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Old October 8th, 2010, 09:04 PM   #1
1x1_Speed_Craig
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Default M101A3 3/4-ton military utility/camping trailer

Now that it's pretty much wrapped up (for now...many small project ideas still planned, though), I thought I'd post pictures of the military trailer I picked up at the end of April, and re-worked this summer.

After countless hours planning, gathering parts, planning some more, and running into a few "road blocks" with my original "scratch-build" utility/camping trailer build plans, I decided to instead pick up a nice M101A3 military trailer in Kentucky to use as a basis for my utility/camping trailer (I also got to visit with my friend BOBCAT {Don} in Kentucky who I haven't seen in a while). The private-owner seller I dealt with had several A2 & A3 trailers to choose from, and was absolutely wonderful to work with.

The recently re-furbished (by the military) M101A3 was complete with fiberglass side rails, bows, and cover.

Why the large-ish M101A3 trailer when the "in thing" is 1/4-ton M416s and Bantams? I had a M-416 previousy, but it was too small for my general utility trailer needs. The lack of a tailgate was also a huge inconvenience for me. The M101A3 addresses both of those nicely. The bed is 8 ft. long, and about 5 1/2" ft. wide above the wheel wells (45" wide between wheel wells).

My goals:
  • Convert wiring to 12-volt, with a 7-round plug
  • Ditch the lunette & surge brake set-up
  • Install a standard 3500-lb. trailer axle and run whees/tires that match my Jeep (sharing the same spare as the Jeep)
  • Shave some weight

Here is the trailer as-purchased (shown without the bows/top):


I installed a 3500-lb. trailer axle w/Ultra-lube spindles from ABC Trailer Parts (great service!). This required welding on a couple sets of spring perches, and making some new lower shock mounts. I installed some 2" wheel spacers so the Jeep Ravine wheels would clear the 3500-lb. hubs. The new axle/wheels/tires shaved a TON of weight over the stock military axle. In fact, the stock axle weighs more than the combined axle/spacers/wheels/tires that are now on the trailer!




By sheer luck, the axle width (including spacers) was PERFECT for the M101A3. I actually bought the axle when I was starting to scratch-build a trailer, so I was quite pleased when I was able to reuse the axle for the M101, with the only change required being moving the spring perches some. The overall width of the trailer is only ~4" wider than my Jeep, BTW (2" on each side).




Next came the tongue. I wanted to ditch the noisy lunette/pintle set-up (which included the surge brake...eventually, I may add electric brakes to the trailer, but I'm not sure). Instead, I wanted to install a 2" receiver on the trailer for the following reasons:
I modified an tongue bracket that is also offered from Adventure Trailers, welded in a 2" receiver tube, and welded the entire set-up to the tongue (grinding down the side welds for a clean look).




Because the original trailer jack was mounted to a cast bracket that would interfere with the use of the 2" receiver mount, I installed a Bulldog trailer jack (cut the fixed base off, and installed a steel wheel instead). I also made some mounting tabs for a tongue storage box, which I still need to paint before installing. Once this is done, I have an electrical junction box that will mount on the underside, and clean up the wiring. Here's the finished tongue after a lot of wire-wheeling, and paint. I used POR-15 paint, POR-15 Self-Etching Primer, with a top coat of Krylon Semi-Flat.

NOTE: If you sand/wire-wheel CARC military paint, which is chemical-resistant, be sure to wear a good respirator.




And here it is behind my LJ for its first test-drive.




I still have a number of things I want to do to the trailer, but they'll all come in time. These are:
  • Install new bump stops.
  • "Pretty up" the safety chains.
  • Install tie-downs in the bed. I'd like to get the Hi-Lift Slide-N-Lock system.
  • Finish prepping/painting tongue storage box.
  • Mount new electrical junction box under tongue storage box.
  • Install LED side marker lights.
  • Install a combination LED back-up light, and bed light. I want to build a bracket that'll allow one light to pivot up (for the bed), and down (for a back-up light). I still have to design a pivot/bracket for this.


I just "stress tested" the trailer tonight by hauling home a load of reclaimed paver bricks that we'll be using for a spring project. It's nice to have some heavy-duty utility again!


