Aerotow Off-Road Camping Trailer Re-Build Part 2
In this episode, we build the new frame for the Off-Road Aerotow!
B Radd Customs is a boutique automotive shop in Sparks, Nevada run by Bradd Davidson where he will build of fix whatever the heck you want. What does that mean? Well, it means he’ll swap an International truck onto a Powerstroke chassis, do a body off Bulletproof on a Ford 6.0 Diesel, Rebuild a Boat motor, Weld on turbo pipes, Fix the brakes on a toyota or, in this case, build a new frame for a random YouTuber’s family camping trailer.
Bradd is a retired Reno Police officer and live long automotive maker and fabricator. He’s fun, funny and insanely competent with all things mechanical. My friend Harry Wagner hooked me up with Bradd for this project.
Bradd and Dave Wiggins, another friend of Harry’s from Elko, NV, got the trailer on a lift and discussed the plan. Just know that the plan changed, morphed and re-jiggered several times throughout the build, so stay tuned to the end and ask questions and we’ll cover it all in the final walk around.
The trailer body is sort of diamond shaped with the metal starting off narrow, bulging out to 48 inches and then back down. So the plan was to make the new metal frame the max width of 48”. This worked with the wide axle needed for the tires to clear the body and also gives the whole thing that much more strength and stability.
With the wider frame, the aerotow body would just be sitting on the metal so we cut off the spring hangers and took measurements for the new frame to clear and interference from the remaining metal.
We then took a trip down to the metal supply warehouse and got two sticks of 2 x 2 x .120 wall square tubing. Brad and Pop-Tite, his dad and trusty shop assistant, then cleared a patch of concrete in the shop and laid out a grid for measuring and laying out the frame tubing. We laid out wider, as I’ve mentioned as well as longer to allow for a gap between the main body and the tongue box where I can mount a water container and a spare wheel and tire.
Brad lined out the tubing to match the angle of the tongue box so that everything would look perfect! In the back he used the Combo bar I had perviously used to mount bikes, as a frame member to weld in as a super strong receiver hitch. He measured and cut everything on a band saw perfectly. There were no mis-cuts, and mo grinding or messing with rough edges! So nice having the right tools and skills!
Dave took on the project of prepping the 3500# axle. We were switching from spring over to spring under so he ground off spots for the new spring perches, then measured, leveled and welded them on. To get the new perches right, he set the axle on jack stands and used a magnetic level to align it so that the existing perches were level, then used another level to get the top spring perches level. Then he used the combo bar, before Brad cut a third of it off, to bridge the two new spring perches to tack them in place.
Harry Wagner was a huge resource of random parts for this trailer build. We used some spring shackles that he had in his parts bin as well as spring bolts and a set of springs from his old Toyota Tacoma. We initially assumed that the springs would be too stiff, so we took out the overload leafs. But once we tested it on the final build we added them back. But not before Harry cut off the center bolt…
Then Bradd and Dave took turns welding the frame together there on the floor of the shop. During this process, Dylan McFarlane, who was Harry’s spotter in the Roxor Supercrawl videos, showed up with some scrap 2x2x.250 wall tubing that was just what we needed for the tongue. The tongue bar bridges 3 crossmembers of the frame and gives the trailer the extension it needs to be really nice to tow and back up.
And that brings us to the end of this episode. In the next post I’ll show you the finishing of the frame with gussets, spring hangers, mounts for shocks and the trailer body and final fitment and testing in the parking lot of the shop.
Thanks for checking this out! Happy Trails!