Specsheet for planned future cargo trailer conversion.

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Well-known member
Dec 16, 2012
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San Jose, CA
KHellow, this is the spec sheet for the 28' heavy duty cargo trailer conversion I plan to build. I've decided to avoid the cheapness of conventional travel trailers all together, and build out my new home. 

The idea is to be comfortable regardless of the weather outside, from -80 F & 10 feet of snow on the roof in an Alaska winter to 160+ heat index (effective temperature factoring humidity) in a Florida summer while parked in direct sunlight. To have the best of both worlds - best of conventional housing and unconventional housing (within what can fit). And to look forward to  visitors inside the rig & feel proud to call it home. 

This rig should last for decades with low maintenance, barring severe collision. It should be able to take a beating which includes beatings from hailstorms, sand storms and washboard roads, the only damage  being cosmetic damage. I plan to travel all the northern dirt roads including The Dempster & James Bay Highway and this rig should not need bodywork after thousands of miles of unpaved roads. 

This is my life, my desire & I'll be paying for it. Please points out fundamental faults, possible pitfalls & downsides with this plan. I'm looking at quality racing trailers and planning to buy a 28x8.5' one with at least 6 1/2 feet of interior floor to ceiling height. I figure if 8 1/2 feet wide trailer weren't legal in the 49 United States & the 10 provinces of Canada they wouldn't be sold. 

Most conventional TTs are built to be pulled over smooth interstates & lived in only a few weeks out of the year. And AFAIK, any more than that level of use, they either need to be babied or constantly fixed. 

I know there are rugged toy haulers for all 4 seasons, that can be had starting at $20,000 on the used market.  Even if I bought a high quality TH and remodeled it to be home I would still not have what I want. I imagine the best quality toy hauler is worse quality than a high quality cargo trailer.

To help illustrate the kind of person I am and what I desire, I created a spec sheet describing the features and details for this future rig. 

Please note all specifications are minimum standards unless noted otherwise. I will have to build as I go, one piece at a time when means allow as I'm a 23 year old guy without savings. There are people who spend years building their rig to perfection as life passes them by. To avoid losing my young years to this, I've decided to buy the trailer first & move in with the basics, living and traveling in a spartan interior and build it out as means allow. Some specs have been marked with "possible", "considering" as I have little experience with trailers & don't know whether those specs will work out - for me. 

Trailer dimensions: 
exterior box footprint: 28x8.5' 
Interior living space 28' x 8' wide x 6' high. Ideally 7-8' high. 

Interior dimensions (floor plan) 
-bedroom 8x8' 
-living area & bathroom 8x18' 

Depending on my means/savings/what makes sense at the time, from go without and roll the dice everyday to full coverage RV comprehensive/collision insurance. 

/Climate control
-9000 BTU MR BUDDY (already have 2017-May-07) with CO detector mounted below it. 
-Thermostaticly controlled RV furnace or Propex vented heater. 
-SAFE, wood stove/fireplace alarmed  with two CO detectors (one on floor, one on ceiling) and TWO smoke detectors. 
-Considering: In-floor hydronic heating system, on a closed loop because it will need to have radiator fluid mixed with water so the tubes/pipes don't burst in freezing weather. Heat exchangers tied to system to utilize various heat sources. Should also double as a cooling system. 

-at least 10,000 BTUs of A/C. BETTER: 2 5,000 BTU window A/C units for the bedroom & 10,000+ BTU roof RV A/C unit for living area. 
-Homebuilt Hydronic cooling (and possibly heating) system, utilizing the principles of two stage evaporative cooler, indirect evaporative cooling, and chiller systems. Water is drawn from at least 10 gallon water tank for thermal resivoir & evaporative cooling water (boiler/chiller-type system) possibly 

-powered wall fan located in bedroom (Fantastic fan, Maxxair, equivalent ) 
-powered wall fan for bathroom exhaust (fantastic fan, maxxair, equivalent ) 
-sealable floor vents with no-see-ums screens. 
-when means & desire allow: windows that can open for ventilation, normalcy & natural light coming inside. 

-Two twin beds on slidable platforms that maximize under-the-bed storage space, they separate or come together  for "king-size" bed when desired/needed. 
-rug or carpet that is in a color and style I like. IDEAL: installed carpet squares in a color and style I LOVE. 
-when means allow, huge skylights in bedroom, ideally double sealed, gutter for condensation above the bed(s). Should be able to pull blackout shades over for at least 95% blackout. 

-Portable toilet BETTER: RV flush toilet installed on top of a blackwater tank, so it flushes straight into said black water tank to keep it simple while convenient. IDEAL: very low-flow conventional house toilet flushing directly into black tank (provided it can handle the rough roads). 
-full size bathroom sink 
-mini medicine cabinet 
-powered roof or wall fan for bathroom exhaust (fantastic fan, maxxair) 
-big shower stall BETTER: 
48x72 footprint static bathtub with shower wand. IDEALLY (not minimum standard): Two person indoor spa bathtub (like this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CKZ66ME/ref=cm_cr_arp_mb_bdcrb_top?ie=UTF8) 72x48x28" outside dimensions. 

/living area 
-Super comfortable couch/loveseat/futon/bean bags/pair of recliners, must be comfortable enough to encourage falling asleep on and not be sore afterwards. 
-when means allow: Flatscreen HDTV 36" (1920x1080 resolution) or better depending on the technology out & desire. 
-desktop PC station for general use and/or electronic music studio nook. 
BETTER: electronic music studio nook, auxiliary or separate to desktop PC station above. IDEAL: to be decided post-move. Whatever it is should be very ergonomic & functional while housing equipment in accessible & space efficient manner. Should encourage spontaneous musical creativity. 

