Nissan Frontier Forum banner

1 - 20 of 76 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I like you guys, so I'll share my latest project.

We've (my longtime girlfriend and I) been talking about getting a trailer for quite some time now after I got rid of my shell setup. We had visions of nice shiny new off road trailers, RTTs, teardrops, full custom builds, etc, but after realizing that we don't have a lot of extra money in the budget that pretty much eliminated any of those...

First we came to an agreement on requirements:
-Off roadish: Needs to be able to go almost* anywhere the truck can go. No crazy trails here, more so forestry service roads and desert washes. Most extreme being something like Mojave Road.

-Small: No longer than 15' total. Above dictates so, but I also like to have way more truck than required.

-Lightweight: under 2,000lb GVWR. Anything more than that will tax the truck too much in off road situations. Also wanted the truck to hardly be effected by it towing long distance

-Basic amenities: sink, stove, place to sit when raining, sleep 3-4 people, Bonus: Shower, toilet

-CHEAP: Total all in budget of $1500-2000

Enter the used Craigslist market! Full of garbage, scammers, shady deals, and the rare diamond in the rough.
Immediately we found that a small pop up trailer fit most of the requirements. Neither of us were big on the canvas that comes with your typical pop up though (Why have the hassle of towing a trailer when you are still sleeping in a tent?).

Then we came across what seemed like the answer, a hard side pop up. Enter the Apache solid state trailer. After doing some research on them we were sold and the hunt began.
Only a few problems with them...
They are rare. I'm talking sold within hours of posting rare...
They are old. Only made from 1971-1986 meaning most need a lot of TLC
They demand a somewhat high price due to their cult following.
Most are located east of Texas.

This meant daily Craigslist and message board hunting for 3 months straight until we finally found one that was in acceptable condition, within 400 miles, and for a price we could afford.

We came home with our 1973 Apache Mesa this Halloween weekend. Should be a hell of build to follow as it needs a lot of work.



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
769 Posts
Glamisdude,

You better talk/message with forum member "Shizzy" , I am pretty sure he has this exact same camper !!! LOL
I am sure Shizzy will see this thread anyway.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Wow. They sure don't make 'em like they used to. Good luck with the build.
Agreed, It's a bit older than I would have liked but I have not seen anything like it before from modern trailers. Thanks!

Glamisdude,

You better talk/message with forum member "Shizzy" , I am pretty sure he has this exact same camper !!! LOL
I am sure Shizzy will see this thread anyway.
That would be awesome if he does! The people on the Apache forums are a bit strange... Would be nice to have a Nissan guy to bounce ideas off.

Cool. Hard sided pop up. Let's see some inside pictures.

Better put a lift on it and bigger tires.
Will get some inside pics up soon. Was too late last night to get any worth while. The colors inside are VERY 70's, mustard fabric, sky blue countertops, lol

Lift is in the plans for sure. Just getting it down the 2 mile dirt road to our house was a test of patience. It's got slipper leafs that are only like 16" long... Made for quite a bouncy ride. I had to buy the tires it's got on it to get it home so they'll stick around for a bit but hope to get some bigger ones under it eventually.
 

·
Rogue Admin
Joined
·
12,849 Posts
Now that is a cool little trailer. A few of my friends into moto have been modifying small cargo trailers with flip down beds etc - they said it can be done cheap.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
^ That was our plan initially, I had made drawings and done quite a bit of research into that. You'd be surprised how expensive cargo trailers are! For more than we paid for this you get an empty box. Once you add in things to make it more like a camper, you are not far from getting an used travel trailer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
741 Posts
www.popupportal.com

I've gotten more mods for my hardside Palomino there than I've gotten for my Frontier here. That's saying something.



Also, there you'll be able to track down current Apache owners with boatloads of wisdom and warnings...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
WHUT!? Sweet camper!!





What is your overall plan? Mine is in sad, sad state. I have given much thought to stripping the entire body off the chassis and upgrading the axle. Mainly since I have $300 in to the thing and I have a good title for it. Mine also had no Galley or heater.
Very nice Shizz! Looks to be in pretty good shape to me. Bummer that it doesn't have a galley, ours has no heater as well... I think ours will be upgraded in phases. The first being just getting it campable with minor updates (fix broken/missing items). The second phase would be mods for the long haul (better suspension, 3500lb axle with brakes, bigger wheels/tires, extended tongue, frame gussets, solar, etc). We sort of took an inventory last night of the issues that need addressing and I'll post up a list of things here shortly.

PopUpPortal

I've gotten more mods for my hardside Palomino there than I've gotten for my Frontier here. That's saying something.



Also, there you'll be able to track down current Apache owners with boatloads of wisdom and warnings...
Thanks Roo, Nice pop up! I did wander there a few times during my research. Not too many Apache folk there but I'll agree that there are tons of great mod ideas. I'll be lurking over there for inspiration for sure.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Added some interior pics to the 2nd post

Last night we got started on stripping the interior! Nicole wants to paint the cabinets and redo the countertops so we figured it would easier to do that with everything out. I also figured it would be a good idea so that we can clean everything really well (its quite dirty...) and makes it easier to insulate the lower body. The earlier Apaches are all aluminum. The cabinets are about 3/32" aluminum sheet pop riveted together with a wood grain pattern on them. This part of how they keep them so lightweight. The heaviest cabinet assembly only weighted about 10 lbs.






