View Full Version : Building Trailers..Suggestions and Resources

02-20-2010, 08:10 PM
I am anticipating building several trailers this year.

I would like to see what others have built, what suggestions you have and what resources you recommend on trailer building.

Finally, what features of commericially or homebuilt trailers that you have seen that you thought were both good and bad?



02-20-2010, 08:22 PM
Aframe. at least two chain falls to flip it.. easier to build it upside down, then turn it over. Adjustable jack stands are your friend. Long furniture-pipe clamps are great to pull it in alignment till you get a tack.

I dislike mig welding on a trailer used on the highway, I trust arc-rod welding more.. tig more than that..

I prefer a drop axle motorcycle trailer, no springs.. I do not own one right now I sold the 4x8 to my lil brother.. it has a ramp-gate.. which is the onely thing you can see while you are backing up.. otherwise it is a zen thing backing up. Also the mesh on the ramp stabilizes it going down the interstate.. like a barn door stuck up there..

My scrapper trailer, has trailer home axle wheels and axles. I did not build it, I have however had to reweld about every joint on it.. once.. it also has no springs.. I have had 8,000lbs on it..

I don't have a good shop bandsaw.. I do have a portaband saw.. small.. well for $40 the steel supply will cut everything to specified lengths.. square... ready to weld.. saved me hours...

02-20-2010, 09:29 PM
Keep in mind that licensing can be a problem. Generally, home-made trailers are only allowed to be licensed for (iirc) a 10000 lb gvwr. If a particularly vindictive trooper pulls you over with a lathe on your home made trailer, he might be able to ticket you...

I posted this same thread on PM. These were a few things I collected:

This is what I came up with:

Total loaded trailer should be able to support 12-13 K lbs.

Must be equipped with trailer brakes.

6 bolt hubs with plenty of tire/frame clearence (or 8 bolt drop axles).

Tilt deck design - ideally it would be able to tilt and slide like a wrecker. (and then be winched/jacked back into place when loaded to 12,000 lbs)

Deck will be wooden but with two steel rails running lengthwise - thus allowing a machine to slide on the metal rails and still be able to block the base with scrap wood or fasten other things to the deck if neccessary (this is like my BIL drop-deck semi truck trailer)

D-rings and pockets on the frame rails for tarp straps/ ratchet straps/ etc

The front "bulkhead" will be extra heavy duty and include a mounting place for a winch, in order to drag a machinery onto the bed.

Pindle/Pintle hitch instead of the common ball hitch?

Chicken lights on the sides.

Trailer box to put the following supplies:
Handyman jacks, ratchet straps, chain and chain binders, come-along, tarp, tarp straps, lug nuts, spare wheel studs, machinery skates, tape, etc

The trailer will also have a place for a spare wheel and fire extinguisher.

Also wouldn't hurt to have a handy location to throw a bunch of wooden blocks and pipe rollers

Archie Cheda over on PM posted the following:

First a small legal point. When a manufacurer builds a trailer, he assigns a legal GVWR to it and in some states (CA), you cannot go over 10,000 GVWR with a class C license, even if the trailer is unladen. I discussed this with a fellow who got a $700+ fine and followed up with a CHP commercial compliance supervisor who confirmed that the factory rating was indeed written into the law. In CA the "good news" is that a home-built trailer does not (& cannot) have a factory GVWR so there is no problem. In other states (sorry not to remember which it is still possible to have trouble. In one forum post a guy related that an aggressive commercial compliance actually crawled under the trailer with a flashlight to get the manufacturer info and contacted the manufacturer to get the axle rating. The problem is that three of the common 3,500# axles add up to over 10,000 which is sometimes the "magic number". Other than this caveat, I am all in favor of the third axle. (On the other hand I personally prefer a single axle as it is very hard to "spin" a fully loaded tandem and a triple should be even worse.) (Once I spun a tandem with 7,000# GVW with my forklift in my shop -- the side force on the tire sidewalls was enough to break one of the tubeless tire beads from rim. BLAM/WOOSH -- no harm done, but it scared the *&^&*$$!! out of my wife who was standing nearby. I spun my road-roller trailer with a floor jack on the tongue -- it has only two 11.00R22.5 truck tires.)

02-20-2010, 09:39 PM
Have you tried this forum:

WeldingWeb.com (http://weldingweb.com/index.php)

I just joined as a member there and there seems to be a lot of knowledgeable folks there when it comes to welding.

Most of their trailers are for carrying welding gear (HEAVY!!!) so they tend to seem small, but still max out the GVW.

There are all sorts of trailers there though. Spend some time wandering around in the "Projects" section.


02-20-2010, 10:06 PM
i like welding web but say trailer and look out! pigpen

02-20-2010, 10:22 PM

This site shows a sweet trailer for moving a Bridgeport and more!


02-21-2010, 01:17 AM
We've had several people sk about building trailers at the school. In almost every case, they found buying the running gear and materials was nearly as expensive as buying a finished trailer with similar capacity.

Buying a commercialy-made trailer avoids the liability and registration problems of a home-built.

We have built some special-purpose trailers, but there again we probably could have modified a factory trailer for the same or less money.

Jim Caudill
02-21-2010, 11:20 AM
I'm with Winchman on this. Unless you need something unique, it's hard to beat the prices of some of these quality trailer builders. They buy in such quantities and have the fixtures, that they can knock these things out for very little more than it will take you to buy and assemble similar materials. I'm thinking American Trailers out of Elkhart makes a really nice open trailer (not sure of the name right now).

As far as suppliers for "rolling your own", I'd look at Croft Trailer Supply (they are online), Dexter axles out of Elkhart, IN, and Champion Trailer Parts Co out of Slidell, La. They pretty much have the components and the prices.