/by back ramp door
-No-see-ums bugscreen with magnetic snaps for passing through. 
-lockable interior barn doors just behind ramp so the living area isn't open to the world when ramp is down, plus barn doors open forward/backward to let the outdoors inside the rig with nice climates. 
-when funds allow: at least 250 watts of soft LED flood lighting so area around opened ramp is well lit at night. 

/exterior of trailer, functional 
-White LED lighting on both sides of the trailer to see where you are going. 

/exterior of trailer, form 
-FULL COLOR color changing led strips for fun. 
-When funds/desire/time allow: paint job in a color I love or artwork I LOVE.  

/exterior of trailer, travel 
-amber LED striped wired to trailer running lights so rig is outlined at night,   outlining left/right sides of trailer if legal (like how some semi trailers are lit up). 

-when means allow: quality undercoating that stops salt & road grime from eroding away the underside, and chemically neutralizes existing rust. 

/trailer build 
-If I can get this factory installed I will: insulated walls, roof, and depending on practicality/means: the floor. Should be at least an inch thick and be closed-cell insulation. 
-thinking about: have LINE-X sprayed or similar polymeric coating on exterior skin. 
-tongue should be as long as possible for utilities & equipment storage and tightest turning radius. 
-for the propane tanks, generator, A/Cs, evaporative cooling system, possibly propane furnace, shore power extension cord reel(s). A utility closet extending 2-3' out from wall, this is for more living space inside. 
-structure should be strong enough for at least 3 adults to be able to play jump rope on the roof without dents or damage. 
-leveling jack on tongue. 

Trailer accessories: 
-TWO spare tires with rims for each. 
-rubber wheel chocks. 

-RV/Houseboat style 3-burner propane oven 
-when means allow: temperature controlled wine fridge 
-12v compressor-based chest fridge (already have) 
-Small dishwasher 
-two LARGE basin stainless steel kitchen sink (this should cost no more than $100) 
-hanging wire dish drainer/dryer (hang over sink for storage & drying) 
-maybe: garbage disposal 
-Maybe: home TRASH compactor 
-integrated TRASH cans (cans under sink w/ chute) same with recycle, compost etc. 
-ideally: solid wood cabinetry, no particleboard junk. Should be able to access underside easy w/ minimal deadspace. Easy clean surface. 
-ideally: Pantry drawer(s) or other style that makes food hard to be forgetten in the back. Perhaps mini-carousel style. 

Grid power Protection: 
-RV relay switch for auto switching shore power/generator 
-the thing that plugs in between the rig and shore power for questionable power distribution, trips auto off to protect rig from brownouts. 
-modest UPS for sensitive loads like desktop PC. 

on hookups(shore power, on grid): 
-roll-up 100' extension cord capable of 15amp 3-prong power to main distribution hub. 
-maybe: 30/50 amp roll up cable for RV parks. 

120v electric system: 
-North American Outlets installed safely in convenient locations, aka NOT SHABBY. 
-circuit breakers.

Off grid electricity: 
-Honda EU2000i generator (2000 watt electric power generator), already have this 2017. 
-when means allow: portable dual-fuel (propane or gas) inverter generator with electric start. Preferably this one: Champion DUAL-FUEL 2800wt Running / 3100wt Peak Digital Inverter Generator, Electric Start, RV Ready, Parallel Capable, CARB & EPA Certified, Low Decibels. 
-When means allow:  solar & wind power. 

/12v electric 
-Modest Battery bank of 400Ah usable (600-800Ah of batteries) using golf cart batteries or equivalent. Should be able to handle 400w averaged load for at least 24 hours before needing recharge. Numbers are off. 
-properly wired distribution for 12v power throughout rig. Things like heavy gauge wire, no exposed live wires, soldered connections, bus bars etc. 
-independent circuit breakers & fuses for every large & sensitive load. 
-charge indicator/controller for battery bank. 

-LED lighting system using jacuzzi dial timers as switches. Conventional house style. 
-small washing machine. 
-considering: small dishwasher

/things that will be mine after working for them 
-killer sound system at least 1000 watts per each speaker, starting with 2 subwoofers, 2 mid speakers, 2 tweeters (stereo sound). IDEALLY: KILLER sound system with 3000 watts per speaker, 4 subwoofers, 2 woofers, 2 mids, 2 upper mids, 2 tweeters in vibration-isolated cabinet so the rig doesn't shake apart. Plus the amplifiers, crossovers, wiring, and receiver to get super fidelity sound. Plus Powered pro audio speakers & sub used in the club. 
-one of those full body massage chairs that is periodically demoed in COSTCO for $6000+ as health is priceless. 
-a mattress upgrade to a Purple mattress, onpurple.com Life is too short to have suboptimal sleep. 

/Water & plumbing 
-1/2 inch tubing to all taps, includes kitchen and bathroom. 
-100 gallon greywater tank 
-30 gallon blackwater tank 
-50 gallon freshwater tank 
-accurate gauges on all holding tanks 
-RV-type tank drains with the aim to minimize dumping difficulty/process. 

-homebuilt Wi-Fi dish using old satellite dish made to come down for transport IDEAL: large Wi-Fi antenna 
-High-strength DTV antenna for picking up OTA TV. 
-when means allow: CB radio with retractable antenna(s) 
-when means allow: UHF base station with retractable antenna(s) 

-when means allow: GPS tracker which activates when I or prime mover is away. 
-4 camera surveillance system, High Quality Standard definition w/ audio. Better: High Definition 
-Lugnut locks for trailer tires.
Debit way to much in one post. break it down into sections and ask for feed back. highdesertranger
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