The Plan:

1) Fix things that are broken or missing, update if possible
- Redo all wiring (tail lights don't work, converter not installed, pre wire for add ons)
- Fix propane system (missing tank and mount)
- Fix lift system (has new gearboxes and chains but they are out of alignment)
- Replace all windows ( they are plexiglass, some are missing at the moment)
- Insulate (none currently, plan to do all walls and roof)
- Replace most seals (most are bad or missing)
- Replace misc plastic parts (either broken or missing)
- Recover couch cushions
- Replace bed pads
- Repaint exterior (camo tan of course!)

2) Upgrades!
- Deep cycle RV battery
- 10-15 gal water tank mounted under floor
- Interior/exterior LED lights
- Ext shower
- Heater
- Water heater?
- 3 way fridge (if I can find a good deal on used one, have ice box currently)
- Solar panel
- Extend tongue (cargo platform for firewood/ box for battery, etc)
- Reinforce frame (already pretty good with 2"x3" square tube but needs more cross and corner bracing)
- Phase one Lift via XJ/Frontier/Xterra springs
*need to look into this a bit more for what will be the best match. Currently spring under and low. Would keep original axle for phase one.
- Phase 2 lift (swap axle to 3500 lb with brakes, 15" wheels with small A/Ts)


That is the plan thus far and should put us pretty close to the budget all said and done. All work would be done by us and the big money parts will be sourced used.

What say you? Are we missing anything?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
ive wanted one of these things so bad.
Andy they can be had for cheap in your area. I'd regularly see them for $300-800 near you. They just didn't seem to pop up as often out west. Poke around on CL in your area.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,861 Posts
The road cover on mine has been poorly patched with fiberglass, one of the bed end followers needs repaired, one corner of the lift system is Janky (probably needs new chains on the one end) and a few of the living hinges need replacing. Nothing major, but, without a galley or heater, my wife and I question it's usefulness.

In reality, it just needs a good amount of TLC.

I simply replaced the couch cushions with patio chair cushions (they fit amazingly well) and I got memory foam mattress toppers from Walmart to replace the original mattresses. Make sure whatever you get is not taller than the bed end tray (3" tall I think") or your bed ends won't slide out and or the cover will not crank down all the way.

I picked mine up for $300 and had probably another $200 in to it before it was road ready. Not bad, I say.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
^ Yea that was sort of the one thing this one had going for us, all the panels and roof are in great shape. Sounds like yours could just use a few weekends of work and it would be a good camper. I found a heater on Craigslist the other day for $50, (might grab it if they have it still) but you could build a galley easily and find someone parting an RV on CL and pick up all the bits you need for cheap. I wouldn't give up hope on it yet.
Living hinge is only like $2.50 a foot from Apache sales corp and new chains are $90 each I believe. You've only got $500 into it if you can get out under $1k you'd have a sweet camper.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,880 Posts
Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Alrighty guys. Lets talk frame and suspension...

We were discussing the order of things last night and both agreed that we should get the frame sorted while its mostly stripped. We are considering doing a full body off frame resto. Any suggestions on how lift the body up and pull the frame out?

The frame currently is really basic and is two (2" x 3" square tube) squares butted up together with an V for the tongue of the same material. So 3 cross braces and the V. The current suspension is about a 30" slipper spring mounted spring under.

We want to add some cross members in the square voids to help support the floor a bit more and maybe some gussets in the corners. Question being should I use the same material or less beefy stuff? How can I help reduce racking and flex?

We would also like to extend the tongue about 2-2.5' in this process if the metal is not too expensive. Any tips on design here? I've seen two styles, first being just cut the coupler off and leave the V adding a cross plus a new V like so Tongue extension
Second being cut the whole V off at camper body and build a new square (extension) and reweld the V back on to the new square.
Which would be better you think?

As far as suspension, XJ rear springs seem to be fairly popular for this type of thing. They are 2.5" wide and 51.5" long with the center pin being very close to centered. In stock form each spring has a load rating of about 650-750lbs putting making the spring rate match pretty closely to what I expect the loaded trailer to weigh. Found a guy on local craigslist that has a set posted for $50 with shackles. I could get hangers from Ruff Stuff for $33 for the front and $48 for the rear. I'd just need make/find u bolts and plates.
https://sandiego.craigslist.org/esd/pts/5853876681.html
Any reason I shouldn't go with XJ springs? Seems like they are fairly common

I'll get some pics of the frame and current suspension up this weekend.



In other news, should have a bunch stuff from Amazon coming in shortly. Got some interior LED lights, a new power converter, some insulation, a new 7pin wiring kit, etc
 

·
Rogue Admin
Joined
·
12,849 Posts
I've never built a small trailer before, but gussets on the corners always add rigidity. For the tongue, I would consider cutting off the V and then adding in whatever you like, then reattach the V for the hitch. Consider making a box of some sort that is water proof and can hold batteries, spare tire, and other small necessities. If XJ springs are common and only $50 - go for it, that is just a matter of what you can find and what your abilities are to make them adapt. $50 sounds like a no brainer for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
741 Posts
Do it all at once. 3500# torsion axle with electric over hydraulic brakes. Add blocks as desired for lift.
 
1 - 20 of 76 Posts
Top