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Car Trailer Rebuild

 
 
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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:12 am    Post subject: Car Trailer Rebuild Reply with quote

I have widened the track of my Honda Civic EG V6 “SPAM Hatch” race car by fitting BMW rear offset wheels. This now meant it was too tight a fit on my existing car trailer which I made from a caravan chassis - an economical & easy build if you can get an old double axle one cheaply. The real expense in making your own car trailer is not just the chassis steel but the axles, wheels, suspension, brakes, mudguards & tow coupling. This stuff costs a whack new, but if you start with the right existing trailer & adapt it all this gear is included.

My son in law was on the lookout for something for himself to convert after I built him a B20B 2.0 litre EK Civic hatch for racing. He got onto a huge, rusty “box” trailer that a portable fridge room had been sitting on at a local event hire company. When we measured it up it was wider than my old trailer (2.02m cf. 1.8m), & after talking it over we decided to swap trailers. Nigel would get my old one straight away, and I’d buy the new prospect & be able to build one to better suit my car.



The trailer was unregistered but towable, so after the fridge room was removed with a huge forklift I snuck it home. It soon became apparent from the drawbar doubled right back to the axles that this trailer had originally been over-built to take heavy machinery like a backhoe. Despite the surface rust it was really just four years old and made by a proper trailer manufacturer. This was revealed when a hidden ID plate was discovered. It also meant that my chief job would be just removing excess steel – so out came the big angle grinder.

I removed the beat up metal mudguards, floor, & a storage rack for ramps (long gone) across the front of the trailer. Then I shortened the chassis from 5.1m to a 3.5m long bed. One cross member was rusted out, but the chassis offcut provided a free replacement. The draw bar had been re-enforced with a bar & webbing going from the top of the front corners up to the tow coupling plate. However as draw bars need to be able to flex, all it’s welds had inevitably cracked – so it was cut off along with a mangled jockey wheel.



I had now reached the point where de-construction was replaced with construction, and the first item would be the floor. I knew from experience NOT to put in a full floor. This adds unnecessary weight and all the guys with full floors had warned me that their car trailers soon became piled high with backyard junk. You can see my previous trailer parked in the street. It had no upper side framing so I’d needed to have 3mm chequer plate bent up 50mm on either side to form the flooring. However this time I’d be able to avoid the cost of that bending by just using 50mm x 3mm angle on the inner sides of twin strips of flat 3mm plate because my new chassis had side framing.



I’ve twice had the terrifying & very dangerous experience of spinning a loaded car trailer on the highway – once with oncoming traffic. Surviving a probable head on accident like that teaches you things like: always load a car with the main weight in front of the trailer axles, don’t load spare tyres in the towed car’s boot, watch for wind gusts, drive below the speed limit rather than right on it, and put your axles BEHIND the middle of the trailer floor centre point.

Shortening the chassis meant the twin axles will have to be relocated. My old trailer was beautifully balanced & towed really well, so I will centre the wheels the same amount back from the towball plus a little more room rear ward just for safety sake.

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cynic-al
Mud Obsessed


Joined: 14 Nov 2006
Odometer: 6014
Location: scunthorpe


1989 Suzuki SJ

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The caravan chassis to trailer conversion is pretty common, I did it myself for a general purpose 1.5tonne trailer, the problem for offroaders is the caravan chassis are only rated as heavy as they need to be for the caravan so that they can be towed by as many cars as possible. Some are even down plated so you lose luggage capacity but can be towed by even smaller cars. My twin axle caravan has a kerb weight of 1600kg with a mgw of 1900kg so no matter what body was on it theres no way I could carry a landy on it.

I believe we need IVAs on new builds, not sure about conversions, not sure if you have the same problem?

Best of luck with the build, it looks like a solid trailer, I'm sure it'll be a good one.

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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve been thinking about the rear design of car trailers long before I unexpectedly got this chance to build another one. Loading the car onto the trailer is the point at which problems commonly occur, especially when the trailer has appropriate leaf springs and the chassis is high so it’s mudguards are fitted low enough to clear the bottom of a loaded car’s doors. There’s nothing worse than having to climb in through the window on a loaded car because you can’t open the door! A high rear end often creates steep angles – even with long ramps. So cars have difficulty driving up the ramps, their floors or exhausts catch on the rear of the trailer, and cars with no power can prove incredibly difficult to push on board. I’ve seen a few pivoting floor trailers around the pits over the years, but they seemed unduly complicated and heavy to me (no offense to anyone who’s got one).
A while back when following a semi-trailer with a dozer on it I noticed it had a sloping section at the rear of it’s floor to make loading easier. Then I saw that specialised car carrying trailers had one too. Browsing new trailer classifieds I then accidently saw a similar design applied to a single car trailer. So after a bit of measuring I’ve discovered I can lower the rear section of this chassis from 70cm to 40cm if I drop it’s tail. The angle with conventional length ramps would then be very gradual compared with if I left it uncut. Before I make the two wedge cuts this’d need, what do you guys think?



