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Unread 09-17-2007, 05:54 PM   #1
lupinsea
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2001 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Kenmore, WA
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Harbor Freight Folding Trailer: Modification / Write-up / Review

Ok, finally finished with the Harbor Freight trailer project. Here's a write up that I mentioned I'd post.

EDIT: All of the links in this thread broke so I've tried to fix it after several JF members have sent PMs asking about the pix. Due to a move to a new computer a couple years ago I lost some of the original images. I've attempted to recreate some by modeling up the trailer frame in 3D and reconstructing other images. I hope it is enough to help clarify the thread again.




Harbor Freight Folding Trailer Project








CONTENTS

1) Vehicle Setup
2) Overview / Performance Review
3) Assembly / Fabrication Process
4) Resources



1) VEHICLE SETUP BEFORE INSTALL

The trailer can be used with a stock Jeep provided it has the following:

- trailer receiver and 1 7/8" tow ball
- 4-wire flat plug trailer wiring harness



2) OVERVIEW / PERFORMANCE REVIEW

Overview:
The Harbor Freight folding trailer is a light-duty, bolt-together utility trailer with a 1,450 lb. GVWR rating. With the trailer weight itself around 275 lb. this yeilds a usable cargo limit of 1,175 lb. While not great this trailer does offer several benefits to the Wrangler owner:

- Improved cargo volume capacity
- Compact storage solution when not in use
- Relatively inexpensive cost.

With some modifications this becomes a good (not great but good) compact trailer kit at budget prices.

Improved Cargo Volume:
The primary benefit seen in the Harbor Freight trailer is the ability for the Jeep owner to carry things such as 4x8 sheets of plywood, lumber, yard debris, general junk, an ATV or motorbike, or other bulky items that cannot otherwise fit inside the Jeep.

The load weight capacity of the trailer is not great and at 1,175 lb. for the kit with the 12" wheels it's slightly more than half the Wrangler's rated towing capacity of 2000 lb.. The actual total capacity one gives up when getting the Harbor Freight trailer is approximately 475 lb. when compared to a typical 2000 lb. GVWR rated utility trailer with a load capacity of 1650 lb.

Compact Storage:
For home owners short on storage space the trailer can fold up and store in 1/6th the area of an equivalent 4x8 utility trailer. Unfolded the trailer measures approximately 12 ft long x 5.25 ft wide. Folding reduces the foot print to a 2 ft x 5.25ft area. With the modifications made to the trailer, it can be folded up in a matter of 2-3 minutes without tools. The trailer also features built-in "feet" and casters so it can be rolled into storage once folded.

Cost:
Typicall the trailer kit sells for $300 from Harbor Freight Tools. However, it occasionally goes on sale for $240 which was the price the author acquired it for. This price gets you a rolling, street-legal trailer chassis and includes:

- all frame steel
- axle
- std 1" bearings / hubs
- wheels
- springs
- fenders
- hitch and safety chaings
- grade 8.8 metric hardware w/ nyloc nuts
- wiring and lights
- complete instructions
- VIN plate number
- manufacturer's certificate

What it does NOT get you is the plywood deck, deck hardware, receiver mount and ball hitch, trailer receiver (steel bar on tow vehicle), license and registration, ratchet straps, tarps, bungee cords, or any "extras" you might want to add (which the author did, more later).

All told the cost nearly doubles when everything else is factored in. Still economical, but not the best $$$ : GVWR ratio.

Some places sell axle upgrade kits (hubs, axles, wheels, etc.) but these can end up costing close to the cost of the entire trailer kit and are not a good "value" in this author's opinion. If you want a stronger trailer, get a pre-made, fully-welded trailer for $600-700 dolars. If you want a cheap(er) trailer that can fold up, get this one.

Extras and Modifications:
The trailer kit is "fine" as-is from Harbor Freight and likely to offer good service. However, after looking the kit over prior to purchase it was felt that some modifications would go a long way to make this a better trailer. They are:

- welding the frame
- improve hinges
- devise tool-less folding process
- add tie-down points
- add latches for fold-up storage

Usage / Foldability:
The trailer tracked down the highway in a very controled manner with minimal bouncing and hopping when empty. Qutie surprising since the springs are stiff. With a load the Jeep had no problem towing and again the trailer tracked nicely with only the roughest bumps to cause a slight hop. Given the stiff suspension, it's not certain adding shocks would do much good.

