Utility trailer

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  #1  
Old 03-18-18, 07:55 AM
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Utility trailer

I have a 5x8 utility trailer (made in China) that I bought from ******** Tool 5-1/2 years ago that's already rusting into the sunset. I can tap the channel frame with a hammer and knock out chunks of the channel! Has anyone had any long term luck with the inexpensive aluminum trailers, the type you can buy for around $800 to $900? I don't need a lot of capacity, probably not over 1000#, but I do need 5x8.

The problem I have is that I'm almost 70 years old on a very limited income. But longevity runs in our family (my mom is 91 and still puts out a fish house every winter with help) and I'd like something that would last at least 15 years. Or am I living in a dream world, given my budget?

I'm actually thinking about building another trailer. The one I built years ago out of 16 ga. galvanized steel studs and track lasted 24 years before the axle and tongue rusted out. Huge mistake not replacing the axle and tongue on that one.
 
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  #2  
Old 03-18-18, 08:51 AM
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May I suggest the $629 unit a Lowes? It has a capacity of 1650#. Are they cheap? Yes. Will they do the job? Most likely. If it last 5 years it will cost you about $125 per year. Then buy a new one if you still need it. Do you really need a high end unit that will last 15 years? You'll spend twice the amount. I'm close to 70 years also and I consider most things I buy to have a lifetime warranty!

Unless you like building, why go through the trouble?
 
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Old 03-18-18, 09:01 AM
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I just did a quick Google search & Tractor Supply has a 1600lb, 5X8 steel trailer for $750. It does have a mesh floor if that's ok. If not, you could get some 1X12 lumber & floor over the mesh for added support.

While I did look through 3 or 4 sites that advertised aluminum utility trailers, their prices were around $1500 - $1800 for a 5X8 in excess of 1000 lb GVWR.

I've never used an aluminum trailer so I can give any further advice, but apparently, there are steel trailers available, made in America, for around your $700 - $800 budget.

I checked my local, reputable trailer sales dealership & they have a 5X8, 3500 lb, tailgate/ramp... for $1050. This dealer sells high quality trailers. They are an independent, family owned, trailer dealer. That's all they do. My point? They dont sell cheap trailers. These trailers are well designed & well built for work & years of service. Therefore, the price is a little higher than some cheaper models.

Sorry I couldnt be of more help... good luck.
 
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Old 03-18-18, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Norm201 View Post
May I suggest the $629 unit a Lowes? It has a capacity of 1650#. Are they cheap? Yes. Will they do the job? Most likely. If it last 5 years it will cost you about $125 per year. Then buy a new one if you still need it. Do you really need a high end unit that will last 15 years? You'll spend twice the amount. I'm close to 70 years also and I consider most things I buy to have a lifetime warranty!

Unless you like building, why go through the trouble?
Yeah, my budget is my problem. I've looked at Home Depot, Lowes, Northern Tool (the China-made people), Tractor Supply and Fleet Farm. All have the steel trailers in that $700 range, although I'd have to throw in another $100 or so for solid sides and bed; or $500 for the Chinese trailer like I have now. Interesting point Norm about just planning on buying a new trailer every 5 years; that's really worth thinking about.

I priced out a home made trailer and I'd have about $350 in materials if my existing axle is salvageable. Add another $200 if I need a new axle and spring set. I guess I really wouldn't mind building one again, knowing it would last as long as I'd probably need it.
 
  #5  
Old 03-18-18, 08:25 PM
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How often do you need to use your trailer? The reason I ask is that you can rent a flat bed trailer from UHaul for about $19 a day. If you only need it a few times a year... well, that's a lot less than $700... and you don't have to store, insure, maintain or license it. Just a thought...
 
