GTFO Camp Trailer

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tobyw
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GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Mon Jun 06, 2022 7:57 am

As the story goes, back in the summer of 2019 our friends from the Wet Side showed up for a camping/wheeling weekend with what was, at the time, the coolest thing I had ever seen:
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It was a tiny little camp trailer with some reasonable sized tires and a galley in the back for cooking bacon and making coffee, and it had a door on either side so you and the better half could both get out without disrupting the other. Sure I'd seen some teardrops and a few "expedition" style trailers that were comprised of various forms of boxes topped with roof top tents, but for some reason this very particular outfit really struck a chord with me and I had been pining for one ever since.

Fast forward to last weekend, after literally years of searching, luck was on my side and I was able to procure one of these little beauties just as the previous owner was beating off other would-be buyers with a stick. I had to take the afternoon off work and drive to Spokane, having bought it sight unseen based on a few blurry Craigslist pics and a quick phone conversation, but upon initial inspection it met all expectations and even exceeded a few of them:
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She's a 2017 Forest River Flagstaff E-Pro 12RK, which is quite a mouthful considering it's diminutive size :lol: The previous owner had bought it brand new and used it to travel around the Northwest with his dog, but during COVID he ended up finding a new bride and she didn't particularly enjoy the fact that the trailer doesn't have a bathroom... So it sat for a year or so and he finally got tired of looking at it just sitting there. Score!

The first order of business was to reseal the roof vent, as the caulking was cracked out and would most certainly become a leak if not addressed:
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With that handled, I spent a few minutes pondering the future use case and decided that the puny little 13" tires were the wrong answer. As luck would have it, this particular trailer already had a factory installed "lift kit" for the Torflex axle, meaning I could stuff a much larger tire and wheel package under there with literally no modifications. A quick tour of Craigslist netted some used 15" trailer wheels, and I had the boy use his muscles to drop them into the 30x9.5 BFG A/T's that had originally come on the blue LJ:
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The last easy bolt on mod was a roof basket. Now I will openly admit that access to the roof basket, especially after a roughly 4" overall boost in height thanks to the new tires, isn't ideal. But, it was dirt cheap and I like the overall look it gives this little outfit. I made some little brackets to hang Quick Fist clamps so I can mount a shovel and an axe to aid in campfire duty, just to ensure I don't get cold at Starbucks:
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Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...
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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Mon Jun 06, 2022 8:32 am

Trying to kill a few birds with one stone, I spent some time with a frosty beverage and a tape measure and came up with a "design" for a rear bumper/slider/step/tire carrier that would, well, do all of those things. Time for some arts and crafts 8)
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The next little upgrade that I will be adding is a little table to the top of the tire carrier swingout, providing a 'L' shaped galley area below the hatch. There is already a little side table that attaches to the belt rail beside the stove on the side of the trailer, so I'm going to try and find the same style of mounting rail so it's all modular:
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While the welder was out, I also modified the jack to make it a swing-up style to help ensure I don't have a pole vault situation:
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That's where things are as of Sunday evening... The first trip will be, uhhh, soon, and as challenges present themselves, I'll document my solutions here. See you on the trails 8)
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Mon Jan 30, 2023 10:01 am

With roughly 8 months of ownership under our belt, we have come to learn a few things about the little trailer. Most of this, admittedly, comes from using it in ways that Forest River absolutely never intended:

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Perhaps the biggest issue was the constant rattles and clunks from the 2" ball hitch. Now, in all fairness, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a standard hitch ball arrangement for the average use case; but that is not my use case. To further complicate things, we have made significant changes to the overall weight bias of the outfit by removing the original front-mounted tire carrier and moving it out back on a heavy swing-out bumper, and by removing the 20lb propane bottle from the tongue. These changes have left very little tongue weight, further adding to the rattles and clunks from the ball hitch setup...

Armed with even less knowledge than usual, I set about trying to silence the program by building an articulating hitch to replace the 2" ball, which also helps to eliminate the potential for disaster should the angle of the dangle exceed the capabilities of a standard hitch ball. I don't foresee me doing any trails more difficult with the trailer than we have already done, but one never knows :|

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The mockup is about 80% done at this point, still noodling on how I want to actually integrate this contraption into the trailer tongue, but I ran out of weekend so that'll be marinating all week 8)
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Location: Under the hood...

Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Sun Feb 12, 2023 5:15 am

With the hitch itself built, it was time to figure out exactly how to integrate it into the existing chassis of the trailer. The simplest approach seemed to be starting with a blank slate, so it was time to make that happen:

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With a blank slate achieved, it was time to glue the trunnion to the trailer frame:

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And after some final welding and cleanup, voila:

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Next up was some serious reworking of the rats nest of factory wiring on the tongue and around the battery box. It was just ugly and even though I had tried to tidy it up with some zip ties here and there, my left eye still twitched every time I looked at it. Additionally, I wanted to incorporate a storage box for leveling blocks and other various sundries. Again taking the blank slate approach, all factory stuff was removed and I then cannibalized an old trailer tongue box to sink between the frame rails for a lower profile that would allow swing gate clearance on the Bronco or Jeep:

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Still have to rebuild the corners of the toolbox, then I can mount the battery and layout the rest of the electrical gear inside it :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Sun Feb 12, 2023 5:48 am

The Dexter Torflex axle that came standard under the 12RK is great in theory. It's a rubber torsion axle that allows roughly 3" of independent articulation and provides a great ride on the road. However... it's rated for 3,500lbs and under the most loaded of conditions for my use case, the 12RK barely hits 1,400lbs. What that equates to is exactly 0" of suspension travel and that just doesn't work for anything outside of relatively smooth pavement...

I've had an old set of air bags on the shelf for several years, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to dust them off, break out the graph paper, and design a suspension for the trailer that would suit my use much better than the OEM setup. There a several advantages and disadvantages to independent suspension on a trailer, and the same goes for air bags. Time will tell if this was a good idea or not :?

The first step was to remove the Torflex axle:

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I then started by fabricating a subframe to attach to the trailer chassis and to locate the trailing arms:

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Next up was all of the sleeves and brackets for the pivot bushings:

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Then it was time to build the trailing arms and get things mocked up:

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Some airbag mounts:

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And here we have it (just to clarify, the tube connecting the two trailing arms down at the spindles is just there to keep things square during fabrication; it'll slide out once everything is welded up and then it'll be fully independent suspension) :

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After several rounds of testing, it seems that 40psi in the bags is perfect for ride height, and to say there is an improvement in suspension movement would be the understatement of the century. Still need to add shocks to control the rebound and I may also integrate a swaybar, but for now I need to finish weld all of this and clean up the shop a bit :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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Roman
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby Roman » Tue Feb 14, 2023 8:19 pm

What did the tool box start life as?

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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Thu Feb 16, 2023 8:48 am

Roman wrote:What did the tool box start life as?


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I can't believe they are $130 now... back when I bought it I'm pretty sure it was like $49.99 :shock:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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Roman
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby Roman » Thu Feb 16, 2023 4:32 pm

I just mounted the next size one up on my car trailer. I wish I had double checked the measurements before beating it up so much. Its a tad large for the configuration of the tongue.

Also considered notching it like you did. May still end up going that route. Depends how cumbersome it is in relation to the jack.

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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Fri Feb 17, 2023 7:11 am

Just for the record, I don't ever recommend doing what I do. To anyone. Under any circumstances :bombe
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Tue Feb 21, 2023 8:24 am

It took a little research but I was able to find some cute little shocks that are 8-5/8" compressed and 12-3/4" extended, which are perfect numbers to keep the shocks at almost exactly 1:1 with the angle of the trailing arms and the shock mounts I devised:

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Here we are at full compression:

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And here's full droop:

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Pulled everything apart for paint, and voila:

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Still working on the toolbox modifications and I'm waiting on a few electrical widgets to arrive to help clean up the wiring:

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8)
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Sun Mar 05, 2023 4:01 am

Finally got the toolbox finished up...

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With camping season right around the corner, it's finally ready to leave the shop again :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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Roman
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby Roman » Sun Mar 05, 2023 6:20 pm

What's in the bag?

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tobyw
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Re: GTFO Camp Trailer

Postby tobyw » Mon Mar 06, 2023 8:53 am

Roman wrote:What's in the bag?


Leveling blocks, the plastic LEGO type ones. However, now that I have several inches of fully independent suspension travel at my fingertips by simply manipulating the air bags, I might not ever use them again :roll:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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