Ed's Great Cargo Trailer Conversion
As you probably know, I’m a big fan of converting a cargo trailer; so much that’s what I did and live in. I love the versatility of living in the trailer in the winter, then storing it and taking just the van in the summer for longer trips. One question I get all the time is why didn’t I buy a used Travel Trailer instead since they are about the same price? It has these advantages compared to buying a used Travel Trailer:
- It’s a blank slate for you to create just what you want and nothing more.
- They have far superior construction. With the aluminum skin and steel ribs they’ll last for decades of trouble-free service.
- They’re cheap compared to any RV. My 6×10 cargo trailer with numerous upgrades only cost $2500 new.
- Because of the aluminum, they are much lighter than nearly all RVs and can be towed by most SUVs.
- They have better ground clearance for taking them into the back-country like narrow Forest roads or narrow desert roads. The aluminum skin can handle winding, tree-chocked roads you could never take any Travel Trailer down, especially a fiberglass trailer. With their high ground clearance and clean bottoms you can take them through a desert wash without fear of high-centering or ripping out your plumbing or tanks.
- His cargo trailer is light enough to be easily towed by his Chevy Envoy SUV so he gets a very nice daily driver, decent MPG and tow vehicle.
To my mind their only competition are the small fiberglass egg-shaped trailers like the Cassita, Scamp or Burro. For many people they are the perfect choice, but for me they aren’t a good option:
- They’re so popular they are very expensive. I can’t afford them even used.
- They aren’t a blank slate. Most of the things they have I don’t want.
- They aren’t as tough and can’t go the places I want to go, although to be fair, they can get close.
In today’s post I want to talk about my friend Ed’s 6×12 cargo trailer conversion. I am very impressed with just what he’s done because he makes excellent use of his space and yet it came out looking very nice. He’s struck a very good balance of form versus function. The trailer looks nice, it’s very comfortable and yet makes excellent use of it’s small amount of space.
In the above picture we’re looking forward to the front of the van. The most obvious thing you see is the nice paneling he used to cover the walls and ceiling. It looks nice and gives his home a very nice, warm feel. His bed is on the side opposite of the front door with storage under it. Against the front wall he built a storage unit and his flat-screen TV is on it. He gets TV from over-the-air broadcast stations.
Here were looking at the back of the van. On the right side, behind the bed is a shelf and storage unit. On the left is a long counter top that he uses as his kitchen and office.
When I asked him why he was living in a cargo trailer he said there were two main reasons:
- Conscience: he’d come to the point where he was sick and tired of the consumerism of our society and wanted out of it.
- Consequences: some of the things he’d done in his life had reached a boiling point and came together to require he make a change.
I won’t go into details on his life, but that’s exactly what happened to me. The consequences of my bad marriage finally came together and led to divorce and that’s how I ended up in a van.
Here’s a close-up of the closet and storage shelves. Notice the peg-board, I love peg-board and find it very practical for organization. Just like Ed, my most used tools are hanging where I can get them quickly and easily.
At the bottom of the storage unit Ed has a Whytner 12 volt compressor fridge.
Looking back at the left side of the trailer you can see the counter-top he built with some of the storage underneath it. From the front you can see his laptop, stove, sink and water container. Above the counter you can see he has peg-board all along the wall which greatly enhances his organization. You can also see his vent in the roof for ventilation.
Under the sink is a water jug to act as a grey water tank. When it gets full enough he takes it outside and dumps it.
A close-up of the peg-board.
He built the counter-top just the right height to hold these plastic drawer units,
With the 12 volt fridge, TV and computer, he needs a steady source of power and so he has these two solar panels mounted on the roof.