M116A3 - First Overland Trailer Build!

unleashd

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Hello
This is my 2nd post on this forum (First was to thank y'all for allowing me to join here). I joined this to research and eventually build a trailer that I plan to pull with my 2003 Ford Excursion 7.3 Diesel civilian vehicle on overlanding trips from Norther VA. I have never seen one of these military trailers in person. So, I reached out to a few different sellers on FB & CL this past week, and took a 200+ mile round trip earlier today to see a few M1101, 02, and M116A3 trailers today up in rural PA and MD. OMG, the M1101 & 2 were just enormous in size, not that the Excursion would have any trouble pulling these trailers even when fully loaded. They just look HEAVY sitting there in front of me :O I thought that 90% of the weight seems to come from the steel frame and the HMMV tires alone :D since everything else is aluminum.

The last stop of the day was to look at a M116A3 at the house of one of the members of my off roading club. I am pretty much sold on this trailer. Though it is rated as a 1 ton with heavy duty leaf springs etc., I think it gives me the best options to design a completely custom solution for my overlanding trailer. It is pretty much just a flat bed since he removed the generator for personal use. This particular trailer was built in 2010 (newest of all the trailers I saw today) as a generator trailer. My friend said that when he bought this 2 years ago from GA, it had 2 hours on the generator which meant that this trailer has seen almost 0 service miles. He did replace the new tires with an older set from his M1102. Tires still have a lot of life left in them. The price is $750. He is also going to help me to get it converted to 12V. Thoughts & opinions. Pictures of the said trailer that's been sitting in this same spot for over 2 years now :)





 

lfhoward

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The M116A3 makes a nice platform for an off road capable camper trailer. I have a 1991 model year that I built a custom camper on. Here is my build thread:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581

I took a lot of inspiration from the ROAM trailer build which used an M116A2. That build thread is here:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=42096

Both of these trailers are hard sided campers. I can imagine that if you wanted to build a lower profile adventure trailer to haul equipment, a roof top tent, and a camping kitchen setup, the M116A3 would lend itself to that too.
 

Jeepadict

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I'm partial to the M101/116A2/3 chassis as they interface with my fleet effortlessly. Many remove/refit the tongue and axle assys of these type trailers to better fit a commercial resemblance in favor of electric brakes, longer tongues, and lug patterns that match their tow vehicle. Many gripe that they dislike surge brakes for aggressive off-road manners and the heavy axle seems to be undesirable as well. A word of suggestion if you choose to follow suit, the parts that are removed for that conversion are rare as hen's teeth and sought after by many to repair their unmolested units...please don't discard them.

Best of luck!

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
 

unleashd

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Herndon, VA
I'm partial to the M101/116A2/3 chassis as they interface with my fleet effortlessly. Many remove/refit the tongue and axle assys of these type trailers to better fit a commercial resemblance in favor of electric brakes, longer tongues, and lug patterns that match their tow vehicle. Many gripe that they dislike surge brakes for aggressive off-road manners and the heavy axle seems to be undesirable as well. A word of suggestion if you choose to follow suit, the parts that are removed for that conversion are rare as hen's teeth and sought after by many to repair their unmolested units...please don't discard them.

Best of luck!

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
Yes. I am aware of the parts availability being slim.

I have been doing some reading about the conversions as well. This is my first trailer and I will be taking it slow and making changes and upgrades based on the need. For now, I do not plan to take up a long drawn out plan of replacing axles, adding a galley etc. They will come later as I make more trips and have other needs. This trailer will start off as a way to pull my gear around.
 

Jeepadict

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M1102 has about 500 lbs more capacity
The body is also mostly aluminum, giving more cargo capacity making the GVWR within negligible difference. All the trailers in this category (101A1/2/3, 105, 1101/2) have pros & cons against each other. The data placard rating has been shown multiple times to be grossly underrated for the individual component capacities...the manufacturers put whatever number the Army told them to.

In many states a guy could take one of these trailers down to the chassis, remove the identaplates, build an overland unit from scratch, and have the MVD/DMV assign a "home-built" VIN and legal/liable placarded ratings are null & void.

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
 

tobyS

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I like the 116a3 and have a wanted ad for one, but with the truck you have, that added size will be useful if you go with a 1101/2. You will have to pay more, but I think worth it.

The surge brakes are great and if need be, can be changed to electric. They are free backing as is. On either, I would entirely disassemble, check and rebuild the brakes.

I want a 116 for mounting my s788 Geithner enclosure on.
Here is a pic of modified 1101 tongue.

I use Ford truck wheels to bring the height down and taking four Inch out of the frame can go even lower.....to keep the CG lower. I had my enclosure on the 1101 I have and it seemed top heavy, but it should fit the 116 well.....with tongue extension. Unless you already have an enclosure, the floor and some sidewall is there on an 1101 too.
 

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unleashd

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I like the 116a3 and have a wanted ad for one, but with the truck you have, that added size will be useful if you go with a 1101/2. You will have to pay more, but I think worth it.

The surge brakes are great and if need be, can be changed to electric. They are free backing as is. On either, I would entirely disassemble, check and rebuild the brakes.

I want a 116 for mounting my s788 Geithner enclosure on.
Here is a pic of modified 1101 tongue.

I use Ford truck wheels to bring the height down and taking four Inch out of the frame can go even lower.....to keep the CG lower. I had my enclosure on the 1101 I have and it seemed top heavy, but it should fit the 116 well.....with tongue extension. Unless you already have an enclosure, the floor and some sidewall is there on an 1101 too.

