The idea for adding a tongue box has been mentioned numerous times in the forums. Most times one had to choose between the propane
tank and battery
or a tongue box. After seeing a Buyer's Plastic Tongue box
at Princess Auto, I came up with an idea that would allow all 3. If I could find some shorter propane
tanks I could set the tongue box over the propane
tanks and a battery
I found that the Manchester 11 Lb. propane tank
would suit my needs. It is essentially ½ the height of the standard 20 Lb. propane tank. Two tanks and a Rubber Queen M318 (group 24/27) battery
box would fit nicely under the tongue box. All I had to do was attach them to the frame, with two unique features. I wanted the box to lock the tanks in place and be able to tilt forward to allow me to change them. The first 2 welders thought the job was too difficult to figure out and it would take too long. The third welder took on the challenge and put something together within an hour using scraps. Although my description indicates it was one welder, it was actually 3 guys that work together and myself pointing and grabbing scraps and coming up with something that worked. It was rather enjoyable.
He welded some thick sheet metal across the bottom of the frame, closer to the body than the original rusted out one was. It was just wide enough for the two tanks to sit on, with their bases between the frame rails. One piece of rectangular steel was welded onto the top of the frame to keep the tanks from sliding back into the body. Forward of the tanks he welded a small angle iron frame for the base of the battery box. With all 3 of the lower components in place he set the tongue box on top and proceeded to weld one support and hinge on the front edge. A support was made between the two tanks coming up from the rectangular cross bar. He sat a piece of metal on that and welded it to the hinge in front and then ran two short angle irons across so the sat into the tank handles. He then drilled some holes so the bar could be locked onto the support and some other holes through the box so it could be bolted to the supporting frame.
In the picture above the box appears too close to the rear of my truck. That is not the case since my truck is on about a 45 degree angle to the trailer. The red arrow indicates where the rear support came up between the tanks. Obviously it would interfere with a regulator, but it would do for our first major trip the next morning. I knew it would be a while before we would be able to get the propane hooked up. Our first trip demonstrated that the box rocked a little from side to side.
Once home, I tinkered around with some wood to find the right location for supports on either side of the box towards the rear. Then it was back off to the welder who quickly altered the original design to the second verision, which I am still using 2 years later.
This is v2 of the design with the top of the box open. I store the loose bulky things in there like wheel chocks, scissor jacks and trailer supports.
This shows the box tilted forward to access the propane tanks or battery if needed.
The valves can be easily reached when every thing is locked.
The two pictures above, front and rear views show the angle iron setting into the lip of the tanks locking them in place.
If I were to do it again, I'd make the following changes for Version 3:
I'd move the front mounts further back to under the edge of the box as shown in yellow. This would make a better point to wrap a bra around the front of the trailer in the future.
I'd rotate the tanks and their locking brackets slightly to the position marked in red. This would allow for the side brackets to be moved in a little closer under the edge of the box. It would allow for a better wrap of a bra and it would give more room to get at the valves as shown by the green arrow. It would also keep the propane hose from rubbing against the trailer as shown by the blue arrow.
Other changes might be to use a white plastic tongue box
, which could be painted on the lower part to match the body, or use a slightly smaller and lighter aluminum diamond pattern box. There is also a 20 Lb. horizontal tank with gauge
that would fit, reducing the weight
, eliminating the need for a cross over regulator and making it easier to install a take off T for propane outside of the trailer.
All the fixes and modifications that were done to my trailer can be seen in the thread Restoring Our 1972 Boler American, Annotated pictures