran enough glue to create just a bit of how squeeze out when screwed down tight. I put a couple screws in from the top to hold the corner blocks in place while I flip over the plywood. By screwing the plywood to the corner blocks from the plywood side, the screw catches each layer of the plywood creating a much better bond. I also buried each screw head about 1/8" below the surface so that I can go back later and use wood filler and completely hide the screws. I used more screws than I had expected but I trust the experience of others who have built similar projects. There are screws every 3-4 inches. I also used Tite Bond III glue which is great stuff. With all those screws, there was no need to use clamps.

I then flipped the bottom back over and started laying out the compartment dividers and the front panel. I decided to use full width 2x4s for the side pieces so that there would be some substantial material connecting the come blocks. This should also add a lot of rigidity to the box, but may be overkill for someone that doesn't plan on carrying a load on top of their box. I related the process of glue and screw for 2 panels but tab of of time for this weekend.

I'm out of town this week so I'm not getting any work done on the trailer unfortunately. But I think the progress will be steady once I get back to it. I'll need to buy a lot more glue and a couple more boxes of screws.

It's been a bit since the last update and no work has been completed. But some more stuff has arrived.

Here we have the replacement springs and hanger brackets. This replaces the crappy slipper springs that came with the harbor freight frame. These are softer but heavier duty and uses a proper shackle setup. I need to get them primed and painted before I install them.

While I'm at the painting I need to shoot the wheels with a fresh coat of paint. And if better do that soon because the axle and tires will be ready for install soon too.

Also last week I paid a visit to Lodge Manufacturing headquarters at South Pittsburgh, TN. Lodge hooked me up with one of their new seasoned steel skillets and a slotted steel griddle. These pieces will be perfect for the camp cook set. The seasoned steel is lighter weight than cast iron but is cared for the same way.

I also added another dutch oven to my kit because it's nice to be able to have dessert cooking at the same time as dinner so they are both ready to be enjoyed.

Typos courtesy of Tapatalk
want to start off by saying i'm a listener of your podcast and it is the best one out there by far. i've been back tracking on the episodes and i finally get to see the trailer you've been talking about. sub'd