DIY 6×12 cargo trailer camper conversion

In this blog post, we will present an interesting DIY project: 6×12 cargo trailer camper conversion. We will review the seven basic steps for converting a cargo trailer into a camper. 

6×12 cargo trailer camper conversion: How to

So you have dreams of hitting the road and living where you park – but the only problem is, you can’t afford the new RV. But if you have an enclosed utility trailer (or cargo trailer), it is possible to convert it to a travel trailer, with a little work. The hardest part of building the chassis is done for you – now you have to do a little bit of homework to make the interior habitable.

Here is an outline on how to convert a 6×12 cargo trailer into a camper:

  1. First, draw a floor plan using graph paper. Decide how many people your camper will sleep in and what features will you include, including kitchen items, storage, and entertainment areas. Plan out the configurations on paper, making sure the features are of proportional size. Get ideas from other RV construction sites like Butler Projects or Cheap RV Living.
  1. Make the necessary cuts and holes for windows, vents and a door if necessary. Since your cargo trailer was not designed to have people sleeping in it, you will need to make changes to make it safe. Before adding other features, purchase multiple windows from an RV supplier or an RV rescue yard. Use a jigsaw or sabre saw to cut the holes where they go, but hold off on their setup until you have other features installed.
  1. Build a simple wall, floor framing, and install insulation. Since your 6×12 cargo trailer was not designed for human habitation, you will probably need to put some insulation in it to keep it from getting too cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Use 2-by-2 to build a simple frame over the walls and floor of your trailer, then place a thin layer of insulation between the framing pieces.
  1. Wire the trailer for electrical and plumbing functions. Consult a professional for this step if you are not confident in your skills.
  1. Install woodwork and floors. Once you have your framing and insulation in place, cover the walls with a lightweight fibreglass, vinyl, or fibre panelling. Cover the floor frame with plywood, then finish with peel and stick vinyl tiles, carpet, wood, or any coating you desire.
  1.  Install windows, ventilation and the door (if you do not already have a door that you want to use). Caulk around each option to make sure it protects from moisture and wind.
  1.  Install interior features. Be creative. Explore an RV salvage yard to find used tables, counters, cupboards, and whatever else you need.

Note: Be sure to pay attention to the weight of the trailer. Check the owner’s manual to find out the maximum weight the trailer is designed to handle — and make sure the materials you add to the trailer are well below. 

When you use the trailer for camping, you are going to be adding in a lot of extra weight in food and gear. Also, check the towing capacity of your towing vehicle to be sure it can handle the weight hauling of the converted cargo trailer!

Are 6×12 cargo trailers fit for camper conversions?

Yes, a 6×12 cargo trailer is a good option for a camper conversion project. If you own an enclosed trailer, you may have noticed that they are spacious, large and very similar to a camper. A camper is a simple structure that provides shelter from rain, wind, and snow. It is also towed behind your car. 

Enclosed trailers (or cargo trailers) have a strong frame, and they often turn into campers with only a few modifications. 

The basics of converting an enclosed trailer into a camper with the simplest of needs. During a camping trip you will have to keep warm, so insulating the trailer is the first thing to consider. If the trailer has fibreglass walls, you can add a layer of interior grain board or plywood by screwing to slats glued to the side of the trailer’s walls. Or, erect a simple one-by-two-board frame and secure plywood to these. A layer of insulation between the exterior and interior walls will create a warm environment inside the trailer.

Another important modification is the installation of an air vent on the trailer. This is completed by cutting a hole in the roof of the trailer that matches the width and length of the air vent installation. An airtight gasket or rubber moulding is installed around the edge of the air outlet, and the entire unit is sealed with silicone. 

The vents can be purchased from an RV (recreational vehicle) or a recreational store. Check out your hardware store as well and be sure to buy an outdoor vent designed for homes or recreational vehicles.

A gate is quite simple to install on a cargo trailer. Typically, a side door is more convenient than a rear door. Cut a section of the trailer with a puzzle on the side and reinforce the section with plywood. Next, connect the hinged door to the trailer. The other option is to use the existing doors that are already in the trailer as the entry and exit areas. The trailer is then able to be used for transporting and storing large items, as well as camping.