This last pic is just of a 1/43rd scale TOY trailer, but I like the design
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cynic-al
Mud Obsessed


Joined: 14 Nov 2006
Odometer: 6014
Location: scunthorpe


1989 Suzuki SJ

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They call that a beavertail around here and it is very common for the reasons you describe. If it's for a racing car i'm sure the suspension is stiff but just make sure the under side of the car isn't going to hit the peak of the bed when loading or driving down a bumpy road!

The other thing I've seen done is have the ramps in 2 parts, one has a leg part way along so you can have a long ramp but still be able to easily lift and store it.

It's really neat if you have the ramps slide under too Smile


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teamidris
Mud Obsessed


Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Odometer: 3339
Location: Staffordshire UK



PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I beaver'd mine a little last time it had a welding session. But it was coupled with cutting two foot off the back, so I didn't loose off road ground clearance by doing so.
It still has the long front, as most of the weight of a landy is at the front and I load mine backward. So I can have a small amount of nose weight (van says 75kg) but keep the long hitch for leverage, so the tow motor isn't shoved around.
I'd post a photo, but as usual photobucket is being a prat. It says "It is the best place to keep your photos", which I think is because a hacker would have to be on a heavy dose of tranquilizers to be patient enough to go anywhere near it Smile
Horray it made it! Here is the pre-shortened version;


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teamidris
Mud Obsessed


Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Odometer: 3339
Location: Staffordshire UK



PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That picky was cut at the ends, so here is the whole trailer before the beaver tail work;



The beast sits further to the tail in this shot because it gained rear winches and stuff, moving its CofG.

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teamidris
Mud Obsessed


Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Odometer: 3339
Location: Staffordshire UK



PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Which reminds me that the most important part of these trailers is that it pivots/balances on the front axel, but always just settles back onto all four wheels when empty. Makes it a lot easier to move about the yard by hand Smile
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RichardD
Marshall


Joined: 13 Mar 2003
Odometer: 22847
Location: State of Confusion



PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine is an IWT tri-axle trailer which is really an agri one with ramps for carrying cars. I had to move a BMW 5 series a few weeks ago and to get it loaded I simply raised it up on the jockey wheel to reduce the angle.

Worked a treat.

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Poking the Grim Reaper with a stick then running away. The devil made me do it but God said it was okay with him.
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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I made the decision to drop the trailer tail “Beaver”style (as you Yanks call it), so I’ve now cut the rear frame and the side rails to brace it. Because the back is now lower I’m going to mount a rubber drag wheel either side of the number plate for those bumpy driveways you occasionally encounter. Ramps? I liked the light weight & sturdiness of my old ladder ramps, so I’ll cut another pair. But where to mount them? I’ve used trailers with them hinged in place, pulled out from under the floor, at both the rear and from the sides. I don’t like the idea of having long, weighty steel ramps hanging up over the rear of a trailer. That’s gotta be bad for handling & jack knifing. Now all you guys with hinged vertical ramps on your trailers – don’t give me a hard time, ok? My personal preference is to store them across the drawbars where the weight is forward for safer towing, and where they’re easier to retrieve. So I’m cutting two big threaded rods that home made butterfly nuts will hold in place. No pins, no clips – just fast spin offs
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teamidris
Mud Obsessed


Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Odometer: 3339
Location: Staffordshire UK



PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got totally disgruntled with lift off ramps. The idea was that I had 2x2 angle and 2x2 box ramps and could interchange for different loads. I sold the 2x2 box ones last century so I went hinged. They can't fall off as easily and the lights can be on the ramp up out of the way. Wish I'd done it sooner Smile
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cynic-al
Mud Obsessed


Joined: 14 Nov 2006
Odometer: 6014
Location: scunthorpe


1989 Suzuki SJ

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yanks? Excuse me sir, we are British!

How heavy do you plan to make the ramps? Mine slide under the rear bed but you have to lift them unlike the ones photographed above. As they are sliding in lengthways the full weight isn't right at the back, some of it is at the axle. Obviously you can get your balance back by moving the car forwards but I take the point it might make it more seasaw.

