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My adventure "tent trailer" build

pELYgroso

'Merica
Location
LEHI, UT
So, this trailer followed me home today. It's a mig Apex XCT tent trailer. They first made them to pull behind sxs's and then made this model for pulling behind cars and small SUV's. The guy I bought it from bought it brand new 4 years ago and set it up a couple times to show it off but never actually used it. It's literally been sitting in his garage collecting dust. The deployed tent has 2 double beds and lots of standing room in there middle. When it's folded up, there is still lots of storage inside the box plus on the rack that I put on it.

We are selling our sxs, toy hauler, the toyota frankencamper, our tiny house, and some random large items to de-clutter, and we're buying a boat. We'll keep the jeep and still want to camp, so we got this to pull behind it for some 1-2 night camping trips when we want to get up into the mountains and be off the ground. I wouldn't call my wife a wuss by any means, but she's used to a 28' camper with all the amenities, so this is a pretty good compromise on her part when were camping with 3 kids.

I do want to add some amenities to make this a little more comfortable. I'll start with some nice sleeping pads, a tent heater plumbed to a small propane tank on the front cargo tray, a collapsible kitchen with a sink and faucet that's plumbed to fresh and gray tanks that are also mounted into the front cargo tray, run off an RV water pump, and a solar panel and battery to run interior LED's, the RV pump, and other accessories.

I'd also like to add larger wheels/tires. The hubs are 5x4.5 so I might get some adapters to JK pattern and do 33's. Would 37's to match my jeep be too much?
Any thoughts or suggestions?
 

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bryson

RME Resident Ninja
Supporting Member
Location
West Jordan
I think the decision to put 37s under it would depend on the axle/hubs on the trailer, and how stout they are.
 

pELYgroso

'Merica
Location
LEHI, UT
Are you going to lift it? It looks a little vulnerable on the tail sitting that low.
I'm planning on running larger tires to add the lift it needs. The trailer maker also has an "Ultra" model that they sell with up to 35" tires so I figured I'd be safe at least up to 35's. 37's would match the jeep.

The manufacturer lists the axles as "1200lbs Dexter torsion with high speed hubs." Not sure how stout these are, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Maybe I'll stick with smaller tires like 32's or 33's.
 

ID Bronco

Registered User
Location
Idaho Falls, ID
I used to have a tent trailer with 4 kids at the time, it was fantastic, I think this is a great route for you without starting from scratch on a custom build. Good for you! I'd lift it, put the tires on, look at hitch possibilities and go for it. Maybe some skid protection on the back and corners?
 

pELYgroso

'Merica
Location
LEHI, UT
I used to have a tent trailer with 4 kids at the time, it was fantastic, I think this is a great route for you without starting from scratch on a custom build. Good for you! I'd lift it, put the tires on, look at hitch possibilities and go for it. Maybe some skid protection on the back and corners?
Thanks! I haven't looked into hitches yet but the hitch comes completely off, flush with the box. It slides into larger OD square tubing with a normal receiver pin, so building a new hitch will be a piece of cake and I can still interchange them if I want. The skid protection is a great idea too!

Any suggestions on hitch styles?
 

Anchor_Mtn

Work Less, Travel More
Supporting Vendor
Location
Fruita, CO
1200lbs spindles are WEAK!! One bad pothole in the road will bend them with small tires and they WILL NOT live up to 35s.
If you want to reliably go offroad, you need 3500lbs spindles. I have been using the Timbren Axleless Suspension on the last few builds and they work really well. I use the 2200lbs "Tonne" model (ASR1THDS03) They have a longer trailing arm than the standard model, use 3500lb spindles, are brake ready and give you a 4" lift. I have used them with 35s and 37s and you can use up to a 5" BS wheel with a 12.5" wide tire safely. You can bolt or weld them on as long as you have at least a 1.5" tall chassis. If you dont, add a 2x2" subframe and work off that.

Replace the hitch with a Max Coupler with whatever extension you feel appropriate. Too many hitch pins will result in sloppy handling. If you dont need the tongue to be removable for storage, I would decide on a length you like and weld it in when you add the basket for water/propane.

Seaflow makes a great water pump.
Camco Olympian Wave 3 catalytic heater should heat that unit VERY effectively and it doesnt use much propane.
 

pELYgroso

'Merica
Location
LEHI, UT
1200lbs spindles are WEAK!! One bad pothole in the road will bend them with small tires and they WILL NOT live up to 35s.
If you want to reliably go offroad, you need 3500lbs spindles. I have been using the Timbren Axleless Suspension on the last few builds and they work really well. I use the 2200lbs "Tonne" model (ASR1THDS03) They have a longer trailing arm than the standard model, use 3500lb spindles, are brake ready and give you a 4" lift. I have used them with 35s and 37s and you can use up to a 5" BS wheel with a 12.5" wide tire safely. You can bolt or weld them on as long as you have at least a 1.5" tall chassis. If you dont, add a 2x2" subframe and work off that.

