Outdoors Tech Vehicles

Camp Bug I gets a few new accessories

Getting ready for a few camping trips I decided to update a several items on the trailer.

The first was to install a door for a little more storage space and so I can check on the batter charge condition without having to open the top and remove the inside shelf.  I was able to find the correct size hatch on Ebay for a reasonable price.

trailer updates 1
trailer updates 2

I also installed an outdoor shower box for rinsing off and the occasional shower. I also have a shower enclosure and use the solar shower bag. I like using the bag because it prevents any one from over using the water. The shower will be plumbed into the lines going to the sink in the rear.

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I also wanted to add propane bottle bracket. I kept looking (as others have) for the correct solution for my trailer. I was going to use the XL Quick Fists as they have and extremely high rating, but I decided I wanted the primary tank on the tongue rather than against the box. I ended up bending some 2″x 3/16″ strap on my harbor freight bender. Making 90* bends is about all I use it for and it does the job well. I made a 1/4 cage crossed with a full cage that is hinged on the top and uses a heavy locking clasp. It is bolted to the tongue.

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trailer updates 3

For the spare tank I used the XL quick fist straps. They are just big enough for the smaller tanks and hold it quite well.


The last thing I did before the trip is the installation of the under body water tank and gray water tank. This opened up considerable storage space and lower the COG even more, as well as move the water weight centered over the axle.

The water tank is just a basic unbaffled 20 gallon tank. All fittings are customizable. I just put a vent, drain and fill fitting.

water tanks 03.

The tank was fitted up for marking holes then temporarily strapped up with plastic plumbers tape.

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water tanks 06

For the waste tank I decided to use a standard RV drain valve. Time will tell if this was a good idea. It sits pretty tight up to the frame behind the spring shackle. This tank came pre-molded with a 3″ drain and is tapered at the back, just enough to tuck up to the rear frame member. I had a 1 1/4″ fill and 3/4 vent fitting added. I got a 3″-1 1/2″ adapter and the valve at the local RV repair store and the ABS fittings at the hardware store.

water tanks 02
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water tanks 09

For the tank straps I used some 1/8 x 1.5 bar, added some bends for soft corners and bolted it up to the frame using the same Rivnuts I used in the decking. This is how my Land cruiser gas tank is mount so I think it will be adequate for the trailer.

There is just about the same amount of room between the bump stops and the springs as there is between the axle tube and the tank. I may add a little aluminum skid shield to protect the hoses and fittings. This would be attached to the tank straps.

Here are a few pictures of  the tank straps. Turned out pretty well. No sign of failure yet but the center of the water tank may need a little more support.


I was able to gain a lot of space in the trailer by moving the water tank underneath. I rearranged the batteries to help maximize this space.


Here are a few of the trailer in action on a recent camping trip to the Naches Ranger district.

Naches 2009 sm 04
Naches 2009 sm 03
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Outdoors Overland travel

Trailer Tent – Camp Bug I

After a long search, many nights messaging back and forth with a tent maker in China and a little work to put it all together I finally have the tent I have wanted for my Off-road tent trailer.  The tent is of the basic design used in much of Australia.  I had a few different requirements for mine as well as features the US market may want.  This first tent was also a good learning experience for international trade, ocean shipping and importation.

Camp Bug, this is the name to the entire tent trailer project by my son.  He has heard the story and seen the pictures of the boat I build with my father when I was about 10.  It was a remake of an older boat my siblings had used.  The boats original name Sea Bug and we christened the newly built boat the Sea Bug II.  Here are a few pictures of the Sea Bug II.




Back to the Tent and Camp Bug I.  After much work, a little retrofitting and a little beefing up I was able to attach the tent to the trailer.  It uses three hinges to hold it to the trailer.  It has two left handed and one right handed lift off hinges.  The right handed hinge is in the center and acts as the lock.  Half of the center hinge is bolted to the trailer.  The rest of the hinges are welded to the trailer and tent base.  This makes it possible to remove the tent from the trailer if need be.  To hold the folded tent up while loading I started out with two 120 lbs gas lift struts.  This works once the base is completely extended, but does nothing to help lift it.  With the tent and base weighing in and near 350 lbs I think I need a little help.  I will try a pair of 200 or 250 lbs struts and see if that does the job.


