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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #1
This is aimed mainly at Elkbow, since he's the welder among us, but I thought I'd post it publically to gather input and maybe others can benefit from this info.

I'm looking for an ATV trailer... nothing fancy, but something that'll carry 2-3 ATVs side-loaded. I was checking prices on trailers today, and the cheapest I've found is a Bearcat model, 3-place, all aluminum with wood floor and a single-piece ramp that stores underneath. List price is $1795.

So I got to thinking... what about building my own?

I don't have a welder, or even access to one. I'm limited to 110V too. But I'm willing to buy a welder in addition to the steel and other parts needed.

I already have wheels and tires. They're an old set of 14's that came off of my enclosed snowmobile trailer. Two of the tires are still good. So I'd just need an axle and the steel (and coupler, electrical, etc).

It looks like Northern Tool has a complete axle and hub set for $239... though i'd try to pick one up locally to avoid shipping costs. There's no sales tax in MT so that's a plus.

I suppose the biggest question is what will the steel cost me? What I'd want to build is a 3-place, which would basically be 13' long x 7' wide, though I might make it 8' wide so it can double as a snowmobile trailer in winter. I'd want a 5' tongue for easy maneuvering.

I would probably buy an aluminum ramp rather than build a heavy steel one.

I'm wondering how much more this would cost than just buying one already made. If it's not too huge of a difference, it'd be worth it considering I'd be gaining a welding set out of the deal.

Thoughts?

Rob
 

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Rob,
I have a ton of trailer plans here that I bought, all different size trailers.

A quality welder is what may not make it worthwhile...although some 110v welders will do the job, since the steel is not that thick. A mig running gas for a shield will yield the best weld....

Also, you need to have access to steel at a good price, you can save money buying the equipment yourself, but to buy a welder for one trailer will not save much money.

What is needed to build a trailer is axle(s), hubs, springs, hangers, wheels, tires, steel, wood, hitch, jack, wood, lights/wiring...

An aluminum trailer is useless to me, the structural rigidity of aluminum is terrible. A bolted together aluminum trailer would work better than a welded aluminum trailer. You save weight, but the aluminum would cost much more than steel.

To get some idea on prices, check out this trailer plan site:

http://www.trailerplans.org/trailer_plans.htm

they have prices for parts kits to build the trailer other than steel

here is an axle site:

http://www.freedomaxle.com/
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #3
Can you recommend a welder that'd do a decent job on 110V? Just so I can price it up, plus the mig attachments, etc. I know the welder will make the cost of building the trailer as high as or higher than buying new, but the end result is I get a welder out of the deal that I can use to build other stuff.

It probably won't be doable, but it's worth exploring. I'll probably end up with one of those Triton or Bearcat aluminum ones. At least it'll tow real nice behind my Grand Cherokee.

Rob
 

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Rob...something like a Millermatic 135 would be a good welder, will do gas shielding and runs on 110V, but costs around $650 with cart. Should come with everything needed, except tank and gas.

I have a Millermatic 251, which will weld up to 3/4", even thicker if I preheat, but it is a 240V welder, so requires some juice.

You can check on ebay and get one of the Chinese welders, I heard they work pretty well, I have a Chinese Plasma Cutter, works pretty good.

On the welder, don't waste your money going with a a stick/arc welder, they don't do good welds and alot of chipping and cleanup is needed. If you did very little welding or just repairs, the arc welder would work fine, but not for projects like I do.

I put alot of money in to my welder, the welder alone is around $1700, the spoolgun for doing aluminum is about $850, although I rarely use it.

If you have someone that can get you good deals on steel, then it would be worthwhile, same thing with axles, etc.

Check out this person ebay for axles:

http://motors.search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZfreedomaxleinc

they are the same ones I gave in the link above for the axles, good prices, shipping is reasonable, they will quote you.

dave
 

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I have a Lincoln wire feed welder from Home Depot. Works just fine for my needs, I rarely weld anything over 1/4" thick. Thank God! But, it's easy to use and makes a nice bead. I can convert it to gas shield, but I just use the flux core wire and thats pretty clean and less fuss.
Also if you build a trailer I'd suggest making a steel floor also. It would be a nice feature to have some D-rings welded right into the floor at various points.
One last thing, don't go small! Add some room to get between loaded quads, a storage box, gas cans, etc., etc., etc.
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #6
Okay I finally called a local steel supplier for some pricing. They sell 4" C-channel steel, which is what I'm guessing would make a good frame for a trailer, for $3.55 per foot. How's that? I'm guessing on needing approximately 80' of the stuff, as follows: (5) 7' lengths for the two ends of the trailer plus three supports across it
(2) 13' lengths for the sides
(2) 10' (approx) lengths for the tongue
That's a total of 81', or $288. I can get a 3500# drop-axle WITH electric brakes for $236 from a place called Southwest Wheel, though I haven't checked shipping on it yet. Then figure three 4x8 sheets of 3/8" plywood for the deck, that should run around $75 or so. A coupler for $35 or so. So the total so far is $634, though again that doesn't include shipping on the axle, or lights/wiring (also cheap). I think I can do this for around $700. Remember I already have two wheels/tires that I can use. So I just have to buy a welder... that Lincoln or Miller 135 that I saw on ebay might do the trick. Thoughts? Rob
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #7
Follow-up on the axle... shipping is $90, and I didn't figure in springs or hanger kits. I think I'll call around locally to see what I can get an axle for... bringing the cost up around $400, or around $275 without brakes.

Rob
 

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Rob, you don't need to make the trailer out of 'C' channel, I would use only angle iron...3"x3" or 3"x4" for the tongue and the rest out of 2"x2".....take a look at some of the trailer plans out there, will give you some good idea's...

send me an email, I have a bunch of plans on CD, I should be able to email them, have to check on the format

dave
[email protected]
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #9
Would 2x2 angle iron hold the weight of three ATVs???? I just think it'd look kinda cheesy made out of just angle iron. The steel trailers I've seen are all C-channel or boxed.

