Designed for the person who prefers a light traveling
bedroom to a more commodious pull trailer, this lightweight streamlined
modern camper trailer is noteworthy for its low cost and unusual safety
at high speeds.
Looking into the "cabin" through the open galley hatch. Although quite portable, the "Runlite" has ample space
for two full length spring mattresses. Below Body plan dimensioned to
TRAILER owners incline to divide into two schools of thought:
one group wanting the kind of trailer in which they can, if necessary,
live permanently, the other preferring something rather lighter and more
suitable for use on extended trips, such as vacations, where economy and
high cruising speeds are of major importance. The Runlite has been designed
for the latter group.
By placing the wheels quite far aft it has been possible
to make this an underslung job, making it directly possible to combine
really effective streamlining with marked stability. The weight of the
whole trailer being so low, much of the weight is carried by the tongue,
a matter of no particular concern in the case of the Runlite since it is
normal for a load of 150 or even 200 pounds to be distributed on the hitch
of all trailers.
The Runlite can actually be towed at a 60 m.p.h. gait
without straining any good light car. Straightforward methods of construction
are used in this design.
There is practically no welding and absolutely no special
machine work to be done. The roof, which at first glance may seem a problem,
is actually simpler to construct than that of the average trailer.
Another word before starting in on the actual construction
work: Comparison will reveal some slight difference between photos and
drawings in this article. It is quite unimportant and, as far as that goes,
the curve, the width and the overall height may be modified to suit the
Start with the frame. What few welded joints you will
have to make are encountered here. If you lack the proper equipment or
experience have the welding data by on expert. The cost will be low and
the sense of security a good deal greater.
Use an old Model T Ford frame. At your local junk yard
these should be anywhere from 75 cents to $2.75. Using a hacksaw, cut out
a 13 1/2" length on each side 7" from the front end. Saw out the channels
to fit and weld at right angles so that the frame now has a 13 1/2" kick-up
as shown in the drawings. An angle iron tie piece 1 ¼"x 1 ¼"
x 3/16" is welded across the bottom of the frame as shown in the perspective
drawing of the frame. At the rear end the rear face of the spring perch
is cut off with torch or hacksaw. Into the perch a 2"x 4", preferably of
white oak, is carefully fitted. This beam should be the full width of the
body and its obvious purpose is clearly shown in the drawings.
The profile lines of the Runlite, accurately scaled
above, convey immediately grace and speed of the design. While the basic
design should not be tampered with, headroom and width can be increased,
if builder wishes, without harming the appearance of this fast-stepping
Two more lengths of Ford T frame are used for the trailer
tongue and the cross-member to which it is anchored. Joints here may be
either by welding or bolting. It will be necessary to cut out the filler
piece for the tongue, which is bolted securely to the spring perch as well
as to the channel cross piece. Bolt or weld a standard hitch to the end
of the tongue. The height of the hitch can be adjusted by heeling the tongue
and bending upwards.
Only four leaves of the front spring are used. A shim
is put under the perch clip bottom to compensate for the leaves removed.
Second hand Model T steering tie rods are used in the manner shown for
radius rods. The ball and socket fixtures for the frame end of the rods
are from regular Ford radius rods. They should be welded on. The axle ends
of the rods may be attached either by flattening and bolting direct to
the wing spring perches, as shown, or drilled clear through the axle and
bolted either side. This latter method provides an easy method of aligning
the wheels. 20'x 4" wheels from a motorcycle pick-up trailer are used.
Photograph here shows to advantage the charm small
trailers of this type hold. Note excellent proportions of this vest pocket
trailer; its very low hung position, practical cooking facilities and obvious
roominess. Although lacking bathoom facilities, it is hardly higher than
a small car, it sleeps and feeds two adults!
Such wheels fit Model T Ford spindles without change. They
cost about $4.00 each and the tires about the same. The completed frame,
ball hitch, radius rods, wheels and tires should not cost over $20.00 with
The steering tie rod is cut in two, the ends flattened and
bolted to the axle as shown. This completes the entire chassis and the
rest of the job is straight woodwork (with a little tin work here and there).
Build the floor as a foundation for the body. Second grade
Oregon pine flooring, tongued and grooved, is bolted to the chassis frame
starting at the rear end and working toward the towing end of the trailer.
This flooring should be wide enough to finish 61 ½" wide after trimming
the sides for straightness. Rabbet the first plank laid to hold the ¼"
bulkhead as shown and cut out where necessary for the spring perch at the
towing end. This cut out is later covered with tin - see drawings. Lay
a straightedge along the sides and saw off flush.
Next screw in the 1" x 2" and 2"x 2" stringers to the
underside of the flooring as shown in the drawing, allowing the ends to
project several inches beyond the floor at the rear. Stanchions No. 3 and
the 2"x4" uprights are mortised into these projecting ends and the stringers
trimmed off flush as shown in the detail sketches.
