Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

RV Review: In support of cargo trailers for camping – Part 2

I had written before that after seeing all these RVs in my daily RV reviews column, I’m still leaning toward building my own design using a cargo trailer. This is something that actually has quite a bit of traction with there being groups on various social media sites dedicated to this. In fact, I’ve written about using a cargo trailer as an RV in the past.

The reason for bringing this back up is that my wife, ever the patient soul that she is, sent me a link to Look Trailers, a manufacturer of cargo trailers. But the thing that she specifically sent me is their “upgrades” page which includes things like work benches, beds, dinettes, refrigerators and bathrooms. 

One of the things that’s stopping me from building my own cargo trailer conversion is that, let’s just say I’m more Tim the Tool Man than MacGyver. So to be able to order a trailer from the factory that has enough blank slate in it so I can finish the job with what limited skills I do have, yet actually have plumbing and electrical that real knowledgeable people put in, is very appealing. 

Talking to various people at the company, it is possible to work with a dealership to order a Look trailer. They’re fairly flexible with layout and design and specifications. If you do order one with holding tanks, those tanks are all 30-gallon capacity. 

Yes, they will plumb in a sink and holding tanks and wire the trailer with lighting and 120-vac power. 

Why a cargo trailer

Why in the world would I have interest in a cargo trailer instead of buying something off the shelf? 

This is the floor plan I’ve roughed-out for my own custom trailer vision.

First of all, accommodation. I want an interior where I can bring my bicycle but also with a desk. My wakeup time is very different than my wife, and I come out and write these articles. I want separation between the bedroom and the main living space in a trailer that has zero slide rooms and isn’t more than 20 feet long. 

If properly constructed, the shower and toilet that bisects the interior would have doors that, when “opened”, would create a single space the entire width of the trailer. When closed each room would be its own space, if needed. Someone could shower while another person, well, pays rent on the beer. Or one person could have a large bathroom. All this would happen just by opening and closing doors. 

What I don’t want

I don’t want rubber roofs or funky swirls. I also don’t want beige or white. Blue or green would be my preference. 

I don’t want cheap leaf springs. I’d rather have either a Timbren axle-less suspension or a Dexter Torflex axle, which is what Look trailers uses. 

I also don’t want those dumb MORryde fold-down steps that everyone is using. They are not faster, they are not more convenient for road-side stops, and they flip dirt into the trailer. You have to open the door almost 180 degrees to deploy them and you always have to fiddle with the feet. No thank you. I love the stability, but I dislike the product. Intensely. 

What I do want

I’d like to test out using a mini split AC unit to heat and cool the trailer rather than a rooftop unit. In fact, the only holes I want in the roof are for Maxair fans with hoods and, of course, venting of the black tank. No AC, definitely no skylight (they crack in short order). And I’d prefer an aluminum roof to a flexible rubber one. 

This would then leave almost the entire roof for solar panels. I’m talking at least six 190-watt panels for a total of 1,140 watts of solar. I’d back this up with 600 amp-hours of LiFePO4 batteries. That should definitely do the trick. 

The trailer would also be all-electric. So the cooking surface would be induction and the refrigerators would be those 12 volt cooler-style. Why those? I can use them inside or bring them outside. I tend to spend most of my daylight time outside the trailer for cooking and working – so I’d like to bring the chill outside. 

An ideal fridge/freezer

The Dometic CFX3 75DZ has two chambers so you can have both freeze or both refrigerate, or have one freeze and one refrigerate. You could start out a long journey with both sides keeping food frozen and then, as you go through the food, you could use one chamber as a refrigerator. 

I could keep one of these in the back seat of my truck powered by the truck’s charging system and the other in the trailer so there’s always cold water or iced coffee at the ready. I’ve thought this through. 

In fact, my idea is to put a cooler on a slide tray and have an access door from the outside so I could use it either inside the kitchen area or outside. 

Counter space in the kitchen could be a desk space in the morning. There would be overhead cabinets in the kitchen but the counters could flip down so that you could stow two bicycles in transit. 

Can I just buy something like my dream RV?

What about just buying something like this? The floor plan my wife and I like best at the moment is the rPod 201, which is very much the trailer in my mind but made by a real RV company. But Forest River still hasn’t put this into production and I’m not sure they will. This is also in our budget and is the ideal size and weight. C’mon, rPod.

As for seating, I’ve already removed furniture from my present RV and replaced it with folding zero-gravity chairs. We also use tables that fold and slide under the chairs as well. We also have a folding rocking chair. Again, everything can fold up for transit to make room for the bicycles. And everything is usable indoors or out. 

Yes. I am nuts. As mentioned, my wife is a very patient person. Maybe I think of myself as the dude in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Am I working on a flying car, or is it just in my imagination? 

Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

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Judy S
1 month ago

Part 2 of my 2 cents:

I don’t love my undermounted 12v air conditioner (Cruisin Comfort). It uses a lot of power and doesn’t help much in sweltering heat. The undermounted compressor is noisy, but I mostly boondock away from others. I agree on avoiding rooftop installation.

Insulate the heck out of the walls, ceiling and floor, R15 minimum. This is tricky if you’re planning to order the trailer with some installed components.

The flat front end will create a lot of wind resistance.

Lastly, you’re not nuts! I went custom for the same reasons you mentioned.

Judy S
1 month ago

I need to post this in two parts!

I’m in an all-electric custom class B, no generator or propane, on a par with the Winnebago Revel, and I’ve mostly boondocked full time for the past year.

My 2 cents on your ideas:

Bathroom doors: genius

LiFeP0 batteries: 600Ah minimum, but at least 800 is better (or leave space to add them), unless you’re planning on shore power, genny, or always in the sun or driving every day and charging off an alternator.

Why? A few appliances like my 12v AC and induction cooktop pull a lot of power and are in use for long duration, often at times of day when there is little direct sun.

Tilting solar panels? A few of my friends have them but rarely bother. Easier to get the most efficient panels possible.

I love my two Dometic CFX50 12v fridges. Once cool, they don’t cycle on a lot. Nice to have the full freezer option.

Last edited 1 month ago by Judy S
Donald N Wright
1 month ago

tony, I like your ideas. As for the mini split A/C, Many of the Aliners and other A frame popup campers use the Cool Cat heat pump. Not that I recommend it, but why do manufacturers put air conditioner units on the roof of RV’s ? I have seen an individual put a split unit on his RV.

David F.
1 month ago

I like the idea. Practically though, we went bumper pull TH, no slides and has outdoor kitchen. Lots of capacity in fluid tanks, but is a heavy unit.

Merlin B.
1 month ago

Thank you for expressing my exact sentiments about those Lippert and Morryde steps. Those are an absolute deal breaker for me. Non-negotiable!

littleleftie
1 month ago

Go for it! You and your very patient wife need to put your master plan into action, build it, use it and then…write about it! Inquiring minds are waiting to see how you make out.

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