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June 17, 2015 Comments (0) DIY Advice, Projects

Retro Trailer Re-build – Part One

Some of my best memories of camping involve a Ford Maverick towing an old pop-top camper van through the centre of Australia and back. She did a good job for an 800 dollar investment built during the 1970’s, but the day was always going to come where she’d need a rebuild. Rebuilding that beast was a learning curve for sure, but the trusty new and improved pop top did the job for many more years. Until it was sold…

Now, not quite two weeks later, a smaller and far more run down version of that trailer has taken its place. This one is an ACT Cruiser. I estimate that it was built in around 1978, and this thing has had a VERY hard life!

The fiberglass body looks really cool, and will be even nicer with some new parts and a lick of paint

The fiberglass body looks really cool, and will be even nicer with some new parts and a lick of paint

The dark patches on the canvas are where rips have been repaired. The canvas sure has seen better days!

The dark patches on the canvas are where rips have been repaired. The canvas sure has seen better days!

As you can see from the pictures, this project is a serious undertaking. The purchase price was just $300. It’s missing the kitchen, has plenty of holes, some big cracks in the chassis and is unregistered. You may as well say we have bought a fibreglass body and a rough frame to draw some plans for a brand new trailer. This rebuild will be done mostly by myself and my father; from here on known as John…..Because that’s his name. John is the man with the restoration skills, he’s the bloke who did such a good job building the last trailer!

The interior is pretty rough and bare, almost a blank canvas already!

The interior is pretty rough and bare, almost a blank canvas already!

I’m going to start off this project by stating our mission. Our key points to pay attention to on this build are:

  • Keeping it lightweight. This trailer is small, has no brakes, is nice and light, and we would like it to remain that way. If it sits nice and low behind the vehicle, and weighs very little; that’s better for visibility and fuel consumption. For this trailer is to remain un-braked, we will need to keep it under 650kg fully loaded. If we don’t achieve that goal we can always throw brakes on later.
  • There’s this growing idea that says a camper trailer should be able to follow your 4WD out for a day of rock crawling. I don’t agree with that at all. If tough driving is the order of the day then the trailer can stay at a base camp while we have some fun. Our trailer will be built to withstand corrugations, some beach driving and only the mildest of 4WD tracks into our desired campsite.
  • Modernise! 12V is where it’s at. We’re deleting all 240V systems from the trailer and replacing it with solar panels, batteries, inverter and LED’s for lighting. The interior will be stripped (not that there’s much left anyway) and re-done to more modern and convenient standards. The roof is also rather difficult to lift so there will be some tinkering with gas struts to make that task easier.
  • Shine it up. New canvas all around in a nice cream colour will make it look a million bucks, and a lick of fresh paint on the outside. I’m going to try my hand at a very interesting painting technique. With everything brand new and build mostly by us in the shed, she should turn heads on the road and at camp!
The chassis is beyond saving; a new one will be built from scratch.

The chassis is beyond saving; a new one will be built from scratch.

The tiny 10-inch boat wheels will make way for some larger and tougher light truck tyres.

The tiny 10-inch boat wheels will make way for some larger and tougher light truck tyres.

Right now you’re probably thinking it all sounds great, but you’re glad it’s not you doing all the hard work right? Well trust me, this thing is going to be epic!

Click here for part two.

Alex Garner Sign Off

 

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