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Unread 08-12-2013, 07:12 PM   #766
pentaflex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armyRN View Post
Another suggestion/addition is some more flexibility in the tongue where it connects to the hitch - some sort of multi-axis hitch (or even a pintle hood/lunette ring set up). That's why I put a 2" receiver on the end of my trailer's tongue.
I like the idea of a receiver on the tongue. I plan to follow your design and do that. However, I don't think that would have helped in this case. For example, when just one trailer tire hits a big rock it puts a lot of lateral strain on the tongue (because one wheel wants to stop while the other rolls). A multi-axis hitch wouldn't help that. The key is more attachment points on the tongue, such as extending the tongue to the rear cross member or using an 'A' frame.

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Originally Posted by armyRN View Post
I don't know if the cross members on the black trailers are made of thicker metal or stronger than the ones on the red trailers. On the black they're a C-channel; on the red they're different. But after seeing these pictures I think spending a few bucks putting some reinforcements in will be money well spent.
On the red trailer frame, the side pieces are a 'C' channel and the cross members are kind of a question mark, or 'C' plus a leg. I agree; reinforcement, bracing, and more attachment points for the tongue are the answer.

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Originally Posted by armyRN View Post
Pentaflex - you might be able to just order two crossmembers for your trailer. The owner's manual that came with it should break it down by part numbers. Somewhere previously in this thread (not too far back) I had contacted HF regarding other trailer parts, and the phone number is in there.
I'll look into ordering replacement cross members. But, I'll also need to buy more steel for reinforcement as noted above. I figure I can buy a new red trailer frame with the 8" wheels for about $150 (with the 20% coupon). I also need to patch up the wiring and get a new tail light (that I broke while reattaching the tongue). As a bonus, I'll get to try the lighter springs that come with the 8" wheels. So, it depends on how much the replacement cross members are as to which route is cheaper.

If someone can point me to exact dimensions of the 'black' trailer (including location of the post holes) I would consider going to that instead, if my existing box will fit.

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Unread 08-12-2013, 08:55 PM   #767
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Originally Posted by pentaflex View Post
Epic Fail!
Ok, maybe not epic. But it could have been. It was a nasty failure none the less. Last week my little Harbor Freight-based mini expedition trailer failed me. Before I get in to the details, a little background.

Those of you who have seen my earlier posts know I drag this little trailer over some pretty rough trails. See post #215 for early pics. And you can see a short video of the type of trails I often traverse in post #335. (This video happens to be Pearl Pass.)

After last year's excursions I modified a few things, but that all had to do with the box. The frame held up great (at least as far as I could tell). You can see a video of my design choices and changes in post #638. At the start of this season, I checked all the fasteners and the general health of the trailer. The bolts on the tongue were just slightly loose, but everything else looked good.

After some mods and improvements, I took it for a short run a few weeks ago (one night out) and all seemed good. In fact I was quite pleased with everything (except the eggs that broke inside my ice chest). I even took it up to Grizzly Lake (also shown in post #638) and that trail has a tough obstacle right at the start.

Next it was time to load up for a 4-day trip into the Colorado back country. The group included two people in my TJ, two in a 4-door JK, and one in a 4Runner.

Catastrophic Failure!

We trekked out towards southwest Colorado and started up our first trail, Hayden Pass. Suddenly BANG! and the 4Runner radios "hey, I think you're dragging something!"

On this trailer, the tongue is attached in just two places, the front cross member and a middle cross member. The metal failed on the middle cross member causing the bolts to break loose (back end of the tongue). This caused the rear of the tongue to drop and drag on the ground. Fortunately, it was still attached to the the front cross member otherwise the trailer would have broke loose and slammed into the Toyota behind me. We were going up a fairly steep hill and if the tongue breaks loose there is nothing holding the trailer. This failure was dangerous.

Why did this happen?

You can see what happened in the pics below. Note that the tongue was fine. Replacing this tongue with a stronger one would not have prevented this.

