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Cooking Up a Storm: Build Your Own Camping Kitchen Trailer

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If you’re an avid camper, you might like the idea of having a camping kitchen trailer kitted out so everything’s in one place. Let’s look at what trailer modifications you need to make your dream kitchen come true.
Plan the detail
Any simple box trailer can be converted into a trailer kitchen. The first step is to work out what you need, what you’d like, and what your budget will afford. Then comes the fun part: designing and building it to fit.
You might already have some of these as part of your camping gear, but they need to be taken into account in the design.

  • Stove. Will two burners be sufficient? When planning where and how it will sit, make sure you build in a windshield and account for the gas bottle.
  • Drawers and storage. These can be sourced second-hand or from a hardware store, complete with runners and framework. Alternatively, build your own to suit the frame or use plastic boxes from discount stores and build wooden frames to fit. Design your unit so that when it’s closed up again they’re secure and watertight.
  • Sink. This is optional, because you can always use a basin of water. Depending on how much work you want to put into it, there are second-hand sinks available on trading sites, or you might have friends renovating their kitchen. Choose a stainless steel sink, as these are light and easy to keep clean. Cut out a hole in the frame so the sink sits snugly, then set it in place with water-resistant sealant. Attach a hose to the drainpipe so the waste goes directly into a bucket below. The sink can be used as storage when you’re travelling so it’s not wasted space.
  • Work area. Have at least one flat surface for food preparation. You might design the unit so that the lid or sides flip over to become your workspace – just make sure you give it legs or other solid support. If possible, build it to be the same height as a home kitchen bench.
  • Optional extras. These could include cold storage, an oven, lighting, a hot water system or a weatherproof cover.

The big picture
Once you’ve worked out what you want in your trailer kitchen, it’s time to design how it will fit together. The materials for the frame will most likely depend on your capabilities – wood and aluminium are both light and strong, though wood will tend to swell or rot if untreated.
Tailgate
One way is to build your kitchen unit to be bolted onto a swing tailgate. When you open the tailgate, the front and top of the box can be set up as benches (remember to support them well), so that the stove, drawers and space for a washing-up tub or storage are easily accessible.
A note of caution: make sure the unit is fully supported on the trailer floor when closed, otherwise its weight could impact the tailgate during transit.
Slide out
You could have the unit built onto a set of runners or tracks on the trailer floor so you can roll it out when you’re ready to set it up. The tracks could be made of wood, steel or even boat skids – if you want the unit to run on a checker-plate floor, it’s not going to be smooth, but you could try lining the floor with powder coating or even place Teflon under the runners.
While you’re building, you might look at installing a sliding box on the other half of the trailer for storage. Add some pantry drawers at one end for access to extra food storage from your ‘kitchen’.
Note: a slide-out kitchen will need solid support built into its design.
Keep it simple
The simplest trailer kitchen of all might be to build a box that holds your stove securely, with a lid that flips out with support arms to use as a prep area. Modify one side of the trailer to fold down to use as a table, and use aluminium tool boxes for storage and seating.
Remember that any modifications you do to your trailer will have to be within regulations, and if the combined weight of your kitchen and camping gear goes over 750kg, you’ll need brakes.
Once you’ve built your camping kitchen trailer, you might need to attach a weight distribution hitch.

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