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Old 04-20-2007, 12:21 PM   #1
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Trailer Towing, Braking, and Breaking

Hi Everyone, been awhile !

I've just been gifted with a 29' travel trailer which I intend to strip for 'fridge, furnace and fittings and convert into a flatbed trailer and I'd like to hear everyones advice and musings.

I don't know too much about the trailer other then it's a twin axle with electric brakes and a GVWR around 6,000Lbs. My Saf-T-Liner is the only thing I own that will tow something so heavy so that's how I plan to bring it the 20 miles or so to my house. The bus is 36' and the trailer 29' so I'll be right at MA max vehicle length of 65'.

Anyone tow such a combination in the past?

Also, any advice on stripping the trailer and flatbed conversion/re-enforcing would be appreciated. I'd like to end up with a 1500 Lbs trailer I can put a 2000 Lbs car on - do able?

Cheers!

Jake.
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Old 04-20-2007, 01:30 PM   #2
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Sounds perfectly straight forward to me. But you may have trouble reaching the
1500 pound empty weight. Even if the trailer weighs a bit more, you should
have a long way to go to 6000.

Most skoolies seem to have separate brake light and turn signal circuits, so you may
have to jerry rig something to have proper lights when you drag the thing
home. Chances are a travel trailer has combined stop/turn.

And the height of your hitch may be a concern. I'm visualizing the tail of the trailer
dragging on the ground, so you might want to bring a deep drop ball. Just guessing,
of course.

About braking, for 20 miles bringing it home, I wouldn't worry about it, except as a
legal matter. The bus can handle it if you can ("drive with the inside").

As for the silly thing breaking in half in the middle of the road -- you are on your
own, Sir!

Above all, have fun!
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Old 04-20-2007, 01:43 PM   #3
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I found the day I showed up to tow a trailer with my bus, my tailight coverter (the $30 plastic one) had melted and was inacessable which disabled my plug. I was very concerned I would have to unload the back of the bus (moving across the country) in the middle of the parcking lot. Then the hitch guy at uhaul ave me a few of these to install and they worked great. We just ran an extension to the trailer, and voila, ghetto trailer wiring. Here's the link. http://store.uhaul.com/product_detail.aspx?id=3457

They were so handy I carry them as a backup just in case the new converter ($120) packs it in. I am sure you have wiring, but thought I would share.

Oh, and I've seen a couple travel trailer turned flatbeds, and you will need to seriously reinforce. They are very, very weak without the structure.

-Richard
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Old 04-20-2007, 01:58 PM   #4
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I fried a brake controller once. On large trailers like mine they have a their own battery that will power the electric brakes if a pin is pulled out that indicates the trailer came loose from your truck. I found out that if you accidentally pull that pin out while the trailer is connected to your truck it will burn up the brake controller.
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Old 04-20-2007, 02:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot Naess
As for the silly thing breaking in half in the middle of the road -- you are on your
own, Sir!

Above all, have fun!
Actually, I meant "breaking" as in "ship breaking" the process of disassembly for salvage. I've never examined one closely so I've no idea how they are constructed.

J.
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Old 04-20-2007, 03:16 PM   #6
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Ah. Well, what I said still goes!

I don't know about disassembly either, but I have a pretty good idea it involves a lot
of staples and splinters, so wear gloves and face shield.
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Old 04-20-2007, 03:18 PM   #7
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stripping a trailer

most trailers with a roof use said roof for structural support. If you remove this roof you are taking away a large part of the designed load carrying capacity. See what/how much frame is under the trailer (damned little, they are running to the outside, too wide to count for much) and you can answer that question yourself. Put 2 more frame rails down the middle and lots of crossmembers and you might do what you want. You will have to put a completely new floor in too. Keep the roof on and you might be able to sell it to a lawn cutting outfit for their mowers. sportyrick
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Old 04-20-2007, 03:24 PM   #8
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Find out the stats on the undercarriage once you get it ripped apart and we can go from there in terms of strength. Any measurements you can get about I-Beam flange thickness and width and web thickness and width would be great. I have heard of quite a few of these trailers being turned into flatbeds. Generally speaking they will have a great pair of rails going lengthwise, but the crossbeams will leave a bit to be desired. They are generally over a semi-monocoque construction so the outer skin and framing does provide a lot of the support for the thing, but there is still a frame to get the loads to the ground through the axles and hitch.