I believe this failure was due to metal fatigue at the frame. The Harbor Freight trailer -- actually the brand is HAUL-MASTER -- is just not meant for the kind of punishment I subject it to. Also, this design does not use triangular braces on the tongue. Therefore, the tongue acts as a lever with the pivot point at the front cross member. Each rock I bounced over put tremendous stress on the points where the tongue attaches to the frame, more so at the back. (Imagine driving over a street curb 10 times in a row hitting first with one tire, then the other.) Over time, the metal at the rear joint (and the front joint as well) weakened until it failed, like bending a coat hanger in the same spot repeatedly. I did have more weight in my trailer this trip than previous ones (cooler, water, extra fluids for the Jeep) but I think this failure was brewing for some time.

What now?

Probably the easiest thing for me to do is buy another HF trailer and use parts from the old frame to create additional bracing. I think I can use the previous side rails to create triangle braces for the tongue. I could also add another cross brace. The more points the tongue attaches to the better, and the less it can act like a lever. All of my time and effort went into building the box, so I don't want to start over with a different frame.

However, even after it's repaired and improved I don't think I'll ever be able to use it like I had hoped. These little trailers are great on the street and on easy dirt trails, but they are just not suitable for the off-road abuse I've been subjecting mine to. And here's the other thing: even if I built a frame that could withstand anything I could throw at it, the trailer bounces too much to protect and carry things over the trails I had in mind.

That's not a criticism of these HF trailers, or of any expedition trailer. Rather, it's my realization (from lessons learned) that serious trails are not meant for trailers. I need to shift my thinking to using the trailer as a base camp, i.e. something I drop off and come back for after I'm done rock crawling.

Last words and recommendations

I've enjoyed my trailer and will continue to do so. These little trailers are great for pulling behind a Wrangler. They add a lot of space and can go any place a stock Jeep can go. If I were starting again, I would use one of the designs that has triangle bracing for the tongue. In addition to strength, it makes a handy place to attach additional storage.

The pics below show (in this order): rear cross member (view from below); broken piece; broken piece held in place with tape (view from above); front cross member after tongue unbolted (view from below); rear bolt holes in tongue (undamaged); front bolt holes in tongue (undamaged).


had this happen on mine way back when. i just replaced it with 3/8" wall, 2x3" rectangular tubing. key part is running it the whole length, from the rear cross member all the way to where the hitch mounts. i made mine a little longer than the original to make backing up a little easier. never failed after that.
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Unread 08-13-2013, 08:41 AM   #768
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentaflex View Post
I like the idea of a receiver on the tongue. I plan to follow your design and do that. However, I don't think that would have helped in this case. For example, when just one trailer tire hits a big rock it puts a lot of lateral strain on the tongue (because one wheel wants to stop while the other rolls). A multi-axis hitch wouldn't help that. The key is more attachment points on the tongue, such as extending the tongue to the rear cross member or using an 'A' frame.



On the red trailer frame, the side pieces are a 'C' channel and the cross members are kind of a question mark, or 'C' plus a leg. I agree; reinforcement, bracing, and more attachment points for the tongue are the answer.



I'll look into ordering replacement cross members. But, I'll also need to buy more steel for reinforcement as noted above. I figure I can buy a new red trailer frame with the 8" wheels for about $150 (with the 20% coupon). I also need to patch up the wiring and get a new tail light (that I broke while reattaching the tongue). As a bonus, I'll get to try the lighter springs that come with the 8" wheels. So, it depends on how much the replacement cross members are as to which route is cheaper.

If someone can point me to exact dimensions of the 'black' trailer (including location of the post holes) I would consider going to that instead, if my existing box will fit.
(I'm at the MWR tent in Kabul Afghanistan on one of their internet-access computers for those that have been deployed you can picture it...).

The trailer frame measures exactly 40" x 50" on the black trailer. So I don't think your existing box will fit.

