Modify old Venter trailer to use as a camping trailer





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  1. #1
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    Arrow Modify old Venter trailer to use as a camping trailer

    I would like to hear what you all think of my modified Venter trailer. A friend and I took a 1983 Venter trailer and converted it into a camping trailer (not a 4x4 camping trailer).

    My wife and I used to camp with single cab bakkie, then when the kids came with a sudan car and venter trailer, then with 3 small ones we could not fit everything in our car with trailer for a 2 week camping trip. The 4x4 camping trailers are nice and big, but expensive, so we decided to use what we have and build this camping top for my old venter trailer that was standing around.

    This makes camping so much easier. We have more space for packing. The kitchen and food is organized and it does not have to be unpacked. The aluminum doors also serve as a table or working space. The bottom of the trailer’s big wooden drawer pulls out to access the fridge/cooler box. We did already did a few camping trips with the kids and the modified trailer which one of the trips included the Kgalagadi and I am very happy with the trailer.

    We did the following modifications:
    • Removed the lid completely and build a top for the kitchen and for extra space. The top was built with steel square tube, added aluminum doors with pressure levers and clad the rest with aluminum tread plate. The top has a floor has a wooden plank to divide the bottom and the top of the trailer.
    • Build drawers with wood and high density sponge for kitchen stuff. (see photo)
    • Added two steps on the sides; gas bottle on the one side and 40l plastic jerry can for water on the other side.
    • Added 2 Pressure levers (knippe) at the back-door of the trailer that the trailer can open from outside.
    • Added big wooden drawer at the bottom that pulls out at the back to be able to pack trailer from the back-door. (see photo)
    • Added two steel square tubes vertical from the chassis to the top to help carry the weight.
    • Added 2x three level plastic drawers for groceries. (see photo)
    • Replace 10” rims with 13”
    • Lifted suspension with a spacer to fit new bigger wheels
    • Repaint
    • Complete rewire with new lights
    • Service wheel bearings
    • Replaced broken Jockey Wheel


    Now, the following is still outstanding which I am trying to get my head around. I would appreciate some input.

    1. My knowledge on suspensions is very limited. The suspension is still the original 1983 Venter spring leaves. We just added a spacer and replaced the U-bolts to accommodate the bigger wheels. The suspension seems to me a bit “worked out” or saggy. (see photo). If I leave the trailer as it is, should I get these replaced?
    2. I am now thinking of adding a roof top tent and awning. It looks like a good solution, quick setup and create more space in the trailer where my tent and gazibo are at the moment. I am confident that the trailer’s body (sides) with the added vertical square tubes to the chassis can handle the weight of the camping top, plus a roof top tent, plus 2 adults sleeping in it. My concern is overall weight and height when it is on the road.
      Weight: The GVM of the trailer is only 570kg (and the Tara 138kg). I guess I am about 400kg GVM when everything is packed, but I am unsure. I am willing to replace the axle and the suspension that can handle more weight (just to be on the safe side) and max it out at 570kg. But does it make sense to spend all of these on an old 570kg camping trailer? I want to use the camping trailer long term. I also need to weigh my trailer somehow if am going to max it out??
      Height: Or being top heavy.I am still within the law even if I add the rooftop tent. (The overall height of a caravan, when measured vertically above ground level, shall not exceed the lesser of 1,8 times the track of the caravan ), but still little concerned that the trailer will get top heavy. The trailer is high (for a trailer) at the moment, but not top heavy at all.
    3. Ability to go off-road and long term. If I replace the axle with lets say a 900kg unbraked axle and better suspension (I don’t know, maybe 5 leave spring and shock absorbers). Will the trailer be able to actually handle decent off-road conditions (don’t have to go full 4x4) Will the chassis and the coupler hold? Is the standard 13” wheel efficient. I am trying to think long term here, if the children are a bit bigger we will go more remote areas. Does it make sense having a Venter trailer fitted with strong axle and good suspension with a GVM of only 570kg. Maybe I should sell and start over with a 750kg 4x4 trailer? Or should I push through and use what I have? To be able to use the camping trailer long term for our family I need to add an awning and a roof top tent and I will have to use it very close to the max GVM and it should be able to go a little bit of road.


    I would really appreciate some comments and input.
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  2. The Following User Says Thank You to thejester For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
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    Very nice!!! Wow. New lease on life for that Venter

  4. #3
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    Well done, great job. Would it not be a good idea to upgrade the springs or are those that are fitted good enough?