The tent wasn’t difficult for me to set up by my self the first time, but two people will be helpful.  I started by removing the cover, removing and setting aside all the poles, guide lines, stakes and awning (annex) walls.  Next I pulled the tent off the trailer spreading the PVC floor out as tight as I could.  This also pulled the two ground length internal poles off the trailer.


Once the floor is staked down, I went inside and put the ground length poles into their pockets in the walls.  The poles are extended until the roof is tight.  The two poles that are attached to the base also need to be extended.


The annex uses it’s own set of poles. Setting this up was the hardest part of the setup. It helps to have a second person to hold one of the poles as you attached the rest of the structure. Four poles attach through the tent wall to the inside pole structure.


The tent comes with a ladder to get up onto the bed.  The bed consist of a 3″ thick foam pad roughly the size of a queen sized bed.  Under the bed are two hatches for easy access to items that are stored inside the trailer.


The walls for the annex are as simple as attaching the three panels together and to the tent with their Velcro strips.   Fully deployed, the tent has two windows with rain covers and six windows that can role up.  All windows as well as the two doors have mosquito netting to keep bugs out.


The Kitchen slides out through the opening in the tent panel at the back of the trailer.


The roof vents, there is one in each outer end of the tent.


And the tent stakes. There is a set of the standard size metal stakes as well as an extra heavy duty style that is about 3/8″ thick.



The tent can be mounted on most any trailer smaller than 90″ long x 66″ wide.  A custom mounting frame may be needed.  For questions or more information on the trailer tent, please contact me or submit a post on the East Olympia Cruisers website or download the [download id=”2″].

Outdoors Overland travel Tech

Off-road Tent Trailer Build, Part3

The trailer tent has arrived. I set it up quickly or some pictures and get a first impression. Of course it was raining so I had to set it up in the shop. I was not able to open the annex and install the walls but the main tent fit (just barely) and I like what I see so far. Well made with heavy sippers and double seams. I have some questions on the travel cover but everything else looks pretty good. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to mount it to the trailer. I think a bit of extra bracketry is required and will have to pack the tent back up and flip it over to get a better idea.  I will get more pictures one I get it permanently mounted and can set it up outside.


My minimum order is 10, so I think 5 people and I will have to nearly full price. If I can get 8 or more, I will be able to give about 20% discount I think.  If you are interested in being part of the initial order please let me know by using the contact form.

Still waiting on ocean shipping rates. Also looking into the need for fire retardant fabric before I announce a price.

The size of the tent closed is 90″ (~7.5′) long, 66″ (5.5′) wide and between 6″-12″ tall. The width was selected because that is the width of my trailer outside fender to outside fender. I believe the M416 is roughly the same. The base is designed to sit 54″ off the ground. Open, the tent is 17′ wide and 15′ long (7.5′ each for main room and awning). The peak is 8′. The tent fabric is 10oz rip stop poly cotton canvas and the floor is 13oz PVC. Polls and ladder are steel. The base is 3/4″ marine grade plywood with a metal frame under for added support. There are two hatch doors in the base for easy access to trailer storage once setup. There is a 3″ foam mattress. The entire tent weighs roughly 350 lbs.

I am still working on the mounting. I am thinking of offering a mounting frame at additional expense or having the customer provide their own mounting method. The frame would fit customers trailer and have hinges, latches and struts.

Outdoors Overland travel Tech

Off-road Tent Trailer Build, Part 2

idaho-trip-by-david-031Now that the trailer has been completed and test I thought I would finish up the trailer build with some finished pictures, a recap of features and parts used as well as a summary of the trailers performance.

