(Many more photos below)
Just wanted to share a chunk of photos and backstory I have from an in-progress project. While my wife and I enjoy adventuring in our Compass very much, we constantly find the cargo space lacking and frequently discussed the need to find a way to carry more gear.
We bought a hitch-mounted cargo rack which helped some, but had issues with the security of any totes or bags left on the rack when we were away from the car. We have hitch-mounted bike carriers as well but could only use one or the other (the rack or the bike carrier). Most of the time using anything in the hitch interfered with getting in and out of the rear hatch.
We then bought a large 16 cubic foot roof cargo box from Thule. This added a lot of very useful and still fairly secure cargo space, but we found that the increased wind resistance was a straw breaking the back of the transmission programming on the highway. The only way to prevent excessive gear hunting in the transmission on the interstate was to use autostick and shift manually. This is pretty annoying thing to have to do just because of having this cargo box on the roof. The Compass could really use some kind of two/haul mode that would hold gears to slightly higher RPMs and lock out a couple of the top gears, but I digress.
Even with a rooftop cargo box and a rear rack together we could not comfortably travel with all the gear we wanted to bring, and we especially could not bring another couple or even one friend with us on any camping adventures. We pondered purchasing a larger vehicle, but saw that even stepping up to a grand cherokee would not really solve our space problems. I began throwing out the idea of a small box trailer and mentioned it in casual discussions with friends and family.
Then at Christmas my father gifted me an old but nicely restored boat trailer. It was not necessarily his intention that this would become the base of my adventure trailer project, but he suspected I would find some good use for it (purchasing a jet ski, for example)
Once I had this trailer the wheels turned in my head all of the rest of winter, and in late Spring I pitched an idea to my wife that got the thumbs up to begin tinkering with this trailer and purchasing some materials to revamp it for our camping and adventure purposes. The basic idea was to massively increase our camping gear capacity so we could bring nearly anything we wanted on any trip, and to have room for two other people's stuff as well.
The core construction concepts were
1) Try to keep it relatively light and small, within the profile of the Compass to avoid catching too much extra wind.
2) Simple square box for ease of construction was an acceptable tradeoff over trying to do something rounded like a teardrop.
3) It needed a roof rack to carry things like our paddle boards, cargo box, maybe kayaks some day, etc.
4) It needed to be able to carry 2-4 bicycles.
5) Provide basic security for our gear when away from our campsite ie biking or on paddle boards etc
With the bikes in mind I chose not to cut down the excessive length of the trailer tongue. The long tongue contributes to a nicer riding and handling trailer on the highway and is also easier to back into places. It can be a little tricky to find parking in crowded places but we tend to be taking this type of thing away from congested pockets of humanity rather than towards it, and I would argue that the difference in difficulty of finding parking varies very little between a trailer that is 8 feet long and one that is 16 feet long. A couple of 2 inch receivers bolted onto the sturdy 3 inch trailer tongue and a couple of basic dual bike racks turns that extra space into a perfect pocket for our bikes and the bikes of two friends.
Moving to the back, I basically slapped together a sturdy wood base bolted to the steel trailer frame and built a box on it, slapped some roofing tin on and used some heavy hinges and locking T-handle latches to make front and rear access doors. The workmanship there is so-so, I am still working on sealing and covering the corners and exposed wood. The flat roof is a bit problematic for shedding water and I may have to throw a small tarp over it when its sitting in the back yard to cut down on water seeping in and soaking the wood frame. If I were doing it over again might have tried harder to address the water shedding issues but I still think it will last long enough to get a good amount of use out of it as is.
The box is roughly 6 feet long, 3 feet tall, and 3.5 feet wide. Quite a lot of large sturdy totes can be organized inside with room for longer items and awkward items like chairs and a folding table, tent bags, golf clubs, etc etc.
Rubber edge trimming slowly getting applied to sharp exposed tin surfaces as time allows. Trimming in general is an ongoing effort I do a little at a time while still using the trailer almost every weekend.
The trailer came with new bearings and new tires & wheels, but I ended up upgrading the tires & wheels to something taller, stronger, and with a higher speed rating. The 4.80x12 tires and rims I got from my local trailer shop are rated at over 900 lbs each and 84 MPH, whereas the tires the trailer came with could bear about half that weight and only rated up to 65 MPH. I don't tend to exceed 70-75 MPH with this trailer anyways but I need the tires to be up to task when needed on a busy highway. The taller tires combined with an 8 inch drop hitch are able to level out the long trailer tongue, with just a slight slope down towards the hitch.
With a nice Rhino anti-rattle plate on the hitch and a new 1 7/8 ball the trailer rides quietly with no rattles or metallic clunks or bangs over typical road surfaces. Bikes help provide some tongue weight but we have found that even without bikes the trailer pulls straight and true with no wagging.
I better get some photos in here to break up this short novella:
Thats max photos for one post so I will have to start another one here, more photos and information coming in a minute 😁