NumbLost's Trailer Design & Build -
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-09-2019, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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NumbLost's Trailer Design & Build

Like many people before me and probably many more after, I have come to the realization that purchasing an already made trailer to the specifications I am looking for is nearly impossible. I have spent countless hours over the last couple months researching this topic and the more I dive in the more I realize what I am trying to achieve will need to be fabricated, not purchased ready-to-go, and cost twice what I had hoped to pay. I've seen the military trailers, Harbor Freight, and Carry-On builds and decided those are not what I'm looking for but threads like armyRN's inspired me to create this one in hopes of helping anybody else who is looking for something similar.

Background (skippable but relevant section)
In 2005 my friend and I refurbished an old homemade utility trailer (Before & After photos shown) but that trailer needs serious work. The floor needs to replaced, there are issues with the suspension causing it to heavily sag to one side, and it needs a new paint job. I have a 2018 2-door JK and given the listed problems and the height of the sides, I don't like the idea of towing it with a load on the highway. I'm used to driving longer landscaping trailers with 1-ton dump trucks but the one time I did take it on the highway I had a feeling it may act like a sail with a strong gust of wind.

  1. I live in an apartment so work will have to be done either at my place of work or my parents garage. There are many pros/cons to both places.
  2. I do not know how to weld.
  3. I am not a carpenter.
  4. I have only basic tools.
  5. Low budget.
  6. 2,000 LBS GVWR.

Purpose & Specifications

I'm looking for something with a form-factor similar to the camping/overlanding/tub trailers out there. This will be used primarily to haul firewood and camping gear with a heavy emphasis on the firewood. It will be mostly used on paved roads, driving over a curb and across lawn, and the hilly dirt/rocky roads of the campground. I was thinking a minimum of 15" tires but I definitely do not need the same tires I run on my not-lifted JK (maybe 32 or 33s?). I already have a 1&7/8's ball hitch and I'm hoping to have a level coupler height of somewhere close to the 16" or so that it sits off the ground.

Here's a rough idea of what I think I want this thing to turn out to be and I'd love to hear feedback! Also see attached sketch of dimensions.
  • 4' tongue to limit jack-knifes and make steering easy.
  • 4'x6' steel tube frame.
  • 10' total length with 2' high sides (part of tube frame).

Wheels, Axle, & Springs

Revised on 3/13/19

LoadStar ST205/75R-15 Radial Tire & Painted Rim: 5 on 5 x2 ~$175

Dexter 64 in. Round Tube Straight Trailer Axle (3500 lb.) ~120

Universal 27" Double Eye Leaf Spring (4 leaves / 1750 lb.) #UNA-210 x2 ~$50

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Last edited by NumbLost; 03-13-2019 at 06:25 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-11-2019, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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I found Rezarf's chassis build from 2007 on and decided to use this as inspiration. I lengthened the tongue by a foot and added the angled tongue braces for stability.

Axle Placement

I've been Googling how to determine axle placement and seen simplified explanations like the 60/40 rule as well as more involved calculations like the one I found at I gave up trying to use that when I realized I don't have any idea what the trailer frame center of mass might be.

What I do know is that I have a max tow capacity of 2,000#, and a max tongue weight rating of 200#. If I go with my current layout, the total length of the trailer will be 11 feet. The cargo portion will be 6 feet.

If anyone has a better idea of where it should be, I'd like to know.
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-12-2019, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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Tire Size

I do not need to match the same wheels/tires that I run on my JK because this trailer really won't be doing any serious wheeling and I don't care too much about the appearance matching. I have considered that I may change my mind in the future so I will be going with a 5-on-5 hub for the 3,500# axle. Since I'm trying to have the trailer sit higher than most utility trailers I've come across I'm thinking I may want a tire with an actual diameter somewhere close to 30 inches. I Googled the formula to find the approximate tire diameter based on the 3 number system found on tires so now I will have a better idea of what to look for when it comes time to pick the wheels/tires.
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post #4 of 8 Old 05-19-2019, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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May 2019 Update

I've decided to go with the following parts. The tires are about ~27" in diameter on 15" wheels. The base frame is going to be 2.5" 11-gauge square steel tubing. It will have a 2' high railing made from 1.25" 11-gauge square steel tubing on three sides. The tongue is going to be 5 feet long. The cargo area will be 4' wide and 6' long. A total length of 11'. I estimate the level tongue height will be about 16.5" to 17" and the total height from ground to top will be about 40". Even though I have a 2k tow limit, I've designed this with 3.5k parts. This might come in handy if other vehicles tow this they can carry more.
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post #5 of 8 Old 05-21-2019, 08:16 AM
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I would go with the 225-75/15 trailer tires, I know that are way more capacity than you need, but all of the 205's that I have seen look horribly crowned in the center. I would also do trailer brakes from the get go even if you don't put a controller in and use them from the start. They are helpful and will also give you the option for a breakaway box that will apply the brakes if the trailer comes loose. everything else looks good.

80 CJ-5, 74 CJ-6, 56 CJ-5
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-03-2019, 02:27 PM
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Have you looked at Northern Tool? They have a 4X8 aluminum trailer for $650 and 5X8 aluminum for $750. Might be a decent place to start.

Also, if you're going to be overlanding with it you might look into torsion axles to replace the leaf springs.
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-17-2019, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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August update:

I already had the tires by the time I saw the post about the 225s so I just stuck with those.

This past week I picked up the frame from the fabricator and delivered it to the powder coater where it will be sand blasted, dipped in zinc, and powder coated. The frame is going to be red. The walls and floor will be painted black. It is the inverse color scheme of my Jeep. I'm going to make the floor and walls out of 3/4" plywood. I'll then prime it and paint it with marine paint. I decided to not get marine grade plywood to save $$$. When this trailer isn't being used it will live in a heated garage and the plywood on the last trailer held up pretty well for over a decade without anything more than a coat of water seal and some not-marine paint when it was made in 2005.

The powder coater said it probably wont be ready until the last week of August, which doesn't leave me much free time to get it ready for the camping trip deadline in September.

I'll admit I didn't feel confident enough to figure out what I need to set it up for trailer brakes so I never did that. I definitely don't have time to do that before the trip.

I've ordered an Optronics light kit with marker lights. Since I don't want to ruin the powder coating I'm going to run grounding wire and not ground through the frame. I plan on using PVC conduit to run the wiring through.

I'm not entirely sure how I will secure the walls and floor to the trailer since I won't be drilling holes into it. I was considering attaching the walls to the floor with a butt joint using pocket holes on both sides of the plywood but if you can't tell from the way I worded this, I'm not a carpenter and I think there is a much easier way. To be real here: I don't have the tools, skills, or time to do that. Another option that is more my speed would be angle brackets but I'll still need to attach it to the railings and frame. For the floor I was thinking about boxing in a couple of the frame's cross members. Possibly using u-bolts for the sides. Input welcome on this! Trying to balance my lack of skill/tools/time with a clean look.

I will take a few pictures once I get it back from the powder coater. The fabricator exceeded all my expectations and really did an amazing job. I can't wait to get it back. Hopefully I have time to post lots of photos of the progress.
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post #8 of 8 Old 08-19-2019, 03:11 PM Thread Starter
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The powder coater surprised me today when they told me it was done about a week and a half earlier than they initially said. I was in a hurry to drive it 40 minutes home so I only took this one photo.
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