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Posts Tagged Trailer

Cargo Trailer Takes Off-Grid Off The Radar

With growing uncertainty in the nation, global strife, the fall of the American currency, and a host of other scenarios, the rise of the Prepper is growing as well. And for each prepper seems to come an idea of what housing for an emergency situation might look like. That coupled with the discontentment of RVers for where they have to stay may very well be the incentive for folks like Bill Southworth of Hybrid Propulsion for building what is now becoming known as the stealth camper or travel trailer. His particular build ended up being one of the slickest 80 sq. ft. transforming cargo trailers to date.

Stealth 1Turns out the precipice behind Bill’s build was – as he puts it – “Traveling with a Rottweiler means you stay either in really awful roadside motels or very high end hotels that treat the dog as a guest. He “decided that we needed a way to carry our hotel with us on our journeys. I checked out all the obvious travel trailer options and decided that they were either too large, too ugly, too inefficient, or too poorly constructed. I decided that I could do better.” And better he did. At just 16′ long this former horse trailer nicknamed “Son of a Buggy” is a solar powered gem that features some of the most clever and multi-faceted interior options one could imagine.

Stealth 2The walls, at first site, seem blank and sterile even. But interior designers would call them Scandanavian-inspired in that they are minimalist with high function yet little decor. The idea Bill insists is to make the space appear larger than it is by keep lines clean and make all furnishings and adornments invisible. The walls themselves are made from a honeycomb-type material that is recycled cardboard and covered with a thin birch veneer. The floors are recycled, compressed Mulberry bushes from Sustainable Flooring of Boulder, CO and is actually more durable  and more hard the Teak.

Stealth 4To make the trailer more comfortable and homey the sleeping arrangements are for a king size bed while the bed consists of one stationary twin which doubles as a sofa. When the bed is stowed, a drop down table can be slid into place to make a dining area for four. The entertainment system is a 26″ Samsung LED TV swings out above the bed for Apple TV or HD DirecTV. The printer , computers and WiFi storage is in the cabinet next to the TV. This level of technology is something that is becoming more predominant in tiny houses as even Tim and Shannon’s tiny house features a retractable movie screen with a HD projector and a surround sound system.

Stealth 6

Southworth designed and built his little cabin on wheels to use solar, battery, and power management and it’s designed to store for on board storage so that Bill and his wife can go for weeks off the grid and even off the radar!

Your Turn!

  • Would you want to disappear entirely with your tiny house?


Moving My Tiny House

It finally came time to move my tiny house from the land where I built it, to the land where I planned to live on it.  Initially I had planned to build and live in it on the same property, but circumstances changed and it was time to move on.  Besides, the land that I found to move to was much more suited to me and tiny living, plus it was a much bigger lot that I could tuck my house into out of sight.

photo 2The day arrived and step one was to get the house down from the blocks that I had jacked it up onto so that I could get it off the tires (prevent tire shock) and to get it level.  This was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be.  It was tricky to get it up on the blocks, but now I had added another 4,000 lbs of materials on top of it.  This process was slow and made me a little nervous honestly.  The thing I kept in my mind the entire time:  never let your hand come between the trailer and the blocks.  It’s easier said than done, but if the house were ever to fall, the only thing you can do is run.

Once we got it back on its wheels, I felt a lot better.  The trailer was holding the tiny house nicely even when fully loaded.  To move the house I opted for a Ford F150 which I rented from a local car rental place.  The rental was trickier than I had thought too because most car rental places don’t allow towing with their cars.  I could have gone with a Uhaul box truck which allows you to tow and can pull that weight.  I opted for the pickup truck because I had better viability and it was cheaper.  As a side note, I drive a Smart car which couldn’t ever tow the house, but the truck rental was about $65 for the day.

photo 1(1)Next time I rent to tow my house I think I’m going to opt for a “dually” which is a truck with double back tires.  This allows it to handle a lot more, the F150 did fine, but it’s suspension was put to the test even though it said it could handle it fine.  I should note that I have a dual axle trailer so less force was put on the trailer hitch than a single axle; then again if you have a single axle your house shouldn’t be more than 4,000 lbs total.

I had planned my route out to be the fewest number of turns, least traffic, slower speed roads and no bridges.  It did mean going through one of the more congested intersections, but we planned to go during the middle of a work day, so it wasn’t too bad.  The other thing that I did was in my truck I had my Father ride along to sit in the passenger seat to monitor things and check my blind spot, that was a huge help.  I also had Mother and Brother following behind me in another car.  Their job was to play interference for me; Basically keep cars from behind me and to block traffic when I change lanes.  We coordinated it all with cell phones and it went very well.

photo 3The only two things that had me worries was pot holes/bumps in the road and we saw two state troopers, which I knew were staring at me with curiosity.  I took my time, going just under the speed limit and it was very helpful to have my follow car who kept people from tailgating me.

photo 2(1)Once we got to my land I had my tail car go ahead and open the gate, take a look around to make everything looked good. I hung back about a mile away until I got the all clear.  I then was able to come in and duck into the property out of sight very quickly.  I also planned this for a day and time when I noticed most people were at work and not around, less people seeing the house the better in my mind.  I was able to zip down the road and into the property very quickly, unless someone happened to be already looking I don’t think anyone saw us.


