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Project 1 - Raptor > M416 Offroad Trailer

Source: U.S. Military M416 Manual

NOTE: At this moment, this page is mostly just a gathering spot for all the M416 info that matters to our project. I WILL be organizing it and probably even making it it's own little project section right here at Jeeps Only. Don't forget to join the MSN M416 Jeep group (opens in a new window) for ongoing interactive discussions. It's new so you'll be one of the first.

We have 2 kids, 2 dogs and a lot of gear. If you're like us you know short wheelbase Jeeps like the Wrangler and CJ don't have much room to begin with and barricading your kids/dogs in the back seat along with all your gear isn't a good idea. We've been looking at offroad trailers for some time now and although we're impressed with the quality and features of these trailers, we're not wealthy enough to be able to afford one for ourselves :-(. Alas while searching the Internet another option became clear. The Army and Marines had 1/4 ton trailers in World War 2 and the Korean War (probably Vietnam too) and these were well built, tough trailers. They were light enough to be pulled behind early Jeeps with 60+ horsepower engines, water tight and were built to take the constant abuse that was common during wartime. Unfortunately many years have past since these trailers were first sold as military surplus and for some reason they are very hard to find in the southwest (we're in Arizona). Sometimes they can be found being used by fire departments or city works departments but more often than not they seem to be sitting around in someone's backyard developing rust. With prices ranging from $250 on the east coast (needing work of course) to $1,200 on the west coast (in good shape), I set off looking for one of these trailers that didn't have any major damage, particularly to the tub which is difficult to straighten out. After about 6 months of looking I happened upon a tiny ad in the Collector Car Auto Trader and the seller was only 20 miles from my house. His trailer was in good shape and although I thought the $650 he was asking was a little high, I felt it was unlikely I would find another one so close in this good of shape. As a huge added bonus, this trailer already had an Arizona title which should make it easy to register here.

Neato standard features: water tight tub, spring loaded drain plugs, heavy duty springs and shocks, tonneau top hooks all around, handles all around, hand brake (some rare ones even had a runaway-trailer actuator that applied brakes automatically if you're trailer broke loose), built-in trailer stand and one of my favorites, a springed pintle loop that allows the trailer to twist and turn freely. Oh and the Army has a cool downloadable 286 page manual that explains everything you'd ever want to know about this trailer.

M416 trailer purists: I know some will deride me for taking a piece of military history and modifying it some for modern use but this was my intention from the start and camoflage doesn't match my Jeep. Also, I know I'm skipping alot of historical notes that hopefully someday I'll have time to add, such as the fact that the WW2 trailers were known as the BT3 (or the civilian BT3-C) and they had rounded fenders, etc. I also hope to make note of the M101a trailers used by the Canadian military until the 90's which are in MUCH better shape generally and are essentially the same trailer (they are hard to get unless you live near Canada).

So I just acquired this trailer in November 2002 and plan on sandblasting, painting and replacing the drums, tires and wheels on it in preparation for our annual visit to the Tierra del Sol Desert Safari the first weekend of March 2003. Keep checking this page for updates and I may even make this it's own project like Raptor. Eventually they will both share the same paint and wheels/tires. I'd also like to built my own tent top because we're getting tired of sleeping on the ground in March :-). I've searched and haven't found much info on building your own tent trailer or tent top so hopefully when I've assembled this info it will be of value to the anyone who wishes to do the same.

See the picture below for how the trailer looks today.

Misc. thoughts and notes (later I'll probably organize these more but posting this way allows me to make quick additions):

Spent so far -

$ 25.83
- Acquisition cost (11/2002)
- new axle ubolts, nuts and washers (4 total)
- new frame ubolts (1/2 x 12 inches) (2 total)
- spindle nut socket - to remove the big hub bolt (tool)
- 1/4 ton Jeep Trailer Safety chains (pair, plus shipping)
- AZ title transfer ($4 plus late fees for waiting to do it)
- Giant safety chain bolt and misc pintle adapter bolts
- 2 Used 15x8 wheels with 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern, spray paint and primer
- 2 Used BFG Mud Terrains 31x10.50x15, mounted and balanced
- POR-15 Starter Kit (undercarriage coating)
- 100lb bag of copper slag for sandblasting (don't use silica)
- 4 red reflectors (replacements)
- replacement drain plugs (2) (eBay)
- replacement shocks (2) (eBay)
- Permanent ADOT registration (Arizona) - no renewals
- new urethane shock bushings
Total so far

Future Upgrade Considerations

<report end>

Craig, Salt River Marine Inc 4015 E Madison St Phoenix, AZ (602) 273-9012 - frame. Gets in at 6:30 AM. I can dissasemble in their yard.

Ode's Custom Sandblasting, (480) 892-3785 1410 W Houston Ave - says it might cost only $50 for the frame and $50 for the tub.

TexTrail seems to have reflectors that look identical to the M416 reflector - for $1.63 each! 888.756.0547 or 800.333.1745. Mt. Pleasant and Odessa, Texas. They call them "Aluminum Oval Reflectors".

Discussion on Jeepaholics about an air ram braking system is here (with thanks to TommyJeep).

Reports from the Bantam Trailer group on Yahoo Groups indicate that having someone commerically sandblast the trailer leads to some serious pitting/potting of the metal which in turn makes it difficult to end up with a smooth paint job.

Someone suggested a chemical dip rather than sandblasting. Apparently a chemical dip removes all rust and paint and since a trailer would be submersed in the chemical, the rust/paint removal would be thorough. The process takes 5-7 days for a trailer and would cost from $300-$500, about the same as some of the higher end sandblasting jobs. Plus, since there is no abrasive blasting, the metal is said to come out like it was clean and fresh, prior to original painting many decades ago. One additional benefit is that the trailer could be dunked while still together, minues the tires, wheels, lights and wiring. In the Phoenix, Arizona area, the company that provides this service is Redi Strip of Phoenix, 103 South River Drive, Tempe, AZ, 480-968-9702. The proprietor's name is Roger.

As I found it
Tent attachment idea 1
New (used) tires and recycled wheels

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Others with M416 Project sites/pages (all links open in a new window):

Pete in Las Vegas
Mike Boyink's Bantam BT3-C

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