Should this go in "Small Projects" section? Not sure since it isn't technically a D90 small project as much as a camper/trailer project (mods: move at will) so "Misc" it is...
As many of you know, I got West Nile Virus 2 years ago which left me permanently disabled with bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis which means I need a lot of supplemental O2 and a breathing machine at night when I lay down. Since I want to continue wheeling and enjoy the outdoors but tent camping/back packing is out of the equation, I needed a trailer. Unfortunately, the short wheel base defender isn't the best at towing, particularly off road, so I needed something small, light, and capable.
What I found was a 2005 Fleetwood Neon as a good base. They only made them in 2005/2006 and weigh under 1000 lbs. The frame is stout, the box well made, and it will sleep me and my wife along with our two dogs in comfort. My plan was to build a new frame that is a lot more stout (mainly because I don't want to deal with breakage as much as I once was able to) and also so I could run a rover pattern wheel.
So I bought a bunch of steel, designed/welded my own frame, and started from there. I also went to a pull your parts place and cut the axle ends, complete with disc brakes off an axle for my own "axle build". Below is the tale of my build and my impressions--but make no mistake about it---it not only is a work in progress, but it also absolutely rocks. I'll be updating this over the next few days as time allows with more pics and "stuff" as it is near complete (on the outside) and over this winter I will be figuring out the interior mods...
I drove from Colorado to Chicago to pick it up---and now 2 camping seasons later, I can say it has never let me down...
For the trailer brakes, I got an electric over hydraulic brake actuator from Hydrastar, the HBA-12. To do over, I would have gone with the HBA-16. It is paired with a brake controller (prodigy) in the D90. I also took the output of the brake actuator and ran it through a handbrake (designed for drifting) so that when I park I have a trailer brake. I have to say, it is awesome and works great. I can skid the tires barely off road but on road, they are too big and heavy to skid. I think at some point I will get the HBA16 (1600psi) to get a little more stopping power although it does alright.
For the heater, I am using a Mr. Heater Little buddy for now, but will be doing a Propex heater in the future. It is hard to find the Neon to begin with, and it didn't have the heater and their are great options out there for heaters.
The trailer box was sized to house 2x golf cart batteries that are then connected to my 100W suitcase solar panels. I wanted suitcase panels so that I can position them out of the shade while leaving the trailer in the shade when camping. I need the extra power storage from the golf cart batteries to run my breathing machine and to power the auto-lift top which I will fill you all in with a bit later. Here is the brake controller.
I designed the suspension using aftermarket 3" Suzuki Samarai springs to give ride nice without over foaming my beer. I mated a pair of monroe trailer shocks to the mix to keep it stable. It rides/pulls great. I am running the same rims/tires as the D90 so only have 1 spare for both. It also uses the same hubs, bearings, brakes and pads, so worse come to worse, I have a spare set for both vehicles. Since I am running 33" tires, they are now positioned where the jack would raise/lower the pop up top so I had to do something there which I was going to do anyways since it takes too much energy to raise the top with my condition. I bought a harbor freight ATV winch, removed the spool and welded on some gears to both the winch and the trailer lift mechanism then ran a chain between the two. The winch came with a remote control, making operation even easier. I kept the ratio and speed of raise/lower slow so I don't brake the whiffle tree mechanism (again--as I broke it once) so now it is all very controlled.
Did you make the new trailer tongue long enough so you could set it up while still hooked up to a car? On mine - the pull out bed would foul the back of the tow vehicle.
Yes--as of right now, I can. I wanted to be able to jack-knife the trailer at 90 degrees as well, but the "bed fouling" so to speak was the longer of the two dimensions. I made it just long enough to be able to do the bed without unhooking the trailer. I bolted the hitch in lieu of welding it for the time being to see if I leave it that long. Reversing is way easier--much more control, but you can't turn around on trail super tight or tightly maneuver so that is the trade off. Until I figure out which is 100% best, I am leaving it bolted.
I am, however, using a fully hooked up 3D articulating hitch designed for off road--the Lock-n-Roll. There are two main type of hitches (or varients) that most folks gravitate for--the Lock-n-Roll and the Max Coupler. Both awesome. Great arguments both ways and no wrong decision. Both better than pintle which is where I started. Lock N Roll | Articulating Trailer Hitches .
The other accessory I really like are the 31" BAL C-Jacks (BAL - Innovative Products for the RV Industry ) they make set up/tear down and leveling a snap. I don't spend a lot of time getting it level--I'm set up in under 5 minutes which is awesome. They are at all 4 corners.
Lastly, I am incorporating some water jerry-can holders that basically lean down in place so they can reside on the corners/fenders and have their own stand.
That is pretty much where I am at. I am adding exterior log carriers for when I have to bring wood, a Yeti Cooler rack on the front (I need all my power for my breathing machine plus we are typically in bear country so I opt for it over the fridge). And another awning. This winter I'll mod the inside more...
Thanks guys-- it's been a ton of fun to do. And still more to do. Just wanted to share a good pop up option for the D90. These mods took from April to Oct on the weekends and I tried to keep the trailer usable for it all but 2 weekends so we've really grown fond of it. This winter I need to finish the fenders and Jerry cans and do some mods to strengthen the box and mod the inside.
Huge props to a site called Expedition Portal. They gave me inspiration and advice plus some of the trailer builds are facinating. You want addition, you can find it there. Just check out the forums sometime. Expedition Portal