Questions about potential trailer purchase

A local paper had an ad for a 18 x 8' trailer for $250. I went to see it today and it appears to be the base of an old travel trailer. The wiring is toast and the lamps are all broken, but I can replace all those fairly cheaply. The crank mechanism is missing but the tube is still there for lifting the tongue. Right now, the tongue has about 60 lbs of weight, and with decking, it would go over 100 lbs.

It has no decking, and the width between the wheels is 61". It has electric brakes and 9 or 10 leaves in the springs with heavy duty 15" wheels/tires. The ball mechanism is frozen, so I'd have to free it up just to drag it home.

The frame is roughly 5' x 12' square with a triangular front section. It's made of 2x4" C-channel steel. On it are sections of 2" angle iron with external 18" lengths at 5 or 6 areas where the rectangular trailer fit onto it. (You might know I'd forget my camera this morning until I was halfway there.)

They used to have plywood decking and had hauled 3k pounds of hay, so I know it's a heavy duty trailer. The welds all look solid and well made, but some of the fingers have been munched a bit. I wouldn't be using most of them so that's not a structural problem for me.

My questions:

What's the weight-carrying strength of the C-iron and angle iron? I'm wondering if I'll have to add any bracing in order to handle something like a mill at a later date.

What decking material do you suggest. I live in Oregon now so I do get rain, but it's only 32 inches annually.

There is no ramp at the rear. What do most of you use on your trailers? Ride height is a bit over a foot, maybe 14".

Does this sound like a good deal at $200 or $250?

TIA for answers.

-------------------------------------- PESSIMIST: An optimist with experience --------------------------------------------

formatting link
- Web Database Development

Reply to
Larry Jaques
Loading thread data ...

On Sun, 10 Oct 2004 21:53:02 -0700, Larry Jaques wrote (in message ):

Here in Las Vegas that would be a bargain even if it needed tires and brakes.

Reply to
Roger Hull

Does it have a title and license plates now? Is the chassis tag there, and visible, and the VIN matches the one stamped on the tongue framerail? If it isn't just a matter of a simple ownership change, you may have some pain-in-the-ass grade problems ahead getting a replacement title, or assigning a new VIN number...

In California, Motorhomes, travel trailers and mobile homes (vehicle types CCH and CCHMP) are not allowed to have suspended tags, because that's how they collect property taxes if it's being used as a residence... If they didn't change the trailer's registration to a flat-bed utility trailer, and the state still thinks it's a camping trailer & the tags are four years past due, that could also complicate things.

(Yes, you said Oregon - but bureaucracies think alike on this stuff.)

Look at the GVWR rating on the tongue plate, or go have a trailer supply place look at it - they can tell from looking at it in about 10 seconds whether those axles and springs are rated at 3,000 pounds each or more. You might be able to go to a trailer parts site like Dexter Axle and ID them visually.

You can choose dealing with steel deck rusting, aluminum diamond-tread corroding at all the fastening points from galvanic action, or plywood rotting from all that rain - unless you have a good source for cheap redwood or teak T&G planks, then you could have a water-resistant surface.

But with a plank deck, you'll have to crawl underneath and tighten a hundred carriage bolts annually.

On my flatbed that used to be a single-axle sailboat trailer, I just got two 10' lengths of 12" cable racking from (now ex) work and hinged them (1/2" NC threaded rod hinges) off the back of the trailer, with hold-closed props made from 3/4" EMT with the ends flattened.

If you want to make it look slick, it's easy enough to make a one-piece tailgate out of square tubing. Oh, and rig up jacks at the back of the trailer too, so the truck doesn't need to be hitched up during loading or unloading.

You couldn't buy the steel for the rails tongue and cross-beams, the coupler, axles, springs, brake assemblies, breakaway switch, etc. for $200, so already you're ahead compared to starting from scratch. Then you have to bring in a pile of receipts and documentation to prove you bought all the parts legally to get a VIN assigned and a new title issued for the trailer.

Better to start with something already titled and make it into what you need.


Reply to
Bruce L. Bergman

On Mon, 11 Oct 2004 08:30:13 GMT, Bruce L. Bergman calmly ranted:

Hmm, good call. I hadn't thought of title, and it does, indeed, have plates. Vehicle registration up here is $54 for 2 years, but I'm not sure of trailer pricing.

I saw the tag but didn't see a GVWR portion, though I wasn't looking specifically for that. All I recall seeing (embossed, through several coats of paint) were the mfgr name and a serial number.

Aluminum diamond tread would break the bank, fer sher. I'm much too frugal. (One can hear me squeak for miles.)

It would be much easier to tilt the thing onto its side to get free (OK, easier) access. I believe it's time to install that truckbed crane RSN.

Clevis-pinned, drop-down feet would make that easier, wouldn't it? Probably 90% of the trailer work I've done has been instant load and unload, but most of those were borrowed or rented trailers. I can see where if it were my own, I might rest a day before unloading and need the truck in between. Yeah, could be handy.

True, true.

That's a really good KEY point. The registration fees for a travel trailer are $135 (18') plus $55 title change fee. That just killed the deal after I figured in sandblast/wiring/lights/paint/decking /ramps/jacks/winch/(maybe) receiver to the deal. Renting the occasional car carrier or utility trailer is probably the cheapest and easiest alternative. I'll bet if I look around to my neighbors, I'll find one I could use for free, though I'd repack the bearings and clean the brakes for them as thanks.

After looking at the (too many) hidden costs and time involved, I decided that I really don't need yet -another- project right now. It wasn't quite the right shape/size to work as a car carrier anyway, for those cases where you need to grab something NOW.

Thanks a lot for the feedback, Bruce. (And Roger)

-------------------------------------- PESSIMIST: An optimist with experience --------------------------------------------

formatting link
- Web Database Development

Reply to
Larry Jaques

As has been pointed out, the title and axles are worth the asking price. It used to be title/license on a "homemade" trailer was pretty easy. Recent years have led to a great deal of extra bureacracy to get anywhere on that. Dad and I have bought several trailers now just for the piece of paper, and stripped them down to nearly nothing and rebuilt them.


Reply to

I like pressure treaded 2X lumber for decking. You can shoot them into the cross braces with tapcon screws just like the pros do. Ramps depend on what you are loading. permanent fold-down ramp of 1" square material, stowable ramps, big heavy ramps, etc. I kind of like ramps made from the expanded steel mesh stuff, if that works for your load.


Reply to

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.