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Build a Lightweight Trailer for Two
Vintage 1950's Do It Yourself Plans
Build this two-place sportman's trailer "Wander Pup"
WANDER PUP licks the one big bugaboo of trailers - excess
weight. Completely equipped with beds, stove, water tank, and refrigerator
it has a certified weight of only 700 lbs. Yet it has full headroom for
a 6'2" man and excellent beds for two. It has an ample galley, cozy dinette,
big clothes closet, plenty of drawers and storage space, lots of windows.
Another good feature of the trailer is its high road clearance. There is
a minimum of 10" below the drop floor because the wheels are individually
A look at Photo 1 will show the details, as will Fig. 1 in
the drawing. WANDER PUP is built on a small wheel setup built by the Knapp
Manufacturing Co. of Newport Beach, California. Most of the plywood and
hardware can be obtained locally but you will do well to buy the windows,
vent, moulding, etc. from a trailer supply house. If none is available
in your district the Trailer Coach Equipment Co. of 2140 American Ave,
Long Beach 6, California, will fill mail orders.
Begin by flooring the chassis. Take two pieces of 4' x
8' half-inch waterproof plywood and cut them to 6'4" in length.
If you are using the Knapp chassis cut one 3'10" wide, the
other 3'6" wide. Fit together as in Fig. 1 and saw out the drop floor section
alongside the frame members. Bolt these pieces to the chassis with 1/4"
stove bolts in a half dozen places (see Photo 3).
Photo 4 is an underneath shot of the lower portion of the
floor box. This drop floor is made of the end pieces cut from the 1/2"
plywood floor ends. Use plenty of waterproof glue in building this recessed
section. Bolt 1/2" x 2" angle iron braces at intervals of 12" or
so to strengthen the floor.
When the floor is complete, take two pieces of 1" x
2" stock and glue and screw along each side under the floor. These stringers
make the bases for fastening the sides.
Next come the sides. Take two pieces of 4' x 8' quarter-inch
waterproof plywood and place them on the garage floor edge to edge. Take
a long straight edge and mark the pieces off into 12" squares. Refer to
Fig. 2 for the pattern of the side. It can be varied somewhat but be sure
and allow the greatest headroom in the section directly over the drop floor.
Sawout on this outline with a jig or band saw. Before
doing anything else take this side as a pattern and mark out a duplicate
on two more pieces of the 1/4" plywood.
Before putting on the outside studs and cleating, decide
whether you want the station wagon effect shown in the finished WANDER
PUP photo. If you do, it is a lot easier if you stain either the studs
and the cleats or the plywood before building up the side. The studs are
made of more of the 1" x 2" stock. I used a standard material carried by
most lumber yards which actually measures 3/4" x 1 5/8". Allow for the
window openings as in Figs. 3 and 4. The edging is made of scrap pieces
of the 1/2" plywood from the floor and is jigsawed out as shown in Figs.
3 and 4 and Photos 6 and 7. The top and bottom of each stud has to be tapered
to match the 1/2" edging.
After putting on the studs cut notches in the plywood sides
as shown in Photo 5 to take the ends of the rafters made of the same stock
as the studs. Check the number and position of the rafters by scaling Figs.
6 and 7. Be sure that the rafters carrying the roof vent and the fore and
aft windows are in the right places. Also the bed risers and the crosspiece
on which the table is hinged. Glue and screw the studs and the edging to
the sides. Use No. 7 flat head screws 1" long in the studs and 3/4" long
in the edging. Save the pieces cut from the doorway to make the door.
A discrepancy will be noted in the front side windows in
the drawings and in the photos. I used some windows I had on hand which
no longer are available. The window shown in the drawings is better because
Next mark the floor line on the inside face of the sides
and temporarily affix two cleats to each side to hold it in position. Erect
the sides in the right place in regard to the floor. Put plenty of waterproof
glue on the frame stringers , and set up the sides again. Drill a 1/4"
hole thru each stud and floor stringer and bolt with x 2" round head brass
bolts. Use No. 8 1" round head brass screws between studs into the floor
stringers. Now we're ready for the rafters. Cut eleven of them 6' 4 1/2"
long out of the 1" x 2" stock. Check Photo 8 and the inset of Fig. 3 for
the details of how these are fastened. Put glue in the notch, fit the rafter
closely, and run a No. 7 1 1/2" flat head screw at an angle thru the rafter
and into the edging. Countersink it in the rafter.
After placing the rafters fix some cross pieces of rafter
stock to frame the fore and aft window and roof vent openings. A 3" screw
thru the rafter and into the ends of the crosspieces will hold them securely.