Folding the trailer was a snap once the modifications were made. Just undo the latches, fold the rear section over the front, un-couple the hitch and tilt the trailer onto its casters, then remove two pins and fold the tongue down. That's it. Total time: 2-3 minutes. Without the latch modification a pair of wrenches are required to undo four bolts, two on each side, that secure the rear section in the down position. Getting the wrenches and unbolting everything could add another 10-15 minutes on each end of a towing operation.

Rattles:
Not surprisingly there was some rattling from the folding chassis. It was difficult to eliminate all rattles in such a cheap kit. However, most of them are coming from 2 locations, one is the receiver mount that fits into the tow bar on my Jeep. The tolerances are a bit loose here but it "works". The other point is the attachement for the trailer tongue. The tongue mounts in four places: two bolts that act as the hinge pivot points and two hitchpins with sping clip retainers that can be quickly popped in or out for folding. Again, this is due to the tolerances. Perhaps some sticky sided foam/rubber might quiet this down. Or just live with the noise, which happens only over rough patches of road.

Durability: Since I originally posted this build thread I've used the little HF trailer quite a bit over the last 4 years. There have been several hauls made with the trailer maxed out on weight and it's come through just fine. This includes a full loads of concrete form panels, crushed rock, concrete chunks, dirt, old sod, and lots of construction debris. I try to carefully calculate the weight of the load and then not exceed the 55mph posted limit when it's maxed out. For lighter loads I have no issues traveling at 60mph. So far the trailer is in excellent mechanical condition.

Conclusion:
The Harbor Freight folding trailer is an acceptable, light duty utility trailer which lives up to its price point well. It offers a rather complete rolling chassis, instructions and documentation need to get it street licensed. When needed it can haul bulky cargo and fold up for compact storage when finished with the hauling task. Just don't expect world class performance from this model and keep in mind that no amount of modification can overcome the basic load limitations of the trailer. The author views it as a good pre-cut weld-together trailer kit.



3) ASSEMBLY / FABRICATION PROCESS
For the "normal" kit assembly everything is straight forward and the instructions are surprisingly clear and well written. However, for some of the above modification some extra steps were taken.

Preping the Steel:
Loosely fit the frame steel pieces together. Start with the main front section. Observe where welding will be done and grind the paint off to bare steel within 1" surrounding these areas (Fig 3). While the grinder is out knock down the sharp corners of the spring mounts, and other tabs and sharp edges (Fig 3). This will make it safer to manipulate.

Bolt First, True Frame, Then Weld:
Next, bolt the front frame section together with the supplied hardware to hold it while welding. Losely attach it until all the pieces are in then start snugging things down. Before welding the pieces make sure the frame is trued up and square by checking diagonal measurements (fig 1). If the diagonals measure out the same then the frame is square. If not, keep adjusting until they are equal.

Once things are true, start tack welding pieces together to keep the frame from shifting. Next go back and finish welding the connections. Once the front section is done fit the tongue pieces into place after grinding and prepping the steel), again keeping things loosely bolted together (Fig 2). And again the typical snug-the-bolt-down, tack weld, then weld procedure.


Fig. 1 - Square up the frame by measuring diagonally across each section.



Fig. 2 - Fit tongue to the front frame section before welding
to ensure proper fitment, the legs of the tongue need to be set
with in close tolerance to the sides of the frame.



Fig. 3 - Frame modification details showing prepped steel,
rounded corners on tabs, and welded connections.


The procedure is the same for the three primary frame sections: the front frame comprising the square frame spring perches, and caster feet, the rear frame which is a basic square, and the tongue.


Fig 4. - Ultimately, both frame sections need to be square. And the
tongue legs adjusted in or out for good fit before everything is welded.


Modified Hinges:
The stock hinges are functional but flimsy. They are cheap stamped pieces of sheet metal with a bolt and nut as the hinge pin and operate in a single-shear application. The big concern was the poor tolerance of the hinge and it's single-shear nature and how this might work against the bolt holding it all together.

