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Man Turns Cargo Trailer Into Transforming Stealth Tiny House

When Bill Southworth of Hybrid Propulsion began traveling with his Rottweiler he was unhappy with where he had to end up staying. That’s why he ended up creating the 80 sq. ft. transforming cargo trailer stealth tiny house I’m showing you right now.

His options before designing and building this unique little cabin on wheels was to stay at motels that were rather unpleasant or high end dog-friendly hotels that were way too expensive. After looking at most of the travel trailer options out there, he was also unhappy with how large, ugly, inefficient, and awfully constructed they were.

Inspired by Graham Hill’s transforming apartment in NYC, he set his mind on creating a way to build his own hotel on wheels. And that’s how this beautiful 16′ Haulmark cargo trailer turned modern micro cabin on wheels was born. Please enjoy.

Our big thanks to Saint Phlip for sending and sharing this story with us!

Man Builds Dog-friendly Stealth Cargo Trailer Tiny Home

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Images © Bill Southworth

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Images © Bill Southworth

Bill designed and built his little cabin on wheels to use solar, battery, and power management using his company, Hybrid Propulsion. And it’s designed to store enough water on board to go for weeks without having to re-fill.

So far Bill, his wife, and their dog have traveled over 4,000 miles using the DIY camper. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Credits: Originally seen on Tree Hugger. Also seen on Jalopnik.

Our big thanks to Saint Phlip for sending and sharing this story with us!

If you enjoyed this DIY cargo trailer to stealth tiny house conversion you’ll absolutely LOVE our free daily tiny house newsletter with even more! Thank you!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 93 comments… add one }
  • Marcia September 30, 2014, 4:09 pm

    Wow, I really like this!

  • marie September 30, 2014, 4:14 pm

    That is really amazing, I would love to take an actual “tour”, are they producing these…yet?

  • Jen Lebel September 30, 2014, 4:17 pm

    WOW. What an amazing place! So bright, modern, clean, efficient, classy. I am afraid to ask how much.
    ….maybe when I grow up…..
    🙂

  • Leslie September 30, 2014, 5:19 pm

    This is the best stealth trailer I have ever seen!

  • Andrea Hardy September 30, 2014, 5:24 pm

    that’s a really nice one! well done!

  • BOB FREY September 30, 2014, 5:27 pm

    Incredible job. I would love to see more of the plans and a video walk thru.

  • Rebecca September 30, 2014, 6:05 pm

    If I wanted to live mobile, this seems the best way to go. Easy to tow, well made, custom inside, and stealth.

  • Michael September 30, 2014, 6:39 pm

    I like it too. It allows to park without being noticed. As soon as you put windows you get recognized and probably you are forced to move. It all depends what are you up for. I think this is a way for more travelling than parking. When you use it for sleeping mostly it doesn’t matter and when you have a nice location you are living more outside than inside.

    • Linda January 21, 2015, 7:04 pm

      I’m thinking that people who complain about no windows might look into putting in a skylight that can’t be seen.

  • thomas September 30, 2014, 6:40 pm

    Looks beautiful. Wonder how much?

  • Tiana September 30, 2014, 6:40 pm

    This is the best yet! So many cargo conversions are all camping gear in plastic bins and open shop shelving crammed with headache inducing clutter. I would buy this tomorrow! I will ditch the foundation house if he delivers, seriously.

  • alice h September 30, 2014, 6:41 pm

    Looks like quality workmanship and design. Definitely works for travelling and stealth mode, not so great for general hanging out with no windows like that. You could rig up some kind of screen door that could also be closed with glass that fits inside the solid door that you use instead when in a camp ground and something similar for the back doors. That would give you lots of window when needed and good cover when not.

  • Linda September 30, 2014, 7:59 pm

    Very cool stealth. I’ve often wondered about putting in a skylight in something like this in order to have lots of bright light during the day. Maybe a solar panel on one end of the top and a skylight on the other end. Of course I wouldn’t want it to rise above the roof enough to be seen. That would destroy the stealth.

    • Don Lowery September 14, 2015, 7:31 pm

      Not sure how you would design it…but if you could make a clear top…should be a way to mount a solar panel under the cover.

  • Dominick Bundy September 30, 2014, 8:24 pm

    Very nicely done.. but OMG! it needs WINDOWS…

  • Elena September 30, 2014, 10:19 pm

    I love this, it’s no need to find a hotel to staying.

  • ihmic September 30, 2014, 10:32 pm

    WOW is right!!!!!!

