View Full Version : Trailer Covers For Highway Use

07-06-2007, 01:39 PM
I have a small 6 x 8 trailer (3 ft. metal sidewalls) that I would like build a fabric cover for that would also work during highway use.

I am considering the "covered wagon" appproach where an internal skeleton of pipe, conduit or PVC would be mounted on the trailer and then covered by a fitted canvas(?) cover. I am planning on making the setup such that the user can dismantle and store the assembly when it
is not needed or in the way such as when a tall machine is hauled.

Issues like how high, how the skeleton would be shaped (A shaped or curved), vertical or sloped front, tie downs, etc are still in the planning stage.

Any suggestions or examples would be appreciated.



07-06-2007, 02:49 PM
I don't have a lot of good suggestions, but I'm interested in seeing if others do. I have no indoor storage for my boat, and would like some better supporting framework for a boat cover than anything I've been able to come up with so far.

However I will suggest you eliminate PVC from your consideration. ...at least as a load bearer. I made a PVC frameword once, and while handy in terms of snapping it together, it quickly started sagging (the longer, straight runs), and I abandoned that concept. Under highway use I think that problem would be MUCH worse.

What I'm now using is just three solid 1/2" plywood pieces, straight across the bottom and cut bow-shaped on top, some 18" or so high. In use I space them out at strategic positions on the boat, and lay a notched 1X4 along the top middle of the 'bows' for additional support for both the plywood pieces and for the cover itself.
This arrangement has worked well enough, but the plywood has warped considerably due to the moisture (humidity) and heat extremes underneath the cover. And they're also heavy and cumbersome. When I get one of the proverbial "rountoit's" I'm going to laminate some glued up bows with spruce or cedar straight bottom and two or three layers laminated into the curved bows.

When I bought my current P/U truck, I went shopping for a toolbox or some sort of cover. I ended up with one of the aluminum toolboxes, but in looking around I saw some nicely made removable or rollup factory made cover arrangements. You might get some useful ideas by checking out some places like that.

07-06-2007, 04:37 PM
Why don't you look into side kit parts at your local tractor trailer (flatbed) store. Side kits are posts and wood panels that fit the pockets on a trailer and they have aluminum prebent poles that span from each side to allow the tarp something to lie on. They are arched so there are no sharp edges to wear the tarp. Might not be cheap, but will last a lifetime.
David from jax

07-06-2007, 05:18 PM
TMT, have you looked into a used pickup camper shell or cap. You should be able to pick up a used one cheap. Finding the correct size might be a challange.

07-06-2007, 06:24 PM
I'll second the camper shell, good for regular use, but not too handy when you need to haul taller items that can't be laid down.

From experience, PVC works good for a short time, or for lightly loaded purposes, but when being buffeted by winds while driving, it tends to be short lived.

aluminum arches work well, but tend to be targets with the price of scrap today.

a double arch constructed of 1x2 wood with short chunks of plywood or 1x webbing between is both strong, light and durable if glued,screwed and varnished. I have built, and seen storage and work sheds for large boats built using that method, and it holds up very well even with a snow load.

I'd say go for the covered wagon look with a low arch if you have sides of any height, otherwise with the A frame you increase clearance height (and sail area) without realy increasing load height on the sides

real canvas or Sunbrella type stuff works well, not too cheap though, or keep your eyes on the sides of the freeway for one of those realy sweet tarps they use on flatbed semi trailers.