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Old 03-19-18, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by aces-n-eights View Post
How often do you need to use your trailer? The reason I ask is that you can rent a flat bed trailer from UHaul for about $19 a day. If you only need it a few times a year... well, that's a lot less than $700... and you don't have to store, insure, maintain or license it. Just a thought...
If it were not for hunting and fishing, I would consider a rental. But I use the trailer quite a bit. From December thru mid-March, I use it at least twice a week to haul my portable fish house (4' x 4' when folded) to and from the lake. During hunting season I use it a total of maybe 8 to 10 days. I've even considered buying one jointly with my brother who is also looking at trailers, but there's a lot to be said for the convenience of having a trailer right next to the garage.

BTW, MN has a great licensing requirement that they use now. For small trailers under a certain size, all you do is buy a one time sticker that attached to the trailer tongue and it's good forever. For the trailer I'm junking now, I paid something like $60 to license it forever, a good deal if it would have lasted.
 
  #7  
Old 03-19-18, 04:05 AM
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What is the feasibility of rebuilding your current trailer?
 
  #8  
Old 03-19-18, 06:25 AM
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I checked it completely yesterday afternoon and the only thing that appears salvageable is the axle and leaf springs, lights and coupler. You really have to see this thing to appreciate how badly rusted it is!! It really wasn't apparent until I started tapping the framework with a hammer. I should add that I had a feeling I was in trouble when the factory paint started peeling in under a year! And the frame members can't be over 12 ga steel.

I've pretty much decided I'm going to build a trailer with 16 ga. galvanized studs just like the last one that I got 24 years out of. I didn't paint the studs at all and there wasn't a spot of rust anywhere. I had design help from a structural engineer friend when I built it, so I knew it was strong; the weak link was the load capacity of the tires. Based on what I know now, I made a big mistake when I didn't just replace the tongue (and maybe axle set) on that trailer.

Thanks to everyone for the replies and thought that went into my dilemma!
 
  #9  
Old 03-25-18, 04:08 PM
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I bought one of these [[url=http://www.tritontrailers.com/snowmobile/open/entry-level/]Entry Level (XT Trailers) - Triton Trailers] 15 years ago for a cross-country move. It cost CDN$1000 back then. I think the US price was $700. It's still going strong. My thinking was that buying one was cheaper than a U-HAUL rental, considering their resale value.

Since that initial haul it's been used very occasionally, being stored in the West Coast outdoors. I sold it to friends a couple of years ago. They live on a semi-rural property and use it to haul their weekly household water.

My experience:
PROS:
- they're light; mine weighed 200lbs dry, 1200lbs cargo capacity. It means you can haul more cargo with a smaller vehicle.
- they're light; they can easily be wheeled around manually... on a few occasions I simply got out of the car and lifted the thing into position for reversing. (I've since gotten the hang of the backing up business ).
- they weather well; just the aluminium oxidation that makes the surfaces a bit sticky.
- good resale value; when you do find a used one for sale, they want pretty well full new retail cost.
CONS:
- cost; I found it worthwhile because I wasn't using 700+lbs of my vehicle's limited towing capacity just for the trailer.
- aluminium is not as strong as steel. Cargo capacity is less for a similarly sized trailer.
- theft risk; because of their value and ease of moving. I slapped a wheel lock onto mine.

I think your intention of building your own trailer is going to be most satisfying to you. You'll be getting exactly what you pay for, and you'll be getting it exactly the way you want it. You know the drill.

Best of luck whichever way you go.
 

Last edited by Gaudeamos; 03-25-18 at 04:12 PM. Reason: typo
  #10  
Old 03-27-18, 07:10 AM
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Check your local (and surrounding areas) craigslist and papers. Around here, a good, used 5x8 utility trailer goes for $200-$500.
 
  #11  
Old 05-08-18, 10:45 AM
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Just an update to tell people I am building the trailer like I did years ago. I was able to salvage just the axle, springs and coupler from the old trailer. I bought a 2 x 2 x 3/16 steel tube for the tongue and the rest is 3-5/8 - 16 gage galvanized structural steel studs and track. Everything is bolted together rather than welded so I don't have to mess with painting all the welds. Here's a progress picture.
 
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Old 05-08-18, 11:53 AM
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So your using steel framing studs for the frame?
 
