Requested: M101A2 Military Trailer Retrofit for Tacoma towing

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i8boots

= II • Bronze
Messages
23
Location
UT
First Name
Bryan
T3G Member
#431
I've been working on this for two and a half years, so it's going to be quite long. I may need to do multiple posts due to image limits.

In the spirit of being prepared for anything I decided a few years ago I was going to buy a truck... which didn't happen until Fall of 2016. While researching and pining over the truck I kept running into expedition threads about m101a trailers and camping / offroading. I decided I really wanted one once I got a truck and started monitoring govplanet.com and Govliquidation.com and the local classifieds.

Well, one came up that I couldn't resist and had to go see for myself. After a few min I was on the phone with my father in law asking him to come by with his F-350 to help me take it home. This was fall of 2015 while I was still driving a Subaru Legacy GT. This is how it looked originally:

1991.jpg2022.jpg

It tracked well, but needed work. First on the list was road-readiness. The tires were in horrible shape and the "tested converted lighting" caused errors on my father in law's dash. I planned out, prepped and designed a new wiring harness, replacing all wiring on the trailer with civilian 7 pin so that it could eventually have electronic brakes. I decided on submersible brake/turn/marking/license plate lights and bough two oval white lights for backup purposes. After measuring, planning, drilling and installation. I then realized that one drop of the tailgate and the backup lights would shatter. I realized that I could put bump stops in the triangular piece on each side in the back that already had holes drilled. Now when I drop the tailgate the stops buffer the momentum and stop the tailgate from hitting anything!

I originally did all the wiring with blade connectors so that I could easily convert between wire gauges and can pull out the lights and replace them at any time without having to redo the harness. When I checked them a month ago I realized my crimping back then sucked and ended up ripping out most of the wiring to put in a central wire box, and loomed everything.

IMG_20180519_194400.jpgIMG_20180527_152232.jpg20151003_130721.jpg20151003_130708.jpg

I had my friend Jay come over and we pressure washed the trailer and then bedlined the entire tub, top rail and inside of the tailgate. He works at a local paint manufacturer and was excited with the custom tinting.

2155.jpg2154.jpg

With the bed protected and the outside paint in pretty good shape I decided to renovate / rebuild the racks. Using a Dremel and about 25 cutting wheels I got all the rivets off, piled the lumber and lined up the hardware for prep.

Original shape:

2232.jpg2195.jpg

An Engineer friend of mine referred me to the metal finishing company they use and I got a great deal on blast, zinc, and powder coat. Here's the finished hardware:

20151002_232913.jpg20151002_170011.jpg

I bought a boatload of stainless t-nuts and along with stainless bolts to mount some western cedar planking. I didn't want to mess with rivets again, and like the idea that at least with t-nuts the inside-facing wood will have a consistent look. I ordered 1x4's and ran then through a planer, router, and sanded the crap out of them. I used this project as an excuse to buy a drill press, orbital sander, and a bunch of bits and had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to do things.

20151103_020253.jpg20151018_150516.jpgIMG_20160514_115516.jpgIMG_20160514_115452.jpgIMG_20161006_190012.jpgIMG_20160517_122326.jpg

That's not all, just want to see how well this is received before posting more.
 

i8boots

= II • Bronze
Messages
23
Location
UT
First Name
Bryan
T3G Member
#431
This is where it sat for about a year until I decided I didn't like the clunking of the broken surge lunette and wanted my trailer to be able to stop itself. I watched a video of someone offroading get pulled down a hill by their trailer and used it to convince my wife to let me go crazy. I found a local welder who had been trying his hand at offroad trailers, and we came up with a plan. We replaced the axle with a Dexter 5200lbs axle with e-brakes and parking brakes. I got the lug pattern to match my Tacoma, and used spidertrax spacers to get it to the exact track width so it will follow perfectly.

IMG_20170530_140115.jpgIMG_0444.jpgIMG_0462.jpgIMG_0472.jpgIMG_20170602_192801.jpg

A month or two later I got a wild hair and decided to design a new semi-removable rack. I say semi as it's heavy, goes the full depth of the existing stakes, and is custom cut and fit for the position. I used the same welder/fabricator as before, and he also created a new front tray for me to put propane/gas/etc. on. I drilled a few holes in the sides and installed tiedown points inside the tub for securing loads. Here are pictures of the new powdercoated steel bows as well as my new name and designation stenciling:

FB_IMG_1496466914937.jpgIMG_20170722_115427.jpgIMG_20170722_115442.jpg

I took on an extended trip to southern Utah, and it towed great and handled amazingly. After I got back I realized I couldn't handle it not having the parking brakes work properly, so I made my own cabling and tensioning system using as much existing hardware and no drilling:

IMG_20170902_114634.jpgIMG_20170902_142823.jpgIMG_20170920_103742.jpgIMG_20170920_103813.jpg

After fixing the brakes I got down to some soldering and made removable exterior LED lights using some amazon-sourced aluminum channel, magnetic tape, LED strips, a lot of time, and some vulgarity. All lights are removable and can attach anywhere ferrous, but the 4 sections for each side are hard wired together:

IMG_20170912_205021.jpgIMG_20170912_205039.jpgIMG_20170912_205159.jpg

Lastly I decided to finally start welding myself, and welded on a new tongue jack to help me hookup / decouple from the trailer and give it more stability when just sitting around. I also used this as an excuse to put in a breakaway battery/switch so that the trailer will stop on its own if it somehow becomes disconnected from my truck.

