Our trailer was an awesome find – already stripped down camper trailer from the 70’s when things were built right. Right, Dad? Also, the guy we bought the trailer off of also had already framed the floor, put in insulation and vapour barrier. Yay!
Not yay? We didn’t get a fully clear answer on what kind of insulation was inside, which is a pretty big deal, so we decided to check under that pretty plywood and see what there was to see. It was soggy insulation and rusted sheet metal.
Erk. So, we ripped it all off. It took us about 3 hours and two bags of candy to complete. Check it out, from start to finish:
Now, what the heck are we doing to our trailer? Almost everything. Since our walls are going to be about 7″ thick when you consider our exterior 3″ of rigid insulation, we decided to extend our trailer a little to have our walls fully on the outside. This gives us 8 feet of interior living space width-wise. Also, our wheel wells were pretty flimsy and offended me when they made a really loud breaking sound when I leaned on them, so they had to go. They will make their debut performance as planters in the spring.
To get this all done, we met up with Jim, along with his brother Ross. Jim is an amazing welder (who also has about 5 other journeyman tickets because he has a short attention span). They came up with an amazing plan for our trailer. We are going to extend all the inner supportive beams of the trailer out to the edges, then tack 4″ angle iron around the entire outside. Structurally, this will make our trailer much stronger and able to support the weight of our house (which will be probably over 10,000lbs). They will also replace our offensive weight-shaming wheel wells with the scraps from the material we will be using to reinforce and extend everything else.
This means that we can lay a 2×4 frame on the 4″ angle iron and have our walls completely exterior to our home. That saves us a foot of interior space. What it does mean is that our home will be over the 8’6″ maximum for pulling on the roads without a permit, so we have decided to pursue a life of crime! Problem solved! Well actually problem solved because permits are really easy and cheap to obtain both in Alberta and in British Columbia. In Alberta you don’t need a pilot car and other razzle dazzle until you’re at 10’6″, and we’ll be sitting pretty at 9’2″. That just means we need to buy a permit for $25 per trip. A single tear. In BC the regulations are also not a big deal – $15/trip or $30/month for unlimited trips.
Another note on the welding… We will be adding steel tabs to support the floor joists. This is because our walls are resting on the 4″ angle iron and the floor has nothing to support it around that frame. So by adding little tabs inwards, we support the floor with the frame and everyone goes home happy.
But first! The axles. Right now we have two of them handling abour 3,500lbs each. I know you just did the math – our house is over 10,000lbs. We need to replace our axles. It’s a common tiny house problem – trying to keep the weight low. Our solution is amazing – Timbren axle-less suspension. The system completely eliminates the need for a thru axle which gives us more freedom and less likelihood of catching on anything while we take this puppy off roading. OK, but even when we aren’t doing donuts in the mud, they increase our load capacity almost double. Each system can accommodate 7,000lbs of weight. We can install two to replace both our axles, which brings us up to 14,000lbs. So we have our cake and eat it too. They come with up to 1 tonne towing capacity, you could really go crazy with these if you wanted to.
We are also going to go with the 4″ drop model, which means that the trailer is lowered and we get another 4″ of headspace in our loft. Since Kenton is 6’4″ tall, it robs his chiropractor of thousands of dollars a year.
In order, here’s what will need to be done for our trailer to be build-ready:
- Rip apart trailer. Check!
- Install Timbren 7K 4″ drop suspension system with brake flange.
- Add on extra sections of angle iron, little tabs, reinforcements and wheel wells.
- Build a new floor frame, insulate, the works.