So begins the build of our new camper for this year's trip:
The challenge has always been to build accommodations for six people that folds up to fit on a tiny 4x8 trailer.
This year's model will be a tent trailer.
The frame will be entirely constructed of steel which - counter-intuitively - will make it far lighter than wood.
I expect this design should weigh 400 lbs with the appliances inside - yes, it'll have a full pull-out kitchen.
All the steel is scrap metal reclaimed from racks thrown out by a local bulk-buying store.
As you can see, it will have an 8 foot cargo drawer that will pull out of the back.
The drawer hardware is 1&1/2 inch 5/16 bolts with self-locking nuts and enclosed bearings (commonly used as skateboard bearings). This is an idea I found on Pinterest that I adapted for steel construction [his was all wood].
The drawer will provide easy access to all our gear once we've begun set-up at a campsite.
It has a drop-down leg like an ambulance gurney which automatically falls into place and will have a locking mechanism to keep it there.
More on what it will look like in a bit - but planning WAY ahead, the following image shows the framing for attaching an external leg assembly to lift the entire camper off of our little trailer - which I use for a hundred other things beside camping.
This attachment point will receive the leg assembly, four of which I've constructed to be interchangeable.
The legs are designed off of something I also found online, and look a lot like the lunar lander when assembled.
At this point, the entire setup probably doesn't even weigh 100 lbs yet. I can still take it off and put it back on the trailer by myself with ease. The steel construction is nearly complete, so it won't get much heavier than it is. The entire module attaches with four 4 inch bolts. That's it. The nuts are welded in place on the inside of the frame so that the only hardware to remove is simply one long bolt in each corner. I grab an impact drill and zip 'em right out - all four in a matter of about 45 seconds.
This year's design has a fold-out kitchen. The appliances will be connected to a 20lb. lp tank rather than the little 1lb. tanks they're intended to be used with.
We've been practicing with the griddle, and will continue to until summer gets here so that there won't be any surprises. We'll have a microwave for general purpose stuff, and the little cube is a freezer. We'll be able to freeze stuff overnight on days when we have electricity. Then, as it thaws while we drive each day, we'll be ready to cook in the evening when we arrive at our camping stop.
So here it is - the mysterious camper sub-flooring structure.
Closed up it'll hold an elephant. It's 1x4 firrin' strips - cheapest wood in the universe, but still plenty sturdy.
The floor itself slides open to reveal an 8'x8' floor surface which will serve to hold half an 8x16 tent.
As the project unfolds it'll make mores sense - but picture this same structure also sliding out the back of the trailer atop the 8' drawer and then spreading its wings behind the trailer in the background of this picture.
Tonight while I was building, the kids were even climbing about on top of this - having a grand ol' time. It's real-world testing. :)
To give you an idea of how it'll look with the kitchen extended...
An additional 5' of counter space will also fold off the top of this setup toward the foreground on the left side of the photo, extending the kitchen counter reach to a full 12 feet from the main hinge. A family of six needs its kitchen space!
And here is the rear floor assembly completed. It spread its wings like the front floor with the lower drawer assembly in place to serve as a foundation - locking leg in place.
The air conditioning housing hangs beneath the frame allowing the drawer assembly to slide in beneath it. The aircon has straps attached to it for easily maneuvering it into place for use.
I'll post my preliminary drawing from weeks ago after the whole things is complete; I don't want to give it all away in one swoop, you see! ;)
There is far more to come, but this gives you an idea of how it's coming so far.
Thank you for following along!
I'm excited to finish the book, "Why Travel When You Can Live There? USA"
You can contribute to the project at: https://www.gofundme.com/2gv797jb
You can get cool stuff and give ideas for destinations along our trip this summer!!!
See you again!