IMG_20180612_181924.jpgIMG_20180612_181912.jpgIMG_20180612_181904.jpg

I did a weight in at the dump on Saturday, and the trailer alone weighs 1420 lbs. This is great considering I added heftier cross bars for the rack, and extended the tongue. The original weight from the military specs was supposed to be around 1700.
 

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Tyler

= IX • Paragon
Badministrator
T3G O.G.
Messages
5,859
Location
Long Island, NY
First Name
Tyler
Military
Marine Corps (Vet.)
Build Thread
(Click to View)
T3G Member
#1
Finally got around to reading this. Really nice work and nice write up too. Is there more or this its current form?

By the way, if you need parts, technical manuals, or just have questions about it, the guys at http://steelsoldiers.com are very knowledgeable.
 

i8boots

= II • Bronze
Messages
23
Location
UT
First Name
Bryan
T3G Member
#431
This is the current form; two weekends ago is when I finished the welding and breakaway setup. As for steelsoldiers, this write up is actually more recent than the one I have there, though that one was updated as I was doing all the bits and pieces.
 

mh.meier

= VI • Diamond
Messages
370
Location
Socal
First Name
Mike
Military
Marine Corps
T3G Member
#600
Great write up and many kudos for a badass DIY project. I have many, many times considered this but I have not had the time and couldnt jump on a trailer that would just sit and not be used by someone else who had more time for it. I really dig all of your customization though!
 

jaws8817

= I • Lurker
Messages
1
First Name
Jason
Military
Marine Corps (Vet.)
T3G Member
#7,208
Very similar to mine. I added a tongue box, bed mat and side rails. I love this thing! I want to do the axle swap but I love the original tires and wheels. They’re fairly new, lots of tread on them.
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Jetspeed

= IV • Gold
T3G Supporter
Messages
185
Location
Eagle, ID
Military
Marine Corps (Vet.)
T3G Member
#7,175
I've been working on this for two and a half years, so it's going to be quite long. I may need to do multiple posts due to image limits.

In the spirit of being prepared for anything I decided a few years ago I was going to buy a truck... which didn't happen until Fall of 2016. While researching and pining over the truck I kept running into expedition threads about m101a trailers and camping / offroading. I decided I really wanted one once I got a truck and started monitoring govplanet.com and Govliquidation.com and the local classifieds.

Well, one came up that I couldn't resist and had to go see for myself. After a few min I was on the phone with my father in law asking him to come by with his F-350 to help me take it home. This was fall of 2015 while I was still driving a Subaru Legacy GT. This is how it looked originally:

1991.jpg2022.jpg

It tracked well, but needed work. First on the list was road-readiness. The tires were in horrible shape and the "tested converted lighting" caused errors on my father in law's dash. I planned out, prepped and designed a new wiring harness, replacing all wiring on the trailer with civilian 7 pin so that it could eventually have electronic brakes. I decided on submersible brake/turn/marking/license plate lights and bough two oval white lights for backup purposes. After measuring, planning, drilling and installation. I then realized that one drop of the tailgate and the backup lights would shatter. I realized that I could put bump stops in the triangular piece on each side in the back that already had holes drilled. Now when I drop the tailgate the stops buffer the momentum and stop the tailgate from hitting anything!

I originally did all the wiring with blade connectors so that I could easily convert between wire gauges and can pull out the lights and replace them at any time without having to redo the harness. When I checked them a month ago I realized my crimping back then sucked and ended up ripping out most of the wiring to put in a central wire box, and loomed everything.

IMG_20180519_194400.jpgIMG_20180527_152232.jpg20151003_130721.jpg20151003_130708.jpg

I had my friend Jay come over and we pressure washed the trailer and then bedlined the entire tub, top rail and inside of the tailgate. He works at a local paint manufacturer and was excited with the custom tinting.

2155.jpg2154.jpg

With the bed protected and the outside paint in pretty good shape I decided to renovate / rebuild the racks. Using a Dremel and about 25 cutting wheels I got all the rivets off, piled the lumber and lined up the hardware for prep.

Original shape:

2232.jpg2195.jpg

An Engineer friend of mine referred me to the metal finishing company they use and I got a great deal on blast, zinc, and powder coat. Here's the finished hardware:

20151002_232913.jpg20151002_170011.jpg

I bought a boatload of stainless t-nuts and along with stainless bolts to mount some western cedar planking. I didn't want to mess with rivets again, and like the idea that at least with t-nuts the inside-facing wood will have a consistent look. I ordered 1x4's and ran then through a planer, router, and sanded the crap out of them. I used this project as an excuse to buy a drill press, orbital sander, and a bunch of bits and had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to do things.

20151103_020253.jpg20151018_150516.jpgIMG_20160514_115516.jpgIMG_20160514_115452.jpgIMG_20161006_190012.jpgIMG_20160517_122326.jpg

That's not all, just want to see how well this is received before posting more.
Holly CRAP!!!! That's unbelievably cool.
 
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