  • Twila September 30, 2014, 11:38 pm

    Well, I am very impressed… still would need to see outside someway or have another way out…

  • jedics October 1, 2014, 12:27 am

    Cool, id of put the skylights in the kitchen area where they are needed and used more during the day and also with the doors open at the opposite end would then bring double the light in when its safe to do so. Im working on a truck stealth idea atm as a tiny house has parking issues, at least with a truck that looks commercial on the outside I could park it in the street worst case scenario until I find a nice more permanent site.

    • Alex October 1, 2014, 10:27 am

      Nice! Your project sounds awesome. Keep us in the loop, please!

  • Kelly Libert October 1, 2014, 12:51 am

    As long as there is plenty of artificial light, I don’t see a problem with the lack of windows. They are not living in this, only using it in place of hotel rooms. I think that it is beautiful.

    • Alex October 1, 2014, 10:28 am

      Very true, Kelly. For its purpose, I don’t have a problem with the lack of windows because it’s for moving around, traveling, and then getting out and exploring (if it were mine)

    • Brian August 4, 2015, 2:26 pm

      Your point is well taken Kelly and I agree it is superbly put together into an awesome “caravan” (I guess). Thankyou for sharing and cheers from Australia

  • Lorraine October 1, 2014, 2:13 am

    Oh wow…I so wasn’t expecting THIS when I opened up my email-this is FABULOUS!! I could definitely stealth camp or possibly even live full time in this! Regarding the window comments…I feel like maybe Bill didn’t want to attract unwarranted attention, what with people’s tendencies to look into windows, or he wanted it NOT to look so much like a house trailer…I personally would’ve put in one larger skylight, but that’s just me…I’m still awestruck by the outstanding modern design of this one-LOVE IT!!

    • Alex October 1, 2014, 10:27 am

      Me too Lorraine. I like it just how it is because it serves it’s stealth purposes. No windows is fine for me in this particular situation. Plus it would encourage me to get out and explore while traveling 🙂

    • LargeMarge June 14, 2016, 4:17 pm

      Lorraine, I’m pretty sure Bill doesn’t want any attention, unwarranted or otherwise!

  • Anna October 1, 2014, 10:26 am

    Best design ever!! This sets the benchmark for all other ‘trailers’. Absolutely beautiful and well thought out!

  • Heather October 3, 2014, 8:38 am

    I wonder, does this get taxed as a storage trailer or an RV? Your photographer did a fantastic job here too. This looks so much bigger inside than out. I noticed the vent on the back door. Do you have a heat/air unit that sticks up on top? I could not tell where the unit is located.

    • Steve in Palm Bay November 15, 2016, 6:46 am

      Heather, hopefully it’s clandestine usage would be kept from the taxman. Nothing to be gained by alerting revenuers of anything.

      Awesome concept. Awesome execution thereof.

  • Jeff October 6, 2014, 3:16 pm

    Really nice work ! Well thought out and very well executed.

  • Elle October 20, 2014, 3:50 pm

    The energy/water system is great. Checking into this one for sure.

  • Michelle December 5, 2014, 9:24 am

    How about some slim horizontal awning windows located at eye level… would look like utility venting from the outside

  • Daniel December 5, 2014, 11:12 pm

    Really nice idea. I was just thinking of options for stealth living/camping.

    Great use of space by hiding things out of the way.

  • jacob December 24, 2014, 3:51 pm

    Love it! For a geek (and builder) like me, I’m glad for the included technical drawing. Looks like it’s either 10′ or 8′ wide depending on which measurements you look at (probably 8′), and 16′ long, which equals 128 sq ft. Is the 80 sq ft the interior floor space? Either way, it’s so nice to see the measurements. It can be hard to tell how big/small some things are in tiny home photos. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ann December 30, 2014, 5:13 pm

    I like small spaces, but my biggest priority is a fantastic shower. I would give up alot of floor space for a great shower. I don’t need a kitchen. My fantasy is to take one of those aluminum open air horse trailers and convert it.

  • native January 2, 2015, 4:50 pm

    I’m definitely using the cargo trailer instead of a bus . this is impeccable

  • Daniel perry January 16, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Bill South worth,I believe that most people would be amazed at what you have done to your 16′ Halmark cargo trailer. I have to say I love it, to have a kitchen,bath with a shower. With plenty of sitting room and the fold out bed and still have plenty of walking space. I don’t think that people looking at your cargo trailer on the outside wouldn’t amagine what’s on the inside. You have done a wonderful job and it has everything a person could ever need. Thank you for showing us your work, would love to own one. Daniel Perry, from Franklin, Ohio

  • Lisa E. January 21, 2015, 6:37 pm

    This is really useful nice and I wouldn’t mind having one if the price was right.

