Well, today I took the plunge, plunked down $400 and bought a horse trailer. It pulls fine, got it home just fine. I talked to a guy who just tore one apart last week. He confirmed that the frame is unsuitable for a bed-type trailer, but I figure it's still got:
2 axles, 4 wheels plus spare (all tires in good shape) with electric brakes nice heavy tongue hardware, rack & pinion trailer jack .. license plate, title & tabs
Until I get going on this project, I can store stuff in it. This might work out, we'll see.
I'd not take the sides off of the trailer but rather add support to the top (with support to the bottom of the sides) for the trolly. The floor handles the weight of a horse without problems and the sides are strong enough to support the bouncing weight of a horse with no problems either.
-- Why isn't there an Ozone Hole at the NORTH Pole?
Is it an aluminum or steel trailer I wonder? Steel horse trailers tend to rust themselves into oblivion over time. Floor frames rust badly due to highly corrosive equine waste products (the urine is the worst part). Floor boards should be checked annually, replaced more often than one might at first think - they rot. How the trailer was cared for will have a lot to do with the condition of the floors and frame. Kept clean and washed down after use, especially the aluminum floor ones, they last quite a bit longer but most people don't do that.
The horse trailers I've had experience with are a floor frame with sides and roof added. The floor boards, in the ones that didn't have aluminum floors, were just like any other floor boards. No special structural function to the frame - but the frame is between the wheels and usually, on good trailers, fairly low. That doesn't mean they are all like that, but the ones I've had experience with are.
A horse trailer probably won't modify into another sort of trailer easily - especially one that will haul equipment like tractors, skid steers, etc. They are highly optimized for one purpose. Highly optimized stuff tends to be harder to use for something else.
Axles, wheels, etc. may be fine to use on another trailer.
Horse trailer axles come in several varieties. Some have springs, some are torsion axles. Torsion axles are the best because the floor is lower and they are more reliable. My current horse trailer, a Sooner Combi, has two torsion axles. I have two equipment trailers - one with torsion axles (a tilt bed), one with springs (flat bed with ramps).
Flat bed trailers are so cheap and readily available used that building one is not something I'd do.
Grant may want to make a machinery hauling trailer? Something with a rail down the top and chain fall to haul a mill or lathe?
One might make something like that out of the axles and wheels of a horse trailer if it was a heavy enough one. Two horse trailers are usually 5,000 GVWR - one would want minimum 7,500 GVWR to haul a decent sized mill, 10,000 GVWR would be better - the trailer will weigh 2,500 lbs or so. Unless its a sizeable (3, or 4 horse) gooseneck a horse trailer is unlikely to have axles rated high enough for that.
If that horse trailer was in my driveway, I wouldn't make any big modifications that can't be reversed easily - so if it won't work out as a 'stuff carrier' for you, you can turn around and sell it as a horse trailer to a horse owner and get your money out of it. Instead of taking a bath selling a pile of scrap and parts to a boneyard.
As in, if the center divider is permanently mounted cut it out carefully, so you can make some bolt flanges to reinstall it later if needed. And don't try sawzalling off the roof before seeing if it's structural - it might be. It certainly is as far as any loads leaning or falling against the sides of the trailer are concerned.
And if it's a drop-ramp trailer and you want to use a forklift, don't start whacking the hinges apart with a hot wrench to remove the door. Pull the pins and rig up a second set of side hinges.
I hear ya, Bruce, but it ain't gonna go down that way. I've got about $420 into this thing so far, and the body is going to come off and go for scrap, irrevocably. The one sure way to screw it up is to be too timid. I can't use a trailer made of sheet metal, gotta have one made of stouter stuff. If I have to I'll just remanufacture it from the axles up. I figure the money's gone now anyway. I did have a couple of horse people look at it and they told me as a horse person the trailer was only just barely usable, so I'd be selling to like 1% of the horse people population anyway.
Other giys say they'd never waste time building a small utility trailer, and I completely agree with that except for one thing: I have never seen a 5x8 trailer with 2500 pound load capacity, ever, that I know of, let alone for sale at a price I can afford. So how can I buy one? I need a
You're the boss. ;-) If nothing else it's a good source for axles and a coupler, brakes and a breakaway switch, and other useful pieces. If the original framerails are stout enough, you'll need to make a heavy duty deck with square tubing crossbars, diamondplate steel, side rails, and welded in flush ring tiedowns.
Get a set of LED taillights when you rebuild it - if it turns out to be a bouncer when empty, incandescent bulbs won't live long
Talk to the local DMV before you start - they might want to inspect it /before/ you start sawing it up for the chassis and parts, so you can show the provenance for said pieces. And they might let you reuse the same VIN and just reclassify it in the computer, saving money. Nothing like having a bureaucrat screw up your plans.
My neighbor and I built a 5 x 9 that I figure is at least 2500 lb capacity. You're more than halfway there if you have suitable axel and wheels. We used a 3000 lb spring set from Northern (about $40). The frame is 2" x 3" x 3/16" rect steel tubing with two transverse supports between front and back.
I've thought about this after telling you that the frame isn't strong enough. I think you might well be able to keep the bottom frame but you'll have to add the truss rails as is found on most utility trailers. You may want to add some stronger cross braces under the floor at the same time.
However my bet is that the angle iron frame rails will be severely rusted once you remove the original floor and side walls. You're probably going to be better off just starting over with the frame in that case.