Land Rover Defender Blog


How to build a Sankey Expedition Trailer

DEFENDERist shares how he built an expedition sankey trailer, complete with a roof tent and a hi cap tub. The end product is impressive!



September 23, 2015

One time petrol head. Currently a diesel head. Occasionally a head of steam.


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I’d always thought a Sankey trailer would be a good thing to have given that the 90 is actually fairly small inside and had been on the lookout for some time. Then along came the idea of a roof tent, I really wanted a roof tent but didn’t want all the inconvenience of a top heavy 90 with a roof rack that means it will never go in the garage etc. Then I hit it, put the two ideas together, put a roof tent on a Sankey and call it an expedition trailer.

Finding a MK3 Sankey Widetrack

First up was the problem that I’d been casually surfing ebay for a year and not found a decent Mk3 wide track. I’d also had a brief chat with MOD Sales and they said all the Sankey trailers had gone and there were no more about from surplus. So imagine my surprise when a perfect new condition one turned up on their stand at the LRO show! I was very lucky that I was in the show first thing early on Saturday morning and while most people were still making bacon butties, the deal was done. Due to a slight error in the way the price was marked up I also got it for an absolute bargain basement price, even more luck.


So there it is, an untouched Mk3 that I’m fairly sure had never been on the road.

Removing the tub

Not only was it a steal but due to the condition of all the tub and fittings I knew straight away that it would be more cost effective to sell the tub complete and modify the chassis to what I wanted. As it turned out, in another stroke of luck the very first person who I only asked to give me some advice, immediately made me a cash offer for the complete tub.


Meanwhile, I had also seen a fantastic idea from the CSK Automotive stand at the same LRO show that proved that a 110 High-Cap pick up tub exactly fits the Mk3 chassis. So off to surf the waves of ebay again and another big blank for a few months and a disappointing lack of progress. I had been to look at one tub in a scrapyard but it had been biffed about and needed a lot of repair and a repaint so more work than I wanted. Then, out of the blue, a text from the bloke who had bought the original tub with a link to MOD Sales for a brand new 110 High-Cap tub. I would have never have searched on there as it’s not a part used on Mil spec vehicles but there it was for the taking. So I prepared for a bidding war and… nobody else bid! Sold to me at the reserve price in another stroke of luck (are you beginning to see the picture that this entire project was based on luck?)

Fitting new shoes

So by now I had a clean new chassis sitting outside that I’d had time to prep and service, not that it needed it as everything seemed to have fresh grease and the brakes were immaculate. The only mod so far was to cut the warning triangles off and then the tie down rings off the wheel hubs as they don’t quite fit inside the Boost Alloy wheels but that was a five min angle grinder job.


The Boosts went on with 30mm spacers to match the track of my truck which is also on spacers, the new alloys came from RST and I had them fitted with Cooper STT’s again to match the truck.



Armed with an empty chassis, a number plate, some blocks of various size wood and a box of cargo straps, off we go to MOD Sales compound at Peterborough to collect our winnings. Hey presto, it fits.


Next job was to take it to CSK Automotive to turn the chassis from green to black and give the whole underside of the tub a coat of black Dinitrol. Before painting CSK also welded the four small tags at the front and one piece of angle on the rear cross member required to bolt it down properly. The only fiddly job was the total mess of a junction box with the wiring loom for the multitude of military lights. In the end, OCD caused me to start again with a new and better style of junction box. Lights were also new stock with guards from Flatdog to match the truck.



First trip out was to the Pub Night with Beds Herts and Cambs Land Rover Club, where it promptly disgraced itself with a puddle of brake fluid under the master cylinder (hydraulic disc brakes for anyone not familiar with the Sankey.) Back to surfing for parts and this time ebay came up trumps with a brand new still factory waxed unit complete with service kit instructions in Cyprus of all places! Delivered in a couple of days and fitted in minutes, drama over.



Call Mr T!

So now for the only bit of real modification, out with the welding Kit, cue the A-Team music in the garage and a few cups of coffee later we’ve got ouselves a ladder frame to fit inside the top rail of the tub.


It turned out cheaper and quicker to get this galvanised rather than wet sprayed with paint that would stand the test of time.


Throughout the project so far I had been looking at various rooftents and that leads to a big subject in itself. In summary, I really wanted the simplicity of the pop straight up style four straps and it’s done idea. My primary reason for bulding this is that I attend a lot of events over the summer at weekends so I don’t need much space and most of the places I go have good facilities. The main requirement was to get away from the hasstle of pitching a tent on arrival usually late on a Friday night and often in the rain! The idea was to create something that I could turn up with and jump in bed within seconds without even the need to unhook from the truck. The first choice was an expensive option but then I found a very similar style unit at Adventurehire so off to Bristol to have a look and this was what I bought. They only had the smaller width in stock but this turned out to be perfect as it leaves room to fetch stuff out of the side of the trailer from underneath the roof tent.


The final job was to measure up for a custom made Tonneau cover from Undercover Covers which was kindly made in time for me to collect and fit at Billing show. Another finishing touch at Billing was the fold up wheel step, again not my idea (thanks Terry) but a useful feature as it saves the impact of jumping out and hitting the ground first thing in the morning when slightly hungover.


So then off to a summer of fantastic events a few of which are shown below having now done close to 2500 miles and slept in it for 25 nights.






Related items for sale on eBay

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  1. Midwaleslandr says:

    Saw this at the Welshpool roundabout this morning, very tidy

  2. @DEFENDERist @DEFENDERist says:

    Yep, that was me heading for Llanbedr. Check @DEFENDERist on instagram for further travel updates

    • Baz Haywood says:

      Is the mk 3 sankey the only trailer the 110 tub will fit on?
      Some help with this would be fab, iam in the process of doing the same thing!!

      • @DEFENDERist @DEFENDERist says:

        I’ve never offered one up to a narrow track Sankey. I think you might struggle to get the wheels out far enough from the tubs inner arches as even the wide track needs wheel spacers to give enough clearance. Finding a good wide track Sankey and a clean Hi-Cap tub was the hardest part of the project.

  3. Ollie Rose says:

    I’m in the process of making my own trailer, would you be able to give any insite for attaching the tub to the chassis? Having a little trouble myself

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