Gone Outdoors

How to Convert a Used Horse Trailer to a Camper

by Stanley Goff

Camper trailers are expensive, but sometimes a used horse trailer is not. Horse trailers can be converted into camper trailers very economically if you do it yourself. Some people like the idea of re-use, some like the economy of it, and some prefer the lighter, narrower load that a converted horse trailer provides. Do-it-yourself conversion, while economical, requires carpentry, plumbing and electrical wiring. These building skills are required to complete the job. Also, this is a project must meet code requirements for living quarters. Schedule your inspections at each phase, so you won't spend extra time and money on do-overs.

For the purpose of this article, we'll assume a 12-feet trailer without a gooseneck. Wire the trailer. Design a wiring plan that meets your needs for outside source power, lighting, refrigeration, microwave, television, and any other small or large appliance you plan to use. Complete the wiring after gluing the base for the interior wall (described in Step 3).

Finish the walls. Glue vertical 1x4x5 boards to the sides as the base for your finished interior wall. Wire the walls. Fill between the 1x4s with sheet insulation flush to the base. Nail the ¼-inch plywood onto the base. Sand, paint, or paper to your own specs.

Install the plumbing. This is simplified if the toilet, shower and sink are as close together as possible. If the trailer doesn't have a berth, the shower and toilet will generally go all the way to the front, adjacent to one another. The front door of the trailer will be on one side, and the sink can conveniently be installed directly across from the door.

Install the stove, gas tank and kitchen cabinet. An overhead cabinet with a microwave well is ideal. The stove can go under them. A vent hood to carry the stove's heat directly outside is essential.

Install the sofa-seat, table and bed. The sofa-seat is a box, with a lid, for storage. It is long and narrow, and when it is closed, it should seat two people directly across from a drop-down table. When the drop-down table is up, the drop-down bed should come down opposite the table, over the top of the sofa-seat. If you are looking in the back of the trailer, and the table is on the left, then the sofa-seat and drop-down bed will be on the right.

Install the linoleum on the floor.

Items you will need
  • Extension Cords
  • Generator
  • Air Compressor
  • Framing Nailer
  • Circular Saw
  • 8-foot ladder
  • Electric drill
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Tape measure
  • Speed square
  • Chalk line
  • Chalk line clamp
  • Wood chisel
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Framing square
  • Utility knife
  • Framing hammer
  • Cat's paw
  • Propane torch
  • Tongue and groove pliers
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal file
  • Basin wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Hard auger
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Tubing cutter
  • Closet auger
  • Plunger
  • Level
  • Duct tape
  • Circuit tester
  • Crescent wrenches
  • Socket wrenches
  • Drill and bits
  • Electrical tape
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Nut driver
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • 16 untreated boards, 1x4 and 5 feet long
  • Metal-wood glue
  • 8 sheets ¼-inch plywood
  • 8 sheets 4 fee x 8 feet sheet insulation
  • 30 inches x 30 inches shower stall
  • Shower plumbing and fixtures
  • Low-profile chemical toilet (approximately 18 inches x 15 inches)
  • Single bowl aluminum sink
  • Small carousel microwave oven (minimum 15 amp)
  • 4-foot overhead cabinet
  • 21-inch camper oven/range
  • Small refrigerator
  • 7 feet x 4 feet drop-down, single-bed platform with thick mattress
  • 8 door hinges
  • 3 feet x 3 feet drop-down kitchen table
  • 5 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet wooden sofa-seat/storage box
  • 80 square feet of linoleum
  • 75 linear feet of quarter-round floor trim

About the Author

Stanley Goff began writing in 1995. He has published four books: "Hideous Dream," "Full Spectrum Disorder," "Sex & War" and "Energy War," as well as articles, commentary and monographs online. Goff has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of the State of New York.

Photo Credits

  • red horse trailer image by studio vision1 from Fotolia.com