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Discussion Starter #1
After months of trawling through build threads, I've finally decided to step up to the plate and build myself an off road camping rig. I'm moving on from the hardships of tent camping (actually, I've just had enough of having to put my tent up 5 times a night because my mischievous puppy likes to take it down for me when I'm not looking)..but that's besides the point. The first thing for me to do is lay hands on a trailer so I can start drawing out plans for it.

My first question would be about towing capacity off road. I know the FJ can tow up to 5 or 6K lbs, but what's acceptable for towing off road (ie, the mojave road?). The reason I ask is because I'm looking at getting a 98 military flatbed trailer that weighs 1150lbs. It's perfect because of the new components as compared to the old M101s and has hydraulic brakes already. I will be putting hard sides and roof on it, with stove, beds, fridge...the whole deal. I could see adding up to another 1500lbs. Is 2700lbs just too much to tow off road? What is acceptable? Ideally, I'd like to have standup height with hard sides and a roof (more expedition trailer than rock crawling), but if that would add too much weight then I could move to popup tent style, or even a mutant hybrid like the VW campers, but I'd like to build a hard-sided trailer.

This is what I'm looking at:





What do you guys think on the weight? 1/4 tons are only a couple hundred lbs less at 700, and I think the 3/4s are around 1300lbs. Has anyone had success towing a 3/4 loaded up off road? I'd like to get a realistic grasp of things before I go ahead and make my trailer choice.

Criticisms, suggestions, or general comments throughout this build will be greatly appreciated :rocker:
 

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From what I understand, and I owned a m101a2 at one time, these trailers will do fine on moderate offroad trails and fireroads. They would be fine on 4x4 trails as well but they are a bit big overall and the FJ lacks the mustard to really wheel with one. You'd really notice the hit pulling through the mountains or any other significant grade.

That being said, if you bought this trailer and swapped the axle, you'd eliminate a lot of weight. If your handy with a torch, you could lose a lot of the frame reinforcement and reduce your weight even more. I bet you could shave 350 - 400lbs off that trailer easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Not too handy with a torch yet...but I am planning on getting one and I learn somewhat quickly. I didn't know you could start taking off some frame reinforcement without compromising the structural integrity of the trailer, but I haven't had a chance to see it in person yet. Did you strip down your a2?
I had been planning on swapping out the axle, and I was curious about if a junkyard would be the best place to go to find a lighter-weight one, or any other suggestions?
 

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You need to talk to Titanpat57 over on ih8MUD or Exepedition Portal.

ROAM Camper build

You wouldn't recognize his trailer as being another military flatbed like yours if not for all his build pictures...





Great guy, mad GoogleSketchUp skills. Tell him I sent you... :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Funnily enough, this was the main inspiration for wanting to build a camping rig! His ROAM build is just so cool.. I haven't talked to titanpat yet but I was planning on sending him my plans after I found a trailer, just to see what he thought of it


You need to talk to Titanpat57 over on ih8MUD or Exepedition Portal.

ROAM Camper build

You wouldn't recognize his trailer as being another military flatbed like yours if not for all his build pictures...





Great guy, mad GoogleSketchUp skills. Tell him I sent you... :lol:
 

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Pat is The Man. He got me started with GoogleSketchUp (though my skills still pale in comparison) and he is quite honestly one of the best people I've ever met in any forum.
:bigthumb:
 

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As for off-road towing of that trailer chassis, a good friend has a similarly-sized M101A3 that tows very nicely, but at 1540lbs empty it's not the lightest trailer for its size. We tend to have a lot of wide open spaces in South/Central Texas so we haven't been in any tight spots with it, but so far it has rolled over everything the tow vehicle could manage. Backing up is pretty much avoided whenever possible, but it can done with a little effort.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
From what I understand, and I owned a m101a2 at one time, these trailers will do fine on moderate offroad trails and fireroads. They would be fine on 4x4 trails as well but they are a bit big overall and the FJ lacks the mustard to really wheel with one. You'd really notice the hit pulling through the mountains or any other significant grade.

That being said, if you bought this trailer and swapped the axle, you'd eliminate a lot of weight. If your handy with a torch, you could lose a lot of the frame reinforcement and reduce your weight even more. I bet you could shave 350 - 400lbs off that trailer easily.

So if I found a FJ axel, I could swap it out you think? I have my stock 32's, and stock suspension, I know currently the trailer is probably leafed but i was thinking of trying to find an FJ axel and setting the trailer up with the stock blistein suspension system and 32's...what do you think shack? I have heard of people putting suspension systems on their trailers, but I haven't found any specific examples
 

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I don't think you want a truck axle with the differential still in the middle for a trailer, just a plain round or square tube axle. Generally you would order an axle to your specs/measurements from a trailer supply that is rated high enough to handle whatever load you plan to carry. The axle manufacturer can make it whatever width you want to fit the trailer and even give you the bolt pattern to match whatever wheels you want to put on it. I'm pretty sure Pat dumped the heavy military axle and mounted up a 3500lb axle on leaf springs with hubs to match his 4Runner.





Also, leaf springs may be 'primitive', but that can work in their favor when you have a problem in the middle of nowhere...

 

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Just like Switawi said... a round or square tube axle and a simple leaf suspension would work great for most anything you can throw at it. You could certainly go more elaborate, like torsion or any other independent setup, but it would cost a lot more... and on a large trailer i doubt you'd see any significant difference.

The ROAM trailer is a great example of what you can achieve with this setup. That guy could tow his trailer anywhere he wanted... but its not practical for serious wheeling.

Probably what you should ask yourself is: what do you plan on using this trailer for? Are you taking it on an extreme expedition, on some fireroads, or to a KOA?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Great info on the axle, found a load of places online I can order them custom from. And, I spent all together too much time on google sketch. Honestly I at first dismissed it, thinking I would do what I always do and draw my plans out, who needs a damn computer program to do it...but, I figured I would take a look at it and now, I don't know how I ever built something without having every dimension of every side right there in front of me in moveable 3D. Pretty nuts. I'm officially obsessed with the thing now!

Honestly, at this point shack it depends. I'm bidding out on a couple different trailers. If I get a 3/4 ton I'll strip it down and make a true off-road trailer, with a RTT or build my own (I found a bunch of military spec tent material, figure I might save a good $1000 on building my own).

But, if I'm not outbid on this 1.5ton, I'm definitely going to build it up to a more comfortable trailer. I figure it is the perfect base to build an awesome KOA/fireroad trailer.

So as you can see, I'm still on the fence. I'll know in a day or so, depending on which trailer I end up going with!
 
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