And while the springs that come on the red trailer with the 8" wheels are lighter duty, I think that is just in relation to weight carrying capability. It has nothing to do with flexibility or suspension movement in that I think you'll still be bouncing down the trail. You might want to swap them out as I did with some much longer softer springs with a shackle at one end. It will give you more suspension movement and should decrease the jarring and bouncing you get off-road. It's a bolt-on affair, and while you're replacing frame parts it would be a good time to swap out the spring mounts and such for the longer springs. It was around page 23 I started talking about spring replacements, and I finished the project a few pages later (with pictures).

These are the springs you want if you've got a little RED 4' trailer: http://www.stengelbros.net/US-1029_p_2567.html They're 28" long, and have a combined weight capacity of 1080 lbs. But they'll give you a lot more flex than the short little slipper springs that come on these 4' trailers. If you've got a BLACK trailer, you need part http://www.stengelbros.net/US-1001_p_1688.html They're 26" long and rated a little heavier (1150 lbs. combined weight capacity), but you've got the A-frame pieces on the black trailers that require you to use a slightly shorter spring (26" vs. 28") than the RED 4' trailers if you want to keep the axle essentially where it originally was.

These springs are around $20.00 each. With mounting hardware and such you're under $100 total. I went over $100 doing mine because I replaced the square U-bolts and mounting plate for heavier duty pieces.

Here's the complete spring chart if you're interested: http://www.stengelbros.net/Eye-Eye_c_254.html

And a link to some additional pictures of the trailer suspension:

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f27/m...l#post14711779

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f27/m...l#post14939229

Once I put the axle above the new springs (still gained an inch in trailer height) I thought the factory spring/axle mounting hardware might be a little iffy (now that it was supporting all the trailer weight). So I upgraded the U-bolts and spring plate. I'm all about preventative reinforcing, and improving on the factory design. After taking the trailer to Alaska and Canada I realized I needed to do something about the stiff factory springs.

So pentaflex - while I'm sorry your trailer mega-failed you (and I'm looking forward to seeing how you make it even better), I appreciate you posting pictures and such to motivate me (and hopefully others) to spend a few bucks to reinforce where the tongue mounts to the crossmembers.
trailer-springs.2.jpg  
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Unread 08-13-2013, 10:37 AM   #769
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Originally Posted by armyRN View Post
And while the springs that come on the red trailer with the 8" wheels are lighter duty, I think that is just in relation to weight carrying capability. It has nothing to do with flexibility or suspension movement in that I think you'll still be bouncing down the trail. You might want to swap them out as I did with some much longer softer springs with a shackle at one end. It will give you more suspension movement and should decrease the jarring and bouncing you get off-road. It's a bolt-on affair, and while you're replacing frame parts it would be a good time to swap out the spring mounts and such for the longer springs. It was around page 23 I started talking about spring replacements, and I finished the project a few pages later (with pictures).

These are the springs you want if you've got a little RED 4' trailer: http://www.stengelbros.net/US-1029_p_2567.html They're 28" long, and have a combined weight capacity of 1080 lbs. But they'll give you a lot more flex than the short little slipper springs that come on these 4' trailers. If you've got a BLACK trailer, you need part http://www.stengelbros.net/US-1001_p_1688.html They're 26" long and rated a little heavier (1150 lbs. combined weight capacity), but you've got the A-frame pieces on the black trailers that require you to use a slightly shorter spring (26" vs. 28") than the RED 4' trailers if you want to keep the axle essentially where it originally was.

These springs are around $20.00 each. With mounting hardware and such you're under $100 total. I went over $100 doing mine because I replaced the square U-bolts and mounting plate for heavier duty pieces.

Here's the complete spring chart if you're interested: http://www.stengelbros.net/Eye-Eye_c_254.html

And a link to some additional pictures of the trailer suspension:

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f27/m...l#post14711779

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f27/m...l#post14939229

.
What spring would you recommend if building Jeff S's modified 4'x8' cut down larger HF trailer frame?