I'll call over and get a price list of all their stuff next week or sometime soon, and if the price is a lot cheaper, I will probably do angle iron. Heck, I'm considering making up a "test" trailer that's 4x8 just for practice and to be able to haul one quad around, then build the bigger one over the summer after I have more experience.

Still, I'd like to see some of those plans of yours.

Thanks!

Rob
 

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on the miller 135, go for it i have the older version 130 and it has never let us down.it will even work wwll off of a good generator. when consedering different sizes of steel for propesed projects don't forget to factor in wall thickness....
 

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+ 3/8" plywood is not going to make a very firm platform unless you've got a ton of cross braces. I'd use 3/4" treated plywood, at least.
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #12
Okay, back to the trailer design. I got some prices on steel, all on a per-foot basis: 4 x 1-5/8, 3/16 C-Channel, $3.57
6 x 1-7/8, 3/16 C-Channel, $5.35

2 x 4 boxed 1/8, $4.22

1 x 1, 1/8 angle iron, $0.88
2 x 2, 1/8 angle iron, $1.81
3 x 3, 3/16 angle iron, $3.33
3 x 2, 3/16 angle iron, $2.77

What I want to do is build it out of 2x4 box, except for the cross supports, which would be 2x2 angle iron. The deck would be 2x12 planks. But going this route, I'm looking at a steel cost of about $400. I'm debating a few variations on Dave's suggestion, but haven't come up with anything solid yet. I know my design is probably overkill, but it'd look good and be pretty easy to put together. Would using 2x2 for the deck (and 1x1 for the cross supports so I could fit 3/4" plywood in for the deck) be strong enough? That way nothing would hang out underneath and make it easier to attach the 3x2 for the subframe and tongue. The trailer dimensions will be 7' wide by 10' long and hold two ATVs plus a metal storage box, spare tire, and gas rack. Rob
 

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Rob, sorry, I haven't found the CD with the trailer designs, I looked, but since I put in the wood floor, I moved everything around, I think you should wait until I find it and send to you so you can then be better informed and give you alot of idea's...

dave
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #14
I'm eager to see your trailer plans when you find them, but in the interest of having a trailer so I can go riding in two weekends when the trails officially open, I've finalized my own design.

I ended up stepping down to a cross between your suggestion and my last posted idea. I went to the local trailer place to price up an axle (way too much $$) and looked over their trailers while there. It was then that I decided that using 2x4 boxed steel was massive overkill. I still didn't want to use angle iron because I wanted it to look better.

So, I settled on 2x2 boxed steel for the deck frame, the subframe and tongue, with 1x1 angle iron for the deck cross supports, 16" spacing. I'll use 3/4" plywood for the deck, painted.

I ordered my axle today, from Southwest Wheel (www.etrailerpart.com), roughly $220 shipped and that's with a 2" coupler ($12). The hub face measurement will be 65" and my subframe rail spacing will be 48" on center.

One uncertain variable is how much I'm going to have to drop the axle for the 26" diameter tires to clear. I got a 4" drop axle so that'll help. I anticipate having to make my own hangers for the springs that will be around 8-10" long, welded to the subframe.

The upside of this is it'll give me room for a ramp storage area under the trailer deck. My big 6' aluminum tri-fold ramp is 8" tall when folded (and about 18" wide), so it should fit nicely under there.

By going with the smaller steel, the total price for it all has dropped by about $120. With the addition of the ramp storage, which wasn't included before, my total is back up $50, to a total of just under $300.

I haven't decided what to do about lighting yet. I think I need the 3-light "ID Bar" center taillight because it's over 80" wide. Due to the 2x2 frame, I don't think I have room to flush mount the 6" oval lights that I wanted. I will probably end up with surface-mount lights for now and do something fancier later (which probably equates to "never"). ;)

Rob
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #15
I started work on my trailer on Monday. I picked up the steel that afternoon, and started the slow process of measuring and planning and laying stuff out.

Working just 2-3 hours a day, it's coming together slowly but surely. Yesterday, I welded the deck together and got three of the cross braces done. Today, I finished the cross braces and also got the two subframe pieces welded on.

Tomorrow, I will add the tongue, the tongue angle braces, and probably also get the axle mounted, which arrived yesterday. With that done, it will be ready to put the wheels on it and flip it over.

Over the weekend, I'll add some additional bracing from the cross braces to the subframe, some angle iron between the cross braces on the sides to drill through for tie-down loops.

The last steps will be to wire the lights and tow it over to Home Depot to pick up the wood for the deck. Then it'll be time to paint it and get it all buttoned up and ready for use!

Rob
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Discussion Starter #16
Here's a closeup of some of my welds. Some are coming along nicely, some are so-so. They're a little hard to see because I haven't chipped the slag off yet, since I'm using flux core wire.

Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I ended up having to redo the tongue a little because the coupler height was just too high. As you see it now, it still requires a 4" riser hitch on my Grand Cherokee.

Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm still in the procses of getting the holes drilled for the lights. My holesaw managed to get bent and when I returned it, I ended up getting the wrong size (doh) so I didn't finish with the holes tonight.

Tomorrow when I finish that, I can finally wire it and then go pick up the wood for the deck. I also bought my VIN number today and hope to get it stamped into a plate of steel tomorrow so I can weld it on the tongue, then get it inspected, and then titled and registered. In the meantime, I have a plate from another state that'll work on it. :)

With luck, it will be usable by the weekend, when I plan to GO RIDE!!!

Rob
 

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Very nice!!! Looks like you'll have one durable trailer for many years to come.
 
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