Are you concerned at all about that bumper hitch handling the weight of a trailer that serious? If I remember correctly you just bolted onto the rear bumper and perhaps a crossmember for the engine. Of course with a pusher those items are likely to be beef.
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Old 04-20-2007, 03:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
Are you concerned at all about that bumper hitch handling the weight of a trailer that serious? If I remember correctly you just bolted onto the rear bumper and perhaps a crossmember for the engine. Of course with a pusher those items are likely to be beef.
Not at all! the bumper is 1/4" thick "C" channel witha 2" x 12" profile and the cross member behind it is 5/16" with a similar cross section. I also drilled the mounting holes out from 1/2" to 5/8" and installed 5/8" grade 5 hardware.

J.
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:04 AM   #10
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Sounds stronger than a lot of receiver hitches. What is your hitch rated at? Are you planning on running a weight distributing hitch? I don't think it would be necessary at all from the ride quality side of things....just from the tonque weight rating of the hitch perspective.
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Old 04-21-2007, 08:42 PM   #11
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Stripping down an old trailer is not that hard, they are built pretty cheaply... when they call them sticks & staples that is no joke. I tore apart THIS PROWLER last summer for parts & pieces...

I'll tell you this much, you will need a #2 square drive bit, that's what they use on all these RV's is #2 square drive...
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Old 07-13-2007, 06:12 PM   #12
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Re: Trailer Towing, Braking, and Breaking

Got it home safe and sound!



I was a little worried about the hitch so I welded 1/4" steel plate on all surfaces so the reciever tube is now 1/2" thick and I added four 5/8" grade 5 bolts to hold it to the frame.

The brake controller went in fine, I had to run heavy gauge wire from the battery in the back, to the brake controller up front, and then back to the trailer connector. (tip: a 50' 20 Amp extension cord is cheaper then a 100' spool of 12 Ga THHN wire). The electric brakes on the trailer were surprisingly effective, I think I had a shorter stopping distance with the trailer then without. Acceleration (such as it is) was not effected AT ALL by the trailer. The only way I knew it was back there was 'cause I saw it on the backup camera.

I'll post pics of the demolition as it progresses!
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:12 PM   #13
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Re: Trailer Towing, Braking, and Breaking

What was your overall length from bumper to bumper with that rig? I bet you were close to the state maximum. It's 65' in my state....others vary between 55-75.

If you're looking for a thread or two on building a travel trailer into a car hauler you might want to look at pirate4x4.com now that their search function is open. Beware...it is not the most user friendly site and the people there are not the most friendly to new guys, but there is a wealth of good information there and that can't be denied.
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Old 07-14-2007, 12:49 AM   #14
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Re: Trailer Towing, Braking, and Breaking

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
What was your overall length from bumper to bumper with that rig? I bet you were close to the state maximum. It's 65' in my state....others vary between 55-75.

If you're looking for a thread or two on building a travel trailer into a car hauler you might want to look at pirate4x4.com now that their search function is open. Beware...it is not the most user friendly site and the people there are not the most friendly to new guys, but there is a wealth of good information there and that can't be denied.
I was right at 65 feet, the max for Massachusetts!

Thanks for the pirate4x4.com link! If I survived Arky I'll be fine I think!

Jake.
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Old 07-16-2007, 03:44 PM   #15
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Re: Trailer Towing, Braking, and Breaking

I've been looking for a trailer to do this as well. Where did you find yours? I Check Craig's List almost daily, but nothing cheap ever pops up, and if it does it's a truck camper or a very short single axle trailer.

Keep us posted on the teardown/rebuild into a flat bed. I'm excited to see how it turns out.
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Old 07-16-2007, 04:47 PM   #16
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Re: Trailer Towing, Braking, and Breaking

I'd seen several come up on Craigslist before I got mine from a guy at the office. I had mentioned that I was looking for one and he said his dad had one he'd been trying to get ride of for some time.

All of the ones I had seen previously on Craigslist were in the "Free" section and they often had to be removed from campgrounds by a certain date. My guess is that there'll be a spate in the fall and maybe another again in the spring.
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