Has anyone ever converted an old travel trailer into a houseboat?

by Brandi Walker
(Brazoria, TX, USA)

Possible to convert a Travel Trailer into a Houseboat

Possible to convert a Travel Trailer into a Houseboat

Has anyone ever converted an old travel trailer into a houseboat? If so, how did it work out? If not, why?

I was thinking it might be easier to use an old travel trailer and mount it onto whichever hull you decide to use. This way you cut out the trouble of building the interior and the electrical and other basics are pretty much done.

I realize you would have to seal the joints and somehow protect the soft bottom area of the trailer, but that would be included in your hull construction, I would think. Then all you have to do is make your choice on the motor type and size and concentrate on the exterior aspects of the building process.

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Most travel trailers have a self containing septic to some degree or another and have the comfort factors present. You could then alter the trailer as desired to include sliding glass doors or larger windows, etc.

I don't really know how functional the actual construction of the trailer would be though, as I live in the Gulf Coast area and all air here is salt air and we would want to use it in some of the bay areas near Galveston. We often fish in Christmas bay, so we would spend much time in the saltwater.

Do you think this would work for a "kit-type" project? If not, please explain your reasons. I'm just trying to figure out a cost effective means of obtaining a houseboat to keep us more comfortable in the places we love most.

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Comments for Has anyone ever converted an old travel trailer into a houseboat?

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Air stream floating barge bar...(catamaran) style
by: Anonymous

Building one, sending to Grand Turk..
Called "The Tipsy Gypsy.

Mobile home converted into houseboat?
by: Anonymous

Could you ever make a single wide modular home (mobile home) into a floating home? Just out of curiosity.

1975 18' Travel trailer to float!
by: Anonymous

I just bought a 1975 travel trailer for $900. Im living in it in the New Mexico oil fields and fixing it up and it is absolutely cherry now. Growing up sailing the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River, I've seen quite a few interesting rigs on the water and know my way around a boat.

I really miss the water and there a lot of lakes around here I would love to take advantage of. Aside from welding a hitch on my trailer to tow tandem with my half ton, this seems like a great route for the flat water.

I've floated cement trucks across rivers in small barges building electric transmission lines, so floating a camper is a non-issue. I like the idea of inflatable or fold-down pontoons that snap into place easily.

I also thought of taking the axles off of the trailer, cutting off the toungue, and setting it on an 8' wide 25 foot pontoon boat. Maybe weld it to the deck or at least bolt it down really good. Just pull the whole boat out of the water and trailer it to the campground.

Your title should say pontoon boat on it and the trailer is a boat trailer, so I don't see how it would be an issue. If DOT gives you trouble or something, put the axles back on.

You may have to get crafty getting the trailer frame on the boat. Probably jack it up on some skids to the same level and winch it onto the boat.

I also eyed an old Maryland deadrise style crab boat with a 20 x 11 open deck that could easily fit my TT. It would be sick in rougher water... just a way of loading it on there... hmmm

Travel Trailer/House Boat
by: RomarAnonymous

What is being ask about a trailer made into a houseboat has been done, there are some examples on Youtube. One of them on YouTube is called "red neck house boat". It's different, but cool and works.

There are a lot of trailerable houseboats around like Land n Sea made back in the 80's. Check out the Yahoo Group Trailerable houseboats.

Houseboats that you can take to the campgrounds or lake. But putting a trailer onto pontoons or some kind of a floating thing is very doable, Go for it.

Adding pontoons
by: Anonymous

A 30-35 ft Airstream trailer w/hydraulically lowered pontoons, so that they lift wheels off ground high enough so that they are out of water.

Pontoon could be equipped with electric motors, props and rudders activated by remote control similarly like a torpedo.

Aluminum wheels built into the pontoons so you may launch trailer in, out of water, then lower back onto trailer wheels. Hook up and drive away, tires never get wet.

Of course pontoons would have compartments that carry batteries and motors, all self contained. Batteries could charge from you pull vehicle or the slip where you dock.

Georgie Boy Pursuit goes aquatic
by: Josh

I want to turn my motorhome into a multipurpose vehicle capable of taking my Dodge Dokota pickup. I have a GM P30 454 for power. I expect to be able to design my barge to be powered and steered by motorhome. Suggestions and volunteers needed. I must do this.

For a Living Vessel - I agree
by: Anonymous

For a living vessel, either buy one or convert the barge unless you don't need it licensed.

Motorhome Houseboats
by: swanzkoft

Cool idea, I was going to do the same with a medium size truck so I can haul my Harley Ultra on the back of the truck. I saw one at a Lowes, he had his Goldwing with a tommy lift on the back.

Floating houseboat trailer
by: Ruff

There was a company in California that advertised a floating trailer in the 1960. Never saw one, except for the pictures on the leaflet. It was the standard boxy travel trailer, but had 2 pontoon floats that could be swung up to the roof, or lowered to the side of the box.

It could then be floated off the wheeled frame that it was sitting on for the road. It had an open rear deck, with an outboard motor that was tilted up for the road.
I may still have the pictures of it if anyone is interested.

Houseboat Dreams - a floating motorhome
by: Tony

I was thinking of a floating platform for my motorhome with drive on / drive off capability. Self propelled but seeing how this is in the dream stage, let's go all out and say a four point docking location for the tires of the motorhome.

The rear tires operating a drive mechanism and the front tires operating a rudder for the steering. The tires would have to have some kind of shroud around them for safety. Aluminium construction similar to the pontoon houseboat frames.

Will give you an update after I win the lottery and construction is underway. Cheers

Some additional houseboat extras and notes.
by: jamie

You can use two aluminium pontoons + the RV main chassis as crossmember section + additional REAR crossmember section to attach outboard engine and controls/chairs.