After being unable to located a pre-made hinge thin enough and of the proper design, the proposed alternative (Fig 5) was to fabricate a new hinge with a double-shear design that places minimal stress on the bolt. However, there were a number of factors that needed to be accounted for. There needed to be enough clearance so that when the trailer folds it does not bind up on the decking, it needs to be strong, preferably of higher tolerance, it needed to accomodate the width of a sheet of plywood, and finally it needed to be buildable by the author's skills and home equipment.


Fig. 5 - Sketch of stock and proposed hinge. Note the
distance from frame to hinge centerline is 1". This allows plenty of
clearance for the 3/4" plywood deck and carriage bolt heads.


The main body of the hinge was constructed out of 1 1/2" steel flat stock in 1/4" and 1/8" thicknesses. One side of the hinge was a basic 1/4" thick piece. It's shape was determined by careful measurement with a carboard template against the trailer. The other side was made of a shorter 1/4" piece sandwiched by two 1/8" pieces with about 1/4" of space to allow for some over exension of the hinge if needed (180* + of movement). The pieces were cut to length fist, the centers of the pin holes were found and marked with a punch and then drilled on a drill press to fit a 1/2" O.D spacer with a 3/8" I.D. opening found at the local home improvement store in their specialty hardware department. Next the corners were rounded off. The spacer was then inserted and all the pieces loose fit and clamped together. Finally, the 1/8" ears were welded to the shorter 1/4" piece (Fig 6). The spacer was cut to fit just slightly longer than the hinge assembly was wide. A 3/8" x 1.25" bolt, washers, and nylock nut sandwiched the spacer (now hinge pin) in the hinge assembly. By making the spacer slightly longer than the hinge was thick the bolt could be properly torqued down without binding the actual hinge. All radial load is taken up by the steel spacer. The bolts sees very little force at all and simply keeps the pin from slipping out. While the hinge looked crude, the tolerances were very tight and surprised the author.


Fig. 6 - Modified hinge assembly and components


Finally, the hinges needed to be welded to the frame section. Careful fitment of the frame pieces together and some steel spacers and clamps kept things in place until the pieces could be tack welded.

Note: it is of particular importance to get the proper spacing on the ENTIRE hinge assembly so that the trailer can accept a 4x8 sheet of plywood flat on its deck. That is, the bolt head, washer and hinge face need to have approximately 48 3/8" of clearance between each side. This required building up the hinge mounting location with steel shims and welding the whole she-bang together.

Hinge Alternatives:
Given the pain in the neck nature of fabricating hinges, if I were do do this project over again I might just pick up some heavy duty gate hinges and welded them between the two frame sections. The center of the barrel of the hinges would need to stick up above the trailer deck slightly, about 1/8" - 1/4", but that might be an acceptable trade off for an easier and more accurate hinge assembly.



[ . . . cont . ]

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Unread 09-17-2007, 05:56 PM   #2
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[ . . . cont. ]




Tiedowns and Stake Pockets:
The HF trailer kit provided hardware to bolt the stake pockets to the side. However, with the grinder and welder handy it was a simple matter to remove paint and zink coatings, then weld the pockets onto the side of the frame.

Likewise, tie down anchor points were also added. These were created with 1/2" thick eye-bolts sourced from the home improvement store. The threads were knocked down with the grinder and then the eyes were welded to the side of the frame (Fig 7) making sure that there'd be enough opening to get a ratch strap hook in there once the decking was installed.


Fig. 7 - Note tiedown anchor points and stake pockets welded to frame.


Barrel Latches:
Besides welding the frame, the barrel latches were the other big improvement to the kit as they allow the trailer to be folded without using any tools at all. Otherwise, a pair of wrenches would have been needed to remove/add 4 bolts everytime the trailer was folded or unfolded.

The largest barrels latches that could be found were sourced again from the home improvement store and had a nearly 1/2" thick bolt. The latches were pinched in a bench vice to bend the plate steel and take out more of the inherent slack and looseness. Finally, material was trimmed from the length of the latch plates to match the width of the main frame rails.

The modified barrel latches were then welded onto the folding rear frame section (Fig 8) so that when locked in place the barrel bolt extended over the angle iron leg holding the caster feet of the front section. Some steel rod was welded to the side to reduce slack still furthr. The result was a surprisingly tight tolerance latch. No wiggle or rattle could be heard and yet the rear section could be unlatched in a number of seconds without tools.

