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Bike Caravan/Camp Trailer for Touring? Build #5

Old 06-23-21, 06:28 PM
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ghcoe
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Bike Caravan/Camp Trailer for Touring? Build #5

Hello, George here.
I build light weight trailers for vehicles with low to no towing capacity. My 4'x8' trailers come in around 375lbs and my 5'x8' come in around 450lbs.

My builds are not traditional builds since they are made of foam and canvas which allows for the light construction. The 4'x8' trailers I use weight 253lbs and the bodies I build weigh 122lbs which includes the door (28lbs) and a window (10lbs).

Last fall I had a response to one of my build adds that inquired if I build, or could build a caravan/camp type trailer to be pulled behind a e-bike. They had notice the weight difference of my builds to traditional built teardrop type trailers, which is generally 25%-50% lower than similar sized traditional built trailers. I had never really though of a caravan type trailer for bicycles before, but it did interest me.

They asked me if I though I could keep a build under 100lbs and be able to sleep one person. They also gave me some direction on European built bicycle caravan/trailers for references.

One thing I realized right away is there is no set way to build a bicycle trailer. So many different types of builds are out there. In doing more research I did find some more popular builds, mostly home made models that gave me direction on the build I plan to do.

I just finished my last clients trailer so now I am starting this trailer build. There was no real place to post this thread in so I chose this one since if you are touring some may want a caravan/trailer for the ride.
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Old 06-23-21, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ghcoe View Post
Hello, George here.
I build light weight trailers for vehicles with low to no towing capacity. My 4'x8' trailers come in around 375lbs and my 5'x8' come in around 450lbs.

My builds are not traditional builds since they are made of foam and canvas which allows for the light construction. The 4'x8' trailers I use weight 253lbs and the bodies I build weigh 122lbs which includes the door (28lbs) and a window (10lbs).

Last fall I had a response to one of my build adds that inquired if I build, or could build a caravan/camp type trailer to be pulled behind a e-bike. They had notice the weight difference of my builds to traditional built teardrop type trailers, which is generally 25%-50% lower than similar sized traditional built trailers. I had never really though of a caravan type trailer for bicycles before, but it did interest me.

They asked me if I though I could keep a build under 100lbs and be able to sleep one person. They also gave me some direction on European built bicycle caravan/trailers for references.

One thing I realized right away is there is no set way to build a bicycle trailer. So many different types of builds are out there. In doing more research I did find some more popular builds, mostly home made models that gave me direction on the build I plan to do.

I just finished my last clients trailer so now I am starting this trailer build. There was no real place to post this thread in so I chose this one since if you are touring some may want a caravan/trailer for the ride.
I want to see some pictures and maybe chat independently of this. I have been looking to build something up and had ideas but no real idea of where to start either. I know what I want to put into the dang thing but not sure how I want to go about it. I would love to see a trailer that is under 50 lbs (unladen with the gear I would put inside but an empty-ish shell with insulation and such.
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Old 06-24-21, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
I want to see some pictures and maybe chat independently of this. I have been looking to build something up and had ideas but no real idea of where to start either. I know what I want to put into the dang thing but not sure how I want to go about it. I would love to see a trailer that is under 50 lbs (unladen with the gear I would put inside but an empty-ish shell with insulation and such.
Sounds good! I see that I have a PM, but I can not see it since I don't have 10 posts yet.

This build I am estimating to come in at 75-80lbs. The heaviest part of the build is the floor since it is the foundation of the build. I do have some ideas to lighten the floor, but for the prototype I figured I would stay with what I know since it meets the clients recommendations. This build would have 1" of insulation since I use XPS insulation foam for my builds.
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Old 06-24-21, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ghcoe View Post
Sounds good! I see that I have a PM, but I can not see it since I don't have 10 posts yet.

This build I am estimating to come in at 75-80lbs. The heaviest part of the build is the floor since it is the foundation of the build. I do have some ideas to lighten the floor, but for the prototype I figured I would stay with what I know since it meets the clients recommendations. This build would have 1" of insulation since I use XPS insulation foam for my builds.
Nice. That is getting closer.

Hopefully we will see many posts from you in the forum. In 10 posts you will see it and we can certainly chat more about the plans and such. I am quite interested.
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Old 06-24-21, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
I want to see some pictures and maybe chat independently of this. I have been looking to build something up and had ideas but no real idea of where to start either. I know what I want to put into the dang thing but not sure how I want to go about it. I would love to see a trailer that is under 50 lbs (unladen with the gear I would put inside but an empty-ish shell with insulation and such.
Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
Nice. That is getting closer.

Hopefully we will see many posts from you in the forum. In 10 posts you will see it and we can certainly chat more about the plans and such. I am quite interested.
Looking forward to it. Thanks, George.
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Old 06-26-21, 07:16 AM
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I will be out in the shop this morning before it gets hot doing some work on the trailer. Hope to be able to post some pictures soon. At this point it has quite a nautical feeling to it.
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Old 06-27-21, 04:38 PM
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Managed to do a body mock up, window placements, cut outs for windows, roof cutout and edge miter for walls this weekend. At this point the inner walls and ceiling are ready for canvas. Canvas should be in tomorrow from what they told me. I hope to get some more work done this long holiday weekend coming up if all goes well.
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Old 06-28-21, 03:59 PM
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Canvas showed up today so everything is coming together for some building this long weekend.
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Old 06-28-21, 07:06 PM
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This heat wave has a grip on us. If it stays this hot through next weekend, not sure if I will get as far as I was hoping. Makes glue and paint dry real fast though.
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Old 06-28-21, 07:23 PM
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@ghcoe's Album:
https://www.bikeforums.net/g/user/532126
https://www.bikeforums.net/g/album/21666049

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Old 06-28-21, 07:39 PM
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This is a picture of my last build about half way through. The body weighed about 130lbs once canvas, paint and the door and window were installed.
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Old 06-28-21, 07:40 PM
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It appears as if your build is around a Harbor Freight (or similar) trailer.