Some years ago, I looked at building my own rack for storing raw metal stock. I drew it up, created a bill of materials, and started pricing. I found I could get one similar, shipped to me, for less than buying the steel pre-cut.

02-21-2010, 12:01 PM
If you can, buy from Elkart. They have some of the highest unemployment in the US. they were big on RV's and conversions and RVs are not big on recessions. 1 axle sale keeps two parents from eating their children.

I like a tongue jack, strong treated lumber floor, and a big expanded steel fold up ramp that can drop flat on the bed for unloaded highway. Mine's 7 x10 2000 lb, I think, nice size for home improvement, landscaping, hauling car parts. It was $800 at Menards.

02-21-2010, 12:12 PM
Oh... I forgot to mention.. larger trailers require break-away kits for the brakes. A battery and relay to put on the brakes. I had to do a lil dance to get a dmv plate to rivet onto it. NOW, it's legal.. the results.. when you apply for the dmv plate, "someone is responsible" for the construction of the trailer if it falls apart and hurts someone.. 2x4 wood tongues and donkey carts should not be pulled on the highway.

House trailer axles are outlawed in various states..

I have been searching for several 3/4 ton hubs to cut off, pulle the axle plate, nip the axle housing right behind it and you got a 8 lug hub easy to find rims for..

Can't afford to buy them, so they have to be off a scrap vehicle. Those will replace my trailer axles on my scrapper trailer.

Rookie machinist
02-21-2010, 12:31 PM
One other thing keep track of all your recipts for the project, some states will require you to prove you built it and its not stolen.

02-21-2010, 01:12 PM
First check the law in your state,the DOT or DOPS is the place to start.In Mississippi where I am you can build your own and license it.The state will issue you a title only requiring you to stamp an ID number on the frame in several places.

That said,it's licensed as a home built and it becomes your liability.

I have built 4 trailers for myself a 6x10 single axle,a 6x14' tandem a 7x16' tandem and a four wheel log wagon.

The 6x10 has a tilt built into the tongue that uses a long ram jack to tip the trailer up until the tail touches ground.Handy feature for moving machines.

For the decks I used treated 2x10's and routed a 1/4x3/4" deep groove in the edge of each piece.I used a 1/4x1-1/2" flatbar in the grooves to act as a spline.The deck is bolted to the cross members through the spline making for a solid deck.

Weld on D- rings are a must,one on each corner and how ever many down each side.

Disc brakes are nice and easy to do now a days,a surge coupler,some hat rotors and a few brackets and your in business.


02-22-2010, 12:39 AM
Anyone else?

Anyone want to post pictures of their favorite trailers?


02-22-2010, 01:15 AM
You asked for it, TMT:


02-22-2010, 05:00 PM
One of the projects I am considering requires a lightweight trailer.

Any opinions as to the trailers that Harbor Freight sells?


Dr Stan
02-22-2010, 05:52 PM
Any opinions as to the trailers that Harbor Freight sells?

Just my general opinion (low) of HF products.

One can Google trailer plans and find several sites that sell plans that have been approved by a PE. That will help with (not eliminate) the liability issues.

I used the front spindles off a early 70's GMC 1 ton with disk brakes for my 6 X 8. Load tested it with six 55 gallon drums of water. :D

Your Old Dog
02-22-2010, 06:07 PM
One of the projects I am considering requires a lightweight trailer.

Any opinions as to the trailers that Harbor Freight sells?


I've seen it in their store. It's pretty flimsy in my opinion and it looked like the same guy who smeared bird droppings all over my engine lift put it together too.

I think it's hard to beat the 4x6 tilt bed that TSC sells. I brought my mill home on it, moved a large portion of our home in it along with my pickup and it does double duty as a lawn trailer with my riding mower to clear out brush. $350.00 I think they are now. I got mine 6 years ago for $299.00 and it's held up very well outside. I put in a temporary tongue extension so I can haul my little 14 foot john boat to the lake with it. I can remove the extension in a few minutes if I need it back normal.

02-22-2010, 08:02 PM
I am anticipating building several trailers this year.

whats the use?, why multiple?

02-22-2010, 08:33 PM
whats the use?, why multiple?

So I can go by the name of Too_Many_Trailers? ;<)

Well the truth is that I need...

1) a small trailer that can be folded and set vertically stored in a storage garage.

2) a medium trailer that will be used to transport a small storage shed from spot to spot occasionally.

3) a medium trailer for machine transportation (for tight spaces)

4) a medium enclosed trailer for gun shows

5) maybe a couple more based on some emerging ideas.

For me it will likely be the Year of the Trailer...and trailers are just one more specialized tool.


02-22-2010, 09:07 PM
My joke photo might be less of a joke than I thought. Look for a clapped out mobile home trailer for your machine hauler frame and axles. They come in all lengths, but for hauling heavy machines, you might want a big trailer park type home to cut down. A lot of people build car haulers from those.

02-23-2010, 03:24 AM
Many states have regulations that do not allow using mobile home axles for other types of trailers.

I found this on another forum:

Re: Mobile home axles outlawed?
From Dexter Axles

AXLES - Can mobile home axles be reused?
The Dexter MH (mobile home) type axle is designed for limited usage in the delivery of manufactured homes and has a one-time limit use. The axle has steel forged spindles that are not precision ground. The brake assembly is welded onto the beam and not intended to be field replaced. Additionally, the bearing package is smaller than the more expensive service type axle. Most MH axles are also equipped with a single leaf spring suspension for very heavy loads. We do not have components that would convert MH axles to servicable assemblies.

04-10-2010, 01:24 PM
Looking for websites that discuss trailer BUILDING...got any?