Safey clevis pins with spring clips are inserted through the hole in the back of the barrel latch to keep it from backing out.


Fig. 8 - Barrel latch assembly to secure rear folding frame


Final Touches:
Finally, some nuts were welded to the inside of the c-chanel frame to route the wiring harness. Then the frame was cleaned up, hit with primer, then painted. After the paint dried the wiring harness was installed with the trailer lighting. Remember to leave enough slack in the wiring to allow movement of the folding sections (Fig 9). The fenders also needed to be trimmed to fit around the modified hinges (Fig 10).

Also, some screen door latches were installed on the side of the frame rails with a matching eye bolt on the other end of the trailer frame. This allowed the folded halves of the trailer to be latched and secured when the trailer is stored upright (Fig 11).

A test "run" showed that the trailer could be folded and unfoled without tools in about 2-3 minutes and demonstrated the proof of concept for all the modifications (Fig 12).



Fig. 9 - Enough slack is left at key points to prevent wire
binding. Nuts hold harness onto frame.



Fig. 10 - Fender trimed to clear hinge. Note clearance from hinge
bolt to plywood decking.



Fig. 11 - Latch to keep both halves of the
trailer together when stored upright.



Fig. 12 - Trailer folding sequence. Time: 2-3 min without tools
1. Trailer in "use" state (unfolded)
2. Throw barrel latches, lift rear frame section
3. Fold and secure rear section, lift trailer to upright
4. Balance trailer upright on it's casters
5. Fold down tongue
6. Done, ready to store


The last thing to be installed was the plywood deck. A 3/4" piece of CDX was used and pre-cut at the home improvement store on one of the last materials runs. The edges were rounded down with a palm sander and each 4x4 half was set in place, clamped down, then marked on the underside with a pencil through the frame holes. The holes were drilled and 3x8" x 1 1/2" lag bolts with nylock nuts used to bolt the deck to the trailer frame (Fig 13).



Fig 13. - The finished trailer in use. The rototiller definitely wouldn't
have fit in the Jeep. It's good to finally have some cargo
capacity with the TJ.



Fig. 15 - The trailer folded up and in storage on the side of the house.





4) RESOURCES

Harbor Freight.com - "HD" 1175 lb. foldable utility trailer with 12" wheels.

Material Volume/Weight Specs - California Integrated Waste Management Board. This is a good resource for caculating the weight of common loose materials such as soil, gravel, etc. Some measurements are given in cubic yards. To calculate cubic ft multiply cubic yards by 27. Or to get cy divide cu ft by 27

Example:
1 cu yd = 27 cu ft
so
2500 lb. per cy of material / 27 = 92.6 lb. / cf

Example 2:
trailer weight limit of 17 cf of XYZ material

17 cf / 27 = 0.63 cy

Material / Weight Calculations
As noted earlier the HF trailer's load is on the light-duty side and it is very easy to quickly exceed this limit with denser materials such as dirt, gravel or concrete if one is using the trailer for various home improvement projects. A couple easy formulas and about 2 minutes of math will help you figure out how much material to fill up your trailer with.


To calculate the amount of materials the HF trailer can haul:

[payload] / [material cu ft weight]
[32 sf area of trailer bed] x 12



Example: Gravel
1200 lb. / 100 lb./cu ft = 12 cu ft of gravel the trailer can haul

12 cu ft / 32 sf of trailer bed area =0.375 ft (depth of material in trailer in ft)

0.375' x 12" = 4.4" deep <-- How high to fill the trailer w/ given material


Common material quantity limits for the HF trailer: 1200 lb. +/- payload (1450 GVWR)

Gravel Loose = 100-120 lb. / cu ft (dry to wet)
12-10 cf (~1/3 cu yd)
Fill trailer 3.5" - 4.4" deep

Earth (dirt) dry to moist) = 70-80 lb. / cu ft
17-15 cf (~1/2 cy)
Fill trailer 5.5" - 6.25" deep

Earth, Mud = 104-112 lb. / cu ft
11 cf
Fill trailer ~4" deep



Example 2: Sacks of Concrete
Picking up sacks of concrete mix for a patio project:

1200 lb. payload / 60 lb. sacks of pre-mix = 20 bags of concrete / load

Note that a Jeep with driver can only carry about eight 60 lb. bags of concrete
until the GVWR is reached assuming a, er, heavier driver and some offroad
goodies such as a winch and armor have been added.