Take a piece of 4' x 8' 1/8" plywood and glue and screw
it to the cross stringer at the floor line. Its upper edge will come about
half way up to the window opening. Place another short rafter between the
side and window edge for fastening this piece. Place it so that the 1/2"
plywood covers only the bottom half. The upper half is for fastening the
next roof section. Glue and screw this piece to the side edges and the
rafters with No. 5 5/8" flat head screws. Keep the screw heads in as far
as possible from the outside edge to allow for rounding off the corners
When this piece is fitted saw out the section that covers
the lower half of the window opening. Then fit another piece of the 1/8"
plywood above the one already placed. This will have to be trimmed to the
middle line of the rafter bordering the roof vent. Now fit the two similar
pieces at the other end. On top fill in on each side of the vent with a
piece of the 1/8" plywood and the roof is finished.
Next take a drawshave and a coarse wood rasp and round
off the edges of the upper portion (Photo 9) . This doesn't have to be
done, but it makes a neater job.
Get a small roll of upholsterer's cotton from an upholstery
shop for padding and insulating the top. This feature isn't actually necessary
either, but when the trailer is parked in the hot sun you'll be glad it's
Spread the top section with slow-drying glue and cover
it with the cotton as shown in Photo 10. The muslin roofing covers not
only the top section but the entire ends as well. The builder has found
that 'exposed plywood when bent will check and deteriorate long before
straight sections. Stretch and tack the cloth over the entire roof and
ends using small copper tacks. This material is known in the trailer trade
as cast iron muslin and can be bought at a trailer supply store. It need
not be in one piece as the waterproofing solution used later will take
care of any seams. On the front and rear sections the material must be
cemented with water-proof canvas or linoleum cement. Do the whole job carefully
so that a smooth surface is obtained. At the window and vent openings place
most of the tacks on the inside face of the framing (see Photo 11).
The door comes next. Take the two pieces cut when making
the sides and frame them on the outside with more of the 1" x 2" stock.
Trim the door so there is a 1/2" margin on all four sides. Hinge with a
piece of continuous hinge. For door stops take some more of the 1" x 2"
stock and some 1" wide strips of 1/4" plywood. Tack the plywood on first
around the inside of the door opening. A standard trailer supply door lock
completes this operation.
Aluminum windows obtained from a trailer house are used
in WANDER PUP because of their all around quality and lightness. Use a
waterproof sealer and screw them securely every two inches with 3/4" round
head brass screws.
The top is waterproofed with a material called Topbrite.
It is a heavy asphalt base aluminum paint and is obtainable from trailer
supply stores. There are other brands of the same stuff which probably
will work as well. This finish makes the top absolutely waterproof.
The cloth covering each end is enameled whatever color
you choose. The sides are finished with one coat of synthetic resin sealer,
such as Firzite, and then coated with two or more coats of the best quality
outside spar varnish.
After painting, mouldings make a complete job. I used
two strips of bending oak 1/2" x 3/4" screwed over the cloth edge around
the top section. The ends and lower edges are covered with an aluminum
moulding 3/4" x 3/4" set in a waterproof sealer and fastened with oval
head drive screws 1" long. A piece of 3/8" x 1" wood moulding is screwed
over the joint between the aluminum painted top and the enameled ends extending
from the lower edge of the fore and aft windows to each side. Small pieces
of sheet aluminum can be cut out and trimmed to make a neat joint where
the three mouldings meet about half way up on the ends of each side.
A study of Photos 13, 14, 15 and 16 will show the details
of the interior construction. Quarter inch plywood and 1" x 2" framing
Purchase a dinette cushion set and a rear bed cushion
from a trailer supply house, rather than try to make your own; it is much
more satisfactory. The dinette cushions are hinged and slide down quickly
to make up into a good bed. Cushion dimensions are shown in Fig 5. The
table is hinged on an end rafter so that it will swing up to the ceiling
at night. The table leg also is hinged and is made as shown in Photo 12.
The drop leaf pictured in the galley is necessary as kitchen work space
is too limited without it.
Two drawers are shown below the clothes closet (Fig. 7)
and three below the galley sink (Photos 14, 15 and 16). They are made of
1/2" plywood for the sides and bottom with 3/8" plywood for the front and
back. Outside faces for the drawers that overlap for a good joint are of
The sink is drained with a hose bent back against the
wall and extending thru a hole in the floor.
The shelves over the galley are of 1/4" plywood. A gasoline
hot plate makes a satisfactory stove. The water tank and round basin sink
are standard trailer supply items. Interior finish used was a stain wax
in a silver gray color. It is easy to apply, requires only one coat, and
looks very nice.
This modern chassis makes an excellent base for your
teardrop trailer project, lightweight camping trailer, or vintage travel