Craig
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Last edited by 1x1_Speed_Craig; October 8th, 2010 at 09:10 PM.
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Old October 9th, 2010, 10:06 AM   #2
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Nice. What did you do with the original 8-lug trailer axle?
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Old October 9th, 2010, 12:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Bangler View Post
Nice. What did you do with the original 8-lug trailer axle?
Thanks!

I still have the military axle. 95Bronco here on the board said he wanted it, but completely flaked out and won't return messages now. If you're interested in it, PM me. it's complete drum-to-drum, and still has the hand brakes attached. I really want it out of my shop soon.

I attached a photo from before I pulled it. There's a TON of ground clearance with it. The only thing to mention is that I cut the lower shock mounts off the U-bolt plates, which are welded to the axle.

Craig
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Old November 21st, 2010, 09:31 AM   #4
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looks good just need to paint the jeep to match.

And what was the $ on the hitch.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 09:34 AM   #5
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Love the qualtiy of work! Looks great
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Old November 21st, 2010, 09:47 AM   #6
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Looks Great Craig!
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Old November 21st, 2010, 09:51 AM   #7
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The welds look nice. Did you TIG them? There seems to be an absence of spatter from MIG welding.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 10:46 AM   #8
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Wow! I have a family member willing to give us his old military trailer, but it's not like this, it is super narrow, and doesn't have the high clearance axle.

Great work!
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Old November 21st, 2010, 02:17 PM   #9
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Thanks guys. I actually thought I was bumping my trailer axle for sale thread earlier (I was in a hurry...it's still for sale, BTW).

I used a Millermatic 135 MIG welder with 75/25 gas, BTW. I don't typically get much spatter.

Winter plans for the trailer include painting & installing the tongue storage box, and reworking the wiring (including adding a junction box under the tongue box), as well as adding some 3/4" LED marker lights on the side. I also want to install some tie-down points inside the bed, but haven't bought any for it yet.


Craig
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Old November 21st, 2010, 09:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1x1_Speed_Craig View Post
Thanks guys. I actually thought I was bumping my trailer axle for sale thread earlier (I was in a hurry...it's still for sale, BTW).

I used a Millermatic 135 MIG welder with 75/25 gas, BTW. I don't typically get much spatter.

Winter plans for the trailer include painting & installing the tongue storage box, and reworking the wiring (including adding a junction box under the tongue box), as well as adding some 3/4" LED marker lights on the side. I also want to install some tie-down points inside the bed, but haven't bought any for it yet.


Craig

The fact that you used a 110v machine makes me even more impressed. Nice work.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 09:42 PM   #11
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I've been a lurker over on "EP" for some time and finally you post pics here.
Excellent welds and great detail as always on your current project, any winter camping in the future with your trailer?
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 06:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuggets View Post
The fact that you used a 110v machine makes me even more impressed. Nice work.
Thanks man!

Quote:
Originally Posted by suckyjunk View Post
I've been a lurker over on "EP" for some time and finally you post pics here.
Excellent welds and great detail as always on your current project, any winter camping in the future with your trailer?
What's shakin', suckyjunk. Thanks for the compliment. I'm not opposed to trying winter camping; I've just never done it before (and I think it would take some sweet-talking to get a buy-in from my girlfriend ).


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Old November 27th, 2010, 05:14 PM   #13
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Here's a photo of the first real "stress test" load. I got over 500 reclaimed patio paver blocks from a good friend (two trailer loads worth). They definitely stress-tested the trailer, which did great. The first load was a little tail heavy, while the second was balanced very nicely.

I still need to get new bump stops installed on the trailer. I suppose that would have been smart to do before I hauled the bricks home (but the springs never contacted the frame during the trip).

Craig


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Old November 27th, 2010, 05:29 PM   #14
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So, are you just wanting to use it as a general utility trailer, or are you going to add some camping type stuff to the inside of it?
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Old November 27th, 2010, 05:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatFender View Post
So, are you just wanting to use it as a general utility trailer, or are you going to add some camping type stuff to the inside of it?
I'll use it to haul camping gear, and plan on enhancing its functionality over the next couple years. It won't be a dedicated camping trailer, but I want to add some niceties. For example, I considered 12V power, a water tank, etc., but honestly couldn't justify the cost. I do want to add some LED lighting (for the bed and back-up lighting), along with carriers for bikes & kayaks. I'd also like to add a Thule modular counter/sink on the side, but that's down the road a bit.

