A Homemade Trailer That Is Bolted Together





Introduction: A Homemade Trailer That Is Bolted Together

About: museum visit pic

I had an idea that I wanted to build a Tear Drop style trailer, I wasn't sure where I would get a trailer for the base of the project so the project was on hold. I had mentioned it to one of my daughters and one day at her work place her and her colleagues were talking about trailers and she mentioned that I would like to build one, then one her colleagues mentioned that he had a partially built Reverse style Tear Drop that I could have, all I would do is pick it up at his place. I didn't have any thing to transport it on so he lent me the use of a trailer to bring it to my house. This was quite nice of him so one Saturday we drove the 100 km to his place loaded the Reverse Tear Drop shell on the trailer, tied it down and headed back to my place. We unloaded it and I returned the trailer back to him the next week.

Over winter I researched trailers and their costs and then remembered that I had a quantity of salvage square posts that I had gotten with permission from one of my former employers. So I started to plan out how to build a trailer and parts I would need and how to put it all together.

Step 1: Parts Gathering

The posts are approximately 2 inches square powdered coated steel with yellow paint and also have a corrosion resistant coating on the inside. The posts were formally used for warning signs used along a pipeline right of way. The ones I had gotten had been damaged or bent and I acquired them from the scrap steel bin.

Almost all the other parts came from Princess Auto, a store similar to Harbor Freight in the US. Princess Auto has good sales on items and I watched for what I needed and was able to get the running gear for almost half price by watching for the sales.

You may wonder about he galvanized brackets in the pictures, they are what I put the trailer together with. Their original purpose was for making a dock, using 2 x 4's or 2 x 6's, each angle bracket has a round piece with a set screw so that the dock could be adjusted depending on the water level where you build the dock. I had to cut off pieces of them so that the square posts would fit.( The nominal size of a standard 2 x 4 is 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches) that is why I had to cut part of the flanges off of the brackets because they were made to fit nominal dimension lumber. The brackets are also heavily dipped galvanized so it provides great corrosion protection.

I used grade 5 bolts through out and purchased them at TSC (Tractor Supply Company) when they were on sale.

A piece of flexible plastic conduit is used to contain the trailer lights wiring.

Step 2: Tools and Work Table

I rigged together a work platform using saw horses, a 2 x 4 frame with chip board screwed to it, it was about waist height and made it easier to lay out the frame and do the drilling of the many holes required.

Yes it's all bolted together, the only welds are on the running gear, hitch coupling and "dock" parts.

The cutting was done with an ordinary hacksaw, it may have been slower but it left a finer finish where the cut was made.

I used an electric drill with a variety of drill bits and also a stepped drill for some of the holes.

A coarse bastard file was used to dress up some of the cuts that needed it.

Step 3: Construction Details Layout

The work table that I needed had to be enlarged to completely hold the trailer frame so I made it wider and longer with some additional 2 x 4's.

I laid out the frame first, the dock fittings I used helped with squaring it up.

Next the cross members were measured, cut and added to the frame, there are three of them. two of them are strategically placed where the axle springs are going to be attached.

To figure out where the wheels should be placed I went around the netghbourhood checking out other people's utility and boat trailers as well as on line to figure out the proper placement for them.

Step 4: Construction Details Continued

Here are some shots of how the dock hardware is used.

Step 5: Construction Details Axle and Spring Attachment

The axle assembly brackets are positioned where the two rear cross members are positioned as I stated in an earlier step.

Step 6: Construction Details Additional Bracing

I had some 1 x 2 angle (from another place I've worked at) so I used it for corner bracing, I have four more pieces that I'll put on the top side of the frame at the corners.

Step 7: Construction Details Tongue Assembly

More galvanized dock parts were used to fasten the tongue assembly to the trailer frame, where it is fastened at five different points.

The point at which the trailer hitch is attached was padded up to fit the hitch frame with some 1/4 inch thick 2 x 2 aluminum angle.

I attached the hitch with three bolts, using one of the bolts is where I attached the safety chains.

Also a front adjustable wheel was installed on the tongue as well.This wheel also folds up when using the trailer.

Step 8: Construction Details Flexible Conduit for Wiring

The conduit was fastened with standard conduit clips and self tapping screws.

Also shown is one of the signs that was on one of the posts, I'll be using it to mount the license plate.

Step 9: Labeled Construction Details

To explain whats what I labeled the different pieces and their connection details.

Step 10: Construction Details : Measurements

The trailer is approximately 55 inches wide, by a 155 inches long with the tongue and a 100.5 inches long for just the platform. It stands about 21 inches above the ground.

Step 11: Final Notes

I'm pleased the way it turned out, all that is left to be done is the lights wiring, mounting the fenders and buying a license plate for it. I hope to put the RTD shell on it next year, but I may do some modification to the shell. I estimate the trailer weighs around 300 pounds. The RTD shell probably weighs around 500 pounds but I'm just guessing at that. The axle is rated at 2000 pounds.