5) UPDATE . . .

The Harbor Freight trailer has been used for the past several months since the basic trailer was finished. In that time I've picked up sheets of plywood and lumber, a big armoire (really BIG), constructed side-panels, and with the side panels on, used the trailer to haul a load of trees and ferns as well as ~ 20 cy of sod from a lawn replanting project around the house. So far the trailer has performed admirably.

On the road it tracks well and is well mannered over bouncy sections of road (surprising considering there are no shocks). When empty the trailer rattles but this is not surprising considering how "loose" the chassis is from the folding tongue and 2" ball in the bumper receiver socket.

When loaded things are much quieter.

I've hauled about 15 loads that approached the trailer's max weight rating (1100-1200 lb. (1450 lb. gvwr)) and everything checks out ok. No problems with anything bending, flexing or deforming. And the wheel bearings and hub have always felt cool to the touch, even after doing 60 mph for 30 min stretches on the freeways.

With the modifications documented in this review I can go from a folded up position to ready to haul stuff with side panels on in about 5 minutes. All without the use of any tools. Folding the trailer back up for storage takes about that time, too. Half of this process is simply dropping the side panels on and futzing with the clevis spring pins. The trailer itself goes from storage to usable in maybe 2 1/2 -3 minutes.




Some notes and added photos:

Side Panels:
To make the trailer more useful side-panels are great (Fig 16). They allow the flat deck to be boxed in to hold more "stuff." Unfortunately, due to the trailer's basic dimensions this poses some difficulties. The trailer frame is 48 3/8" wide so adding 1x4 lumber to 2x4 upright stakes (typical) would cut the inside clearance width down to ~46 3/4". Which was too narrow for packing plywood sheets flat (my goal). Like the hinge this required something different.

Instead, I opted for 5/4 x 4 verticle stakes that measure out to 1" thick. The side panels were made from 2 ft wide x 8 ft plywood pieces. The panels were set against the side of the stake pockets with the pocket locations transfered to the plywood. A jigsaw was was then used to cut out sections of the lower edge of the plywood so that I ended up with two ~ 3.5" x 3.5" tabs that would slot into the pockets. Further cuts were made over the tie-down loops and the triangular shaped hinge.

The plywood panels were set into the pockets and the 1" x 3.5" (5/4 x 4) verticle stakes were smeared with a waterproof construction adhesive slid into the pockets, too. The two pieces of wood were then screwed together.

By bonding the 5/4 x 4 pieces to the plywood I regained an effective structural depth of 1 5/8", or slightly thicker than a normal 2x4 wood stake. However, this method also made sure that I retained the 48 3/8" clear width for plywood hauling.

The front and rear panels were made in a similar fashion except that they extended 49"+ to cover the end of the side panels.



Fig 16 - This was the most weight I've had in the HF trailer,
probably over it's limit. But it held up just fine.



Corner Brackets and Clevis Pins:
The last two pieces to this puzzle were corner brackets that allowed the panels to slip into place and then interlock together. And some cotter hitch pins to hold the panels in the pockets.

The brackets were installed in such a way that the front and end panels would have to be pulled out first, then the side panels could be removed (Fig 17). This allows the rear panel to be lifted up and out for easy rear access for pitching out anything hauled in the trails (going to the dump for instance). It also means you only need the cotterpins on the end panels since they hold the side panels down.



Fig 17 - Trailer with side panels installed and a load of sod. This was as
much sod as the trailer could carry before hitting the weight limit.
Carefully make your calculations before hauling heavy loads.
Also note the corner brackets that easily fit together without tools.






Caster Disintegration:
The stock 2" casters did fall apart on me and required replacement. An uneven section of driveway on the side of my house was the culprit. The small wheels kept getting hung up in some dents and undulations that eventually caused the main bolt/axle/bearing race to deform. All four casters were replaced with 2" casters from Lowes. While also made in China, the replacement casters were much beefier with stronger main bolt, bigger bearing race area, thicker steel for the body of the caster and rubber wheels instead of all-plastic. I think they'll hold up significantly better. Total cost $20 for all four.

Everything else, however, is holding up juuuust fine. I don't exepect significant maintenance issues.