I don’t have an enclosure. I haven’t even bought this trailer yet. There’s a M101A2 near me in good shape with the canopy for 1800. I’m now torn between these two.

Can you please post pictures of the box enclosure you have? The plan is to lower and convert the axles to use the same wheels as the Excursion to match the ride height and to carry one less spare tire. I’m thinking of changing to one of the 2 popular fully articulating hitches and retain surge brakes for now.
 

tobyS

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If I'm not mistaken, the bolt pattern of the Excursion is 8 x 170 mm and the HMMWV is 8 on 6 1/2" bc, so simply changing wheels is not an option. Or do you have an older Excursion like my 98 Suburban uses 8 x 6 1/2bc.

Picture of box has my frame under it and 7 k dexter axle, narrowed for the box. I wanted an m116A3 to replace my frame but may just add reinforcement where needed.

Those are Ford rims but older, 8 x 6 1/2. I added a pic of the 11101 that I had prepared for the box, but instead used as welding trailer. We are going to the sheet metal shop for aluminum top and panels and sides soon on the 1101.
 

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unleashd

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Herndon, VA
If I'm not mistaken, the bolt pattern of the Excursion is 8 x 170 mm and the HMMWV is 8 on 6 1/2" bc, so simply changing wheels is not an option. Or do you have an older Excursion like my 98 Suburban uses 8 x 6 1/2bc.

Picture of box has my frame under it and 7 k dexter axle, narrowed for the box. I wanted an m116A3 to replace my frame but may just add reinforcement where needed.

Those are Ford rims but older, 8 x 6 1/2. I added a pic of the 11101 that I had prepared for the box, but instead used as welding trailer. We are going to the sheet metal shop for aluminum top and panels and sides soon on the 1101.
That is an awesome enclosure box. IMHO, it would be quite a lot of work on man & machine to pull that offroad on overlanding trips. I am sure it makes for a sweet TT though.

The excursions were built only for MY 2000 - 2005 only and they all came with the 8x170 bolt pattern for the wheels. The bolt pattern is the same for all super duty and excursions since 1999. If/when I change out the axles, I will need to get the hubs with the matching pattern. But until then, I would be using a spacer to change from 8x6.5 to 8x170 to match and use the same wheels and tires as my excursion (picture below) which is currently running wheels from a 2015 F250 Platinum.

 

tobyS

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As long as you know that you need an adaptor or redrill....cool.

That's a nice Excursion.

The s788 box is double wall aluminum and only weighs 600#.

At 850 it's a good deal but for about 500 more you could have the 1101/2 . Either will work and have as much clearance maybe more than the truck.
 

unleashd

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Here's my thought process with this project.

- The excursion has a ton of room inside with just the 3rd row seating removed and has enough living area for 1 or 2 persons if I build a platform for a bed and some storage underneath. This way I do not need any trailer at all for the trips. I will have to invest in a way to move the spare tire outside.
- By folding away the 2nd row seats, I have been able to bring home stacks of 4x8 sheets of plywood. This gives a lot more storage building options and be self sufficient for up to 3 people.
- I thought about creating storage space on the roof top with a platform or a roof rack of sorts. But that has a few drawbacks IMO. The EX is tall as-is at almost 8' putting the rack at almost 8.5'. Loading/unloading stuff will be cumbersome. I will also then have to have some sort of semi/permanent ladder system. The other drawbacks of adding stuff up high would be the change to the driving characteristics due to the shift in the CG as well as additional wind resistance. Also, it does expose all the items above to a variety of weather conditions and getting stolen.

The primary idea of adding a trailer is to avoid having to dedicate the EX for travels, since it is also my daily driver. By building the insides with storage and beds etc., it limits my regular usage. I could build the trailer to carry all my stuff - food, tools, equipment, camping necessities etc. and it will just remain in there and be ready-to-go when needed. Similarly, after coming back from a long trip, I could just park the trailer and not have to be unloading stuff immediately thereafter ;)
 

tobyS

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I think you meant to quote $750 for the price of the M116 that I posted above. right?
Yea ....sorry... that is a good price. On my wtb ad there is a post @850.

I want to do some travel myself and keep coming back to having the issue of transportation that does not require me to move my campsite. I'm even thinking bus and make it to carry a MiniCooper, but a PU with trailer makes most sense at this point.

You are more mobile without the camper, but I like a base to return to, myself.
 
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juanprado

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Any of the older non metric 8 lug wheels will fit from dodge , ford, or gm typically 70- early 90's. They are lug centric on a m116a2/3 not hub centric so the middle hole can be larger with no problems. Also very common for boat and utility 8 lug civy trailers.
 

unleashd

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Herndon, VA
Any of the older non metric 8 lug wheels will fit from dodge , ford, or gm typically 70- early 90's. They are lug centric on a m116a2/3 not hub centric so the middle hole can be larger with no problems. Also very common for boat and utility 8 lug civy trailers.
Good to know when looking for alternates.
 

unleashd

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Herndon, VA
UPDATE: Late last night, I made a deal on the M116A3 with my friend. For now, he has graciously agreed to keep the trailer on his yard for a some more time until the weather gets better and I can safely bring the trailer home to park in my backyard without damaging it. He is also gathering all the required items for the initial updates.

Exciting times begin!!
 
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