How to Build a Trailer
Knowing how to build a trailer may seem like a major undertaking, and sometimes trailer hire is the easier option. However, it’s actually a relatively straightforward project.
Building a trailer yourself allows you to customise the trailer to the exact measurements and specifications that you need. Whatever type of trailer you will be building, here are the basic steps that you will need to take.
1. Understand the Type of Trailer You Need
Before learning how to build a trailer, you will first need to know exactly what type of trailer you need. There are various considerations to make, such as whether the trailer will be enclosed, what the weight and length capacities of the trailer are, the strength of suspension, the offloading abilities, etc.
2. Understand Your Abilities
Be aware that building a trailer will involve a range of different skills. This includes welding, electrical work, carpentry work, as well as the need for heavy lifting. It’s important to know where your limitations and strengths lie so that you can properly plan the job.
3. Get the Right Tools
You can’t build a trailer if you don’t have the proper tools available. So go through every step involved in building a trailer and ensure you have the right tool for each stage.
This may include welding equipment, a good drill, an angle grinder, trestles, various hand tools, a metal cut-off saw, G-clamps, and all necessary safety equipment.
4. Get Your Materials Together
While different designs call for different parts, most designs include a bed, a hitch, a “tongue”, tail lights, an axle with wheels, and a frame for the license plate.
To make the job easier, a lot of these components can be bought fully assembled. This is especially useful for parts that require more complex work and tools.
5. Weld the Frame of the Trailer
The frame needs to be made up of four steel angle-iron rods, one for each side of the trailer. The side rods should be longer than the front and back rods. Here are the steps you will need to follow:
- Miter all corners of the frame so that the angle-iron fit together at a 45-degree angle
- Form a rectangle with the iron rods by tack welding them together
- Then you will need to add support beams across the width of the trailer. Weld these into place – they should be made of flat iron and you will need at least three in place
6. Cover the Frame With Wood
Now that the steel frame is ready, you will need to add a wooden base on top of this. Follow these steps:
- Cut 2×6 inch pressure-treated lumber boards to cover the entire trailer frame
- Line the boards up to the frame and drill holes in them where they meet the frame
- Drill holes into the steel frame to line up with the holes in the wood
- Now you can bolt down the wooden boards to the frame. This should be done inside the lip of the angle-iron
7. Add the Axle and Wheels
Now it’s time to add the axle and wheels to the frame. Do this by raising the entire frame off the ground by using a hydraulic jack.
Then weld the axle into place using the 60:40 ratio. This means 60% of the frame should be in front of the axle, and 40% of the frame should be behind it.
You can either choose a trailer with or without springs. Springs will make the trailer ride more smoothly. If you add springs, install the spring mounts with the fixed end close to the front of the trailer.
Next, add the wheels to the axle. The size of the wheels needs to be determined by the size of the axle. This should all come together in a kit, with lug bolts and nuts included.
8. Add the Final Touches
The bulk of the trailer has been constructed, now it’s just a matter of adding the final details. These include:
- Welding the wedge shape that extends from the front of the trailer (the tongue)
- Welding the hitch to the tongue
- Adding tail lights to the back of the trailer and routing the electrical wire to the hitch end
Learning how to build a trailer is a fun and rewarding project. As long as you have basic welding skills and the right tools, building a trailer is not too difficult. You will be able to customise the trailer to your exact requirements to make it the perfect size and shape for whatever you need to carry.
Is it cheaper to build your own trailer?
Building a trailer is often cheaper than buying one. You will be able to choose and customise each part, but it will require a fair amount of labor.
Can you build a trailer without welding?
Welding is necessary for building a trailer. If you do not have basic welding skills, you can get the frame of the trailer welded for you.
Are homemade trailers legal?
Yes, homemade trailers are legal as long as they are roadworthy and the lighting complies with all relevant regulations.