I bought my 2016 Homesteader Fury 4×6′ cargo trailer second-hand on a whim during a casual morning drive on a nearby highway. The original owner had it for about a year and gently used it for a clothing business. It was in apparently-perfect condition. Read more about the trailer on this page. My goal was to use this trailer for some light camping and on rare occasions when I need to transport bulky items in a dry enclosure. I eventually began transforming the trailer for camping by removing the interior walls so that I could insulate them. That’s when the trouble began…
With the walls removed, I could see very clear evidence of multiple roof leaks in the form of rust on the structure and water marks on the interior of the trailer’s skin. The water had also caused rot in the floor near the front of the trailer. With the interior stripped away, I could also see some TERRIBLE workmanship in the floor and wiring. Knowing I had a roof to reseal, I went ahead and stripped away the sealant, thinking I’d have an easy task of applying new sealant. I was completely wrong… and to a horrifying degree! The design and workmanship on the “seamless” roof was horrendous beyond my imagination!
Before I get into that, I will preface my remarks by acknowledging that the previous owner was likely unaware that the trailer was leaking. Everything was happening behind the walls; so, there was no way for him to know unless he had removed the walls… something I know had not been done. Any standing water which may have accumulated would have either seeped through the unsealed edges along the floor behind the walls or dribbled out of the two gaping holes in the front corners of the floor, which were also covered by the walls.
Also, I think that nearly all trailer manufacturers churn out their low-end models of trailers by employing shortcut build techniques. After all, these are not expensive trailers; so, they’re not putting expensive labor-hours into building them. The vast majority of cargo trailers serve their entire lives as cargo haulers, not campers. Therefore, I think the vast majority of owners could easily use them for 10 years or more and be blissfully unaware of the flaws I’m about to expose. Cargo trailers, especially economy models, are built with the expectation that they won’t be disassembled until long after the warranty has expired or while the trailer is still with the original owner, if at all. I think most serious trailer buyers will buy a good model first, or upgrade within a few years of buying an economy model. Still, it would’ve been nice to see a little pride-in-workmanship in my trailer.
With that said, I’m ready to share specifics about my trailer:
Starting with the walls, I think they are fine and sturdy enough. They are made from 3/8″ plywood and sealed at the floor with a bead of tan RTV. I have no complaints. Removing them was easy enough and what led to my discovery of leaks. The corners of the trailer had thin sheets of aluminum flashing to serve as trim pieces. Removing them was semi-destructive. I plan to replace them with vinyl, which I hope is easier to work with. Next, I noticed that the structure (frame) was not painted at all! That likely accelerated any rust caused by humidity, even without leaks. I sanded away the rust that was on the structure’s interior and then painted the frame with gloss black spray paint. I didn’t bother masking the area since I knew I’d cover the paint with new walls. Unfortunately, the frame face that’s against the trailer’s skin is still untreated.
I also discovered a terrible wiring practice after removing the flashing, which is probably an industry standard: solderless splicing taps everywhere. I’m sure I’m being very picky on this one. As a career electronics technician, the sight of the rat’s nest of wire and splices had me thinking the worst about the builders’ laziness. But it’s probably closer to the truth to admit that “time is money” and that it’s far faster and cheaper to pay a builder to splice wires than it is to install a terminal board and painstakingly route wires in a neat fashion. I plan to rewire the interior of the trailer using terminal boards. Then, I will route the wiring so that it will be easy to see, trace, and troubleshoot in the future (should any problems occur). I’ll even preserve proper wire coloring throughout the trailer. Ironically, odds are good that I’ll never see the wiring again. HAHA!
On to the roof – WHAT A NIGHTMARE! I began what should have been a simple task of stripping away the old roof sealant, then applying a replacement sealant. However, my scraper kept hitting obstacles under the sealant. I learned that I was hitting panhead screws under the sealant that were holding the roof panel in place. YES, they drove screws through the roof! Then I was having a hard time scraping sealant from the curved front edge of the roof. So, I put a wire wheel and power drill to the task and quickly learned that the builders did not cut away any excess metal when they kerfed the roof’s trim panel. Instead, they beat them into a sawtooth shape and laid sealant over them. What frustration! See the photos in the album below… you won’t believe it! Once all the sealant was finally stripped away, I was amused to find several “extra” holes in the roof where the builders had apparently missed the frame while driving screws and simply tried again. Those holes were left in place and had sealant covering them. UGH!
I decided to remove the roof trim piece so I could cut away the excess metal from the kerfs. That way, the top part of the roof trim would lay flush along the front edge of the roof. Nope, not that easy! I think each builder had different screw types in their pockets that day, some Phillips heads and some double-squares. At least 30 of the screw heads were stripped. Apparently, the builders don’t use torque relief drivers to install the screws. Instead, they just buzz them in until the driver stops or something gives. I was already committed to removing the trim pieces. So, my best option was to drill-out the offending screw heads. That was very time consuming and frustrating. It also resulted in damage to the roof trim. Sourcing replacement trim pieces was difficult. I did manage to find a suitable replacement, but it is not identical to the pieces I removed. I wish it was because the original had an edge that’s good for retaining poured sealant. I’ll survive, though.
I’m going to leave my trailer disassembled in this article, just as it possibly sits in your imagination. 😉 Summer heat and humidity had arrived and working outside on the trailer had worn me out. I also had home projects that needed my immediate attention. I guess you could consider this long-term review to also be a warning to those who think they’ll just buy a cargo trailer and easily convert it. It may be easy, indeed. But it may also be quite a hassle! What fate does my trailer face? With cooler weather in front of me and previous projects behind me, I’m going to continue with my plan to rewire the trailer, insulate the walls and ceiling, install a new floor, paint the exterior, and (get this) add a slide-out to provide more length for when I camp in the trailer. I don’t have any sketches to share; you’ll have to stay tuned if you want to see how things work out. Click here to see a related video on my YouTube channel. Click here to advance to the next entry…
Some Disassembly Required,
See more photos of the trailer overhaul in the album below…