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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’m now thinking of the onboard accessories I need to add to this trailer. When I made my previous car float a friend suggested putting a step between the two wheels. This proved so practical that this time I’m fabricating a step for each side. 95% of the time you tend to only get up onto the drivers side (right in OZ), to get into or out of the driver’s seat when the car’s on the trailer’, but I figure now’s the time to weld on two. Another idea I’m gonna update from the old build is that of having TWO spare wheels mounted on the trailer rather than just the one I had. I previously experienced that once you get a puncture with a double axle trailer and have used your single spare you wish you had another one – especially on long trips. I’ll also use weld a big nut to a wheel brace to both hold the spare in place on a threaded rod and for undoing the wheel nuts to replace any flat.

I made & attached a fuel can carrier on my old work horse, but used to get too nervous about theft on the few times I used it on trips involving an overnight motel stay, despite the fact it was locked in place. So I’ll leave that off this time, although I may put a 6 inch PVC downpipe water tank with a tap I it’s place across the chassis. I’m already making heaps of tie down points – something you just can’t over do on a car trailer, although one or two I borrowed within my car club years ago had none! Another change will be from a hand winch (off a boat trailer), to an electric one. I found my old hand cranked one of little use – especially when loading wrecked cars with a jammed up or missing wheel. I’ll add a post and brace it forward to the tow coupling with two bolted flat strips. I’ve cut some scrap 50mm angle for the leading outer edges of the trailer that will deflect the trailer and spare wheels from any unintended nerfs, and added flat steel brackets behind the tail light framing to hold flag poles for the red “Bali” flags I just ordered off e-bay & my Redline banner.
Here's some pics of what I'm gonna copy off my old trailer.







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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lights getting damaged or not working are a pain on any trailer. To avoid any such problems this time I’m going to go all LED lighting. I’ve already ordered some truck tail lights off the net; fit double the minimum size I say! More old angle iron from bed frame council throw outs will be cut tomorrow to fully encase them. There’s one electrical idea of mine I’m definitely going to do again… wiring the trailer so the lights of my race car work with the trailer. Even though my race sedan doesn’t have a towbar I wired a trailer towing plug under it’s back bumper. When I do the new electrics I’ll put another trailer plug as a circuit joiner behind the trailer number plate. The lead I made up with a matching trailer plug on either end is then used to connect the car into the trailer & towcar circuitry. This doubles the brake lights, turn & tail lights. The funniest thing is at night when you pull in for fuel & people come up to say “Mate, you’ve left the parkers of your race car on”. I just love then explaining to them that “Thanks, but – no – they’re wired into my car”.
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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve finished all the fabrication on my new trailer & have taken it to the sandblasters. I’ll pick it up in a couple of days and run it round the corner to the galvanisers. I think a definition of a horrible job would have to be that poor guy in a fully enclosed & helmeted leather suit working that blasting gun all day. I just bought a 3,000lb electric winch with a remote and 4mm 30m cable off e-bay for a mere $88.
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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve dropped the trailer off for galvanising, where I removed the axles, wheels & temporary lights & wiring I’d put on it for the tow. Here’s another place I wouldn’t wanna work at… huge open sheds with clouds of chemical “smoke” wafting off them – open, caustic, heated acid baths big enough to drop my car trailer into with no protective fencing around them. If I ever need to dispose of a body I think I know where to go after dark! The foreman suggested we leave the trailer in the final galvanising bath for the three days of the long weekend, so it’s gonna be super coated. Can’t wait to pick it up next week looking all shiny & brand new.
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Redliner
Just got MTs


Joined: 22 Dec 2011
Odometer: 172




PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well here’s the finished job. I’ve got a race next weekend so I wired all the lights up the day after I got the trailer back home from galvanising. There’s been a little warping in the chequer plate floor strips, but you’ve really got to look hard to see it and it’s less than we thought would occur. There was a little gal slag I had to cut off one part. Luckily it was small as that stuff is truly tougher than steel to cut & virtually ungrindable. I know the current blinding, silver shine will soon dull with weathering, but it’s great to know I can leave it outside with no risk of significant deterioration. Best of all and totally unexpected… the large local steel engineering works (where my son knew the boss) get stacks of industrial galvanising done where my trailer was dipped. We’d arranged for me to pay for the job through their account, but even though I kept pestering our contact, in the end he said to forget about it. Freebie!

Both ends of the trailer & it's lights are protected by side nerf bars. I picked up the guards in black metal as really old stock from a trailer shop for just A$100 for the pair. They are re-enforced underneath so standing on them won't cause any damage.



Through my courier business contacts I picked up eight virtually brand new heavy duty light truck tyres for only A$30 each, which have much stronger sidewalls.
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