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Old 06-03-2022, 01:59 PM   #1
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Default Off-grid trailer suitable for a Class B

This is a cross-post of sorts, just in case anyone on Class B Forum has additional info on the topic of micro-trailers.

Following a thread last year on Air Forums in which I lamented my super-heavy T1N Sprinter (and the tire blow-out that the weight might have contributed to), I hatched a new second thread exploring the idea of crafting an off-grid trailer, pic for inspiration below from this unrelated DIY post.

While I wait with fingers crossed to see whether I can actually acquire a Cargo Mate TXEHW58SA trailer that we could proceed to customize, I am doing research. At this point, given supply chain disruptions, we are not even sure whether a suitable battery would be obtainable (we already have the solar panels but not the other components).

If anyone has anything relevant to add on this topic, please comment. Thanks.

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Old 06-04-2022, 12:49 AM   #2
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I mounted a 180W panel on the roof of my 5x8 trailer that we haul our two dual sport motorcycles in:



Works great! We have a total now of 380W with the 200W on the van roof.
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Old 06-04-2022, 01:03 AM   #3
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Other than the solar panel above, the only customizations I've done to the trailer are the following:
  • Installed Pitbull Trailer Restraint system to hold the two bikes
  • Installed shelving in the front v-nose
  • Painted walls and floor with Kilz primer followed by Porch and Floor paint (textured on the floor for traction)
  • Installed Tekonsha Prodigy Wireless Brake Controller (ordered the trailer with brakes)
  • Added spare wheel/tire and mounting bracket (in the v-nose under shelving)
  • Lots of e-track for tie-downs
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Old 06-04-2022, 01:06 AM   #4
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Some pics of the above (sorry they are sideways, not sure why - they aren't on my PC):
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File Type: jpg 20200808_192636.jpg (148.3 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg 20200808_192533.jpg (199.5 KB, 19 views)
File Type: jpg 20191110_200202.jpg (204.5 KB, 17 views)
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Old 06-04-2022, 05:19 AM   #5
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Starlink for RV now available for instant delivery. Border crossing now no problem. Might begin to think about antenna mounting and cable pass through into the RV. Also mounting on a pole in Canada.

That would add weight to your van as you are trying to unload it.
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Old 06-04-2022, 11:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillsPaseo View Post
Some pics of the above (sorry they are sideways, not sure why - they aren't on my PC):
WOW, that is great info - thanks!

Did that little trailer come with brakes?

What's the brand? It looks like "E-Z" might be on the v-nose but I can't see the rest.

It looks like either 8 feet long (?). Or perhaps 10. (EDIT: I now see where you said 8, which is the same size I'm trying to get).

Big question: what do you do to prevent theft of the trailer? They are thief magnets.
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Old 06-04-2022, 12:11 PM   #7
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Starlink for RV now available for instant delivery. Border crossing now no problem. Might begin to think about antenna mounting and cable pass through into the RV. Also mounting on a pole in Canada.

That would add weight to your van as you are trying to unload it.
Yes, you have hit upon our other motivation for expanding the solar onto a trailer - to power Starlink. We have not made the decision to buy it yet - first we need to see if we can even obtain a trailer in the time we have available, if we are to travel with it this summer. I have a deposit on a not-yet-built unit; we'll see whether I actually can complete the purchase.

At one point, I roughly estimated that I have something like five thousand trees on my property in Canada. A couple of them were sacrificed for the connectivity cause in 2020, as you can see below - I opted not to carry a telescoping mast because the raw materials were right there. But even with all the work to construct it, cellular reception was only a few Mbps, and intermittent. We were 22 kilometers from the nearest tower.

BTW, if anyone ever opts for a mast like this, you have to get structural timber screws. They are expensive but there's no substitute that I've found.

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Old 06-04-2022, 01:13 PM   #8
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If you take photos from a cell phone you probably can see them on you phone or computer the way you intended but they store info contrary sometimes. I simply edit photos by flipping them 4 times to back to intended view and that takes care of them to post as intended. I do that now for anything I upload to forums.
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Old 06-04-2022, 03:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
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WOW, that is great info - thanks!

Did that little trailer come with brakes?

What's the brand? It looks like "E-Z" might be on the v-nose but I can't see the rest.

It looks like either 8 feet long (?). Or perhaps 10. (EDIT: I now see where you said 8, which is the same size I'm trying to get).

Big question: what do you do to prevent theft of the trailer? They are thief magnets.
I had to special order it with brakes, none of the local dealers stock brakes on trailers that small, since they are not legally required if the GVWR is less than 3K lbs. Ordering worked out really well though, because I was able to option it exactly how I wanted. So I ordered the closest available color match to the van, a roof vent, rear ramp door (standard is barn doors), side man door, 6" extra height (standard is 5'2", I went with 5'8"), aluminum wheels, and electric trailer brakes. Adding brakes upgraded the GVWR from 2950 lbs to 3500 lbs.

It is 5x8 box size, and all aluminum construction. Brand is EZHauler ( https://www.ez-haulertrailers.com/ ). Weighs about 800 lbs empty. By the time we load our two 300 lb bikes, riding gear, 10 gallons of gasoline, tools, camp chairs, etc in it, we're at about 1800 lbs.

