View Full Version : trailer hubs and spindles

05-02-2005, 09:36 PM
I have gotten a lathe and mill drill and wanted to make a trailer. I have the trailer plans but want to make the axles and hubs. The trailer is a utility trailer for the yard. Wheel hub 5 lug for a 18.5x8.5x8 tire. I have searched the net for plans that show dimensions for axle stubs and hubs but have not found any resources. I know it is probably cheaper to buy these at the local TSC store but that isn't as much fun. Plus I will learn more about machining

Does any one out there have any leads that would bring me this kind of info.


05-02-2005, 09:51 PM
The common bolt pattern for that wheel is a 4.5" pattern. Get some bearings and start making chips.


05-02-2005, 10:08 PM
What about a compromise? ie buy one, make one? At our local cheap autoparts store I can buy an axle stub for about $6 from memory, it would cost that just for the steel...

Anyway, buy one and you have all the measurements you need... Could always take it back after you had drawn/measured it!!

Alternatively try phoning a local trailer manufacturer. My local one was only too happy to help with dimensions etc when I told him I wanted to make a trailer, he was also quick to point out I wouldn't really save any money when he got out the books and showed me his prices compared to retail...

05-02-2005, 10:15 PM
Much easier? Get the idler wheels/bearings/hubs off a front wheel drive car. Saturn, escort, taurus. They bolt on like a sealed unit.

Take a torch and burn out a plate to match, drill the holes and bolt it on. Or get creative by mounting suspension axles and all.

If you want to do it the primitive way, Northerntool.com has stubs you affix to a tubing to make a axle. Or just buy a axle.

It must carry the weight of the whole trailer and load plus impact weight.

I have made a deal for a old farmwagon. I looked under it and "yep" there is a 36-40 front cross leaf axle for a ford. Just like the "cheap one" I need for my 23 tbucket project. I may build a replacement axle to keep the trailer up on two wheels. I prefer the simple way. Use my lathe for something more interesting to me.


05-03-2005, 12:00 AM
Dave is right, once you get through his “BS” Northern Tool has what you need. Buy one and copy the hell out of it! Why re-event the wheel! You’re going to buy some hubs from some one any ways! Copy the hell out of what ever you can. Or, you could take some measurements, and design your own. Let us know how (with photos) it turns out. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

05-03-2005, 12:17 AM
Ahh, a topic I actually know something about!! I used to make a lot of replacement spindles for farm implements in my youth. Most of the ones I saw that failed were too darn light, and tended to have sharp radius corners. This creates a place for stress fractures to start, eventually leading to the spindle snapping. Start with good bar 2" or so in dia (more if you have room) and use the biggest bearings you can fit into your chosen bolt pattern. And cut nice round radii inboard of the bearings.

Jim Caudill
05-03-2005, 02:45 AM
Go to www.championtrailers.com (http://www.championtrailers.com) for techical information and to buy whatever you need.

05-03-2005, 11:29 AM
There waa a homebuilt trailer in a accident locally about a year ago.

Seems somebody decided to build thier own. It came apart on a highway close by Dalton Ga. Hit a car head on, causing the car to hit another car head on. Killed a few people. It was a light duty metal trailer with a wooden sideboards. Last I heard, the guy (mexican) was up for manslaughter.

BS? this is what I think of when I hear someone obviously not experienced building spindles for cars.trailers.bikes.

Bikes? A pipefitter turned Motorcycle frame builder had a motorcycle come apart in Chattanooga Tn. On the interstate. Last I heard he was losing everything he had for producing a "unsafe" motorcycle. He has more than one out there.

For the first two dozen or so "roadworthy" trailers I suggest you bolt/ or professionally weld the majority of the critical components.

BigFoot, (a ex marine) his sister was killed while driving her aerostar van down Hixson Pike in Chattanooga near the nuclear plant. A small truck pulling a auto-trailer with a old camaro on it hit a car in the rear, the camaro continued through the air shearing the top off the van. Evidently that 1/4" chain was not enough to hold it on the trailer. I own over $1000 in chains, tie down straps and winches, come-a-longs to secure a trailer load. I have learned better than to loan them out thou.