Once we got to the property I had already planned out how I’d orient and place the house.  The turn into the pad area was too tight to make with the length so I drove past the parking pad, into the field, did a little off roading with my tiny house to circle back around.  After parking the trailer and chocking the wheels we could disconnect and I had installed a back exit to the pad to drive the truck out of easily.

All in all it was a good bit of work, quite nerve wracking and in the end, we landed safely in my new home.

I put together a tiny house towing checklist, download it by clicking the link below.

Beetle Camper

I saw this little camper floating around and thought it was not only odd, but pretty neat too!  I liked that the ball was on the roof, which gave the car a lot more maneuverability.  The camper was from 1974 and was designed for small cars to take on a quick trip with the family.


The Final Days Of Building

I just got back from my trip to Portland where I nailed down some of the details for the Tiny House Conference for April 2015.  We will be having the next conference in the city of Portland itself.  The city is a great place and I think you’ll like it too when you come to the conference.

photo 2Before my flight out I had to move out of my apartment, but I’m still making some sawdust in my tiny house while I finished the walls and install the floor.  I also needed to treat the walls with Tung Oil and then I can at least move into my house. I’ll finish the kitchen, but most of the cutting will need to be done outside the house.

Since I wasn’t quite ready to move into my tiny house yet I started to think about my next project and what I might want to do.  It lead me to getting an enclosed trailer which I was able to load my personal belongings into and would later serve as the start of my next project.  The trailer is a 7×12 foot dual axle trailer, which can hold 5,500 lbs of weight.  A convenient thing is I can drive my smart car into it, so when I later decide to go on long trips abroad or need to move I can park my smart in it to be safe while I’m away.

I drive a Smart Car which can’t tow my house or my trailer, but the truck cost me $65 a day in the city and with my Smart covering 99% of my needs and being only $13,000 I am glad I didn’t buy a truck now, especially after seeing how it guzzled gas.  One thing to note is that I had to rent a truck, but most car rental places don’t allow you to tow with rental cars.  I found a local company that allows you to tow, but if you’re looking in your area try calling the commercial arm of some of the rental companies.

So when I got back to Charlotte I have a house that needs to be finished, its now very hot and humid here and I’ll need to figure out a gym membership so I have a place to shower and then I’m going to have a water service come out for a while until the water gets hooked up.   For the time being I’m going to have to use my generator while I figure out solar, read all about my woes with the city.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with a guy to go over laying down some gravel and clearing a spot for my tiny house.


The Trailer For My Tiny House

Picking up my trailer was a very surreal moment for me.  I think when I saw the trailer for the first time it finally hit me that I was committing to this project.  It was a weird mix of emotions… excitement mixed with a touch of oh s%!$ I have to build a whole house!  Even though I have been inside a Tumbleweed Fencl before, when I saw the trailer it seemed small.  The interesting thing is now that I am building on it, it’s size seems to get bigger feeling.  Even though it seemed small for a house, it was huge on the road!  I had to go down this little side road to get home; at one point I looked in my side mirrors and my right tire was on the pavement’s edge and the left side was a foot into the other lane!

So now the nitty gritty details for those who want them.

The trailer is a 18′ utility trailer, its a 8,000 GWVR made by Kaufman trailers.  Between the fenders it is 82.5 inches which is really important for to make sure your house is as wide as possible.  Basically if you have you maximum trailer width, minus the tires, clearance from the axle/wheel wells you get about 82″.  The decking is treated lumber and I opted to get a heavier duty trailer so I could just leave all the decking on instead of fooling with removing some of it like many houses do.  This also means that I have a (almost) solid chunk of wood underneath my insulation which adds to the R value of my house.  According to a web search this will add about R-3 to my already R-13, add the almost inch of flooring and then a 1/2 finished flooring we are looking a total of R 18.8 for the floor.

I took my trailer to a welder to add the tie downs and remove a bunch of parts.  I had him cut off the rear light arms that you can see in the above photo, also the spare tire bracket and one part of the front “I” beam to make it flush with the front of the trailer.  The tie downs are 4 bolts in the front, 6 threaded rods on the sides and two plates on the back.  Check out the video below for more.


Here (below) is the front “I” beam that the top right arm of the “I” was cut off, you can see them cutting it off in the above photo.

In the above photo notice that I made the tie downs go in line with the cross members of the trailer.  I will have to tweak the wall framing to accommodate, but it is much strong at this point.

Since the house extends about 6″ off the back of the trailer I needed more tie down spots and support.  Above and below are photos of the rear tie down plates.  I left them without holes because I wanted to be sure to place the hole exactly where I needed it to tie into the framing once it is built.  Because of this I made the plates out of 6″ C channel and then had gussets welded onto them.  These plates ended up being slightly too long, but I will just sheath this section of the house twice:  the first layer will extend the surface beyond the plate’s edge and the second will hand down to attach the siding and hide the trailer from sight.



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