    BMW X3 2.0D

  5. #4
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    Is the chassis still strong, the last pic shows an uneven line, is it the paint or rust underneath
    Robbie
    Fortuner D4D
    Hilux 2.7 4x4 Raider.

  6. #5
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    Errol, yes, I am contemplating if I should not replace the leaf springs, it does not seem effecient.

    Robbief, there is no rust damage to the actual chassis. The uneven line is the side steel plate of the trailer that folds onto the chassis at the bottom that got a lot of rust damage before I repainted it. But the chassis itself is fine.
    Mitshibitshi Pajero 2010 LWB 3.2d
    Isuzu KB250 2001 SingleCab
    Honda FRV
    Fiat Panda Climbing 4x4 1.2l
    Camping trailer (modified Venter trailer)

  7. #6
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    Lekke venter wa great work sterkte met projek

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    Baie goed gedoen. As jy dit kan uit dink, kan jy dit maak ne.

  9. #8
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    My 2c worth on the TTT, awning and axle:
    1. Be very careful in adding weight to the top. It seems a short trailer (6ft?) and you might have stability issues.
    2. I don't know how high the trailer is, but after I tried to bump around the Bush Baby I had with my head I became very aware of the height of the part that fold open... If I had any brains I probably would have had concussion from walking into it!
    3. A stronger axle is probably worth the expense, and add shock absorbers in any case!
    4. The 13" wheels are a bit on the small side I think...

    Maybe try to get an inexpensive used camping trailer and modify it to suit your needs - you clearly have the ability to do so!
    Last edited by Antonf; 2015/04/08 at 10:42 AM.

  10. #9
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    Firstly, GREAT JOB!

    Now my 2c worth, Those leaf springs are moeg! They should not be to expensive to replace. Not much that can go wrong with the axle, I would not go the RTT route here, it will cost a lot rather fit some sort of "roofrack" that you can use to carry the gazebo, tent & bedding.
    As mentioned be very weary of the hight of the trailer and be sure the tyres are not overinflated on gravel. If you want to weigh it, take it to a weigh bridge and subtract the weight of the vehicle (on licence disc) from the total. This is not 100% but it will give you a very accurate idea.
    "Be the person your dog sees when you get home" Saw it on a coaster...
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  11. #10
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    Love it ! Where did you find the foam stuff that your crockery fit in ? I would like to use something like that, but with custom cut outs..

  12. #11
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    very impressed. well done. you can make a living doing that.

    What would you estimate was the total cost and labour? I knowof a number of venters standing around.
    I don't know, im asking, do you need to relicense it or reregister it as a modified trailer or something, including adjusting the gross weight and limits etc?

    Do you insure it as a standard venter trailer or is your insurance aware it is modified?
    What is the impact on your car insurance, liability insurance etc of your modified trailer causes injury, death or damage for instance in an accident?

    Is the weight distributed in the same ways before, i.e the weight on the tow bar will not be excessive?
    2011 Amarok TDI D/Cab 4x2
    2001 Isuzu KB 320 V6 D/Cab 4x2

    DISCLAIMER: I'm not an expert in the subject posted about above, i'm a member of an internet forum only and my comments, advise, suggestions and ideas should be taken from that point of view

  13. #12
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    or, you can ask the guys at the dump to weigh it for you. Centurion's dump just left of the R55 works per kg, and the guys are friendly, sure they won't mind giving you the reading if you park your trailer on the bridge

  14. #13
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    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    Antonf and Tiaan Esterhuizen, you guys convinced met to replace the leaf springs and to stay away from the RTT. All very valid comments that I did not think of. Thanks.
    Last edited by thejester; 2015/04/09 at 01:39 PM.
    Mitshibitshi Pajero 2010 LWB 3.2d
    Isuzu KB250 2001 SingleCab
    Honda FRV
    Fiat Panda Climbing 4x4 1.2l
    Camping trailer (modified Venter trailer)

  15. #14
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    Ietermago, I bought the high density foam from Sondor in Silverton. But they have many branches. Check www.sondor.co.za. Now, the trick here is to go there and ask for the off-cuts. I got a foam off-cut the side of a single bed for R200 with very little damage to the surface. You just cut around it anyway.

