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Thread: Nissan Frontier Truck Bed Off-Road Trailer - The "Frontrailer"

  1. #31
    OLC Member Nd4SpdSe's Avatar
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    Well a few months later, we've moved into the house and starting renovating. During that time, the Xterra worked hard towing trailer and moving our stuff, and also carried a few pouches of cement for some of the basement renovations

    Only 30 bags/1980lbs of it!


    so work on the vehicles had stopped pretty up until August, when I needed to take time to get some things fixed on the Xterra; replacing the center link bushings, some tie rods and the idler arm, along with an alignment and an AC recharge since I haven't refilled it since I emptied the system when I made up a new lower rad support 2 years ago. The reason for all this? A trip down to Niagara with the girlfriend, her sister and her cousin in the truck, and her sister's boyfriend following by bike. They wanted to visit Niagara less as tourists, but also be able to take it easy. At the same time, we had planned to rent a U-Haul trailer to bring back some stuff from my parents place, including my tool box! That being said, it meant I had to leave the Frontrailer behind to be able to come back with another trailer, so the Xterra got decked out in Expedition Mode and got the tent back, and would be the first time using the awning on the Xterra as well, AND the first time using the floor for the awning.

    Before leaving, I had to squeeze in some time to (finally) install those Darche Super Flex awning hinges. The Rhino Rack temporary hinge setup while works, wouldn't allow me to install the walls because they'll that much wider and throws off the dimensions of the awning.

    And inside the awning, my girlfriend's sister, boyfriend and their cousin would sleep.




    And the truck doing it's job, brining along the U-Haul for the 1000km trip back to Quebec. Man, Ontario weather was so much nicer and warmer....I'll always miss it...

    Last edited by Nd4SpdSe; 08-22-2017 at 12:40 PM.

  2. #32
    OLC Member Nd4SpdSe's Avatar
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    And now you were wondering, sure that's all fine and dandy, but not much news on the trailer itself....Which I didn't get a chance to finish my post from yesterday, so here we continue!

    With the hinges replaced and the awning properly fixed. I decided to start replacing the zip ties that I used to affix the LED strips and do like I did in the RTT and go the way of shrink wrap. Not only for a cleaner look, but it would secure the strips WAY better since adhesive since the 2-sided adhesive doesn't handle the location or the curved surface well. Although they haven't yet, I also don't want to take any chances and have the zip ties wear the awning.


    I also dropped the fuel tank to start working on the install of the Wabasto heater. Water had gotten in and I suspect that the tank was even properly sealed, so I drained the tank of it's various color of liquids; from some thick Orange at the bottom, to milky white in the middle, to the orange-colored fuel floating on top. I also found a few rags that I had apparently forgotten in the tank....

    Once emptied of everything that's not suppose to be in there, I poured in a jug of SuperClean. I and swashed and rubbed around the tank with the pure solution, and slowly added water to clean higher up and let it sit and soak while I could work on other things. Thanks to an old acquaintance, Aaron Cake on his '76 Mazda Rx-5 build YouTube videos (http://www.aaroncake.net/). I got that trick from his video of him restoring the original fuel tank from that car. From there, there was some light rust at the bottom of the tank, so the next step? Throw in a jug of CLR and let it sit and work, slosh it around and slowly add water and repeat while I, again, worked on other stuff.

    I drilled in the fuel pick up for the Wabasto. While their instructions are to have the pick up above the last 1/4 of the tank to not train it try. This is however, not in a vehicle and don't have to worry about being left stranded from an empty tank, so down to the bottom it goes! Once that was done, I resealed up the tank, and I'd like to say much better then before. The product seems better this time round too.

    From there, the fuel tank got put back in.

    And finally, I've started working on the Wabasto install itself!

    I've decided to document this install by video, seeing if I can get more detail on why and how. I think it's because I've been looking and researching Wabasto's on YouTube, and there's not really that much out there, and many are quite a few years old.
    Also there's maybe one instance I can find of someone using a Wabasto to heat an RTT (here: https://www.devon4x4.com/static/work...eating-system/), so I'd like to give more details on this type of setup, and if it's a viable RTT heating solution.