We recently completed a 1625 mile trip (about 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads) to Idaho.  The full write-up is HERE.

finished_trailer_13The only changes I need to do to the trailer is to change the axle from spring under to spring over.  Once fully loaded with water, camping gear, extra fuel and bikes (or tent in the future) I have very little travel left between the bump stops and in the fenders.  It will also allow for slightly larger tires.  Here it is with 31″ tires.  I would like to fit 34″ tires to match the Land Cruisers.

finished_trailer_12The next area of improvement would be lid strength and stronger struts.  With the bikes on top it was very difficult to lift.  The lid also flexes.  If there are not two people to lift it is almost impossible.

Features that need to be added still are fuel can holders.  I picked up a pair of J Cans from Expedition Exchange.

finished_trailer_11I also need to add some brackets to hold the propane tanks but I haven’t decided on the size of tank.  Right now I have one 11# tank it it was more than enough for a week of camping with cooking and hot water.  I don’t think there is a need for a 2o# tank.  The current plan is to mount the tank on the tongue using a bracket similar to the ones used on the Fleetwood tent trailers.

Pictures of the interior of the trailer. I used AGM batteries for safety and reliablility (like optima just no spiral).

When at a campground our at home, I use a trolling motor charger to keep the batteries topped off. When driving I charge through the vehicle using a hellroaring battery isolator I installed as part of my Dual battery setup into an 87 FJ60 | OlympiaFJ60

The back of my power box. I used circuit breakers from the batteries to the power. One battery is for the water pump and lights. The second batter is for the inverter.

For the inverter I just used a 400 watt inverter I had wired with a relay to switch on and off from the switch panel.

Here is a shot of the water heater. You can see how much space this thing takes up. I think in my next trailer I will use the on demand type heater instead. The second picture is off the whole inside. The water tank is the other item I would change. It is too tall. I think a wider but more flat one would work better for storage space. Even with the limited space I am able to carry the camp table, chairs, tent and shower/toilet enclosure.



Blue Highways Outdoors

Owyhee Sheep Camp Expedition, Part 3



After our two nights at Boni Spring we decided we would visit Silver City before heading north to find our last campsite of the trip. After a hearty breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs we broke camp. While David and I finished packing everything into the trailer and truck Mom took Farron for a walk down the road. I guess it took us a while to finish loading as we found Mom and Farron nearly a mile down the road, Farron was running ahead trying to extend his hike as far as he could. We continued west into the Jordan Valley.


Picture by Mom

Since we didn’t know how far it would be to Silver City and out again we decided to fuel up in Jordan Valley, Oregon. We also stopped to take a picture of the Pelota wall and the Old Basque Inn.


Picture by Mom
Picture by Brandon
Picture by David

While in Jordan Valley we also asked for directions to Silver City. We headed north out of town on Hwy 95 looking for Cow Creek Road. After about 15 minutes we turned east onto Cow Creek road. It is a good two lane gravel road with turnouts. It was Sunday just before noon so many of the weekend campers and hunters were heading out. Once we turned onto the Dewey-DeLamar road we were on a primitive one lane road that resembled the historic ghost town we were heading for. It follows a stream was narrow in spots and made of dirt and native rock. All along the stream we saw people panning and prospecting. We passed old home sites as well as one currently occupied residence. We hardly knew when we passed the old towns of Dewey or DeLamar. We arrived in Silver City about lunch time. We took a little walk down town and decided to have lunch at the Idaho Hotel.



Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon

After lunch we took a quick drive around town. It was getting late and we still had some driving to do before we found a campground for the night. We left town back toward Ruby then east on the Silver City road toward Murphy. Once we got down to Hwy 78 just outside Murphy we found we had cell phone reception again and made some quick calls that we had survived then headed west to Hwy 95 North. On the way we drove through Marsing were mom’s Grandparents had lived and saw Lizard Butte. We followed Hwy 95 through Homedale, Fruitland, Payette, Weiser and countless other small towns.