  • Sharee January 21, 2015, 8:50 pm

    Almost exactly what I have been planning. The couch could be another Murphy type unit: down as couch and up as bookcase/shelves for folded clothes. I see a space under the refrigerator. Could that be used to up-size the refrigerator?

  • CathyAnn January 21, 2015, 10:06 pm

    Looking at this trailer from the outside, I’d never guess at the conversion inside. You see work utility trailers with all kinds to apparatus attached to the outside and roofs. I’ll bet few people would give it a second look. For that reason, I think it is stealthy.

    The interior is superb, so well thought out and executed, really high end.

  • Doug Rennick January 22, 2015, 12:24 pm

    You could cut a window into the side of the unit,that folds out on hinges,but when closed still looks like the exterior of the trailer.:)

    • Chel April 25, 2015, 11:11 am

      I thought of something similar. Making the outside look like a mobile catering van with fold down counter and awning. That would cover any windows and give the option of a full-length view. Uncover just the windows or have the counter part become space for an outdoor kitchen/table/shelf or somewhere for crafts people to sell their wares.
      Great job.

  • Elle January 22, 2015, 3:01 pm

    Beautiful job! I really, really like the slatted floor in the wet- bath. Is that teak? This is the smartest way I’ve seen flooring done in a wet-bath, and I lived on a boat (27′ Fairliner) for a few years. I used the shower at the marina where I was docked both because it was convenient and because I didn’t like walking on a wet floor if using the bath for something besides showering. This definitely makes the idea of a wet-bath do-able and is back on my list of possibilities. Thank you for sharing and again, beautiful job!

  • Kathy Parker January 27, 2015, 11:14 am

    We have a Roadtrek. It’s a commercial van conversion made to be an RV. You’d be surprised at how stealth we can be. People are not very observant, especially when something is “normal” looking. I have parked my van on the beach and in NYC at a curb. Slept the whole weekend in it, watched the Macy Day parade. lol I go surf casting at the jersey shore… what most people do not realize is that just because it looks like a duck and quacks, it doesn’t have to be a duck. lol

  • John March 22, 2015, 5:35 am

    Does anyone know what kind of wood material he used to build the cabinets?

  • Amanda April 12, 2015, 9:54 pm

    I love this trailer! We only have 1/2 ton truck so we could tow this! Where do you get the bathroom fixtures? And the walls for the hiding mechanics like the fold out table and Murphy bed? Thanks for your information!

  • Allamericantrailer April 22, 2015, 1:57 am

    Hi i have read your post and i think it’s usefull.Thanks for the sharing this website. It’s look like nice trailer………

  • Ellen Williams April 23, 2015, 12:47 pm

    My first thought was that I wouldn’t like it because it has no windows, but when I saw the inside, I totally changed my mind! I love it! and several of you have some great ideas for incorporating windows or skylights, which would be even better!

  • Marianna Maver April 23, 2015, 1:00 pm

    Brilliant!

  • Karen R April 23, 2015, 1:46 pm

    Incredibly clever! We often had people comment on the minimal windows in our custom fifth wheel, but we liked the privacy and added thermal efficiency. However a disguised window or skylight would be nice in this unit, though not necessary. I am awed by Mr. Hill’s talents!

  • Karen Luerssen April 23, 2015, 2:13 pm

    I would love living in this with my dog, I actually have looked at many tiny homes, and I think I like this one most of all!

  • Donna McFarland April 24, 2015, 5:16 am

    LOVE this! An awesome and fully contained, PERFECT real living quarters…MINUS the frills & deco junk. windows? Go sit outside if you want views…come inside for privacy and security! No nosey “lookie loo’s”! I’d buy it in a heartbeat if it were affordable!!

  • Jerry April 24, 2015, 10:42 am

    Very innovative solution for traveling with pets. It appears that the side door still has the original locking hasp that could get you locked in by someone up to no good. That would have to changed. (if it hasn’t already)

  • Mary J April 25, 2015, 6:43 am

    very cool little space. has a upmarket vibe with great finishes. lovely

  • Kevin April 27, 2015, 11:44 pm

    Very nice build….but I have to disagree about it being stealth
    Sat Dish…roof mount AC…sky lights
    Totally not stealth
    Nice build…but not stealth
    I built a 6×12 conversion. Mine is stealth

    • Comet April 30, 2015, 10:38 pm

      @KEVIN—Put up or shut up—pics or it didn’t happen.