When I say something there is usually a reason, unless I am picking at someone. I just hate to eat up half a page explaining myself. Communication is my poor skill.

05-03-2005, 12:32 PM
Well David, frankly I think your previous post reflects a superb job of communicating in this instance.

You got your points across in a clear, unmistakable manner, and impressed, on me at least, some legal concerns that I'd never really pondered very much.

I sure won't be building my own trailer for highway use anytime soon. No Sirree! Not me. (And actually I have at times considered building one.)

05-03-2005, 06:03 PM

What I have saw, if you make something that rides on the road, don't call it new. If it is new you have to provide accountability for it.
If it is in a accident you have to hire a attorney to "prove" your innocence.

Building motorcycles? From new parts you "don't want" a rebuilt title, one used part and it is considered rebuilt. You want a "used" title. After the first sale the accountability goes away. It is a used motorcycle. Now, if the frame breaks and everyone is aware you made it, well that is still workmanship and materiel. But if it was made with purchased materiels, no problems, let the manufacturer defend himself.

The Fitter is a good old boy, just not a good engineer. Sleek spindly frames without gussets look good, are dangerous. He has been here with a case of beer. And he is welcome back. we differ in quite a few ways.
I was using .25 wall 1" DOM mild steel tubing. Heavy as heck, you have to bevel the welds to bury the root pass. They don't break thou. Thinwall or Chrome moly put together wrong is just asking for trouble.
Tig is the best welding process I know of for structural components. If you can put a gusset into a joint and extend the weld bead holding the parts together you are miles ahead.
I built the first trailer with my LITTLE MIG, took a hammer and broke some of the welds. I went over it all with the stick. I have had over a ton on the lil Northern tool 1500 pound axle.
Seems I was right at the threshhold of my mig with the thicker tubing and parts. I still have that trailer in the yard. It'll tote three harleys without me worrying. (one ten thousand, two ten thousand, three ten thousand dollars)

Anybody know of a good site with "free trailer plans?"

David (gosh I type too much)

05-03-2005, 06:15 PM
Any one planning on building trailers for the road might want to at least get a structural welding certification. It's a pretty easy cert. to get, and if you can't pass it, you probably don't have any business putting your welds on the road.

05-03-2005, 06:23 PM
Believe me, Passing a test don't make you a welder. I have frame clipped over 35 streetrods, With the x-ray test at the nuclear plant I had to retest once. One bit of slag in a weld.. yep.. Brush, grind, grind, grind,

I am not the welder any of the "*LU 43* pipefitters are" I have saw them practise welding with no flux on thier rods and it look like a row of nickels. The more you do the better you get, if you give a damn. If not you never improve.

Trailers must be inspected in Georgia before tags can be issued. I think a donkey cart with a wooden tong will no longer pass. (I don't know)

Duct Taper
05-03-2005, 06:33 PM
David makes some good points. Last fall I MIG-welded a hub onto a sprocket for a friend's combine drive. It was a beautiful weld and it worked well. Until late the first night when the weld broke and his harvest was delayed. The weld held up on the hub fine but barely penetrated the sprocket.

I have been thinking about building a car trailer for years but it seems my confidence in welding isn't what it used to be. I might have to look for a used one with a manufacturer's sticker.

By the way, don't get on lorenrs too hard in the first post, he did say that he wanted to make a utility trailer for the yard, not the highway.

05-03-2005, 07:28 PM
i have been building trailers for over 25 years and i still buy my spindels and brakes.
my .o2 is anything that goes on the road should be done by a certified welder. too many people with welding machines that dont know how to use them welding on things they should not be.

05-03-2005, 07:57 PM
Chrome alloys should be heat treated after welding, especially on something that runs down the road. Lots of repeated shock loads.

Chrome alloy pipe in power houses is always pre-heated, kept to temp during the weld and then stress relieved.
fitter/welder Lo#140

05-03-2005, 08:26 PM
I use a piece of Cerwool blanket to wrap up the welds, let them anneal slowly. Usually after I take a rosebud and fix my bends.

Sometimes the chrome moly just breaks anyways I think. I had a buddy with a thin-wall roll cage in a stock car, he had the thick tubing tigged in with the drill check hole and it was finished out so it all looked to be thick wall.

