How to Convert a Box Trailer to an RV

How to Convert a Box Trailer to an RV
Get ready to go stealthy! With some thought, creativity and knowledge of basic construction, you can convert an old box trailer, like those used by U-Haul, into an RV camping trailer. This will be a long term project, requiring anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. If you are budget-minded, you can find RV windows and vents in junkyards or at used parts dealers. As for the interior design, the sky is the limit, and it is up to you and your tastes.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Graph paper and pencils
  • Single futon frame and mattress
  • Small battery powered cooler
  • 2x4s
  • Plywood sheets
  • Power saw and drill with bits
  • Screwdrivers
  • Hammer
  • Nails and screws
  • Deep-cycle 12 volt battery
  • 30 amp RV conversion box
  • Chemical toilet
  • Salvaged RV cupboards
  • RV roof vent kit
  • RV window kit
  • Silicone caulk and gun
  • Measuring tape
  • Grease pencil
  • Personal decor
Step 1
Take the measurements of the interior of the box trailer. Write them down and then sketch out the dimensions, in scale, on the graph paper. Visualize how you want the layout of the RV, and begin to sketch out the design on the graph paper model. Use this as a guide as you begin constructing the RV.
Step 2
Place the chemical toilet in the bathroom area you've chosen. With a power drill, drill the attachment holes for the toilet. Align the holes and drill the toilet into place. Cut and assemble the frame for bathroom walls out of the 2x4s, and hammer them into the frame position. Drill them into the box trailer walls using the power drill as a screwdriver. Cut the plywood to make walls for the 2x4 frame. Drill the cut-out sheets onto the frame to create the bathroom partitions.
Step 3
Secure the futon frame into the box trailer where you want the main living and sleeping area to be. Secure the frame to the trailer by screwing it into the box trailer walls and floor using the power drill, screws and drill bits. Secure the battery-powered cooler in the place you've chosen for the fridge. Screw the RV cupboards into position next to the cooler.
Step 4
On the roof of the box trailer, measure out where the roof vents will go. Cut the holes in the roof and attach the roof vents according to the kit instructions. Add two vents to the roof to ensure adequate ventilation: one over the bathroom and one over the cooking area.
Step 5
Attach the 30 amp RV conversion box and the deep-cycle battery in one of the secured RV cupboards. Wire any lights or electric devices to the conversion box, and then connect the conversion box to the battery, making sure to connect the red wire to the red (positive) terminal and the black wire to the black (negative) terminal. Attach a ground wire from the conversion box to the battery for redundancy and safety.
Step 6
Seal the roof vents, inside and out, with silicone caulk. Caulk any screwed attachment or hole on the walls or floor of the box trailer to ensure a watertight seal. Measure where any windows will go, cut the box trailer walls with a metal cutting saw blade on the power saw, then hang the windows in the frames. Caulk the window edges with silicone to make a waterproof seal.
Step 7
Decorate or paint the interior of the box trailer RV however you like!

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.