Off roading - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-09-2020, 07:51 AM   #1
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Name: Penny
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Off roading

Has anyone converted their trailer for off roading? If so what did you do?
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:28 AM   #2
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Off roading?

Better explain what you mean by ďoff-roading,Ē which can mean anything from graded gravel forest service roads to rock-crawling through canyon river beds.

The first just needs good tires and perhaps a fresh axle. The last requires a complete rebuild from the ground up.
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:05 AM   #3
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I want to do forest service roads to access dispersed camping. Has anyone retrofitted/converted their camper- lift with off road tires, different hitch, galvanized metal underlayer, etc?
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:07 AM   #4
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Every now and then someone will post a link to a seriously built "offroad" trailer, paid for (rarely built by) someone with too much money, looking for a cool possession, and people here criticize all the reasons it's silly.

There are ways to make a camper good for offroading, and some are built that way by the manufacturer. In the end, if you're talking really off-level, bouldery, rock-outcropping kinds of roads, I'd say leave the trailer at home. A pop-up trailer might be better.

For your typical forest service and somewhat maintained desert roads, a 4" lift on a stock fiberglass trailer is plenty, and it basically brings them to the height I think they should have been from the start. You're finally not dragging them trying to get out of parking lots or up steep driveways.

For what you posted while I was posting this, I would say, depending on what you're starting with, a few inch lift, a reinforced frame, and some skid plates on the back corners. Beyond that, get yourself a nice tent and a cot and leave the trailer at home. I do basically only dispersed camping, and my trailer with a 4" lift is plenty. For myself, I've come to the decision that for any road requiring more clearance or skid plates, I don't want to haul my camper down that road anyway. The off-angles and bumps are really, really rough on the fiberglass, cabinets, and everything in them. I don't bring my trailer when I go to the desert anymore.

Knobby tires do nothing but look cool. There's no power going to the trailer wheels so traction doesn't do much for you. They might give you a little help in mud.

Examples of good builds are out there, but too many of them are vanity projects, like the "mall crawlers" you see around some towns: Jacked up trucks or Jeeps or other SUVs, giant knobby tires, aftermarket bumpers, all sorts of bolted-on attachments, racks and gas cans, and never a speck of dirt, because they never leave the pavement, or at best hit the same gravel roads my friends drive their Honda Civic down.
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:23 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info. As a woman, I prefer having the hard shell camper with some amenities. I’ll have to find someone who can do the lift, reinforcement & improved hitch.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:01 AM   #6
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I would do a lot more research before paying anyone.

This is your call, obviously, but a metal underlayer? Even with a hardcore off-road jeep, you aren't dragging the bottom tub of the vehicle.

You want skid plates, at most. If Raspy (a member here) sees this he may respond. He bought an off-road trailer and has used it places I'd never take my molded fiberglass trailer. The extreme angles you're putting the trailer at on big rocks will crack fiberglass eventually, in my opinion.

Definitely search around on the web, though. Use all the keywords: molded fiberglass, casita, scamp, burro etc.

If you're doing hardcore enough stuff to need a full metal plate on the underside of the camper, you'll want a completely different suspension setup with springs and axle that will flex more than a stock setup.

If I'm not taking your request seriously enough I apologize. It's been my experience that most people talking about off road don't mean hardcore 4x4. This was posted by Raspy. If this is the stuff you want to do, then some modifications are in order. But a metal plate covering the underside aren't one of them. Scroll to the last post on that page and watch the video. That's more hardcore than most people who build off-road trailers will get.

Another example (maybe you've seen)

Again I do all dispersed camping, forest and desert roads. The only roads I'd need more than the 4" lift my trailer already has as its only modification are roads that just aren't good for the trailer for lots of other reasons than dragging on rocks.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:56 AM   #7
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I've maybe done what you're looking for. I have a '93 Casita SD that I've lifted so it has 17 inches of clearance front and rear. I did that by installing Dexter's highest lift axle. My old axle was worn out so I just replaced it with the high lift one.

I haven't had the need for plates on the bottom but I don't do extreme off-road trailering either. I use it for Forrest Service roads, unpaved county roads, and desert trails in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. I'm glad it did it. I get compliments everywhere I go by other Desert Rats.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyPenny View Post
I want to do forest service roads to access dispersed camping. Has anyone retrofitted/converted their camper- lift with off road tires, different hitch, galvanized metal underlayer, etc?
You don't need to do all of that for forest service roads. I would recommend the following:

(1) Gaining a few more inches of clearance is good. Your Burro has a rubber torsion axle with a lifespan of twenty years or so. If it's still in good condition you might be able to lift it be welding a tube on the frame. If it's marginal or bad, consider replacing it with a Flexiride torsion axle with an adjustable ride height. Beware of the temptation to go heavy duty on the weight rating, though- too stiff a suspension will beat up your trailer.

(2) Knobby off-road tires are a waste on a trailer, but upgrading to a higher load range makes sense. Reducing pressure a little when you go off highway is helpful, but make sure you have a way to air back up when you return to the highway.

(3) Apply a chip resistant coating to the lower front of the shell. Truck bedliner is one option. Make sure the front window has a rock guard.

(4) Have a professional welder inspect the frame and recommend repairs and/or reinforcements.