It broke hitting him in the back of the head, no ideal if he had been in a serious collision. He too is a fitter. He can weld excellent, No ideal what happened.

I used to go drinking with the fitters and ironworkers, most the electricians I have been around were wimps that left the bar at 10pm. Lots of them Prima-Donna's that looked down on me for welding and fabricating when I could be sitting on a bucket. (Doc says I have a imprint of "5 Us Gallons" on my butt anyways. I ain't looked.

I have the confidence in my welds to trust my life to them, never been surprised.
The low power migs can and will surprise you. Not enough heat. Even with the tri-mix of oxygen to heat it up. BUT, for sheetmetal they are great.

Farm-cart? I misunderstood. I made one from a couple of the Harbor freight $5 gold wheels and a piece of 5/8" bar inserted into a 3/4 tube. It drags behind my lil yard tractor just fine.

05-03-2005, 09:58 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by ibewgypsie:
Believe me, Passing a test don't make you a welder.</font>
You're right, it doesn't. What it does is prove a basic level of proficiency.

05-04-2005, 01:11 AM
It's real easy to make cold welds with Mig.If there is any doubt at all, grind out the weld to see what your penetration is. It took all the heat my little Hobart 135 had to weld up 3/16 thick angle for a stand for my M/D, but I got full penetration.

3 Phase Lightbulb
05-04-2005, 01:21 AM
I'm thinking about making a double motorcycle trailer so I can tow my motorcycle and my wife's motorcycle while on vacation.. I'm not sure I would want to trust my welds on a trailer though.. I've seen some of the motorcycle kits that you can attach to a regular trailer but I was thinking about welding up my own trailer using a front wheel drive car's rear axle and suspension.. Has anyone else done this?


05-04-2005, 04:27 AM
for home use some bed frame Iron , some shaft and some tires and you have a what you need.

bet you can do it for less than $50
if you root around for parts.

farmers do super stuff for less than $50.

Adrian: you have seen the half of an old pickup as a trailor, It works great, price is right.(nice cheap road Hauler)

[This message has been edited by tattoomike68 (edited 05-04-2005).]

05-04-2005, 06:13 AM
the rear axle out of a front wheel drive car will work for a mc trailer. i have used it before with no problems.

05-04-2005, 06:35 AM
My Harbor Freight 2000 # trailer I bought for $ 300 three years ago blew a bearing last week and ruined the hub as well as the bearing. A hub and bearings at a auto parts store at $ 40 fit the wheel but the bearings were abot .010" to big. My new www.surpluscenter.com (http://www.surpluscenter.com) catalog 05 on page 155 has 3 hubs with bearings and seals from $ 13 to 25. Spindles from $ 7 to10. For $ 30 plus shipping and having to weld a new spindle on I could have repaired it. My son in law whose son blew the bearing was hot to fix it and decided to get a whole new axel with hubs etc, Farm Fleet for $ 140. They have a lot of axels to pick from.

Your Old Dog
05-04-2005, 07:17 AM
David, thanks for the slap across the chops, I needed that ! Like Lorenrs I've wanted to build a utility trailer for the yard. However, unlike Lorenrs, I thought because I couldn't pull my welds apart that I'd take a shot at building anything to run on the highway. Besides not thinking much of weld failure, I failed to think of all the legal ramifications of just wanting to that King Kong feeling after building something thats functional.

Good post Lorenrs, you might have saved someone else a lot of grief, maybe more than that.

05-04-2005, 08:26 AM
Wow! did this really spark some discussion. Yes the trailer plans I have are just for a yard trailer pulled by a garden taactor and it is not intended for road use in any way shape or form.

I really injoyed reading the responses and learn a bunch about things most people wouldn't even think about.

This just goes to show that the saying good consel comes with many minds.

I am still going to build my trailer but will purchase spindles and hubs. The plans are from Cadplans and they are the company I purchased the plans from for my backhoe I build for my Compact tractor. Great welding Project.

Thanks for all your input. and Ill keep reading BBS and ask questions once in awhile.

I still need to find projects for my lathe and mill. ( as time permits)

05-04-2005, 09:04 AM

The older front wheel drive cars have a solid axle under the rear, Most has bolt on hubs.