    As you can see, I've decided to encompass the heater in a toolbox to project itself and the trailer, in case. While working on the install, the toolbox has started to look like Swiss cheese, and I'll probably get another once I get the install finalized. Being my first Wabasto install, and no real precedence on how to install this for my setup, I've made a few mistakes and adjustments as I go. As of how, I've got the fuel pump and fuel line ran, and the intake and exhaust holes done, but will secure them later on because of how often I've been taking the unit in and out of the trailer. I do still want to get the intake silencer and exhaust muffler to quiet it down, but I'd like to hear before and after. Power is ran but not connected. I decided that I'll be putting in a manual power off on the toolbox since there isn't one except by the thermostat, and I don't want it to accidentally come on. I also need a project box to house the thermostat in something. It's suppose to be installed on a wall or a dash or something fixed. Because this is going into a RTT, it can't be, and there's no way to install it this way if I want to control the temperature while inside the tent. I also want to pick up the external temperature sensor and run it along with it and also install it inside the box to read the temperature inside the tent, as opposed to the temperature by the sensor at the unit itself. I also need more air intake tubing to reach the RTT. So in brief, what's next on the Wabasto install:
    - Connect the harness to 12v fuse block
    - Connect the harness to a manual power switch
    - Modify the toolbox to run the ducting
    - Connect the ducting: Need more ducting (local), and need some couplers (ordered)
    - Buy Thermoduct insulation (ordered) to project the RTT from the heat from the hot-side duct running inside.
    - Buy project box to, and install thermostat and external temperature sensor (local)

    I'm hoping to have this running to give it a test on the Labour Day Long Weekend

  3. #33
    OLC Member Nd4SpdSe's Avatar
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    Been doing what I can throughout the week, but as she sits, she's finally ready to get installed and tested!

    Since the last update:
    - I've shortened the legs I made by 2 inches. I figured it may be too high for when the top on the trailer closes down, especially to make room for the canvas
    - My package from HEATSO came in with my 60mm couplers
    - Went to the place I bought the Wabasto get more 60mm ducting (Was the better price), but also a 15ft temperature probe to have the temperature read from inside the tent as opposed to using the sensor inside the heater.
    - Picked up a project box and mounted the temperature control box into it, and drilled some holes for the temperature sensor, which is also packaged inside the box.
    - Ran the temp probe wire inside the loom for the temp control and taped that all that back up.
    - Mounted a master power switch as a safety precaution so that the unit doesn't turn on accidentally
    - Made up a wiring harness to be able to easily disconnect and dismount the unit if need be, because I like things serviceable. Using a XT30 connector to connect to the main power harness that will run to the battery.

    And to put the unit more into perspective. Air intake side is on the left, and the hot air comes out on the right.
    Unit Open:


    Unit Closed for Use:


    Unit Closed for Travel/Storage


    Just to mention, the wire hanging out on the underside runs to the fuel pump.

    In case you were wondering why I did this inside a tool box? It's because they do sell Wabasto (external) mounting boxes, and they can run for almost C$200! This toolbox costs me C$40, and it also gives me easy access and regular access inside the box. And ironically, if I was worried it was too small for the heater, the one that HEATSO sells for C$160 is actually a few inches smaller in (15" vs 19" long, and 5"x6" as opposed to 7"x7"), so should have absolutely no problem with it being enclosed inside the toolbox.
    At this point, although I want to run a piece of ducting for the intake side that can recirculate air from inside the tent if need be, and plan to make an access hole on the front of the trailer bed for this, but it's not immediately required since it's not THAT cold, not yet anyway. On that note, I also spoke with a tech over a Wabasto (called in regards to intake tubing length) and they say it's better for the unit to get outside air and have to work harder to heat up the air since it promotes a cleaner combustion. And I'm just anxious to get this thing fired up and tested!