      If it’s on a structure—it’s a sky light. If it’s on a motor vehicle–it’s a sun or moon roof.

      One of those VW pop-up screen hatches on this would be killer—light and air and a bit more height just for the feeling of it.

      One thing I don’t see on a lot of the TH is some way to cover the entry stairs when you are using the inside–a lot of RV’s have a section of flooring (either hinged or free standing) that fits OVER the stairs and adds a bit of room and makes sure no one falls down them while the interior is in use. Even if you only use that area to move some things out of your way in baskets etc for a while it seriously increases the floor space and of course you can place a folding or lightweight moveable chair etc for more seating. Of course not all TH have stairs but the ones like this with a raised floor would gain if they had this small platform.

      Love the kitchen area! It’s bad when you are sitting in your doctors office looking at the small sink/desk area and thinking–Hmmm–if you added a STOVE to that—-

      • Kevin April 30, 2015, 11:19 pm

        My point is…..the trailer conversion here is not stealth.
        My build is stealth. I have pics posted on 2 different websites
        I see no need to post my pics here
        Do you think this trailer here is stealth?

        • Andrew August 3, 2015, 6:20 pm

          Then please post the link to the website(s) that host your”stealth” trailer.

  • Theo August 4, 2015, 3:41 pm

    Very nicely done, but it leaves me with more unanswered, than answered. Toilet, great; but where is access to it? Especially at night looks like the bed blocks it. How is all that water stored? How about waste water/toilet? I have more, but these are the major ones.

    • Theo Theo February 28, 2016, 7:19 pm

      I think this is the third time I’ve seen this. Yeah, I’d say it’s stealth. You see trailers like this every day, often with roof air – for working in them in comfort, rather than melting from heat; have even seen a few with satellite dishes.. No one would pay attention to this parked at Lowes, or Wally World. Want more stealth?, ladder or pipe rack, with ladder/pipes. Use your imagination a bit people.

      I would have a bit of color inside, myself; and have put it behind the cab of a truck, or in a box truck, with entry thru the cab.

      OK kiddies, imagination time again. What do you do when you want windows so you can look out, but don’t want windows? The answer is simple. You put in windows, silly.
      Skylight, no brainer, ’cause no one will pay attention, same with solar panels.
      Windows, put ’em in if you want. You’ve all seen trucks, vans, buses, with vinyl wrap over the windows. Get some. Put a backing on the inside when you don’t want to look out.
      Windows without windows. I’ve been accused of not researching. The reason I come here is part of my research. So, I’m not really sure why no one has come up with this one. You put some tiny TV cameras around the roof line, and hook them to a screen(s) inside. You get your view, plus a bit of light. Ta da.

      And I still hate loft beds, and outdoor loos. Hehehe.

  • Susanne August 6, 2015, 10:51 am

    They travel a lot sounds like– needs just ONE window!!!!
    Long trips you’d go crazy without at least one.
    Install one that looks more industrial, maybe, less attention? Plus don’t forget there’s a Sattelite dish on top!!! 🙂

  • Mike September 14, 2015, 2:05 pm

    Where can I get myself one of these? It’s perfect!

  • Cookienurse September 14, 2015, 3:28 pm

    I love this. A window would make it even nicer!

  • PD October 10, 2015, 9:18 pm

    The guy did a remarkable job inside. I have been traveling across canada since 2007. I have a 16ft haulmark.We park at Walmarts,. I had built in fridge, removed it. Use 12v.Koolatron. Portapotie is also under our bed. I want to add sunroof for more light. I do not want side windows, if so they might be small tardrops like in the 70-80 vans. Last year I found a used awning, FREE. When not camping it is my tool room for carpentry tools. ALL on wheels and can be rolled into shop easily. I am looking at converting a 5×8 next. Easier to tow. More vehicle towing options.

  • Joyce February 28, 2016, 7:29 pm

    I really like this one. Wonderful design and execution. Sad when you have to give up windows to feel safe. As a lone woman travelling, I made special curtains so no one could see in and see that I was alone. Can’t give up windows though although everything else is perfect!