UPDATE 2 - After 4 Years
It has been about four years since I posted this thread and in that time I've found I've been using the little HF trailer at least once a month on average. Having the capacity of a compact pick-up truck makes owning a Jeep that much more feasible for a home owner. And it means we don't HAVE to get a pick-up truck for our household fleet.

The trailer saw the greatest use this summer when I built a back yard shed. It was pressed into service hauling a lot of construction debris from the old shed demolition, hauling materials for the new shed, and picking up heavy form panels for the foundation. In between it's also be used to pick up a lot of furniture for my son's room as he transitions out of his baby furniture to big boy furniture. The trailer has also be used to help family move.

I have no doubt that welding the frame has greatly contributed to the trailer's durability and longevity. It still rattles a bit but it's not bad. Nothing unexpected from a folding chassis design.

As for wear and tear, the only problem I have had was a sheared off zerk fitting for one of the hubs (my fault). $2 later and it was fixed. I also repacked the hubs and bearings with grease. This trailer kit has most definitely performed and fulfilled my needs and then some. I love this thing.

But again, it works very well for me because of it's ability to fold up. If you don't need such a feature then I'd still advise a more rigid chassis in a non-folding design.
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Last edited by lupinsea; 04-08-2008 at 01:35 PM..
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Unread 09-18-2007, 12:01 PM   #3
Indy
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Holy overkill batman!

That's a ton of extra work for a light duty trailer. I've had the same one for years now and beat the living snot out of it, including dragging it fully loaded (900'ish pounds) for over a mile where the road ruts were too deep for the wheels to touch. So far the only repairs needed has been a couple tail-lights (I've run them over more than once) and my decking is finally falling apart (used cheapy indoor stuff). Haven't even had to retorque a bolt yet.

Most hardware stores will carry clevis pins to replace the bolts you have to remove to fold it. Cost $.50 each.

Still gotta give a for the work involved.

*edit* as a side note, if you're not going to fold it up very often pull the caster bars off. They kill what little ground clearance the trailer has.
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Unread 09-18-2007, 12:13 PM   #4
Cyclops62
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Very cool!!! Great wright up
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Unread 09-18-2007, 05:31 PM   #5
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Thanks a lot for this write-up. I've been in the market for a trailer (primarily been looking used) and like the idea of this one folding up. Next time I get a 15% off coupon in the harbor freight flyer, I'm going to have one of these.
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Unread 09-18-2007, 07:08 PM   #6
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Or you can buy this one: already assembled, (completely welded), 2000 pound GVW, for 350 bucks at tractor supply! Kudos on the right-up!

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Unread 09-18-2007, 10:31 PM   #7
lupinsea
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Yeah, what ^ he said.

I like the HF trailer because it can fold up and if you're tight on space I'd suggest it. But otherwise nearly any other trailer would be better. Not saying that the HF trailer is worse but there are compromises by having it fold up (weight limits, flex in the traielr chassis, etc.)

Still, cool. Thanks for the responses.
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Unread 09-20-2007, 01:45 PM   #8
.apollodorus.
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post some more sketches

nice drawings
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Unread 09-20-2007, 03:23 PM   #9
dooboy2112
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Nice work on your HF Trailer, I would like to weld mine up like yours.

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Unread 10-07-2007, 01:11 AM   #10
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Wow! Very nice write-up Jay. Nothing like an Architect to be very thorough in his design. I like the welding idea seems a lot more solid than the stock bolts. I like the little drawing diagram, did you draw that up on a Stylus Sketch Pad?

I was looking to do something similar. My parents used to be dependent on my Silverado I used to have. We were doing a lot of landscaping and projects around the house and needed to haul some dirt, bark, gravel and wood. I figured i could tow around some small loads around town with my Jeep and a similar trailer to yours. I saw a few at a local Lowes. My father ended up buying a new F-150 instead.
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Unread 10-08-2007, 03:54 PM   #11
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Cool. . . . It'd be nice to get an F-150 (or other full-size truck) but the wife didn't want another vehilce around the house (and I wasn't too keen on the idea, eitehr) with the maintenance and insurance it'd require.

So, are you still looking at trailers for yourself or just planning on borrowing your Dad's truck when you need it?