    What's left? I need to solder on the opposing XT30 connector to the wiring harness that runs to the battery, which I've already done, and connect said wire to the battery. From there it's all easy stuff; bolt the heater back down into the trailer, connect combustion intake and exhaust, connect the fuel pump, throw in a few liters of fuel into the tank and I can fire it up! I'll have to make a run with my small lawnmower jerry can for fuel since the trailers tank is literally bone dry from cleaning it out, however I should be ok since, as opposed to a regular installation, the fuel pick up is directly on the tank bottom. And also fortunately, they're not calling for any rain until overnight and tomorrow, so everything is aligned to fire this puppy up tonight!

  4. #34
    OLC Member Nd4SpdSe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drizit
    Love those xt connectors. Going to be using them for all the lights on the jeep for serviceability.
    Marvelous connectors! I need more! :love:
    Well I hope everyone had a blast at AW. Man, it really sucked to look at all the pictures and videos on FB of everyone wheeling.
    So this past week I worked to get it installed and working, with the heater bolted down and secured to the trailer.

    From there it was to get it going. To be honest, the first time I had a hard time, which was probably in most part of having no experience with one and what it's suppose to do or not do; that the fuel pump doesn't run often, and don't expect it to turn on and run all the time like a regular automotivel pump. Also the slow start it does is completely normal. For a while I was thinking I was chasing a power problem, cause for a few times, it did start up right away at high fan speed, so I thought something was wrong. The only thing I think I did that helped was to prime the system with fuel. The fuel lines being empty and not hearing the pump made me worry it wasn't working. I did some reading online and someone had a trick to use a syringe to slowly send fuel to the heater when you turn it on. I cheated, and jammed fuel down the line in bursts using the OEM fuel pump inside the Frontier's original tank. I also found out that after a few failed attempts, or improper shutting down, it'll lock itself out (code of 15 flashes). The procedure to unlock it was as follows:
    1. Using switch (temp control dial), turn heater on
    2. Remove the main power connection to heater from battery or pull fuse for a minimum of 20 seconds. (which is where my master power switch comes in handy)
    3. Using switch (temp control dial), turn the heater off.
    4. Reinstall main heater power connection where previously disconnected. (turn master switch back on)
    After she got her first fire up, she's firing up every time since with no problem! I just laugh now that my truck bed trailer had a functioning exhaust now...hahaha!
    And with no time to spare tidying everything back up and putting the front of the trailer back together before packing it up and heading for a night of camping with some friends. Normally I go to Adventure Weekend with my friends from the Nissan club back in Ontario for a weekend of camping and off-roading, but it's just too far and too much money at the moment since we're in renovations mode to get what we can get done before winter hits, and while I have the help since my mother-in-laws boyfriend has been a HUGE help with the work, but he's got to get surgery for a torn muscle in his shoulder this fall. Once that happens, he's out of commission for a few months, so we gotta pump along in renovation mode as best we can, was much as I wanted to wait to do inside work over the winter, and we've also got the haunted house construction starting very soon as well. Oh the next few months will just add to the last several months of craziness...
    And back on subject. While it was just a one night camp, but it was still a great time with friends and to take some (much needed) downtime. It also happened to be one of the coolest nights, a perfect time to test the heater! Down to a (abnormally, but so has been the entire summer) cool 6*C/42*F. Not too cold to freeze our butts if the heater doesn't do it's job, but cool enough to give it a proper test and not throw any extra blankets on.




