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My M101A2 camping trailer

126542 Views 147 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  shack
For Sale: $5750 OBO

Current setup as of 5/17/15

Mombasa Expedition RTT w/ changing room
Camping Labs Awning w/ changing room
Inno Awning
Custom battery box w/ Optima YellowTop Battery
Custom height adjustable rack w/ 4 100lb gas springs - Thanks CAM Offroad!
Harbor Freight Tongue Box
Harbor Freight 2500 lb ATV winch
Max Coupler
2" receiver mount on drivers side
2" receiver mount on rear


Here she is the day I picked her up from Fort Hood, Texas

A quick back story:

I bought this trailer off Government Liquidation about 5 years ago with the intent of making it into a camping trailer. I had it for 6 or 7 months and never did anything with it. My wife got a job offer in California and we jumped at the chance to move to the coast. We left Texas with no real plan or place to stay, so I sold the trailer to another member here, JoeUser. Our stint in Cali didn't last very long and we moved to Colorado. Joe messaged me one day asking if I was interested in buying the trailer because he had picked up a new hobby, so we drove down and picked it up over a weekend.

That leads us the where this thread begins.


Today I worked on my RTT trailer. A few weeks ago I bought back my 101a2 from JoeUser in Texas and brought it back to Colorado. I was determined not to let it sit in the garage this time like I did last time. I wanted to make this a convertible design, so I can use it as a utility trailer, camping trailer, or box trailer (with the canvas on). I considered having a welder make up a rack for me, but after reading Texas TT's patchwork trailer thread, I figured I could knock this out on my own.

Borrowing from Texas TT, I decided to swap out the wooden bows with metal, tie them together with more material, and put the tent on top. This would be plenty strong, cheap, and most importantly, I could knock the design up without having to weld, because I don't yet. Went to the steel yard this morning and had them cut me 3 57" long pieces of 16 gauge 1.25" square stock, along with 2 pieces 54" long. I also got some 1' and 2' pieces to make some stronger legs for the bows, but didn't need them. Then I stopped at Ace and picked up some hardware.

Time to get to work.

My Harbor Freight drill press worked out well for making straight holes through the steel.

Old Bows

One new bow in place.

The original wooden bow tops were closer to 1.75" wide by 1.25" tall. Unfortunately, I couldn't find rectangular stock in that size, so I went with 1.25" square and added spacers to fill the void and make everything tight. On the first bow, I used stacks of washers. On the other 2, I used wooden spacers I made.

Here's the general arrangement

Went together smoothly, surprisingly. Mounted up the RTT and tested it out

Tomorrow I'll take it all apart and prime and paint the steel. Then, next steps will be to remove the surge brake and axle, and replace with 6 on 5.5 axle, paint, rims to match the FJ and electric brakes. Might do a max coupler later on but for now I'll probably go with some sort of removable lunette. I'm also going to add some 2" receivers along the sides and rear of the frame, for whatever I might want to add later.

Oh, total cost for the retrofit, including steel, hardware and a new set of Irwin drill bits, was right at $100. :rocker:
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painted the bows yesterday. Also added bolts to stabilize and secure the bows in the trailer. They were flopping around a bit too much for my liking

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I thought it might be nice to have some locking storage on the trailer, so last week I started scouring craigslist for a truck tool box. Managed to get my hands on a low profile aluminum Delta box w/ a key. The only problem is the low profileness of it prevented me from accessing the handles when its in the trailer, so I rummaged through my scraps and found some spacers and some flat bar. Drilled out the flat bar and bolted everything together. Works great!

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Thanks Mark. I've referenced your thread a few times. :cheers: I wanted to have a welder fab up a RTT rack for mine, but right now cost is my driving factor. All I really wanted for the time being was the tent on the trailer. The rest can come in time.

The weight is fine, though I have noticed it bouncing a bit more since I put the tent on. I just noticed that my pass side parking brake isn't engaging either, so that will probably be my next undertaking
yeah, it works great! Since I have your attention, a quick question for you American. I want to do the axle swap and a different tongue, but can't do both at the same time financially. Any problems with the surge brakes if I just disconnect the system at the lunette? I'd likely be running the stock axle for a while longer but I can probably go ahead and get the new tongue done in the next month or so.
You can remove the whole surge brake assembly and just cap off the brake lines at the hubs if you want. I didn't add brakes back to mine and probably wont in the future either.

M101A2 Trailer Purchase & Project - Expedition Portal
Thats what I thought but wasn't sure if they might lock up if I changed the pressure. I've thought about eliminating the brakes as well but I'll need them here on the front range, especially when I get onto the trails around here.
just had a 3 day mt biking trip in Palo Duro Canyon. Trailer did great, though my next project will most certainly be a chuckbox for the back. Working out of a plastic tub sucks.

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Thanks Volcom!

Smalldog: yeah I bought this as a bone stock 101 for about $440 from I replaced the tail lights with a 4 pin setup from AutoZone for about $20. The hitch setup cost about $70 and I got that from Tractor Supply. When I bought the trailer, I picked up a couple spare bearings when I went to pick it up, just in case. Turned out I didn't need them. Everything was ok as-is. So, overall, I spent like about $530 total getting the trailer in working order

To get it to its current state, I replaced the wooden portion of the bows with steel from a local yard and that ran about $60. The toolbox I got from CL for $125. I've wired up some LED lights in the bed, tool box and tent and that's run me about another $60, but I had a lot of switches and stuff already.
thanks guys.

