SomedayAdventure's Military Trailer Build

#1
The story:

We are the Days. A middle class family of blue collar breeding. I have recently (within the last two years) discovered a love for the outdoors and a desire to bring my three boys (code named Someboy, Sidekick and Minion in order of age) up with an appreciation for all it has to offer. It all started when I thought I would give hunting a try in the Mountains of San Diego (where we live). After failing three hours in, I realized how little I knew. But that didn't stop me. Nor did it stop my desire to at least take my boys camping.

This is the Build of my M101A3.

Our first outings were tent based. My dad drove his F150 and I took out my F350, both loaded to the hilt with camp 'stuff' and dogs.
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Not a bad way to start but definitely limited, especially when we wanted the whole family there (dogs too). As it happens, my father was in the process of collecting military trailers.
From Left to Right: M105 (1.5 ton, very heavy), M101A2 (3/4 ton or +F150/1500 truck payload), M101A3 (newer 3/4 ton with Kevlar tires)
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I chose to use the M101A3 as it was more modern and came with a surge brake (turned out to be broken).
After getting the proper papers and registering the trailer at the DMV, I knew the first order of business would be getting it road worthy for places like the desert and long roads that big rigs used. One of my fears, having a camouflage trailer, was having people change lanes and hit my trailer. So, lighting.
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First I measured, marked and tapped my drilling spots for our side lights.
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Then, using a tap and die set, threaded the holes for the bolts to hold on the lights. I actually enjoy these small parts of the build.
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We threaded the wires in and tucked them up under the frame.
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My dad, the 'electrician' had plenty of company when wiring the back up lights.
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The finished mounting. We wired the lights into the trailers wiring (which needed to be converted from the military to civilian wiring).
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Tested the back up lights. They definitely helped.
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Now that we didn't have to use the bed of the truck to load our things, we had a clean and safe place to put out dogs.
**We did learn some more valuable lessons about loading the trailer down the line which made necessary some significant changes (i.e. dust and rain and snow oh my).
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All built up to my preset expectations (based on a San Diegan's perception of what weather would be like at the beginning of May...throughout the country...ew, not good vibes).
This is basically how the trailer sat when hitched to my stock F350 4x4.
Trailer Shot.jpg
Off on the road we go.
 
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100acre

Adventurist
#3
All those trailers reminds me of what my yard used to look like. If ever you're interested, and I may have made mention before , but you can find all sorts of parts tires covers etc on steelsoldiers.com. I'm on there under the same name.
 
#9
New Lessons and Plans

So, what have I learned so far. Mud sucks. Yup. That's a new one for me and camping. I love driving in the mud and maybe playing in it. But I do not like camping in it. It's sticky, stinky, gets everywhere and really bogs you down.
Even with a tent mounted on top of my trailer, I found myself leaving the anex room (zip on room that attaches to the side) out of the load box because it was covered in sticky wet mud.

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This photo should sum up the end of 'OX' for those camping in the field.
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So, we hit the road. Cleaned off as best we could and headed for dry ground.
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BLM land is new to me but we definitely found some nice spots. You could see the Milky Way with the naked eye. Our Rigid Industries lights are earning their keep as we did not set up camp one time after OX before 10pm...and NEVER stayed at a pre planned location. Literally just flying by the seat of our pants.
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I ditched Chelsea in Flagstaff and replaced her with my dad. He's heftier and works a camp site a bit harder. It also helps he's 6'5" and strong enough to flip my trailer on its side in a rage (no joke). It was also nice to see the CVT Tent hold up with two toddlers and two extra larger men (again 6'5" 320 and me at 6'4" 320).
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It was then I came up with a new idea. The smell of ham steaks sizzling on my grill with bacon burning next to it inspired my next improvements. A water system AAAAAAND...a self contained tent ladder system. It's already self contained sorry. Let me clarify. The ladders wont touch the ground and I'll be able to move the trailer WITH the tent set up.
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Rotopax proved handy as well and were always ready when needed. Stupid me though filled my fuel Rotopax with diesel. After my Briggs and Stratton P3000 watt generator ran out of fuel (wasn't full) on a 30 degree night north of Zion, I was wishing for another fuel Rotopax with gas..."stupid, stupid stupid".
 
#12
So, some new changes to the trailer...photos to come soon. AAAAAAND, another trailer is being built!!! YAY!.

I'll be sharing some lessons learned from the California DMV (and their infinite stupidity). Burying your face in bureaucracy is not like ready a book. It's more like hiding in a pile of papers until lunch:mad: (one of them literally said, "Well...I'm about to go to lunch...soooo" and then peaced out. Went to two DMV offices in one day and had two very different results. The second was much better.:)
 
#13
And so it continues

So, it's been an interesting week. My father acquired another military trailer, an M101A1, which we finally decided to get registered before making it trail worthy.
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Now we can match... Since he picked it up...get it?
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Either way, I learned a few things about the DMV and registering military trailers. In California, an employee of the DMV must verify the VIN of the trailer for it to get registered in your name. Check for the VIN before you let them do this because they might use a number from the stocks ticker that comes with the trailer at auctions. They wrote down the NSN (national stock number I believe) and we had to start registration paperwork with this. the problem with this is there are hundreds of trailers with the same number as that is the number for the lot of trailers the military ordered (there could be hundreds). In our case there turned out to be 20 in the state of California alone.

So what do you do to fix that? We drove away after they charged my father $90 and gave him more paperwork to handle before he could have a plate (pretty much trying to ward him off with paper). That just didn't seem right so I made another stop at another DMV office in the next town and found out a few things...

