How to Convert a Motorcycle Cargo Trailer to Sleeping Quarters

by John Cagney Nash

Motorcycle cargo trailers tend to be fully enclosed, hard-side, medium-weight trailers built on single-axle chassis. They are usually around eight feet in length, less than six feet wide and have a little over six feet of internal height. This style of construction makes them a platform for conversion into tow-able sleeping quarters, although the space available allows for little other than a typical household bed, a basic electrical system and some storage. Converting a motorcycle trailer into sleeping quarters is a relatively straightforward project.

Determine the size and style of the sleeping accommodation to be fitted in the motorcycle trailer. Usually up to a queen-size bed can be installed through the drop-down gate end, although this would take up all the interior space except for that in the V-nose section. A smaller rigid bed would allow for passage between the side of the bed and one wall, and a drop-down bunk hinged to a wall would allow for full use of all the interior space in its stowed configuration.

Consider how the space under a queen-size bed might be used. Installing the bed on a raised framework would allow the installation of several storage tubs, while mounting the bed above cabinets or chests of drawers would provide a more formalized storage solution. Use a sheet of graph paper and a pen to note the interior measurements available for the conversion, and draw in the framework or combination of cabinets decided upon.

Work from the plan to install a 12-volt system where the wires will not be interrupted. The system will require a deep-cycle marine battery, a rudimentary fuse board, wiring, at least one lighting fixture and a 12-volt outlet. The battery should be located externally or in a sealed and vented internal cargo bay, and kept charged by a charger converter wired to a 12-volt hot wire from the tow vehicle.

Build the framework for the bed, or join the cabinets and chests of drawers together using 2-by-4-inch kiln-dried lumber available from most home improvement warehouses. Use finished lumber because, in the close confines of a motorcycle trailer, rough-cut timber will snag clothing and possibly cause injury. Countersink all screws for the same reason.

Lift in the bed and fix it to the sub-frame using L-shaped brackets and screws, or fit a bunk bed to one wall by running nut-bolt-washer assemblies through hinges and support hoops in the motorcycle trailer frame. If space permits and projected use makes it necessary, insulate the walls that remain exposed and the ceiling by gluing in panels of rigid insulation, cut down from sheets available at home improvement warehouses, and then skin the exposed interior with a lightweight decorative paneling.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the light fixture and its properly sized fuse, and then furnish the sleeping accommodation with sheets, pillows and blankets or a comforter as appropriate to the predicted conditions in which the converted motorcycle trailer will be used.

Items you will need

About the Author

John Cagney Nash began composing press releases and event reviews for British nightclubs in 1982. His material was first published in the "Eastern Daily Press." Nash's work focuses on American life, travel and the music industry. In 1998 he earned an OxBridge doctorate in philosophy and immediately emigrated to America.

More Articles

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera colorful bed linen on a wooden bed image by ann triling from