  • russell February 29, 2016, 12:23 pm

    I built my tiny house to look like a cargo trailer. I did not want a lot of windows. I have one door on the driver side. I put a windbreaker on the front of my TH. I will tell anybody who is thinking about make your own TH to get a two axle trailer. Mine is single axle, but it just me. 6.6′ x 14.6′ . I did mix it up, use all find stuff. Door, sinks,shelf made from old pantry doors. It turn out to be 96 cub feet. I also have a 5′ x 8′ trailer that is 4.5 tall. for short trips. and it can be tow by a V-6 with no worrys.

  • Jessie Harrison March 24, 2016, 6:36 pm

    This is awesome, this just shows one of many things you can use your trailer for. I want to know if he built it all himself. On the inside, it really does look like a real apartment. I have a few things that I could do with a cargo trailer, thanks for another idea.

  • sandra June 14, 2016, 3:14 pm

    Could always have a fantastic fan in the top for ventilation/”skylight”. That is what I had in my stealth rig. They are very silent as well.

    Since he has a side door, if you are not worried about stealth such that windows would be ok, you could just have a screen door/leave the door open. Its not so stealthy with that big satellite dish on top tho, imho. cops would be on top of that. as well as running that a/c.

    at night, windows are not needed except for ventilation. they are a big liability to stealth. in the day, who seriously wants to sit around in a metal box and bake?

  • Sue Roberson June 14, 2016, 4:08 pm

    The best idea & design for a trailer there is!!!! Yep, I would add a window over the sofa with an outside fold & lock gismo like the door. Love it………..

  • LargeMarge June 14, 2016, 4:39 pm

    Hmmm… what would it take to fabricate standstill-house doors with inside locks in place of the cargo doors? Because vandals are known to carry padlocks in case they stumble across an unattended hasp need of nefarious locking.

    Or tiny opening windows high up, at inside standing eye-level?

    Or add a lumber rack with a couple old ladders chained on.

    Or a decal announcing 24-hour on-call we-come-to-you computer repair…

    Camouflage.

    Stealth rules!

  • Car Trailers June 26, 2016, 3:09 am

    Awesome design, can’t resist my eyes to overlook it. Makes the cargo trailer into transforming stealth tiny house is the complete solution for those who actually travel in many areas. I have a cargo trailer and i am thinking about transform it into the living place.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Barbara E September 14, 2016, 12:44 pm

    This is crazy clever!! Love it!
    I did think those were skylights on the ceiling & I admit I would like a window. Alice H idea of having some sort of screen door is a good one.
    Just fabulous that so small a space could be so ingeniously designed and keeps you & yours out of motels. Brilliant!

  • Sara Conrad September 14, 2016, 4:37 pm

    I always enjoy seeing these posts of very tiny homes. Everyone seems to be building very large tiny’s now. Great use of space.

  • Dorothy Gardiner September 17, 2016, 10:22 am

    Perfect, Love everything about this! For all females who fear traveling and camping alone. This solves that problem.

  • Steph November 14, 2016, 12:55 pm

    I love this thing every time I see it. I love the stealth of it and his design is very efficient yet very comfy looking,I love the fact that you could probably just park this quietly anywhere and people would probably not give much notice to you. Like a hidden comfy worls in a plain white wrapper ha ha.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie November 16, 2016, 7:31 am

      Haha I love that analogy 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

  • ZACHARY E. MOHRMANN November 14, 2016, 7:54 pm

    One of the finest box trailer conversions I have seen to date….!

  • Patty November 15, 2016, 2:12 am

    I am impressed! I saw the bathroom and that finished it out for me. Very well done!

  • Melissa December 3, 2016, 12:16 pm

    After seeing this awesome stealth cargo trailer, it’s a tossup between this and the $25,000, 16 foot tiny house on a trailer we saw earlier this week. Could you let us know, Alex, if/when this brilliant man decides to mass produce these gems? Like the previous commenter said, I would buy one tomorrow!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie December 5, 2016, 10:28 am

      Haha if he does we will let you know! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Kurt February 21, 2017, 4:44 pm

    Sweet!

  • ZACHARY E MOHRMANN February 21, 2017, 8:51 pm

    I want to join the fan club….!

  • Leif April 16, 2017, 12:06 am

    Very well done stealth trailer! I don’t think the lack of windows would bother me, although it would be nice to have some sort of peephole/way of seeing who might be outside the door BEFORE you open it. Also, the A/C unit on top might just indicate a work trailer that a tech might climb into while working at a workbench, but the Dish Network satellite dish was a glaring sign (to me as a DTV tech) that it wasn’t just a parts/supplies trailer… 😉

    All in all, fascinating to see, and kudos on a job well done.

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