  #13  
Old 05-08-18, 01:12 PM
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Yes, but they're 16 gage studs, not those little 20 or 25 gage studs that you typically see in interior office partitions. The 16 gage studs are typically used for exterior curtainwall backup in commercial construction.
 
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Old 05-08-18, 04:54 PM
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I am not a civil engineer, but a rough calculation shows it can take 1000 pounds of load (somewhat distributed) without an issue. As you mentioned in your original post, corrosion is going to be the enemy. Though it has zinc coating, it is for indoor use, that is, occasional low humidity exposure. I am sure you will want to spray paint it.

Where water collection is likely, drill a drain hole. Where 2 studs are joined back to back, before joining, spray cold galvanizing paint. Avoid crevice condition as much as you can. If unavoidable, seal the joint. Enjoy the new cart.

I am just curious. How much does axle with spring cost?
 
  #15  
Old 05-08-18, 05:19 PM
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I built a trailer almost exactly like this years ago and a structural engineer I worked with told me easily 1200 pounds capacity, uniformaly distrbuted. Just based on the published section modulus for the studs, I got in excess of 2,000#, but I'll believe a structural engineer before I'll believe my calculations as a lowly architect. Besides, I didn't take into account impact loads from road bumps like the engineer did.

When I built that first trailer, I didn't paint the galvanized studs and they had virtually no rust after 24 years. Because they're designed to be used in exterior walls, they have G90 galvanizing, which is a pretty good coating.

I did look at a new axle and spring set and it was $199.99 for a 2000# leaf spring set. But the axle off the old trailer was still in good shape, so I just removed all the rust, primed and painted it.

Edit: Because I'm old and can't remember stuff worth a darn, I had to look it up! Interior galvanized studs are G40 galvanized (G60 special order); those are the studs for interior use only.
 

Last edited by Bruce H; 05-08-18 at 06:21 PM.
  #16  
Old 05-08-18, 07:30 PM
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My apology for preaching to an architect. I should learn load calculation from you. Looked up G90. 1.5 mil zinc. This should last. I withdraw what I said about drain holes since you are bolting beams. But I would still pay attention to crevices. Share a photo when project is complete.
 
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Old 05-09-18, 03:26 AM
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You're good paker! In fact, I'm thinking you may have a good point about crevices. I'm going to buy a tube of silicone caulk and hit those crevices. Not sure if it'll hold up to the flexing I think it'll get, but I don't think it can hurt.

Finally, I want to dispel any misconceptions I may have given. I can only do the most basic of structural engineering. That's because I was always interested in engineering and the school I went to had an emphasis on structural engineering. But most architects I knew can't do even basic engineering because they don't have to; in fact we're not allowed to by law unless we're licensed to do engineering. We have structural engineering consultants who are hired to design the structural components of a building.
 
  #18  
Old 05-15-18, 07:10 AM
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The trailer is complete, with the exception of painting the deck, which is in progress. Normally I don't paint the treated plywood deck, so this is an experiment to see if I get more than the normal 6 or so years out of the plywood before it needs replacement. I have about $450 in materials, so not too bad. If I had not been able to salvage the axle and springs and coupler, it would have cost me another $220. The big surprise was that it cost just over $50 for just nuts, bolts and washers!
 
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Old 05-15-18, 09:00 AM
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IMO the best place to buy nuts/bolts is tractor supply - they sell them by the pound which is a lot cheaper than the price per piece at the big box stores.

How dry was the PT plywood? what type of paint did you use? Until it dries out from the PT process paints have a hard time staying adhered.
 
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Old 05-15-18, 09:47 AM
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I was fortunate in that a friend had 4 sheets (I only needed 2) sitting in his shop for almost a year. They were nice and dry. My personal rule of thumb for painting PT wood is an absolute minimum of 6 months drying before painting. I used an oil-based primer (that's what you see in the picture) and will use 2 coats of SW's A100 acrylic latex.
 
  #21  
Old 05-15-18, 02:35 PM
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Cool, I was concerned that you might have painted wet PT which is almost a guarantee the paint job will fail.
 
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