Making My Trailer Look Like… A Trailer!
TRAILER SERIES PART 3: Progress Being Made.
I’m back with another post in the Trailer build series! At this point, I figured out the main idea for the build over in my last post in this series, and it became time to actually start gathering the various materials I would need to actually turn this idea into a reality. I debated a lot over what size steel, what type of steel, and where I wanted to use what sizes for this project. A lot of time was spent online on various forums and websites, getting as much information I could for my intended size and usage. I ended up going way overkill on material strength as a way to sort of future proof the build. In the future, if I want to upgrade the axle size to 3,500 lbs, I didn’t want to run into any strength issues with the frame, etc.
The main material sizes I ended up with was 2″ x 3″ rectangle tube for the main outer frame and the tongue, then 2″ square tube for the cross members. The top frame I went with 1.5″ square tube, and for the lid, I used 1″ square tube. the 2″ x 3″ and the 2″ tube was all .125″ wall thickness, with the rest all being .100″ wall thickness. this is extremely overkill for the little 2,000 lb axle under my trailer. However, as mentioned previously, It’s now future proof and I also have zero reasons to worry about it being strong enough. The upright pieces are 2″ wide flat plate, and the corner pieces are 2″ x 2″ angle, both 3/16″ thick. This gave a secure place to bolt the wood and offers plenty of strength.
So now that the main pieces are all cut to length, the plan is in place, it was time to get started on the welding. I got my younger brother to help me out with this part. I can weld, kind of, but he is by far a better welder and for something as important as a roadworthy trailer being towed hundreds of kilometers, I definitely wanted the welds to be as strong and as good as possible. Doing things yourself, and knowing when to get assistance is a very important thing! So we got the main frame welded up and attached the leaf springs to get ourselves a base platform to build off of, adding the uprights and corner pieces, then adding in the top frame.
Measuring and squaring things off as we went was an important step I don’t want to leave out. Lots of cross measuring, corner to corner, making sure everything was perfect before tacking things in place and then double checking once it was all tacked before welding it in for good. This was especially important because I wanted the lid to have a perfect seal, and I wanted it on hinges that wouldn’t bind up when opening or closing, and of course who wants a crooked trailer regardless?!
Now that the basic trailer was done, I could think about what kind of wood to use for the sides and floor. I debated between using plywood for the sides and 2″ x 6″ pressure treated for the floor but ended up going with 5/4″ deck boards all around. This was a bit more work and a bit more weight than plywood but overall it looks better, is stronger, and the added weight really wasn’t a concern. If I had gone with plywood sides it would have been much easier however it would also be harder to fix if one spot got damaged, for whatever reason. With the deck boards, the chance of damage is lower, and it’s easier (and cheaper) to replace one board vs the entire side.
I chose brown pressure treated deck boards, cut them to size, and drilled all the holes through the metal uprights and the deck boards. Once the weather got nicer I sanded the boards down and applied a penetrating oil stain. I chose this type of stain due to its longevity and ease of re-application in the future. The stain soaks into the wood, rather than creating a barrier on top of it. There is no need to sand down the boards to apply a new coat in the future!
That was it. The majority of the work was now done. Of course there was still more to do, but the darn thing looked like a trailer now! I still had to do a tongue, slap some wheels and tires on it, and then finish off the lid. but the end was in sight!
For the wheels and tires I decided I wanted something pretty aggressive, as my truck has 35″ offroad tires, I didn’t want to be severely limited by the trailer if I wanted to go through some mud, or deep snow, or down a trail. I ended up going with a 235/85R16 tire on a 16×6 wheel. This gives me approx. a 32″ tall, and 9″ wide tire. Tall and skinny was my choice due to being easier to pull through things like mud and snow without creating much extra drag. The test fit to the axle showed me I needed to add a spacer in for clearance, so I ordered some 2″ spacers to throw on. Spacers can get a lot of hate on the internet, for fair reasons, but these are quality pieces that won’t cause any issues that people tend to have with cheap pieces.
For the tongue of the trailer, I continued with the 2″ x 3″ .125″ wall tube and tied it all the way into the first cross-member of the frame for added strength. It was also triangulated back into the main frame as well, which adds a lot of side strength and offers a convenient place to bolt down a tongue box for added storage. For the hitch portion of things, I decided to go with a pintle and lunette ring style hitch rather than the typical ball hitch. This was for a few reasons, the main one being for how much articulation it gives me when going over uneven terrain. It would allow the trailer to be at a much greater angle than a typical ball hitch would, and that was a nice idea in my mind. Will I ever truly take advantage of it? Probably not, but I would rather have the added articulation and not need it than need it and not have it.
The lid was covered with thin sheet metal, to keep things clean and easy, and it looks great (in my eyes, anyway). I chose to rivet it on, simply because welding thin gauge sheet to thicker gauge tube did not sound like a fun time to me. this step had to wait till everything was painted, so I won’t show any pictures of that yet, stay tuned for the next post in the series for all that where I go over all the finishing steps.
At this point, the trailer was all welded together and rolling nicely so it was time for a test pull just to see how it would track behind my truck, how it rode, if the leaf springs were the right choice for the weight, etc. The test pull went very well, the main thing I was looking for was how it tracked behind the truck. What I mean by this is how well the trailer’s tires follow the truck tires. Does it cut inside, how sharp can I turn, etc. I was very pleasantly surprised by how perfectly it tracked, it follows my trucks tracks almost exactly. I barely did any math when calculating how long to make the tongue, but it ended up being pretty bang on. Perfect enough to not need any adjusting, anyways.
So, the test pull was a success, no major changes had to be done at this point and all that was left was figuring out how to attach the lid on hinges, and then it was time to paint! For the hinges, I used bullet style hinges from Princess Auto and got those welded on in a way that made the lid completely removable if I wanted for some reason to take it off. The other remaining piece of the puzzle was fenders. I had a heck of a time tracking down a place to get reasonably priced Jeep style fenders that were large enough for the tires I was running. I ended up finding a Canadian trailer parts dealer, called Trailer Canada that had some for a very good price and had those shipped my way from Alberta. I will go over the mounting of these in the next part.
Aside from waiting for fenders to arrive, it was time for paint. The last major step in the process! I was so excited things were almost done. Camping season was on the horizon, the trailer was almost ready for it and so was I. The next post in this series will go over all the final steps from paint, to wiring up the lights, tongue jack, and all that fun stuff!
Stay tuned for the final part in this series!