By using bolt on hubs, you can fix it anywhere. You don't grease the "pressed" on hubs. You replace them as a unit. (new less than $65)

With your fabrication skills you should have no problem. Just burn out a plate to match the hub, take some big gussets and box it onto a piece of HW 2x2 tubing. That'll bolt right to some springs. You might have to fab a spring-bolt center plate with the hole to locate it on the spring, but that is to keep the axle from sliding out of true. (angle) I think that is what happened to the Mex trailer that hit the car head on.

As mentioned before, sometimes it is hard to get the proper bearings, hubs on the road for a trailer axle.

As for balance, slightly tongue heavy is what I like. I have a strap box on the front of my bike trailer, a tall fold down ramp (aids in seeing trailer backing up) Ramp is made from 1" tubing w/expanded metal on it. Trailer frame is 1x2"x.188 wall tubing with a 2x2 tongue all way under middle, 2x2 cross bars is tying axle mounts together. Light enough but strong enough. I had drawed it all out on a piece of cardboard long gone.. (hillbilly blueprint)

If you look at some of the light trailers at HF, Lowes, other places they are made from 1/8" or less angle. I don't trust them with a bike, much less two.

If you really want to get fancy? put a hand brake onto the car hubs. One local had his harley and trailer stolen in Florida, the drunk guys who stole it didn't know about the hand brake and the policeman stopped them for the trailer wheel smoking. He got his bike back undamaged but needed a new tire.

Ratchet straps rule, cinch the bike down till it's suspension goes down at least two inches on each end. That keeps pressure on the straps during bouncing. (darn hooks come off)

The neatest thing out is the "lay down" trailer that winches down onto the ground for loading. The axle fulcrums up and lays the bed down (tongue goes up in the air). I think it uses suspension axles from HF. No I don't have plans, wish I did. Even car trailers are made like that. Ez-load is one brand.

05-04-2005, 11:46 AM
Before I built my first trailer, I went to local trailer sales lot on a Sunday and sketched several trailers, took a lot of dimensions and notes. Mine have always been better built with stronger gussets than theirs. My first trailer got hooked up wrong by the wife while I was overseas. It came loose at 45 mph, the chains did their job and nothing got damaged except the paint on the coupler. Now I only run Bull Dog couplers for reason.

Like David is saying, without a large liability insurance policy, ie million dollar or more, if something goes wrong and someone gets hurt, it could be ugly.

On a similar note about liability, I rewelded a seat that was broken during a car accident several years ago. When it left my shop it was twice as strong as it was when it built. It was poorly designed, hence why that manufacturer has been in court for seats breaking during accidents. Anyway, 3 years later the mini van hit so hard from the rear that every piece of glass is broken except the passanger front door. The seat broke again and as the lawyer says, it is my fault since I was the last one to touch it.

[This message has been edited by JPR (edited 05-04-2005).]

3 Phase Lightbulb
05-04-2005, 12:06 PM
I was thinking about using a front wheel drive car's real axle, hubs, wheels, and tires as is... I would attach the axle and suspension to a steel box frame.. Maybe even cut out the rear section of the unibody and weld it directly to a box frame http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Does anyone have any pictures of a trailer that uses a front wheel drive car's real axel in tact?


05-04-2005, 01:15 PM
3ph: I have about 1 gig of pictures. Most have names like DCM1250.jpg.

If I come across it I'll email it to you.

Even people (professional welder) was taking Old 70s chevy car spindles, they have a round plug and centering hole on the back side, cutting off the ball joint mounts and welding them to a tube. I have helped on several of them jobs. It would be a hairy job cause you only had about 1/2" of plug weld to do.

I have built several horse trailers with pinto suspensions. Now mustang2 and pintos are becoming rare, Fairmont has the same suspension and mostly overlooked thou. Just put a tab on the frame and weld in the steering link after truing. If you really want it quick, cut the whole subframe out and leave suspension intact. Tie into the front and rear.

No easy to find pictures there either thou.

