How Do I Build a Wooden Travel Trailer?

How Do I Build a Wooden Travel Trailer?
Get ready to go old school and make a wooden travel trailer. Designs going back to the 1930s have wood as the primary material for constructing teardrop-shape or square-box-shape travel trailers. Get your plans (see Reference 1) and then gather the needed materials for the construction of the trailer according to your travel trailer plan's list.

To save time, hassle and money, get an old utility trailer you can retrofit with the trailer shell.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Old flat bed utility trailer
  • Travel trailer plans
  • Power saw, drill, screwdriver and sander
  • Wood lacquer and sponge brushes
  • Wood screws
  • Bolts, nuts and washers
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Graph paper
  • Chalk line
  • Materials listed on trailer plans
  • Wood steamer and C-clamps
  • RV doors
  • RV windows
  • RV roof vent
  • Silicone caulk and caulk gun
Step 1
Read the plans thoroughly at least three times over before beginning construction. This helps in understanding the chronology of the trailer construction.
Step 2
Measure the dimensions of your utility trailer where the travel trailer camper shell will be placed. Modify the design plans to these specifications. Draw out the modifications on graph paper to scale.
Step 3
With the plans in hand, your first step will be to begin constructing the frame of the trailer. Use the power saw to cut down the support beams as directed. Typical support beam sizes for a wooden travel trailer are 2 by 4 and 1 by 4.
Step 4
Clean, polish and varnish the floor of the utility trailer to bring the quality up to the level of a floor in a travel trailer. Use a power sander to smooth and buff it out, and then coat the floor with three full applications if high-quality wood lacquer.
Step 5
Steam the wall ply or press wood to bend it for the teardrop-shaped walls. For a steamer, you can fashion an old oil barrel into a double boiler where you place the plywood or presswood on the top gathering the steam. As assistant is needed to help bend the wood. Set it in position to dry with C-clamps.
Step 6
Lift the wooden frame up and onto the trailer bed once the lacquer has dried. Attach this to the sides of the utility trailer using bolts with nuts and washers. Along the edge of the trailer you will see holes for attaching structures. Use these to screw the bolts and nuts.
Step 7
Hold the bent wall wood onto the frame and have an assistant screw the wood onto the frame using wood screws. A minimum of 12 screws should be used on each support beam. Follow a logical straight line going up the beam, attaching the screws every few inches. Screw from the outside of the trailer to attach the walls with the screws.
Step 8
Measure out the location for the RV doors, windows and roof vent. Use the saw to cut these out of the sides of the wooden trailer walls and roof. Mount the windows, door and vents according to the kit instructions. Seal the cuts and mounts with silicone caulk to ensure watertight and windproof seals.
Step 9
Decorate the trailer to your specifications and needs.

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.

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