Replace the hitch with a Max Coupler with whatever extension you feel appropriate. Too many hitch pins will result in sloppy handling. If you dont need the tongue to be removable for storage, I would decide on a length you like and weld it in when you add the basket for water/propane.

Seaflow makes a great water pump.
Camco Olympian Wave 3 catalytic heater should heat that unit VERY effectively and it doesnt use much propane.
Wow, thanks for the info! Do I need to change out the whole axle, or can I change just the spindles? Where is the best place to get the Timbren stuff you're referring to?

Does that heater need a vent to the outside?
 

Noahfecks

El Destructo!
Most trailer supply places will have the Timbren Stuff but Justin may be a dealer, I got mine from Summit Racing. Its a system so it replaces the axle with swing arms, no cross member to get hung up on.

Get your Max Coupler from AMO
 

Anchor_Mtn

Work Less, Travel More
Supporting Vendor
Location
Fruita, CO
Wow, thanks for the info! Do I need to change out the whole axle, or can I change just the spindles? Where is the best place to get the Timbren stuff you're referring to?

Does that heater need a vent to the outside?
If you want to keep the standard straight axle, you will need to replace the whole thing, not just the spindles. Almost any local trailer supply store would be your best bet for ordering a custom spec axle. I can do it, but they will only ship to my shop and then re-shipping to you would make it more expensive than just going local. The Timbren system replaces the entire axle and leaf spring assembly with a pair of independent trailing arms. Its definitely on the expensive side but they work really well for custom applications and you wont have the ~4-6 week wait of a custom axle.

@Dunkin is right, I do sell the Timbren stuff as well as Max Couplers and Lock N Roll hitches. Timbren and Lock N Roll I can drop ship to you. Im a few weeks out on Max Couplers at the moment.

I can get you the heater, but its cheaper through Etrailer.com. The heater is super efficient and their specs say no vent is needed, but I always leave a window cracked for any heater. If nothing else it helps mitigate moisture inside the canvas.
 

pELYgroso

'Merica
Location
LEHI, UT
Well I looked under the trailer and the main supports that the axle is mounted to run front to back, about 12" inside the edges of the box. This is probably so they can mount the super mini axles and wheels for the sxs towable version. So, I'll either have to do a new Dexter 3500 lb axle to match the mounting setup on this one (which I'm assuming I'll have to order custom), or fab some stronger mount points onto the outside edges of the frame to fit the timbren system. Bummer, I wasn't expecting to have to do this.....
 

jeep-N-montero

Formerly black_ZJ
Location
Bountiful
Awesome little trailers, years ago I bought a few of their axles for a project, cool guys to deal with. As for the Timbrens, there is a setup on ksl for sale that I noticed when I was looking for something else.
 

pELYgroso

'Merica
Location
LEHI, UT
I ordered a few things to upgrade the trailer:

-Some LED strips and wiring kit to add lighting
-Sleeping pad (Klymit insulated double V) that fits the wierd smaller size platform. (80"x48")
-Camco Olympian Wave 3 propane heater, as suggested by AMO plus hose and CO2 detector so we can run it at night

For a power source, we have one of the Goal Zero units that's about the size of a car battery. I was thinking of using that since we have it, it's portable, already has plugs, etc, and can easily be hooked to a solar panel. Is there any reason I should use a deep cycle car battery instead and build-in the whole inverter setup to the trailer? This trailer will mostly be used for 1-3 day trips so I think the Goal zero unit should last through a few nights of using the LED's and charging a phone or 2.

I've set-up and taken the tent down a few times by myself, and it's a really well thought out design. I can set it up in about 8-10 minutes if I'm taking my time to get it all just right, and break it down in about 4 minutes. With somebody helping, those times will easily be cut in half.

I'm excited to use it! We have a camping trip planned with a bunch of neighbors in Moab in early May which will probably be the first time we use it unless we do a few backyard nights before then. I'll be pulling it down with the jeep. I haven't tested it to see how well it pulls. I'm hoping for the best but expecting it to be a turd with the trailer hooked up.
 

rholbrook

Premium Member
Supporting Member
Location
Kaysville, Ut
Do the White Rim Trail or Elephant Hill and camp out on the trail. What year is the JKU? If 2012 or newer it should be fine. I pulled a single axle trailer with three dirt bikes, gear and people and my 2016 did just fine. My buddy pulled a 14’ enclosed trailer filled with gear and 4 Mtn bikes last November to Moab and only the biggest hill knocked him down to 60mph. It is a Chrysler product so of course he got like 40 mpg.
 

pELYgroso

'Merica
Location
LEHI, UT
2009 JKU w/ 37's and 5.38's.

I'll be camping with a bunch of neighbors who are new to camping so we're going to do one of the RV resorts. Like, they're buying tents and gear for this trip hoping to start camping. I'm kind of the ring leader of it all so I have to cater to some of them who aren't used to "roughing it." I think I have them convinced to all rent Jeeps so we can wheel one day. I'll be the only one with any offroading experience. I'll probably take them on fins and things to get their feet wet and maybe Moab Rim or another short one if they really like it.
 
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