The stanchion framing can now be completed. The heels
of the stanchions are boxed into the floor and bolted into the 1"x 2" edge
or side piece. With the main stanchions in the 1/4" plywood or hard Celotex
bulkheads can be installed and the boxes for the wheels built up. Framing
for cupboards, water tank, sink and so forth, is left until the body has
Cut out the crown carlins and also the bow plate. Detail
drawings give the dimensions and it will be noted that it carlins in all
are required. Some of these are used for the roof, three being bolted to
the main stanchions already installed. The remaining carlins are required
for bow and stern, and for the hatch. Install the bow plate in the manner
shown. It is cut on a 72" radius, is 3/4" thick and 6 3/4" deep. It is
screwed to the riser strip which in turn is bolted to the filler piece
in the spring perch.
The side clamps or roof strips can now be sawed to shape
and mortised into the tops of the stanchions as shown. They may be lightly
screwed until the outer sheathing is applied. This sheathing, of fir plywood,
1/4" thick, or hard Celotex, is screwed directly to the stanchions, floor
edges and 1" x 2" outer strips. The carlins at the front and back of the
trailer are put in with knees as shown. Do not apply the sheathing to the
front end of the trailer until the roof battens have been bent in. If these
prove stiff, soaking for half a day under the lawn sprinkler will render
them pliable. They are fastened over the carlins without notches except
where they bend into the front, or bow cabin. They are notched flush into
this former. Use light screws to secure the roof battens.
The lift-up cover over the galley, called a hatch in the
drawings, is built up in the manner show. The longitudinal carlins are
cut to the same sweep as the roof from 3/4" plywood. Cut out four of these
carlins, two of them being permanently attached to the stern portion of
the body frame as shown. The other two of course form the sides of the
hatch itself. A tin gutter should be hammered out and fitted along the
edges of the hatch opening in the manner shown.
These plan views of the trailer chassis and floor
frame, used in conjunction with the indoor profile plans below (and the
sectional views of the body), should be studied carefully.
Attach the sheathing to the front end now. It will bend to
the slight curve quite easily.
The door is clearly indicated. Lock arrangement and so
on is left to the DIY builder though a streamlined blind door handle was
used on the trailer pictured. A 12" porthole is cut into the door and another
one exactly opposite in the sheathing on the other side.
A screen is secured to the outside of each port and inside
they are furnished with hinged windows as clearly shown. Glass or airplane
windshield Pyralin are equally satisfactory for these windows. It has been
found that the two ports provide ample ventilation for even the hottest
The next step is to cover the roof. Use grade A muslin
costing 18 to 29 cents a yard at most stores. Start at the front end, tucking
on 1" centers with small carpet tacks, and stretch lightly over the sides
as you proceed toward the rear until the tail carlin is reached. With two
gallons of aluminum pigmented nitrate dope, you will be able to render
the roof drum tight and waterproof. Correct procedure in doping cloth is
to lay the first coat on around the edges and work toward the center. The
edges can be finished with either aluminum edging or regular upholsterer's
edging. Both are obtainable at automobile supply stores.
The galley is pretty thoroughly covered in the various
drawings. The space formed by the two bulkheads makes a good place for
odd clothes or other stowage. It extends from wheel box to wheel box, is
18" deep and about 8" wide.
Immediately aft of this compartment the sink and stove
shelf is located.
Drawing above, in conjunction with the cross section
drawing below gives many details and dimensions which will be helpful to
builder. Lines for the curve of roof edge should be taken off the "outdoor"
profile drawing, or at least checked from that plan. Completed body, ready
to be covered, is shown at the right, will aid in reading the plans shown.
This shelf is made readily detachable so that the axle may
be inspected if necessary or to permit the easy placing of a jack under
the axle in case of flat tires.
The shelf rests on a light framing of 1" x 2" pine as
shown in the drawings. It can be held in place by a few light screws or
by four wingnuts.
The stove is secured to it in the manner shown and a simple
sink can be made from a large cake pan and set into the shelf with small
A muslin apron, tacked from shelf carts to rear carlin
and from wheel box inner panels, serves to keep the dust out. This apron
should be doped.
The tank for water may be any size and the details of
its installation will naturally depend upon the size used. In any case,
it should be so arranged as to empty directly into the sink. Cupboards
and shelves may be any way you prefer. A simple arrangement as used by
Mr. Trenmore Garstone, builder of the trailer illustrated, is shown in
Lighting details are left to the builder. Two dome lights
proved ample for the mini Runlite.
Here is an exceptionally clear picture of the
simply door. It may be varied but is hard to improve for simplicity and
sturdy construction. Note the blind door handle box, not shown in the drawings
This front view of the body ready for roof covering
to be tacked on shows the roof carlins, battens and bow detailers very
Paint the entire under portion of the trailer with barn red
paint to prevent weathering. The interior, including the floor is finished
cream. The underside of the muslin roof should not be painted. The exterior
sheathing, is finished in Duco gunmetal.
Completed, your Runlite trailer should not cost more than
$75.00 at the outside. It can be built for less if you know how and where