It would make a nice little car trailer. Although, if you're going canvas, perhaps consider a pop-up.

If you choose to start building bike trailers, then I'd encourage you to jump away from the car design and try a pure bike design.

There are a number of heavy duty bike trailers, both commercial and home built.

This is my "Heavy Hauler". I started using it before it was 100% completed. But, the thing can haul as much as I can pull.



And, of course, there is the commercial Surly trailer.



You will have to work out a hitch. I have my heavy hauler with a straight tongue and a Heim joint for a hitch matched to a rear hitch on my bike. I'd probably do something a little different on a second build.

It is common to connect at or near the rear axle, which is one of the strongest parts of the bike.

I've also seen seatpost hitches. The Eugene Human Powered Machines does that, with the advantage that it naturally makes a nice handle for moving the trailer by hand.

I'm not sure there are width limits. I'd probably keep a bike trailer under about 3 feet wide including the wheels, but perhaps as wide as 4 feet wide including the wheels, but no wider.

As it is, bollards are terrifying, and I know of some that I could never get my cargo trailer between.

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Old 06-28-21, 08:10 PM
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Yes that picture above is a shot of my last clients build. It is designed to be towed behind vehicles with low towing specs. It is also based on a Harbor Freight trailer. Total weight is about 375lbs.

The bike trailer build looks nothing like this build. Looks more like a boat!

The foam construction is quite strong so with the bike trailer build I am going with the uni-body technique.

I looked at quite a few European builds, some home built and some commercial built. The dimensions were generally pretty close so I am staying within those dimensions. My build the body is 43" wide and 7'6" long. The wheels will be inboard.

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Old 06-28-21, 08:59 PM
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I see you've uploaded a few new photos to the album (linked above).

Are those windows in the last photo? Why not go with a sewn in vinyl window with either a zipper or velcro closure. And a velcro catch if you wish to open them. Mosquito netting?
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Old 06-29-21, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ghcoe View Post
Canvas showed up today so everything is coming together for some building this long weekend.
How are you securing the canvas to the foam? Paint, like a canvas canoe? Interested in more pics of your build as I've considered this for a winter's project.
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Old 06-29-21, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I see you've uploaded a few new photos to the album (linked above).

Are those windows in the last photo? Why not go with a sewn in vinyl window with either a zipper or velcro closure. And a velcro catch if you wish to open them. Mosquito netting?
Vinyl windows would be lighter. Besides the floor the windows and doors are usually the next heaviest items in the build. I generally try to make a trailer somewhat secure though. Plus it would take more time to make vinyl windows than to purchase premade windows. Time is money. Yes there will be mosquito netting fitted to the windows. Part of the idea of a trailer is less bugs, scorpions, snakes and what ever else may crawl into a tent or shoe at night.
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Old 06-29-21, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
How are you securing the canvas to the foam? Paint, like a canvas canoe? Interested in more pics of your build as I've considered this for a winter's project.
I use Tight Bond II mixed 50/50 with water on the walls and full strength on the edges and flaps. 10oz canvas painted with latex house paint similar to canvas canoe construction.
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Old 06-29-21, 04:53 PM
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So this is the beginning. Supplies sitting in the shop ready for a creation.



This is the floor with inner frame rails installed. The inner frame rails stiffen the floor some and also act as a backer for the foam to help hold it in place on the inside.



Windows that I will be using in the build.

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Old 07-04-21, 04:49 PM
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Last weekend I mocked up the side walls so I could figure out window placements and see how well the foam could handle the curve.






I had already figured out the miter cut for the walls along the front edge.

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Old 07-04-21, 04:59 PM
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Once I figured out the window placements I cut them out.







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Old 07-09-21, 08:35 PM
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Spackle applied to the low areas on the foam.



After the spackle dries I sand everything smooth with a sanding block.



The canvas is now ready to be canvased. This is a shot of the canvas being rolled out to be cut.

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Old 07-09-21, 08:59 PM
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Canvas is then rolled up and ready for gluing down with Tight Bond II. I dilute the Tight Bond II 1/2-1/3 with water depending on outside temp.



Canvas glued down and drying.



Once the glue is dry I cut off the excess canvas.



I also cut around the window cutouts in the walls. I installed the windows to make sure they fit ok. At his point I weighed the wall with the windows. Came it an 11lbs.

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Old 07-09-21, 09:21 PM
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Isn't titebond II susceptible to water damage over time? I tend to stick with III for anything I make that will see moisture otherwise I use liquid hide which since its repairable long term on things like chairs which won't see water.
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Old 07-09-21, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Isn't titebond II susceptible to water damage over time? I tend to stick with III for anything I make that will see moisture otherwise I use liquid hide which since its repairable long term on things like chairs which won't see water.
Tight Bond II is water resistant and will hold up fine unless it is submerged in water for a long time. The canvas is painted over with latex paint so in general the Tight Bond II will not see any water contact.
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Old 07-12-21, 04:46 PM
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Progress got slowed down a bit this week. Really all I managed to do was to cut off the excess canvas on the other wall, mark my shelf locations, and cut out the shelf dado's. Most of the time was making a new hot wire jig for the shelf cuts and a template for it too. Getting too hot here in the afternoons to be working out in the shop.




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