I can't wait to get the old ford truck bed home to take the streetrod axle out from under it. That'll save me a few hundred on a axle for the 23 project you started. Cost me $35 for the trailer. Not sure which engine I want to put in it yet thou. I'd sure like one of the Honda Welded together V8's a local guy builds. His last one is still sitting there collecting dust. 320hp in a package you can pick up and put on the table. (two Magna Honda engines minus transmissions)

back on topic: Last Northern tool parts (axle, springs, tires, lights, tongue,new steel) cost me $450 to build for my exwife. I am still axiously awaiting payment. She says it got stolen. Yeah right, she sold it I am pretty sure. After all, it was all profit for her investment. I'll see it on the road someday, it has some unique features.

Building small trailers is a good way to go broke. To get what you Want, you must build it or have a lot of money thou.

You seen the enclosed "toy" trailers? they are really neato, have a forward bedroom and toilet, all the back is open. Makes a good storage shed too while parked. Lots of dirty bike racers use them.

[This message has been edited by ibewgypsie (edited 05-04-2005).]

05-04-2005, 02:08 PM
Around my area used house-trailer axles are the popular setup for home-built trailers. Bear in mind the brakes and tires on those have a distinct "throw-away" quality to them.

05-04-2005, 03:47 PM
Given the current cost of steel, the liability and hassels with getting a tag, I think that trailers for sale around me are cheap. How much time are you willing to spend to save $500 after you buy the materials? I am sure that depends on lots of stuff so for a retired person that might be a non-issue. For someone that bills hourly, like myself, thats easy math, and there is no way I would save any money.

05-04-2005, 05:54 PM
Time to jump on the band wagon!!


Up here in Canada it is illegal to use axles from another vehicule to make a trailer. No matter what weight or application. You can however make your own axles, with bought spindles and a tube you cut to length.

About trailers

The main thing about trailers is you have to design them and use them for what they are designed for! Very important. The loading of trailers is equaly important. Basically 10% of your load weight is supposed to go on the tongue. So if you have a 2000lb axle, minus the wieght of the trailer, mean you can load maybe 1500lbs. 10% of 1500lbs is 150 lbs on the tongue/hitch. this is all assuming your trailer is loaded with the weight distributed equally.

It would be interesting to find out, of those trailers that broke, what their history was and how their loads were put on. Don't forget the speed they were traveling and the road they were on.

My advice, when building anything with welding, is to inspect the welds all the time. Every week, month, what ever the use of the item is. How about for every 20 hours of use, inspect the trailer. It won't take long and you will notice something wrong right away.

If your trailer is for around the house, and won't see the road, then go for it. Build it and see what happens.

Good luck

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

05-04-2005, 08:36 PM
I made a trailer for a guy last year, an helped wih home made boat trailer. We could have made it all out of scratch, but instead went to the junkyard and got the back axle and springs out of a 1988 Chrysler Caravan minivan. Complete with wheels, $50.00. Tires - new, add about $35.00 mounted and balanced each side (Wally World, but if you hate Wally World, then go where you wish).

The advantage, lots of replacement parts at any junkyard - by the millions, and wheels are about to bucks each from a junkyard.

Trailer tongues are also available at junkyards, and even through many local RV stores and camper world. I guess when we looked at it, we had a proven axle and spring system already made up, and an already load proven tongue set-up that was cheaper AND faster to buy than designing one that may be suspect. The rest was easy, and we wera able to concentrate on the actual "hauling needs" rather than the basics.

If you want smaller, many junkyards have old "pop-up" frames, and the axle systems are horrible easy to pull out, and the tongues are easy to grind off - might even want to take th box - did this five years back for a campground i used to help at - a pop-up got mangled when a wind storm blew a big old Cherry tree onto it. No frame damage - we turned it into the camp hauler. I got the wood from the Cherry tree doing this.

Yes, front end heavy, or it wants to pull up on the hitch.

I know it's more fun to make it, but our fun was in the actual trailer design and modifications, especially for the boat trailer (which was made for a 10 ft rowboat, and needed to be able to drop into water without a boat ramp for small bodies of water).

[This message has been edited by spope14 (edited 05-04-2005).]

05-04-2005, 11:27 PM
In 1967 at the age of 22, I bought myself a Craftsman OA outfit. I followed the easy instructions, and taught myself to weld by building a utility trailer to carry bicycles behind my "Bugeye" Sprite. I also welded the trailer hitch for the Sprite. The trailer suspension was half of a VW bus front torsion bar unit with spindles, hubs, and wheels from a Metropolitan bolted on to the trailing arms.

