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How We Made Our Own Custom Tiny House Trailer

How We Made Our Own Custom Tiny House Trailer

7/16/14 (4 years ago)

How We Made Our Own Custom Tiny House Trailer

After looking at the trailers available for purchase, we decided to build our own.

Why We Built Our Own Trailer

So, why didn't we just buy a ready-made trailer and build on top of it?

  • Size: Most trailers are only 18-24 feet long and we needed 35 feet.

  • Strength: Most trailers are built with light materials and wouldn't hold up to 10,000 lbs. over a long distance.

  • Design: Most trailers aren't designed for building tiny houses on top of, so building our own gave us the flexibility to support the design of our custom tiny house.

  • Cost: With the tools and skills available to us, we could build our own for less than buying one.

Our Unique Design

The main frame of our trailer is 35 feet long, 8 feet wide, and built with 3x6x.188 steel tube. Since our tiny house features a 24'x5' slideout, we designed the 3 cross tubes of the frame to house the slideout track mechanism. We purchased a new 12,000 lb. tandem axle trailer kit, electric brakes, hitch, and lights from a truck/trailer supply retailer nearby. We also were fortunate to find a set of 4 slightly used tires with rims and a local junkyard for a great price.

We modeled our trailer after dual semi configurations, with a dolly in the front. The axles are split up, so that one is near the rear of the trailer, and the other is mounted on a dolly. The dolly attaches to the trailer with a 5th-wheel hitch and to the tow vehicle with a standard ball hitch. This gives us the flexibility to tow it with a regular pickup with the ball hitch or hire a semi tractor or hotshot hauler to tow it with the 5th-wheel hitch. It lowers the tongue weight on the ball hitch. And it provides more stability along the length of the trailer while towing. When parked, the hitch can be removed and stored under the trailer.

Tools We Used

A lot more work went into making the trailer than we expected (2 months). And a lot of equipment was needed:

  • Flatbed trailer for hauling 20 ft. sticks of steel tube

  • Steam cleaner for cleaning the protective coating of grease off steel tubes

  • Metal band saw for cutting tube

  • Plasma cutter for cutting holes in frame

  • Stick welder for welding... a lot of welding!

  • Chop saw for small cuts

  • Laser transit, bubble levels, tape measures, and squares for making sure things were level, square, and straight

  • House jack, floor jack, pneumatic jacks, and custom adjustable screw jack stands

  • Air compressor and paint gun

  • Misc. hand tools: grinders, drills, die grinder, hammers, clamps,

How We Did It

We started by assembling the axle, suspension, brakes, and wheels. Then we cut the tube for the frame using the metal band saw. Next, we welded the frame, starting with the dolly. We made sure everything was exactly square and level so that it would stay that way as we built it out. It took the laser level, bubble levels, and measuring diagonals to get it right. Lots of readjusting was needed.

We plasma cut holes for lights and connectors. Installed the conduit, ran cable, and hooked up the lamps and connectors to the wiring boxes. The lights and brakes are wired to both a 7-pin flat RV-style connector and a 7-pin round Heavy Duty connector near the hitch. We used metal conduit and junction boxes to protect the wiring. A DIN-style wiring block is located at the front and rear to easily change the wiring configuration if the tow vehicle has a strange setup. The battery-powered breakaway safety switch is setup to activate the electric brakes if the trailer disconnects from the tow vehicle.

Finally, we sprayed a coat of dark gray paint. We took it out for a test drive and weighed it, and it came in at 3,000 pounds exactly, which was less than what we expected. Now we were ready to start building the slideout mechanism.

More Information

  • Sketchup drawing of trailer Sketchup drawing of trailer
  • The Dolly The Dolly
  • Successful test drive Successful test drive