The next thing on my "wish list" is a Hi-Lift Slide-N-Lock tie-down system.

Here's the most recent hauling duties:



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Old January 22nd, 2011, 05:02 PM   #16
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Well, I repurposed some Jeep parts I had laying around, and installed a spare tire mount & tire on the M101A3 this morning.

The mounting holes for an OEM TJ spare tire mount are perfectly spaced to bolt to two of the hat channel/crossmember pieces on the underside of the tub (actually, it's VERY thick crossmember material). I just had to drill & tap a total of 4 holes in the crossmembers, and bolt it up. I used some 5/16" bolts recycled from a Jeep CJ, and used some blue Loc-Tite. I then mounted an OEM Grand Cherokee donut spare (27" diameter). The spare only hangs below the tongue rails about 1/4", so it's tucked up nicely. Obviously, a smaller-diameter XJ donut spare would work, as well.

NOTE: A full-size spare may run into clearance issues, depending on the size. There's 28" between the front & 2nd crossmember, BTW.

I originally wasn't going to mount a spare, and rather just use the spare from my Jeep, if needed. However, the parts were free, and I thought it would be a good idea to have a spare if I loaned the trailer out to a friend.

Craig

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Old January 22nd, 2011, 08:46 PM   #17
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nice
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Old April 1st, 2011, 08:52 PM   #18
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I took the day off today to take care of some errands, and work outside a bit. It was nice to work out in the sunshine.

I started working on the tongue box, and a more permanent wiring solution for the trailer. I picked up a Pollak 7- and 4-Pole Trailer Connector Socket to mount in the face of the box, and will have one each 7-round and 4-flat removable "jumper" cables to run between the trailer, and the tow vehicle(s). Also inside the tongue box is a wiring junction box (terminal mounts) where everything will converge. The trailer wiring enters the rear of the tongue box from underneath.

The Pollak plug is a actually a vehicle-side plug, so it uses trailer-side plugs on both ends of the jumpers. Install was simple, as the plug came with its own mounting bracket, which I used as a template to scribe the (odd-shaped) mounting hole. I just used a mix of 4 1/2" grinder, and Dremel tool to slowly cut out & shape the hole for a perfect fit. The plug just snaps in.

Once I get all holes drilled and everything test-mounted up inside, I'll remove it all to prep & paint the storage box.

Craig





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Old May 22nd, 2011, 07:48 PM   #19
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I finally wrapped up the install of my tongue storage box. I initially ran into some issues with the Eastwood primer, as I started the work while it was still too cold (70-90 degrees is recommended). I wanted to test the Eastwood paint on a small project before using it on my daughter's XJ. Overall, I like the stuff. I used Eastwood Chassis Black Primer, and then Extreme Chassis Coat Black.




The inside was fully painted with Eastwood paint, then finished with 3M Rubberized Undercoat. I had some rework here, too. If you use the 3M undercoat, be sure to spray into the air for a couple seconds to clear all of the trapped solvent out of the tube. I remembered running into the same thing with my old Scrambler tub (I used 3M Rubberized Undercoat on teh bottom of the tub), but only after spraying it into the corner of the box. I ended up with a puddle of brown solvent that didn't fully cure, so I reworked it after it was mostly dry. It's expensive stuff...you DON'T want to do rework with this stuff.

The wiring junction box ended up making for a very clean install. I had welded a couple threaded rods on the inside of the box for mounting wiring loom clips.




Beauty shot



And here it is hooked up (with the 4-flat jumper cable) behind my girlfriend's 2011 JK. I wired up both 7-round and 4-flat "jumper" cables, depending on what set-up the tow vehicle has.

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Old May 28th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #20
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With the help of my daughter, Mira, I just wrapped up installing my LED side marker lights.

Craig

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