It tucks in really nicely behind the van, the track is about the same as the van, the body narrower, and the height is quite a bit lower. So it is really easy to tow. And I have a rear camera on the roof of the van wired into my rear view mirror, and it has a great view over the top of the trailer, so no problems with passing or merging in traffic, and easy to see what you are doing when backing it up.

For security, a combination of good locks, a reasonably secure parking spot, and good insurance.
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Old 06-04-2022, 03:26 PM   #10
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I went with the VanTop camera/mirror system, and here are some pics to show where I mounted it and what I see in my rear view mirror now. Previously the rear view mirror was totally worthless, not even sure why it had one. The camera is really easy to adjust for when the trailer is disconnected, just stand on the rear bumper, reach up and point it down a bit.

Since these pics were taken, I've added an anti-glare film to the mirror, which makes it not so good as an actual mirror, but much better as a monitor.
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Old 06-04-2022, 08:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I had to special order it with brakes, none of the local dealers stock brakes on trailers that small, ...

... Brand is EZHauler ...

For security, a combination of good locks, a reasonably secure parking spot, and good insurance.
Sounds very similar to the Cargo Mate I am trying to get -- only because it's the clone manufacturer who has a distributor close to me. EZHauler's nearest distributor is in San Antonio, about 250 miles from me.

My husband wishes we could get one with brakes, but we'll be lucky to get one at all at this point.

Security tip: When storing, remove one wheel and stash it elsewhere. Block the axle. Locks can be defeated but if the trailer is un-towable, it would take a very clever and motivated thief to work around that. They'd have to realize in advance that they needed to bring a like-wheel with them, and take the time to mount it. Not likely to happen. They want to steal use-able property that doesn't come with hassles or strings attached.

A renovation contractor taught me that. They get their trailers stolen quite frequently.
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Old 06-04-2022, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
Sounds very similar to the Cargo Mate I am trying to get -- only because it's the clone manufacturer who has a distributor close to me. EZHauler's nearest distributor is in San Antonio, about 250 miles from me.

My husband wishes we could get one with brakes, but we'll be lucky to get one at all at this point.

Security tip: When storing, remove one wheel and stash it elsewhere. Block the axle. Locks can be defeated but if the trailer is un-towable, it would take a very clever and motivated thief to work around that. They'd have to realize in advance that they needed to bring a like-wheel with them, and take the time to mount it. Not likely to happen. They want to steal use-able property that doesn't come with hassles or strings attached.

A renovation contractor taught me that. They get their trailers stolen quite frequently.
That is a good tip! I'm generally more worried about security when we are boondocking somewhere, and off for the day on our motorcycles. At home, we have 4 adults, two kids, and two dogs (one of whom is very aggressive towards strangers), and lots of vehicles parked where it would be extremely difficult to get the trailer out.

So we have some really heavy duty Abus security chains and locks, and chain the trailer to the van frame. Yeah an angle grinder will get through the chains eventually, but it might be enough of a deterrent to make the thieves move on for another target. We also try to park such that the van itself is blocking the trailer in.

We have 2 of these locks: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004GE9H8W

And 2 of these chains: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005UMCBL4

Not cheap though...
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Old 06-04-2022, 08:46 PM   #13
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Also, on the brakes, as long as the axles have the backing plates, you can add the brakes later. It is a little bit more expensive than having them added when you order a trailer, but any trailer repair place can install them. Parts and labor for a single axle trailer should be under $1000.
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Old 07-21-2022, 11:54 AM   #14
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An update on this project.

After a long wait, we did manage to acquire the CargoMate trailer and all of the electrical components.

The frame for the "power tower" is now welded, and I'll be painting the inset panels today, after which the assembly of solar panels, battery cells, inverter, BMS, and all the peripherals will be added.

You will notice the configuration of the tower - it is intended to be moved using a hand truck, hence its shape. We can't pour all this money into a system like this and then not have it serve multiple purposes. When it's not powering the trailer, it will probably power my husband's standalone office (a 10' x 10' outbuilding) at our intended retirement property (we are still some years away from full retirement, which is why I say "intended"). That office will also be configured as a SHTF off-grid shelter that will have its own small air conditioner and food freezer running off the power tower (very difficult to survive in Texas without air conditioning). Realizing in advance that we would use the little building that way, I paid for spray foam insulation when I commissioned its build last year. It's impressively energy-efficient.

My scooter is also visible in this photo, and we plan to take that in the trailer in lieu of a toad, for grocery runs and whatnot. We both have motorcycle licensure now. After going through the Texas training course, I decided that I wanted a standard motorcycle or a dual sport instead of a scooter. The thing is, though, scooters are much cheaper on Craigslist (supply and demand). I bought this Piaggio with 530 miles on it for $1,800. I would prefer a Yamaha TW200, but I am not in the mood to pay for it right now, either used or new (2x to 3x the cost of the Piaggio). Maybe some day I will trade up when I have more time for serious riding.

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