I'm *thinking* about permanently mounting the tool box in the trailer. That means I'd lower it all the way down eliminating the spacers. To open the tool box, I'd actually french the handles into the trailer front. There's really not much to be gained by doing this other than aesthetics. Of course, whenever I removed the tool box I'd have 2 holes in the bed of the trailer. As I said, still thinking about this.

Other next steps are:

1) welding a 2" hitch on the rear for my T2 bike rack. The current fork mounts on the side of the trailer aren't really doing it for me, though they work fine for now

2) welding 2" hitches on both sides to allow for various items to be mounted when at camp. Great idea, Mark

3) 3500lb axle w/ electric brakes. FJ matched wheels & tires

4) new tongue setup to eliminate the surge brake lunette system. I've got a line on a 101a1 lunette on steelsoldiers, but the guy wants a little more than I'm willing to spend, so I'll just hold off and do a new 2" receiver tongue altogether. Also going to deck over the tongue area with some diamond plate to add a work area.

5) rear stabilizer jacks

6) Paint, finally. I really like the Manly ORV trailer color palette, so I'll likely copy that. Gray tub with a black frame. Tool box would get painted black too
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Well, I've taken the trailer on a few trips and figured out what I did and didn't like about my current arrangement. My main issue was the configuration necessitated by using the bows that came with the trailer. Using 3 bows I had to push the toolbox as far to the front as possible, meaning I had to raise the box using spacers, which looks ugly. I also had to use 3 bows to support the tent because using only 2 would push the tent too far towards the front or rear. I was going to get a welder to make up a new arrangement for me, but I've been wanting to learn how to weld myself, so...

I got a welder from my wife for my birthday. Its a cheapy HF model. The 90 Amp Flux core welder. Got an auto darkening helmet and a flux hammer and went to town on some some material I had laying around. I didn't even bother to clean the steel on this, I was more trying to figure out wire speed and heat.

First weld that I got to stick.

Lessons learned.

1. The MAX setting will definitely melt 1/8 square tube.

2. The HF flux core wire splatters all over the place. After doing a little research, I went and picked up some Lincoln .35 Flux Core from Lowes. Much better!

3. Having a grinder is a must

To check the strength, I placed one end on a 2x4 and the other on the ground, then jumped up and down on it. Very scientific I know. It held my 230lbs without flexing or breaking. SWEET!

I told myself I was going to do a lot more practice before I worked on the trailer, but I figured if I was going to practice, it might as well be on parts for the trailer.
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My plan to rework the trailer is to reduce the bows supporting the tent from 3 to 2. This will allow me to push the toolbox back, drop it down and create a cubby of sorts at the front that I can stash stuff in, like tools and 5gal jerry cans if needed.

The first part of this process is making new feet for my bows.

This is 1/8" square tube welded on to a 8" length of angle stock. These will replace the piece of steel that goes in the square stake holes, allowing me to place the tent wherever I want. I'll just bolt the angle iron to the sides to secure it.
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Looking good Mark. A receiver on the back and square tube hitch on the front are my next steps. I ordered my 2" lunette and it should be arriving today, so hopefully in the next few weeks I can move forward a bit.
Yeah, you can do that without removing the bed. It would be a pain in the ass though.
Mark, when you painted your tub and frame, did you sandblast it first or just a good pressure washing?
Don't forget to add some receivers under the sides for tables and racks too.
Oh yeah, I'll be adding those as well.
Hey Mark, can you do that without removing the bed? If so, Shack, lets do this sometime. I'll bring my welder over or vice versa. You can teach me a thing or two.
One or two things might be all I can teach. :lol: Still learning myself.
I took the tub off then pressure washed everything.
Sanded the frame of any rust, then primed the frame and painted it with oil based gloss black.

The tub. I sanded any rough spats pounded out the dents then I shot 5 coats of Mathews Hot Rod Red I had mixed at work.
Cool, thanks for the tips! I've got a few dents to hammer out as well. I think I'm going to try Herculiner on mine when the time comes, or have the tub line-xed
Well, this weekend I decided to take the bull by the horns and fab up my own 2" receiver for the back of the trailer. I didn't want to have a hitch that interfered with the tailgate, so that meant I had to recess it into the frame. This could create strength problems with the hitch, so I had to tie it into the frame somehow. My welding isn't the greatest, so I planned on using grade 8 bolts wherever I could to strengthen the whole assembly, while still welding where I could.

I started with a cheapy 1 1/4" to 2" adapter from Harbor Freight. Then I used that as a template, located the center of my trailer frame and cut a hole out with a jigsaw, like this

Looking from the bottom. The next frame member is about 18" away from the rear. Thats where the hitch will tie in to the frame.

After cutting the hole and getting a loose plan in my head, I went to the steel yard and picked up some 1.5" square stock. I think its 16 gauge, but I'm not sure. Doesn't really matter for this.

I ended up using a bit of angle scrap I had laying around from my tent mounts to create a flange to attach to the trailer. I ended up with this.

This is what the entire assembly looks like

Because of the tolerances I made, I had to slide the hitch in from one side and marry it to the brace from the other side. I bolted and welded it together, and ended up with this.

The welds from the brace to the hitch are hideous, but they prevent the hitch from wobbling a bit up and down. After that, all that was left was to bolt it to the front frame and tack weld the hitch to the hole.

Afterwards I threw my bikes and rack to test everything out.

And then I gave it my own, very scientific, test which involved me standing on the carrier and jumping up and down. It didn't budge, so I guess we're good to go!

Edit: Total cost was about $35 in materials
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Thanks! I really like working on it, mainly because it gives me something to do and its a lot cheaper than messing with the FJ.

Next step is a new axle and wheels to match the FJ
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