Picture by David

In Weiser we had to decide on camping back at Farwell Bend or continuing north. We had decided to stay of the interstate on the way home so we didn’t really want to head for Farwell Bend. Looking on the map we saw a campground at Evergreen but could not find any phone number or GPS location for it. We decided to keep north on Hwy 95 and try our luck. It was getting late, about an hour before sunset, when we stopped in Council to fuel up again. We asked the clerk inside about Evergreen campground. She didn’t know anything about Evergreen but said there was a Lost Lake about 15 minutes further down the road. We stopped at the ranger station on the way out of town and looked at the recreation map. There was an Evergreen Campground as well as Cold Springs and Lost Valley. It was 30 minutes before sunset now as we pulled into Evergreen Campground. Had we been traveling in a Motor home or pulling a large camping trailer this would have been the ideal site with its nicely paved parking pads and hookups. It was not going to work for our large tent.



Picture by David

We decided we would head up to Lost Valley. At the restaurant in Pine Ridge we turned left onto Lost Valley Road, another gravel forest road. The first campground we came to was Cold Springs. It looked a little torn up as they had recently finished a large danger tree removal operation. The grounds were still covered in limbs and debris. We made a quick drive around and settled on a nice large site close to the rest room. Again Mom and Farron went to register our site as David and I set up the tent and got out the stove for our last camping trip meal. Mom made some great ½ pound burgers and we ate by lantern light listening to all the forest sounds. This was much different the camping we had done at Boni Spring with the wide open space. Cold Springs is tucked away in the forest with only a few feet to spare around our tent and pick neck table. We even saw a resident pair of deer, a doe and young buck. Luckily they were the only cows crashing around we heard that night. Regardless, we locked up all the food and garbage in the back of the Land Cruiser. We had a good sleep and, as far as we know, didn’t get any visits by Yogi.



Picture by Mom

We decided since we had run out of water in the trailer for dishes, an easy breakfast would be best. After breakfast we broke camp for the last time, packed up and were on the road again. Heading north on Hwy 95 we followed the Little Salmon River until Riggins where we picked up the Salmon River. Riggins is home to several white water rafting companies. We followed the Salmon until just before White Bird. Here we left the river and had a steep climb out of the Salmon River valley then down into the Palouse and Grangeville. From the top of the grade we could see the location of the 1877 Battle of White Bird Canyon which was the first fight of the Nez Perce war. Grangeville is near an excavation of a Mammoth skeleton in the early 1990s. With further excavation they found a mammoth grave yard containing hundreds of skeletons. This was also the beginning of the wheat fields we wouldn’t see the end of until Ritzville. We traveled across the Nez Perce Indian Reservation to the Clearwater River near Lewiston. In Lewiston we had our second to last fuel stop then took the nearly 7 mile long Lewiston Grade out of town back up to the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse.



Picture by Brandon

Just past the Grade we left Hwy 95 for Hwy 195 north to Pullman and Spokane. In Colfax we changed Highways again for Hwy 26 West toward Othello. At Washtucna we turned north on Hwy 261 toward Ritzville and a milkshake. As a child I remember stopping often in Ritzville on our way home from Spokane to get a good old fashioned shake. It was pretty windy by now and the fields in the area had been recently plowed. This made for a slow dusty drive. Unfortunately when we arrived we found the stand to no longer be there. With a milkshake still on my mind we stopped at Zip’s Drive Inn. Now for our only interstate portion of the return trip, 45 miles headlong into the dust storm.


We stayed the night in Moses Lake. After Dad fixed us breakfast David, Farron and I continued on the final leg of our trip. We took a slight detour (following the bicycle detour) at Snoqualmie Pass. We followed the old road down between the east and west lanes to Denny Creek Campground. All my life I have traveled I-90 and never new there was a wonderful campground and recreation area between the freeways. Once in Olympia David moved his belongings to his Volvo and headed out for Seattle.

Trip total, 1,625 miles. 7 days 6 nights. 9 full gas fill-ups.