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    20 Discussions

    I've built two teardrops, I like your ingenuity, but most of us don't have all that spare steel lying around.
    For anyone considering a teardrop or kayak hauling trailer I would recommend finding an old pop-up camper.
    Both of my teardrops ride on old pop-up camper frames.

    1 reply

    Thank you for the comment Rowerwet, If I didn't have the steel posts already, I probably would have looked for an old Tent trailer for the base. I like making do with what I have.

    1.se aprende mucho gracias

    Please consider replacing all nuts with nylock nuts or something comparable. Those free-spinning nuts will quickly vibrate loose ... even with lock washers.

    2 replies

    john pendersen

    nice work making use of what U have.

    @ JohnM954

    nylon nuts Ur talking about r also known as "aircraft" nuts. nylon keeps them from vibrating loose

    Thanks for the tip JohnM954 I've used them before for other projects, I'll have to count how many I'll need and source them.


    8 months ago

    I applaud your efforts and how you searched and acquired all the needed material. And the fact that you used what you had on hand to design and build what you needed as well. Nice effort. But I think you are now ready to buy a MIG welder and learn some much needed welding techniques. It really isn't that hard to accomplish and once you get started welding, a whole new world of ideas wakes up. It is very enjoying and satisfying. I think you can do it too. Bravo on your trailer.

    4 replies

    I do agree. Bolts have their limitations, especially beyond basic, low stress framework and I don't like using them if I can weld it. This application is about the limit in my opinion and anything more complex is open to some serious speculation. There are just some things that aren't practical with bolts, just like my wood stove I built to heat my house this winter, the only bolts on it are holding the door on haha (this includes the frame and exhaust pipes) EVERYTHING is welded, besides, with bolts, its hard to get a good seal between two flat plates at a 90 degree angle, or a tube coming out of a 2 ft square piece of sheet metal but they do make for nice pivot points, especially if one shears off. One good thing about bolts though is that the parts can be easily moved or replaced but that can also be a bad thing at 70 mph going down the road.

    What method of welding would you recommend for this job (stick, MIG, TIG). I purchased a Harbor Freight 90 amp model and I could weld 1/2 inch angle iron.

    Strictly my opinion, I'd get a MIG welder setup. Reason? A MIG (Metal Inert Gas) can basically weld everything a general shop hobbyist would ever need. I own a Hobart MIG welder, and since buying it, I have so many more projects I can enjoy building. Amazing how once you get a nice welder setup, you can think of so many welding project to make. A MIG is also the easiest type welding for a person to learn welding. A total novice can make very nice weld joints pretty quick in so little time. JMHO

    Thank you for the kind comments gm280, very much appreciated! I do know how to weld, did a little of it after work hours when I was at the pipeline, home projects and such. Also I took a night school welding course, stick and gas years ago. It was fun. Thanks again for the comments.

    How did you decide where to position the axle? Is there a standard proportion for front-to-back distances for the length of the trailer, or did you figure out based on tongue weight?

    4 replies

    I can't speak for the author, but the position of the axle on a trailer is highly related to load distribution. Trailer sway is a serious issue caused by improperly balancing the load. It looks like the author has placed the axle on the rear side of the center of the bed, which can help with sway problems, because if there is too much weight (proprotionally speaking) on or behind the axle trailers get dangerous. There is quite a bit of science-y mathematics behind it, I don't have a link ready to go for it right now though. I'll see if I can look one up.

    Hi JamesA194, The neighbourhood trailers that I found I measured the full length of the box and also the distance from the center of the axle to the back and to the front, they were proportionally the same. Which is 3/5 to the front and 2/5 of the distance to the back. I found that by looking at other trailers it gave me a few ideas of what to do. Hope this helps.

    I agree on the welding comments. Anyhow, my compliments for the bolting solution. However I am welding amateur, constructing things like this screams for welding. One pro I can mention is some kg or pounds less, concerning al the bolting parts.

    1 reply

    Thank You sierbeeld I think the bolts and hardware would add some weight as you mentioned, but on the plus side no cracked welds to worry about, I can weld but not that well. Thank you again.


    8 months ago

    Hello, nice trailer , I really like the use of dock hardware. I'm just a bit worried by the use of the aluminium part : aluminium + steel + humidity ( water ) here in Quebec means big corrosion issue because of road salt usage ; I would eventually switch this aluminium part to steel . Again, very well done.

    1 reply

    Thank you gricwk, for the comment, The dock hardware was a great find and it showed up at the right time. I agree with your comment, the aluminium may get switched out some time, but I don't plan to use it in the Winter, I know what you mean about the salt, I live in Eastern Ontario.