One...there are dozens of people with "the same" trailer in the state of CA...because the DMV messed up numerous times. Two, the VIN (if actually on the trailer) should be on the right side of the frame on a metal plaque. Three, the VIN sometimes falls off and from time to time may need to be replaced. This is where you might find an easier solution. As long as you have some sort of bill of sale, you can actually have a new VIN assigned to the trailer and from there get your plates which is what we did.

So, we got my dads trailer back to our house and started work on mine. The first order of business was to attach a 55 inch CVT awning on the back of the trailer. This was to go along with the 99 inch awning and we had on the left side.
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We measured out our location on the back, got a spare piece of stainless steel to make up for the eighth of an inch of the deck frame, measured again and drilled our holes. After, we cut off the excess length of both so nobody hit their head.
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Now we can have nice shade while we unload the trailer. The cool thing is, the CVT awning takes about 30 seconds to set up with a friend. That's some fast shade. Not photographed, we remounted the CVT tent after putting on a better fitting deck board to fix some gaps that happened after the wood dried out. We found that mounting the edge of the tent about half an inch off the side makes for easier installation of the annex room.

**** If you build wood into your trailer just try to make sure you get dry wood or you might have a different size trailer after some time in the desert.

Coming up on the build, we have plans for a self suspended ladder system to the tent. Also, we're going to be making our own pressurized water tank to set up in the front of the trailer.
 
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#15
New Computer...new plans

So, I got a new computer. Which means all my stuff from before was being posted from my phone...which also recently crashed.

We did a trip to the Sequoya National Forrest. I had no idea it was so close to where I lived. I thought it was supposed to be way up north.

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One thing were going to be getting changed are the tires and wheels on both the truck and trailer.

I love the BF Goodrich tire and am upgrading to a 37x12.5 17. What makes me happier is I am going to be doing all six tires and wheels to match. Fingers crossed.

Where we're going...we don't need roads

Truck with no roads small.jpg
 
#17
Wheels to match

As all things do with time, things are changing. Now in my case, they're changing at a bit more of a rapid pace.

Overland expo was a lantern. A lantern of light in a dark area of my life. Not emotionally...just knowledge. Overlanding pretty much makes me happy so, like, yeah...not a dark area there.

swamp thing.jpg

My trailer and I emerged from our under water lair like Neptune and hit the road. The closer I got, the more amazing things I saw. Somethings were not at all applicable to me and a bit far out for me to even try. One thing really stood out and nagged at me. My trailers uniformity with my truck. I mean, sure, it's an M101A3 military trailer and the camo is gonna clash with the gun metal grey and black. But it wasn't just that. The wheels were different. 35's on the truck and 37's on the trailer. What's more, BFG KOs on the truck and USMC contract Goodyear wrangler MTs on the trailer. I enjoy making tracks as much as the next guy...but I'm the weirdo that wants them to match.

I drove into Overland Expo and saw some great builds and set ups. This guy at least had street tires on both his jeep and trailer. Nice looking rig if you're on AA by the way.

another with street tires.jpg

I continued driving through and found another Jeep set up with a bit more a 'finely tuned' ( or $$$) set up. These fellas had matching wheels and tires. I drove on with a twinge of jealousy and drew falling from my face.

a matching set.jpg

As far as tire type and choice, I have to evaluate what goes on my truck mostly in my decision for what I would match to my trailer. I drive my truck on a regular basis. I also go offroad often. I needed a tire that could do both without a problem. MY choice of tire was to continue with the BF Goodrich all terrain but upgrade to the KO2s and in 37". This would mean I would have to bring my wheel size down to 17" as BF Goodrich only makes the 37 on that size wheel. While talking with them they just told me, "We make 'em to use em. Not just for show." This was to tell me they didn't make the KO2 37" on 20" wheels etc for flashy trucks...they only cared about what was actually in the field. That should be a really comforting thought when considering tires as a companies focus should be performance based first.

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I loved driving through the mud in the camping field at Overland a lot more than a lot of the visitors. As a native San Diegan that has lived in the northwest and midwest I missed genuine mud. My truck didn't have a problem getting through it, even pulling the trailer, on the KOs.

Wide shot.jpg

So, this week is the last week I have the GY MTs on the trailer.
What's better, I found out (Per research) I can just use the GM 8 lug pattern for the new wheels on the trailer. I am going to be sticking with Discount Tire's in house brand MB Wheels for the upgrade. They're great looking wheels and go for about $160 a piece. The new wheels, MB 352s, will have an even greater offset than the last at -12. This will help me clear the suspension components and wheel well walls (say that six times fast). The wheels on my 35s were zero offset and worked great.

New wheels arrive tomorrow

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Tires waiting in the driveway

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Proof of size haha


******************

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P.S. I am going to be starting another trailer build on the M101A2 soon. You can see pictures of its current state in previous post. My dad is picking it up. Here's a sneak peak of some things to come on that build.

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#18
And so, the time has come. Defconbrix was the first trailer I saw and I really liked the matching wheels from the trailer to the truck. Sean's set up is really clean and I feel like a lot of the time, there's no way to make what I have like his. However, what I found I can do is make mine the best IT can be.
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So, I decided the "stock" tires and wheels aren't what I want. I love the 37" tire but the OCD in me hates the mix matching.
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And in come my shipment of new wheels and tires. Kraken is very happy about this. He is also a bit OCD and just couldn't understand why I didn't fix this sooner.
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Someboy and Sidekick were a bit help inbox ing at Discount Tire. Someboy gave the wheels one last inspection.
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off with the old...
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on with the new.
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It's definitely a good start to the summer modifications. These are just some preliminary pics. I have to get the trailer back together and I'll take it out again.
 

Dean

Adventurist
Founding Member
#20
How do you like the stabilization jacks? Are they solid or do they wobble at all? Do you wish you out-boarded them more toward the corners, or are you happy withe their present location?
 
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