As for the interior, install kitchen utensils, such as a gas log or camping stove, and a bed inside your new camper. A gas-operated range must be carefully located to avoid fire hazards. Mount utilities inside a cabinet and on a stable surface. The beds are crafted from light fiberboard or from two-by-four boards. Small mattresses are used for bedding.

How do you add power to a cargo trailer?

To add power to a cargo trailer you must connect it to shore power.  Cargo trailers are often used for camping, portable businesses, horse transportation, race car transport and crafts. Operation of AC appliances or tools requires the installation of outlets, wiring and a circuit breaker box. 

Wire to be stretchable and flexible so that you won’t have to rework later to meet various circumstances. You can add a generator later, and the need will arise to plug it into camping “shore power”.

Here’s how you add power to a cargo trailer:

  1. Hole-saw a place for the lanyard hatch on the driver’s side of the trailer. Entry points are customary upper rear or lower front. Install the hatch using the gasket supplied with the hatch, or use trailer exterior sealant.
  1. Install the circuit breaker box near the entry point. For the left and right side walls near the ceiling, screw-in plastic junction boxes using the drill with a 1/4 inch socket – one window at each corner, between one on each side. On range boxes, break the circle with a conduit. On the other boxes, knock out a circle on each side.
  1. Measure and cut pieces of flexible conduit to fit between the junction boxes and between the breaker box and the two inlet boxes, so the ends protrude 1/4 inch through the end holes. Label the parts for the location. Each trailer site run will have its own breaker, so the passenger side run will extend from the roof to the breaker box.
  1. Cut Romex electrical cables for each length of cable, making each piece 12 inches longer than its conduit. Run the pieces of cable through their conduits, leaving six inches hanging out at each end. wire cable and conduit through the junction box holes, letting the wire hang down the front of each box. Screw conduit straps down onto the conduit every 12 inches and 6 inches from each junction box.
  1. Cut 8-inch cable braids for all but the final boxes. Divide and cut 3 inches of outer jacket on each end of the cable, including the mats. Strip 3/4 inch of insulation from all wire boards. Wire-nut incoming, outgoing and pigtail black wire jacket together. Repeat the operation with white or grey threads. Repeat the operation with bare or green threads. End boxes do not have braids or protruding wires. Pull lightly on the wires to test the connection strength.
  1. Loop and tighten the end of the white or gray wire under the neutral side or output terminal screw at each box. Black Threads Screw Down Under Silver Screw Hot Side. The bare or green wire attaches under the green screw that feeds the round earth electrode. Secure the socket assembly to the box and secure the cover plate.
  1. Insert the 30-amp trailer cord through the exterior hatch, and into the breaker box. Screw any bare or green wires down under the Fieldbus in the breaker box, along with the green wire from the cord. Wire-nut all white or gray wires together.
  1.  Connect each black wire to one side of a circuit breaker. Wire-nut the black wire into the black wire cord of two 8-inch pieces of Romex. Connect each black Romex wire to an empty terminal breaker. Close the circuit breaker box.
  1.  Use an adapter to plug the 30 amp cord into a standard outlet.

Note: If you have no experience whatsoever in wiring a trailer, please DO NOT do it by yourself. It is always best to ask a professional to do it. 

The bottom line

Cargo trailers are popular for camper conversion projects. And truth to be told, it is quite an easy DIY job as long as you have a plan and some basic skills. 

Do you have any questions or comments on the content? Do not hesitate to contact us!

FAQ on 6×12 cargo trailer camper conversion

Is a camper trailer considered an RV?

Yes, a camper trailer is considered an RV. More exactly, the term RV – recreational vehicle – includes:

  • Camper trailers;
  • Motorhomes;
  • And fifth wheels. 

What is a camper trailer?

The camper trailers are towable trailers, which must be towed with a vehicle and can also be used independently, although they are not equipped with an autonomous traction system. 

How do you add power to a cargo trailer?

To add power to a cargo trailer you must connect it to shore power.  Cargo trailers are often used for camping, portable businesses, horse transportation, race car transport and crafts. Operation of AC appliances or tools requires the installation of outlets, wiring and a circuit breaker box. 


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