After many highway miles and much abuse, that trailer is currently being used by a high school booster club to carry equipment around the football field. Not too shabby for a "learning to weld" project, huh?

The largest trailer I built was a 25' by 11' "rolling drydock" to haul my boss's 28' sailboat for painting the hull. He only used it in his yard, but it did get about forty miles of highway travel when I delivered it early on a Sunday morning. I got a Craftsman buzzbox to build that one. Just follow the easy instructions.... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

There were several other trailers. One was a tilt-bed made of W-shaped highway guardrail. It fit the tires of my tractor very nicely.

Six trailers, no formal welding training, many hundreds, if not several thousand, miles of highway use and abuse. Nothing ever broke. Nobody got hurt.

As far as I know, all the trailers are still in use except for the rolling drydock. After ten years of saltwater exposure, it was mercifully cut up for scrap. One trailer was so nice that someone stole it.

So, I say: Go for it!! Those bad things only happen to a very small number of "other" people.


PS About that last paragraph, I hope you recognize sarcasm when you read it. In retrospect, I was just INCREDIBLY lucky.

05-04-2005, 11:35 PM
Winchman.. The old ford is still clicking right along, Minor body damage from using beyond what Ford INtended.

I mounted a cherry picker on the front bumper, stood that puppy up on the front wheels, then it wouldn't back up I remounted onto the rear step bumper and all is well.

We have gotten over 20 thou on it now.

Thanks buddy

05-05-2005, 04:02 AM
Glad to hear it. I hope it continues to give you good service.


Duct Taper
05-05-2005, 04:49 PM
Here's a site with free "sample" trailer plans:


05-06-2005, 09:13 PM
In one of my moments of stupidity, I built a set of spindles, and bought 3 hubs. Mounted the 3 hubs on a deck I built, and installed the spindles. I built it so that the spindles turned, and the hubs stayed stationary.
They were mounted on an 8 foot bush hog I decided to build to pull behind my 13 hp diesel tractor. Planned on using a 20 hp Wisconsin motor to power it, but the total weight was more than the tractor could stand. Guy with a bigger tractor saw it, had to have it, and I got some serious electrical work done in exchange for it, plus some cash. One of a few mistakes I made good on.
Thankfully I made a few extra spindles, because the guy hit a concrete foundation and bent one. He tried to get one built, then contacted me to find out where I got them. By this time he was willing to pay handsomely for a new one. I think I still have 3 more, so I might go ahead and built another mower, for the John Deere I just bought.
David from jax

05-06-2005, 10:09 PM
Well I think everyone has left out the most important limiting factor of homebrew trailer design,tire capacity.

15" wheels unless bought as 10/12 ply are good for 1750# each which is 3500# per axle or 7,000# for a tandem.

A good single axle design will weigh in at around #600lbs empty a tandem will tare at #950 or so.This must be subtracted from your gross wieght to give you the payload capacity of the trailer.

So if you have a 7,000lb tandem that wieghs #950 you end up with 6,050 as the payload,this also at 45 mph(read the axle tag)

There are DOT approved trailer designs availible for sale,Northern has some.

As for welding,ever look at one of the factory built trailers? I have seen many,I have fixed many too.Trailers are like anything else,quality varies greatly from make to make.

Elkhart used to be the best,seal welded structural tubing,16" tires,heavy axles and surge brakes on all wheels.A 16' tandem with a tube rail around the top last I looked was $3500.00. On the bottom end are some made with 2x3x1/8" angle iron through out and spit welded occasionaly,electric brakes on one axle,painted wood deck $900,both are rated at 7,000lbs gross.

Take a guess which one folds up first.

Here DOT means safty chains,lights and tires,tags are optional.

Now with all that said,if you want a really good axle,with a 6,000lb capacity,get a one ton either Ford or Dodge rearend with the full floating hubs.Remove the axles and chop off behind the flange.Cut the housing tubes either side of the chunk and connect the two together with a section of 3" sch 80 pipe.

What you end up with is a axle you can run with either single or dual tires,oil filled bearings and hydrualic brakes.