(5) Tighten every connection inside the trailer (and reinspect often). Install positive drawer and cabinet latches. Organize supplies in bins to keep trailer contents from getting scrambled.

(6) There is no need to change the hitch unless you are going on unimproved "roads" with extreme articulation angles.

Best wishes!
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Old 07-09-2020, 02:45 PM   #9
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Thanks for suggestions

I appreciate your helpful comments. I hope to get some of these accomplished shortly & will post.
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Old 07-09-2020, 04:16 PM   #10
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Penny,

You mentioned the hitch twice and I agree that if you get into very many off-angles, you are better off with an articulating hitch. This one has over 90 degrees of movement in all directions and 360 degrees of rotation. Plus is hooks up by simply backing into it, where it latches like a door latch. Alignment is very simple with no lifting the tongue up and lowering it back down on the ball. Just back into it.

Ground clearance is very important when going off-road, or even on rough roads. The most common problem is the plumbing hanging down underneath. Very vulnerable. The springs or torsion axle should be in excellent shape. These can also be re-arranged for more lift. Larger than stock tires can give you some lift too, while being more heavy duty and rolling over obstacles better.

Suspension performance is also very important when on rough roads. It can easily make the difference between chaos inside and broken parts, compared to getting there intact.
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Old 07-09-2020, 04:42 PM   #11
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just park your nice camper trailer on one of these


towed behind...




:-p
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Old 07-10-2020, 06:56 PM   #12
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Hereís a video of how I lifted my 1976 Surfside. It was actually not to hard took about a day but most of that was running around to get parts. Love it now... no more bottoming out. Tows great also.
Zac

https://youtu.be/C714eky5YZ8
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Old 07-10-2020, 10:15 PM   #13
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Zac,

What is the condition of your torsion axle? It looks like the arms are up past center which will move the tire forward when it flexes. Is there enough tire clearance to allow that?
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Old 07-11-2020, 08:11 AM   #14
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Why would you need rock guards for a rock crawler unless you had a death wish on trails severe enough to warrant special equipment as they would be low speed. Higher speeds on roadways would it worse I would think
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Old 07-12-2020, 07:53 PM   #15
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Zac,

What is the condition of your torsion axle? It looks like the arms are up past center which will move the tire forward when it flexes. Is there enough tire clearance to allow that?
Yeah it was definitely up past centre.... Iím not 100% but I think brand new from the factory it came with an up angle of 10deg.... before I lifted it I performed a movement test of the axle I had 1.25Ē from compression to full extension. Good enough for me. The axles in the surf side are 3500lbs so they are much beefier then the small ones.... my personal opinion is I think they last a little longer. Eventually the plan is leaf springs with damper/ shocks but I figured this will get me another couple years of camping.
Check out my YouTube video of Ontario crown land camping you will see I drag it everywhere.... over some pretty big logs thru streams, rocks..... so far so good no tire rub at all.
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:21 PM   #16
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zac, Send me, or post a link please.
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:52 AM   #17
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zac, Send me, or post a link please.
I guess were not going to far off the original topic.... I think the question was about service roads and logging roads. Hope Iím ok to post here....

Hereís my last trip just got back a few weeks ago.... nice spot right on the lake but a little bit of a miserable drive in.
Zac

https://youtu.be/Cq72UxGgpsM
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Old 07-13-2020, 08:05 AM   #18
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Thanks Zac, Very nice.
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Old 07-13-2020, 01:30 PM   #19
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I love that this forum is so supportive of people doing their own individual thing that meets their needs. My needs are unlikely to match yours. I'll probably get skewered for this post anyway.
Having said that, for some of our trips we need off-road knobby tires for several reasons: 1) Strong sidewalls that resist punctures from rocks. This is by far the number one reason we upgraded. 2) Traction - despite a couple of comments to the contrary, you don't want your trailer pushing you down a steep, low traction slope. Non-proportional but adjustable electric brakes are really helpful in those 4-wheel low situations. 3) Clearance. 4) Matching tow vehicle wheels and tires gives you a second spare for TV or trailer.
For those special places, there is no way the Lil Snoozy can be upgraded to go there. So we take the TC Teardrop instead. 17" ground clearance and derated Dexter axle. I post this here in case someone is thinking of upgrading their fiberglass camper for rougher roads. Get a heavy duty axle with the torsion bar derated for a lighter weight. This one is 3500 lb derated to about 2000 lbs. You get bigger brakes and bearings but softer ride.
And use an articulating hitch like Raspy's. Ours is a Lock N Roll.
Bottom line, beyond a certain road difficulty, hardening a trailer to do something it wasn't designed to do is a lost cause. I have spent too much time under a trailer putting in a new axle and wheels, only to have the cabinets and windows shake to pieces. That's the background on getting a purpose-built off road trailer.
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Old 07-13-2020, 04:15 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by LuckyPenny View Post
I appreciate your helpful comments. I hope to get some of these accomplished shortly & will post.
I think if you need all that beefing up of the tires and frame you might find the interior of the trailer falling apart. Cabinets and drawers and maybe the appliances.Thatís just a guess no experience here. They make some really rugged trailers in Australia that can handle almost anything but they donít look like anything sold here.
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