Thanks

John
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Unread 08-13-2013, 10:50 AM   #770
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentaflex
I'll look into ordering replacement cross members. But, I'll also need to buy more steel for reinforcement as noted above. I figure I can buy a new red trailer frame with the 8" wheels for about $150 (with the 20% coupon). I also need to patch up the wiring and get a new tail light (that I broke while reattaching the tongue). As a bonus, I'll get to try the lighter springs that come with the 8" wheels. So, it depends on how much the replacement cross members are as to which route is cheaper.
Pentaflex,

I'm not sure if it would be cheaper or not, but if you're thinking about getting a new trailer to start with, you may want to think about starting with the HF 8'x4' trailer and cutting it down to size to it your box, similar to this:

http://www.dinoot.com/building/frame-addendum

It has the A-frame tongue and support the full length of the trailer.
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Unread 08-13-2013, 05:48 PM   #771
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Originally Posted by gouacats View Post
Pentaflex,

I'm not sure if it would be cheaper or not, but if you're thinking about getting a new trailer to start with, you may want to think about starting with the HF 8'x4' trailer and cutting it down to size to it your box, similar to this:

http://www.dinoot.com/building/frame-addendum

It has the A-frame tongue and support the full length of the trailer.

My plan is to take a 8x4 trailer and cut it down and but only build a 40x50 box and make the extra area for a cooler and other stuff that might be too heavy to lift into the box. Take a piece of square tube and run the length of the trailer like Bob did.
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Unread 08-13-2013, 09:41 PM   #772
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Originally Posted by coops2k

My plan is to take a 8x4 trailer and cut it down and but only build a 40x50 box and make the extra area for a cooler and other stuff that might be too heavy to lift into the box. Take a piece of square tube and run the length of the trailer like Bob did.
Can't wait to see it!
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Unread 08-14-2013, 06:57 AM   #773
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I'm gonna jump in here and just say this is exactly why I welded my HF trailer. I didn't trust the bolts and found that through welding the entire trailer (corners, cross members, tongue, etc) that I found the week spots and beefed them up even more. The cross members were one of the main parts I thought might bend/break. I know everyone doesn't weld, and there's plenty of bolted micro-trailers out there that have not failed. But, if you do have access to a welder, I would strongly suggest that you take advantage of it. plus, my tubing that runs the entire length of the trailer is 4 sided 2x3 steel. Again welded at all points where it intersects with any other steel (i.e cross members). My welds suck, but I trust them way more than I do the HF trailer's bolts. Just my 2 cents. (my build is right below in my signature)
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Unread 08-14-2013, 08:34 AM   #774
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deuskid View Post
What spring would you recommend if building Jeff S's modified 4'x8' cut down larger HF trailer frame?

Thanks

John
As long as where the A-frame connects to the frame doesn't interfere with the spring mounts up front, I'd go with part US-1029 (the 28" long springs). They're still rated for just over half a ton; you'll never put that much in there especially if you're using it for camping and such.

I had to go with the 26" springs since a 28" spring mount would have interfered with the A-frame mount (unless I wanted to mount the axle further back on the trailer, which I didn't). The picture below shows it better than I can explain it.

But either one would be a great improvement over the factory stiff slipper springs.
trailer-suspension-done-018.jpg  
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Unread 08-14-2013, 08:41 AM   #775
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I'm gonna jump in here and just say this is exactly why I welded my HF trailer. I didn't trust the bolts and found that through welding the entire trailer (corners, cross members, tongue, etc) that I found the week spots and beefed them up even more. The cross members were one of the main parts I thought might bend/break. I know everyone doesn't weld, and there's plenty of bolted micro-trailers out there that have not failed. But, if you do have access to a welder, I would strongly suggest that you take advantage of it. plus, my tubing that runs the entire length of the trailer is 4 sided 2x3 steel. Again welded at all points where it intersects with any other steel (i.e cross members). My welds suck, but I trust them way more than I do the HF trailer's bolts. Just my 2 cents. (my build is right below in my signature)
After looking at pentaflex's epic fail, it looks like the crossmember could use a little reinforcement where it and the tongue attach (like a piece of angle iron tied into the crossmember and bolted to the tongue). I'm sure welding (and bolting) the tongue to the crossmember, and then a reinforcement piece of angle above would be the best of both worlds.

