Truck bed trailer build: ideas, questions

Metal_FTW

New member
Long time lurker, first time poster...

After debating for a while on what type of setup my wife and I really want and can afford for some light overland travel (mostly weekend trips), we have settled on building an off-road capable trailer to match my 1987 K5 Blazer. I plan to paint the trailer to match, etc. I am aware of the fact truck bed trailers are more heavy than a utility trailer based build, but I think the matching body styles and features are a cool twist on the expo trailers.

Onto the build stuff - I have found a bed cap / topper locally for a good deal. I have the frame and an 8' bed from an 87 C10 laying around and plan to use those parts for the base of the build. I have searched other build threads looking for ideas on how to form the hitch portion. I still have not made up my mind on the best method. The current plan is to use some parts from etrailer.com.

I have found from searching other threads, the ideal length of the trailer tongue is 2.5-3 times the width of the trailer, This should put me at 160" - 192" from the rear axle if I am understanding correctly; This seems quite long.... The length can be great for my tongue storage plan; I want to mount a tool box with a mount for water storage underneath, a battery box with room for all the electronics and circuits, and ideally room to mount my dirt bike or 2 mountain bikes. I could always move the water storage tank location to the original fuel tank locations to move the weight back a few couple feet.

I am still a bit lost on the best way to go about forming my tongue and creating the "A" at the front of the trailer. I was really hoping etrailer or some one would have a front "A" kit that could easily be adapted to my truck frame. I have found no such solution. Any suggestions?
 

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millerfish

Adventurer
I've built a couple truck bed trailers both from import mini trucks. They are surprisingly lighter than you would expect. IMO the legnth you are talking about is quite long, also the 8 foot bed seems pretty long. For off road use the distance from the truck rear axle to the trailer axle should just a bit longer than the trucks wheel base. As for the tongue all I did was notch the frame rails, bend them to the center. Also if I were to build another one I would use a receiver to mount the tongue. This would allow you to make the tongue longer or shorter, you could easily change from ball to pintel, and you can remove it when parked for added security.
 

Metal_FTW

New member
Millerfish, I thought my number was alarmingly long too, but was just trying to go by what I had read. Following your advice I should probably shoot for the wheel base of my K5 at around 112"?

Starting specs / measurements:

Wheel base of K5 (primary tow vehicle) is ~112"
Distance from rear wheel and hitch is ~44"
Rear wheel to front cab mount on the C10 trailer donor frame is 102".
Front of the bed to mid wheel position is 56".

Length calculations:
44" from rear wheel to hitch + 56" from trailer wheel to front of bed + min additional length to reach desired wheel base = 112" | min additional = 12" Due to wanting to mount a battery box / tool box up front at a minimum means I should probably add at least another 24"??

End lengths:
Which makes the overall trailer a whopping 132" or 11'. This puts me at 132" behind my hitch and 176" behind my rear wheels on the primary tow vehicle. I imagine this would tow really well at up to 70 mph?

The reason for the 8' bed is I am 6' tall and don't want to end up super cramped while sleeping. The plan is an expo/off-road capable "camper". With a reasonably low COG. The RTT's are super cool but its windy as hell in Oklahoma and my wife doesn't like the idea of a RTT. I also plan to take our 45 lbs and 70 lbs boxers camping with us.

I can't really imagine we will get anymore offroad with the "camper" than mildly rough forest service roads, etc. I would buy one of the really cool offroad tear drop campers but I think this is a better option for now. We are just getting started in this and I want to see how much use it will actually get.
 

Nd4SpdSe

Adventurer, eh?
The tongue can be many lengths, but if you're off-roading, it's commended to have it just long enough to be able to jackknife the trailer 90 degrees.

Personally, I'm also a fan of matching the trailer ;)
 

Atchcraft

New member
My $.02

I love and hate truck bed trailers at the same time. Like you said, I love the unique factor and they can look cool. But, it's just the bed that I like. I'm not a fan of using the frame and especially the rear axle. Mine has a portion of the original frame and an actual trailer axle. Eventually, I'm redoing the frame and suspension. Personally, for an off road trailer. I really like a stepside bed. Good luck with the build.
 

Metal_FTW

New member
The chalet trailer is pretty nifty! Imagine its crazy tippy / top heavy, but definitely unique.

I think you guys have talked me out of building the truck bed trailer for now. I am going to keep researching other options and see how often we can get out on the trails. Invest in other more necessary items in the mean time.
 

Nd4SpdSe

Adventurer, eh?
The proportions on that thing are spot on! Great work mate... now off to try and find a build thread!!
Thanks! Build thread is here:
http://forum.expeditionportal.com/threads/135876-Nissan-Frontier-Truck-Bed-Off-Road-Trailer-The-quot-Frontrailer-quot
No much has happened yet this year. We've been working on buying a house, and all of our time and money had been going towards that, and we take possession of it in a little over a week! :wings: There's a few minor updates I should do, but I've been really too busy and stressed over the house thing I never remember.
 

jwiereng

Active member
I agree with what others have said here and I would not put much faith in the recommendation you heard of "ideal length of the trailer tongue is 2.5-3 times the width of the trailer "

Seems too long. a 5 foot wide trailer would need a 15 foot long tongue with that math.

I have seen some people redneck cobble a trailer from a truck bed, they still used truck axle and springs. Seems like a lot of unneeded weight to haul around. It does provide you with a spare rear end, if you mash the one on your tow vehicle. Trailer axles are not costly, even custom width, bolt pattern.
 
Sounds like a perfect time to ditch the factory spring and axle and switch to Timbren. Would take a little frame modification. Factory is C shaped in the fender well area and Timbren needs a straight area to mount.
 
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