This rear section can be covered with RV awning also - the main goal of this design is to use RV chassis across the hulls, not longitudinal with the RV door pointing rearwards (the boat).

That way you can easily create functional 30' x 18' pontoon boat with ability to be converted to the regular RV + two pontoons on the roof for easy transportation.

An RV Camper into a Houseboat?
by: Mark

Very interesting this rv camper into a houseboat thing your thinking about here. I'm not much of a carpenter or mechanic, so I don't know the logistics.

I was thinking a HI LO or maybe a TRAIL MANOR, what do you think depending on your wants, needs, and desires. I believe either one would work great. They collapse down when needed, like towing it and or storing it.

I am partial to HI LO since I own one, can't beat a 12 second set up/take down. Just an idea. Mark.

Ideas for a houseboat travel trailer
by: Anonymous

I had ideas for a houseboat travel trailer setup, and I actually used a slide-in truck camper on a tritoon frame. The over-cab design gave way to so lounge space in the front as well as adapting the lower slide window into a means of food and drink access.

Since the first build, I remodeled a bit and now the set-up can still be removed at my local dry dock and boat storage and can be placed back on my truck. They lift it off and place it in the yard and I set it back on truck...cost about 22 dollars for tier service.

The tri-toons are 24 inch and the whole set-up is almost 30 feet long with a Johnson 150 hp on the rear. As for the holding tanks, I built long slim tanks for gray and black water. 27 wide 6 inches deep and 10 feet in length.

The tanks are set neatly between the pontoons and with the aid of a maserater pump, both are easily emptied. It all can be done and with a bit of thought, and you can come up with ideas to best utilize your space and funds.

House boat / travel trailer
by: Steve F

I saw something like this online recently... someone put an old small crappy looking travel trailer on a crappy looking barge/pontoon of some kind...needless to say it looked like crap ;) This is not to say that others wouldn't be very cool.

But what about the possibility of using a decent travel trailer on a barge/pontoon and make it so it can be detachable so it can still be used as a travel trailer?

I suppose one could even use a pop-up tent trailer in the same way.. or even a tent lol, ok I'll get me coat ;)

yes it can be done, mounted on a wide based pontoon houseboat!
by: Darby's52'Star

Hello, I've seen it done on a wide based triple pontoon flattop; he mounted the old restored 8'wide, early 50'vintage! on top,and steel stand frame to the deck, and took the axles out it gave him an all-around porch deck with an awning that surrounded it to knock off the summer's heat.. its powered with 2 outboard motors in the rear,..give it try


by: Anonymous

are you out of your mind?

RV trailer for houseboat
by: Mr B.

Oh, yeah I forgot to mention. I bought an older model RV, but with the soul purpose of saving the windows and other such stuff I could use aboard the boat. Then tore it all apart right down to the trailer frame....

Then changed the axle carriage so the wheels were below the deck of the trailer, added some 2x4 preserved wood stringers so I could attach sixteen, 10in wide by 2" rollers, and my scow type hull slides on and off beautifully...

Sincerely, Mr. B

Easier to build your own houseboat.
by: Anonymous

The gray and black water storage tanks on an older RV are usually below the frame, so building a deck that will accept the RV will cause further building problems..

Why not build a scow type hull, and outfit it with a cabin? I built mine in a few weeks, and she is a sturdy craft, 1,500 lbs in weight. 22 ft in length with a 17 x 7'10' interior cabin, and the amenities one needs aboard.

I used 2x4 side frames, double gusseted to 2x6 bottom frames, stringers down the sides and bottom with 1x4, and sheeted with 4x8 sheets of 1/2 in marine like plywood, with tape and glued seams.

Thanks, Mr. B.

Houseboat option
by: JonBoat

I recently bought an 8' standard Alaskan camper. It features a hydraulic device for raising and lowering the roof. www.alaskancamper.com

The dry weight of the camper is around 1050 pounds. I also have a 20' commercial fishing jon boat that is 99" in beam from Oquaka Boats in Illinois. The sides, however, are quite low to facilitate net fishing on the Mississippi.


I am increasingly thinking of mating the camper to the boat by building a rest for the slide in camper, and placing the engine on a stern extension. The side would have to be raised as well.

Any thoughts?


follow up
by: Beached

I have seen some very simple plans for the Do it Yourself types from Glen L or Clark Craft. Google it, there might be much more available

Have seen
by: Beached

I have seen larger RV's placed on a simple barge type hull. None of them were self propelled so they were floating homes rather the a houseboat.

I am somewhat familiar with Galvston Bay but not the specific area you talk about. The Bay can get bumpy and your flotation unit has to be able to take the bumps.

By the time you hook up a steering system, engine controls etc. It isn't as simple as it looks. I presume the Coast Guard has certain expectation of such as vessel as well. Speaking of looks, I can't see this being pleasing to the eye, however I am not a carpenter so my opinion is from a lay persons point of view.

I am presuming you don't plan to use the trailer on land anymore. Perhaps the bunks, stove head and other hardware could be salvaged and installed into a houseboat looking shell that is part of the hull.

You will get corrosion, unless you get marine type equipment and even that has a tendency to turn green without continuous vigilance

Choose the type of rv for the houseboat
by: roger

Having retired out the rv industry, I believe that you need to be careful on your choice of a used rv (recreational vehicle).

Most have sustained water damage somewhere. What I have always thought was an AIRSTREAM, it would look good, be good in the wind, and not likely to have water damage.

If you can find a work barge about 50 feet in length by 14 feet wide, you could build an excellent houseboat on it. You could remove the axles, weld it to deck, hang an outboard on it, put all coast guard required equipment on it, get it registered, and start cruising with your houseboat.

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