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Top Deck

Words and pictures by Johan van Rensburg

We bought our Campmaster Wilderness trailer in ’09. Back then we used the trailer to supplement our 4×4’s packing space; we camped with our ground tent and used the Campmaster as a single-purpose goods trailer. After arriving at our destination we’d unpack the trailer, set up camp and move the Campmaster out of sight.

Top DeckThis system worked well for a while – it’s what we wanted – but it didn’t take long before we found ourselves dreaming about a more organised system, one that could make better use of the trailer. Our  rst modi cation involved an Echo roo op tent. Unfortunately, this idea didn’t work for us because the tent occupied the trailer’s entire roofrack space.

Our next plan was to remove the trailer’s lid and replace it with an extension frame that could create more packing space even with the roo op tent in place. My wife dubbed the idea as “going double-storey”. After a few experimental attempts I finally designed a frame that had three doors on one side and another two on the other.  The RHS would house extra ammo boxes for storage and the LHS would form our kitchen area with cutlery, crockery and a built-in microwave.

Once the plans were drawn up I got cracking on the build process starting with the removal of the top lid. Without making any modifications to the trailer’s body I built an angle-iron frame that neatly fitted on top of the trailer and secured it with bolts and nuts. I used silicon to seal the gaps between the trailer’s body and my new frame. The frame’s remaining structure was made from square tubing, the doors were made from 0.8 mm mild steel plate, the kitchen cupboards were constructed out of 9 mm pine plywood and normal T-handles were used for the locks. On the inside, I used aluminium T-sections to support the ammo boxes and the kitchen. For further convenience, the microwave was mounted on sliding rails and I added another rail system for our 90-litre National Luna fridge. In order to improve the functionality of the trailer I bought LED strip lights which have made a huge difference to the usability of the rig. Lights were placed everywhere: two 300 mm LED lights were positioned in the kitchen compartment, one 600 mm light was used at the rear of the trailer and another 600 mm light can be found inside the actual tent. We used high-density foam (40 mm) for the storage of mugs, glasses and utensils.

You can use a hole-saw to cut the foam but if you want to save money on tooling you can do what I did, use the edge of an open / empty food tin by rotating it back and forth – the diameter’s just right and the tin cuts smoothly. I then used a router to form the mug-handle insertions and an electric carving knife for the utensil slots. When building a mod like this there’s the temptation to go overboard with heavy-duty steels, but we stuck with lightweight materials like aluminium, plywood and plastic. As a result, our newly built frame is lightweight, strong and rustproof. So far we’ve successfully completed trips to Moz, Lesotho and Namibia, and our double-storey trailer’s doing great.

Two lengths of steel angle iron (6 m x 50 mm) One mild steel sheet (2.4 x 1.2 m x 0.8 mm)

Two lengths of rectangular tubing (6 m x 50 x 25 mm) Contact Alberton Steel & Pipe on (011) 907 6614 Plywood board (2.4 x 1.2 m x 9 mm)

Contact Board Master on (011) 680 5722 Seven T-handles Contact Hinge Master on (011) 452 2864

One sheet of high-density foam (1.0 x 0.5 m) 12-metre rubber door liner Contact Pro Auto Rubber on (011) 823 5541

One length of aluminium square tubing (6 m x 25 mm) Various Connect-It joiners

Contact Maizey Plastics on (012) 352 2000 LED light strips (2 x 30, 2 x 60 cm) Available from most 4×4 fitment centres

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