    The results? It worked wonderful! What I found interesting is that the heater, although the thermostat was set to about half, didn't work hard at all, turned on and off as it needed be. I was actually surprised that I was expecting much more temperature fluctuation. We did have a small 2" opening on each of the side windows. The fan speed seems to of mostly to of ran around it's slowest speeds. I'm guessing that it will work harder depending how cold it is outside and how hot you want it inside. It does seem to be a very smart unit, and I'm going to say that if it's colder out and put the thermostat at the same setting, it'll compensate, where the control is to set the actual temperature, rather then how hot and how hard you want it to work. Remember too that I have the external temperature probe wired in and mounted with the thermostat as a remote control box. If it wasn't, it would use the built-in sensor of the heater. Handy if it's installed inside a camper or vehicle, but not when mounted externally, exposed solely to the outside temperature.
    Now, we do sleep using regular bed blankets. While there is always the argument to just get a better sleeping bag (I have slept well in an igloo at -50 with my army sleeping bag), we're much more comfortable and sleep in more natural positions this way. With this setup, it also means there is no condensation inside the tent and we can also get dressed in warmth and in warm clothes. One thing we weren't expecting is when we (both) had to get up and pee in the early morning hours. Despite on how cool it was, it wasn't bad and didn't really feel it. It was almost like our bodies retained much of it's energy and heat. Maybe it's also a mental trick, knowing we have a warm, dry tent to climb back into. Hard to say, but so far, I really, really love it!
    While I'm still working on some of the details of the install, I do want to be able to run it with the tailgate closed for reasons of weather/animals/thieves. Mind you, I didn't think it was going to be a problem, but trying to find a 60mm duct 90 degree elbow is proving to be a challenge, and the ducting itself doesn't have enough flex to do what I need it to do easily, but I could force it to close the tailgate. I find a few options on the net, 1-2 from overseas with crazy shipping prices. I can find some options on McMaster-Carr, but I'll need to measure the proper ID of the duct to see what will work.

  5. #35
    OLC Member klahanie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heater update ! Question, is the outside exhaust noise loud enough that strangers might want to kill you ?

    For the elbow, 2.5" ABS is 60mm OD, maybe a 90* long turn elbow would work if the output air temps are low enough? Plumbing ABS spec is max 60C operating range with a typical Vicat softening temperature of 100C. Or perhaps you could find a 2.5" automotive exhaust elbow...

  6. #36
    OLC Member Nd4SpdSe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klahanie View Post
    Thanks for the heater update ! Question, is the outside exhaust noise loud enough that strangers might want to kill you ?

    For the elbow, 2.5" ABS is 60mm OD, maybe a 90* long turn elbow would work if the output air temps are low enough? Plumbing ABS spec is max 60C operating range with a typical Vicat softening temperature of 100C. Or perhaps you could find a 2.5" automotive exhaust elbow...
    It's not bad. I've got some videos made to show more on the setup and functionality late last week, but it's part time to sit and review and edit it if need be, but also, I'm not at all a fan of listening to my own voice, so I'm having a hard time being motivated to do it. I think I might be able to get to it this week. I don't think it's that bad. In the tent you barely hear it, but for strangers/neighbours, I would say it could be annoying if you have someone's tent right beside it, and maybe if you're in the middle of the woods, and it's quiet and you've got light sleepers in tents on your side, they might not like it, especially when it fires up. HOWEVER, they do make mufflers and even (combustion) intake silencers to quiet them down. For what I've watched from videos, they difference is night and day. Most people who live out of vehicles (ie: vanlife) that use Wabasto's put them on to go incognito in urban areas, and from the videos, you don't hear it unless your right beside the vehicle. I do want to go that route eventually, but wanted to give it a try as-is just to see what it's like and to live with it. Making me think of it, what I'll probably do is get a cheap sound meter and actually measure the difference! It doesn't need to me perfect with an expensive meter, but it would still a good base comparison.

    Are you sure 2.5" ABS exists? I've look around and can barely find a sign of it. I didn't want to go with an automotive exhaust tubing since I've got this feeling to avoid metal so it doesn't get hot. Looking up a sound meter on Amazon, I did find a 90* PVC elbow for $12. PVC seems to start to decompose a 140*C and melts at 160*C. It's probably not a bad idea. I might order both those soon. As for the muffler, the local shop wanted $88 for a muffler. Online eBay I can find them for less hen $40 to my door, and intake silencers for $30, but those aren't a rush, and would take a month to come in, so they'll probably be a next year modification.
    Last edited by Nd4SpdSe; 09-11-2017 at 12:28 PM.