It looks like the relatively thin metal on the crossmember flexed enough so it finally broke. I don't know if welding the tongue to the crossmember would do anything about the crossmember flexing. Can't hurt/might help.

I plan on strengthening my trailer in this area when I get home.
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Unread 08-16-2013, 09:04 PM   #776
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(I'm at the MWR tent in Kabul Afghanistan on one of their internet-access computers for those that have been deployed you can picture it...).

Im at COP Sabit Qadam aka Jackson. Its in Helmand.

I had one while i was out here last year but no MWR this year.

Just a NIPR computer in my ISO that i live in. Can only see about 1/10 of all picutes
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Unread 08-16-2013, 10:25 PM   #777
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Im at COP Sabit Qadam aka Jackson. Its in Helmand.

I had one while i was out here last year but no MWR this year.

Just a NIPR computer in my ISO that i live in. Can only see about 1/10 of all picutes
Same here. I didn't get the Sniper Hill internet package, so I mainly use my NIPR computer at work. And like you, it blocks most of my pictures.

They do have an MWR here in Bagram (where I'm based out of - see Avatar) that I can take my netbook to and pull up the JeepForum to look at the pictures, but it's a PIA to do.

So to everyone out there - if you can upload pictures straight from your computer (from your Pictures folder) those of us that have strict controls on our computers are more likely to be able to view them. If you post them from something like photobucket for some other picture storing site (I'm guessing that's what you're doing - you tell me) all we get are little boxes with an "x" in them - kinda sucks.

So going through the last few pages on this thread.....

Sahara707, pentaflex, JKBender (loved the parade pictures), bobdog... your pictures come through; keep doing what you're doing.

Phoenix07013, jscherb, hcarlgolden, BSC... I get little white boxes with an "x" inside when you post a picture. So however you're posting pictures it ain't working on my government computer.

But keep the pictures coming! There are a lot of folks out there doing some really cool stuff using a 4' trailer as a base to build from.


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Unread 08-17-2013, 12:20 PM   #778
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Hello all. I posted on azcat's build page this morning and thought I'd pose a quick question over here as well. I'm building up a little 40x48 HF trailer and so far I have the floor and three walls built. However, I'm a little stuck on the tailgate. I was thinking of just building a wall and have it slide into the side walls using brackets. I just can't find any feasible options for this. I've searched Lowe's and Home Depot but can't find anything usable. If anyone has an opinion, please speak up! I've posted some pics..
imag1159_zps45a7ba3f.jpg   imag1160_zpsed0b4f71.jpg   imag1161_zps8624b57d.jpg  
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Unread 08-17-2013, 02:11 PM   #779
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Have you thought about something like this
http://www.homedepot.com/p/3-4-in-x-...3#.Ug_YERasbdk
mount it to the sides and then side the back piece down in, if not wide enough, use 2 L brackets to make the size you want.

or mount a L bracket on each side for the back to butt up to and put latches on to pull it tight after loading

put handles on the back piece to help with lifting it
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Unread 08-17-2013, 07:38 PM   #780
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Hello all. I posted on azcat's build page this morning and thought I'd pose a quick question over here as well. I'm building up a little 40x48 HF trailer and so far I have the floor and three walls built. However, I'm a little stuck on the tailgate. I was thinking of just building a wall and have it slide into the side walls using brackets. I just can't find any feasible options for this. I've searched Lowe's and Home Depot but can't find anything usable. If anyone has an opinion, please speak up! I've posted some pics..
Looks like really great progress, Looks good
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