DIY Projects, Where Do You Start, When Starting From Scratch?

Trailer series part 2: Getting Started.

Continuing from my last post in this series, One Small Truck, And Too Much Gear!, we’ve decided that building a multi purpose trailer from scratch is going to be the route we go. So what comes next?

The idea is here, the next logical step would be to draw out that idea, either design it on paper or PC, and go from there. However, that’s not how I like to do things. The first thing I did was to buy an axle, which was on sale at my local Princess Auto. I went with a small, 60″ wide 2,000 lb axle. There are a couple reasons I decided to go this route that I will get into later.

the 2,000 lb axle

With buying the axle, I now had a starting point. I knew I wanted roughly a 6′ long by 4′ wide trailer. This axle would allow me to easily achieve that, but first I had some changes to make to the axle. The main thing that needed changing were the hubs. Originally the axle came with a 4 on 4 bolt pattern hub. While there are plenty of smaller wheels that fit this pattern, none of them were going to work with my desired tire size. To be able to run what I wanted, I had to swap the hubs out for some 5 on 4.5 bolt hubs.

Once I got the new hubs installed onto the axle, it was time to toss on my summer tires, just for fun and to also measure for clearances. My plan at this point was to get some 2×2 wood, and mock up a frame and design I had in mind. This was a cheap way to get a good visual on what I wanted. It would also allow me to measure things, see how much room I had, and I could make changes to my plan from here. Doing things this way, in my opinion, is better than drawing out on paper and hoping it fits your needs once it’s actually built. Of course this method only works in certain cases, I wouldn’t build a house like this, or would I…?

So, why did I choose such a small axle for this project? There are a few main reasons, the first one being the size. I wanted a narrow axle, and without custom ordering one or spending a lot more than I did, this was my main option. Being only 60″ wide meant once I got tires on it, it would be very similar in width to my truck, which is super nice for having it track behind the truck while driving. Some other small reasons are the fact it doesn’t legally require brakes (where I live) and the fact that it is not oversized for what I will be hauling.

so, we’ve got the mock-up, we know what size we need to make things, I think it’s the perfect time to jump on the PC and make that design now. Seems late, but I swear there is a method to my madness! So, I jumped into a program called SketchUp and got to work.

Once I had the final design laid out I could double check my measurements, and start ordering materials for the build, which is exactly what I did next. The main frame will be 2″ x 3″ rectangle tube, the uprights will be 3/16″ flat steel 2″ wide, and the upper frame is 1 1/2″ square tube. The walls/floor would end up being wood after much thought and debate. At first I was considering steel for these as well, but decided on wood for ease of replacement in future if need be, as well as aesthetics. It just looks better! The frame is definitely overkill for this project, but it allows me to easily upgrade in the future if I choose to throw a stronger axle underneath.

That’s going to be about it for this part, you will see more about the materials and frame building decisions in the coming posts.

Stay tuned for future posts in this series!

Author: Rath

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