    Further on, I tried many methods of cutting it. The best way I could find is to cut it with a VERY sharp thin-blade knife and the round ones with a tin cup with sharp edge. We also tried Laser cutting and it works very well, but is really not necessary. The ones in the photo I just cut with the knife.
    Mitshibitshi Pajero 2010 LWB 3.2d
    Isuzu KB250 2001 SingleCab
    Honda FRV
    Fiat Panda Climbing 4x4 1.2l
    Camping trailer (modified Venter trailer)

  16. #15
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    Great build.... love it when something old gets turned into a masterpiece!!!

    Thumbs up!

  17. #16
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    Indeed a very nice trailer.
    I agree I would replace the springs, maybe first weigh the trailer and then use the Ideal spring for it. I would definitely add shocks, drawers etc will last much longer.



    Quote Originally Posted by Antonf View Post
    My 2c worth on the TTT, awning and axle:
    Quote Originally Posted by Antonf View Post

    1. Be very careful in adding weight to the top. It seems a short trailer (6ft?) and you might have stability issues.
    2. I don't know how high the trailer is, but after I tried to bump around the Bush Baby I had with my head I became very aware of the height of the part that fold open... If I had any brains I probably would have had concussion from walking into it!
    3. A stronger axle is probably worth the expense, and add shock absorbers in any case!
    4. The 13" wheels are a bit on the small side I think...

    Maybe try to get an inexpensive used camping trailer and modify it to suit your needs - you clearly have the ability to do so!

  18. #17
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    Default commercial value and the law for the trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by LeonP View Post
    very impressed. well done. you can make a living doing that.

    What would you estimate was the total cost and labour? I knowof a number of venters standing around.
    I don't know, im asking, do you need to relicense it or reregister it as a modified trailer or something, including adjusting the gross weight and limits etc?

    Do you insure it as a standard venter trailer or is your insurance aware it is modified?
    What is the impact on your car insurance, liability insurance etc of your modified trailer causes injury, death or damage for instance in an accident?

    Is the weight distributed in the same ways before, i.e the weight on the tow bar will not be excessive?
    LeonP, I've spent R12 500 on the trailer everything included for restoration, modifications and all equipment (kitchen, gas bottle, water bottle etc). I don't know the hours spent at all, as this was done over weekends, evenings here and there etc.

    In my opinion this has no commercial value. Let say I could have picked up such a trailer for R4000. This means I have to sell this trailer for R16 500 just to break even. So, lets make it R25 000 to add labour cost , driving around to buy everything, electricity for welding, use of machinery, consumables and profit.
    Would anyone buy this trailer second hand for R25 000 everything included or a new one for R30 000?

    For the rest of the questions, I found out the best I could, but mostly could not get real facts or laws to support my finding. So any input welcome here please:
    -The camping top can be removed (temporary), it is only secure with bolts, so technically this does not influence the Tara of the trailer but only be added to the GVM so no need to re-license.
    -If you modify or restore a trailer you have to re-license it if you change the type of trailer (box, flat bed, quad bike etc), the weight it can carry or the Tara of the trailer.

    I don't have insurance on my trailer, so no clue here. The trailer is within the height, width and weight restrictions according to the law(see original post). I did not find that the weight on the tow bar increased much.
    Mitshibitshi Pajero 2010 LWB 3.2d
    Isuzu KB250 2001 SingleCab
    Honda FRV
    Fiat Panda Climbing 4x4 1.2l
    Camping trailer (modified Venter trailer)

  19. #18
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    I would be concerned about the height with which the spacer is raising the springs way above the axle. With that much leverage I foresee trouble coming at the first proper pot hole when something may very well snap.
    *
    Youth is such a wonderful thing - what a pity it is being wasted on the young.

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejester View Post
    you guys convinced met to replace the leaf springs and to stay away from the RTT. All very valid comments that I did not think of. Thanks.
    Jester,

    I've got an 1.2t axle and 1.2t leafsprings that I want to sell if you are interested. Almost new.

    I bought a homebuild camping trailer and changed it to have overrun brakes and a 1.6t axle and leaf springs as with all my additions it became quite heavy.

    PM me if you are interested.
    Lourens Fourie.

    2006 Nissan Pathfinder DCi 4x4 - "Die Brahman Bul"

  21. #20
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    That Venter must be around a 1980 or older.
    Great job, may want to talk with you soon about a similar project.
    We have a 89 Venter running with a 40 mm spacer for the last 6-8 years without problems even through the Baviaanskloof and lots of gravel roads.
    I would be more worried about additional stress on the A frame if I look at some of the Venters at the garden waste site. Dynamic stress handling maximum weight in the trailer might be a source of problems especially on corrugated roads.
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