  7. #37
    OLC Member klahanie's Avatar
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    ^ please don't do a video on my account. I appreciate your thread - and that you are busy ! I've listened to some videos before, it's just too hard to tell. I'm good with your comments so far, thank you !

    Sorry I meant 2". 60mm OD is what I measure, black abs DWV pipe fittings, prob from Rona etc. Suspect a regional thing, pvc may be more common for plumbing in your area. I believe abs has a bit higher "melt" point. Also I have no idea if fumes will be produced - something to be wary of ...

  8. #38
    OLC Member klahanie's Avatar
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    fwiw, I'll add that I've used 3M Glass Cloth Electrical Tape for insulation before. I used the #69 in ovens but they have other versions. If you do go metal and want to insulate, it's one product option.

    HTH

  9. #39
    OLC Member klahanie's Avatar
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    Hello, I just remembered my newer, forced air home furnace uses white pvc pipe for the combustion air and exhaust. Pipe is marked - Gas Vent Type BH Class IIA 65C IPEX 2" 50mm PVC. Measured OD is 60mm.

    Come to think of it that black ABS is nasty during cutting so I think I'd try the stuff above ...

  10. #40
    OLC Member Nd4SpdSe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klahanie View Post
    Hello, I just remembered my newer, forced air home furnace uses white pvc pipe for the combustion air and exhaust. Pipe is marked - Gas Vent Type BH Class IIA 65C IPEX 2" 50mm PVC. Measured OD is 60mm.

    Come to think of it that black ABS is nasty during cutting so I think I'd try the stuff above ...
    Ohh, interesting. Where do you get your furnace piping?

    Small, but necessary progress this weekend, but more on the RTT then the trailer. The weather has been gorgeous the last week, getting the summer weather we didn't get when it was actually summer. So in between working on some passageways we're building for the haunted house, I wanted to replace the ageing straps on the RTT before we use it again in a few weeks. There's a few threads around Expedition Portal on this topic, and there's a few that posted using back pack straps. Well I don't like to order off the new when I'm doing custom stuff, cause it's always hard to gauge if it'll work for me or not just by a picture on the net, so Saturday morning, we did some errands, and stopped in at SAIL, which is a huge outdoor store. After going in and asking a rep, the only straps they had where those Coghlans cheap plastic clips. Not really believing him (although he was right) I decided to walk around to see if I could spot something that could give me any ideas. Well, right beside the back pack section was a wall of dog collars, and I spot these green large dog quick release ones, and I'm like, I like this idea better! Not the cheapest solution, but to do a proper fix on an RTT which isn't cheap in itself, and I wanted to get this fixed before the original straps tear the tent, or cause stress and force me to prematurely replace the cover on the RTT. With the added memory foam topper, plus pillows and blankets we keep in there, it does need come compression to close it properly, and the Velcro isn't up to the job anymore. The tent is just over 9 years old, and still in great shape, but some thing will understandably wear over time.

    So here's the said dog collars:


    And you can see the original strap having a hard time doing it's job. It's time for retirement buddy!


    One dog collar to be modified


    First thing, taking off the sewed on tags.


    And chopping off one of the plastic binders to open it up


    For the top strap, cutting it off at about the 5 inch mark


    Melting the ends with a BBQ lighter so it doesn't fray over time


    Since my version of my RTT doesn't have riveted or screwed in straps, time to make some up!


    Predrilling the holes and then using some self-drilling screws. I'll probably switch to stainless machine screws, but when I first tried, they were snapping. Now that they've been threaded, I'll see if I can swap them out for the stainless without issues.


    And a comparison on the Velcro strap (which wasn't touched or adjusted from it's picture above), to the new dog collar which allows me to give it a good tug of compression. I like it! And it makes putting the RTT cover back on so much easier!


    After relooking up some of the said threads, I think I may need to switch how the straps loop around the front of the aluminum plate first; have it pass in front instead of behind, but no big deal. I did keep the metal loop that was part of it in case I want to hand stuff from it for whatever reason, and I'll eventually remove the dog face off the buckle, but I will say, it's very, very nice to use!

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