Anyways, additions to the trailer since the original post:

Eye-hooks: As designed, when the trailer folds up there's no way to keep the back portion from flopping open unless you hook up some bungee cords or something. Since I want the trailer to be "self sufficient" I bolted on some "eye hook" latches from the home improvement store. These ar those screen-door-type latches with an eye-screw on one side and a bent "wire" hook on the other. When the trailer is foled up and the two sections meet at the top the hooks keep things together for storage. No worries about misplacing bungie cords (which can stretch out and throw off the trailer's folded-up balance.


Next up will be side-boards.
I'll be going with a 5/4 x 4 side-stakes (1" x 3.5")screwed and bonded to a 5/8" plywood sheet. This creates a 1 5/8" thick "foot" and takes out a lot of slop in the stake pocket. Plus, by doing this, I'll preserve the 48 3/8" internal dimensions of the cargo area while still having a 2x4's worth of effective wood thickness for the vertical stakes. Stay tuned. May be a few weeks before I get to this.
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Unread 10-09-2007, 03:11 PM   #12
mrese
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1999 WJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Clarksville, TN & St Louis, MO, Tennessee
Posts: 431
I have one bought from another discont retailer several years ago(10 maybe even) have 3-5000 miles on it mostly with camping stuff and a go cart, I have tieghted things on it but other wise a great trailer.

But I do like your ideas for improvements!!!!
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'99 WJ Limited 4.7 K&N Filter CB 3" IRO
302, 000 miles
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Unread 12-03-2007, 12:03 PM   #13
Glenn J
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2003 WJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Wallingford, CT
Posts: 12
Sorry to bump this, I haven't been on in awhile.

Very impressive writeup! I have basically the same trailer. I used to fold it up and keep it in our shed, but it took up way too much space. I've actually had a lot of luck with putting it under a tarp and parking it on some old 12"x12" pavers. While the "stock" finish is so-so in spots, it's help up pretty well to sitting outside.

Nice job in the wire guides, the stock ones are craptastic at best. The hinge is a nice touch too. I had to remove some of the decking to get it to fit properly around the hinge area.

I did the side rails myself. I just used some basica 2x4 material they had at the depot along with some 1x4s for the horizontal bits. I'd be surprised if it cost me $20 to build those sides.

I have noticed that they don't sit that tight in the stake pockets like you mentioned. I used a few 90 degree angle brackets to hold the side parts to the front part. Also, for the rear section, I bought some clevis pins. I mainly use this trailer to haul my ATV. It's a lot easier to pull the pints and lift out the rear gate, rathan than unblolting it.

All in all, these are great little trailers for the money. I've had mine for about 2-3 years now. All it requires is a little grease in the zerk fitting and some in the hub every spring.

Pic:



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Unread 12-03-2007, 04:18 PM   #14
lupinsea
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2001 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Kenmore, WA
Posts: 3,586
Ok, just updated and edited the review above. The gist of it:

Hauled everything from a load of trees, to sheets of plywood and lumber, to a massive armoire, and about 15 loads of sod with each load being ~1200 lb. The trailer has held up just fine and the hubs have been nice and cold after 55-60 mph segments of the trip on the freeway that lasted 30+ minutes each. There is now probably 1500 miles on the trailer

Added side panels, added the screen door latches.

An 8x10 ft tarp with four 48" bungie straps to keep the tarp down works as a nice cover set up for any trash hauling (Washington state has some severe cover-your-load laws).

The 4x8 trailer size works out as a great compliment to our small Jeeps. It tracks well and is quite manouverable.

The difficult part is remembering to keep the speed down to the 55 mph range. Even with a full load on the trailer the Jeep could easily have gone 70+ mph on the flats.

Photos from the added updated above:



Hauling 1200 lb. of sod.



Front and rear panels slip out with special corner brackets
designed for use easy of use. These end panels are what hold down the
bigger side panels



3/8" bolts with a hold drilled in them with a spring clip are used in lieu of
actual bolts or screws. This allows the panels to be set up and taken down
without any tools.
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Unread 12-04-2007, 10:42 AM   #15
Glenn J
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2003 WJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Wallingford, CT
Posts: 12
Nice work! The pannels look good!

I agree, the size of this trailer is nice. My WJ has the 4.0 in it, so I light trailer fits the bill nicely.
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