I’ve been watching Craigslist now for weeks in hopes of finding several things I’m in need of. There’s a certain thrill in watching the ads, gauging the price range, stalking until that opportune moment when you can strike on that deal like a hungry leopard. Such was the case last weekend…
Preface: I’ll be taking a vacation in a couple weeks and (in addition to the camper on my back) I’ll need a utility trailer if I’m to bring my four-wheeler, outdoor kitchen, and water barrel camping. While a friend had offered their snowmobile trailer, I would much rather have something of my own. Inevitably, when you borrow something, it breaks and you end up honor-bound to fix/replace what’s needed, therefore investing in someone else’s equipment. I wished to avoid that circumstance. Also, I’ve got an offer pending on a house that will require fridge, washer, and dryer. Hence the Craigslist lookout schedule.
Saturday night, I had put my son to bed, and was gonna check for new ads. Low and behold, a 5×8’ utility trailer surfaced 2.5 hours from home. (For you city folks, I’m 1.5 hours from a stoplight, so through my perspective, that’s not too far for a deal.) While many 4×8 or truck-bed conversions were available for under $500, a 5×8 was going for at least $600. A new one at home depot could be had for $700. I figured if one became available for $500, it would be a decent deal.
What could be wrong with it? “Surely it must be sold already,” I reasoned. At $175, I had to try, so I responded. Sunday morning I got a call, and arranged to pick it up that afternoon. (This allowed me to return my son to his mom on the way back.)
It had been sitting for 2 years, the deck needed replaced, but the tires still had some air. I didn’t spend much time on the lights, but topped off the tires and headed for home. Stopping at a rest area, I checked the hubs for excess heat. The passenger side was warm, but not alarming. The driver’s side, however was almost too hot to hold. Consulting my brother, I got back on the road, and kept my speed down to 55 mph.
I was thrilled and relieved, and ordered a set of LED lights online that night. One night after work, I dug in. Pulling the old deck out was fun and gave me a chance to try out my new reciprocating saw. There’s no feeling like breaking in a new tool!
In the teardown, I confirmed the suspicion that it was a converted boat trailer. (The hand crank is a dead giveaway.) Someone had put pressure-treated 4×4’s (cut to fit) in the ‘belly’ and angle iron across the top. The problem was, they welded the angle iron down to the frame over the deck. Removing and reinstalling boards would be a challenge. I love a good, mechanical challenge. After getting it all stripped, I couldn’t resist the temptation, and spent a leftover can of black spray paint touching it up. It looked much better.
Later that week, I was planning to paint my new house, but the weather just would NOT cooperate, raining and blowing I just couldn’t do it. Instead, I decided to get this trailer road worthy. My wiring kit came, so I laid out the wire, working from front to back, making sure to leave a couple loops of slack at the front. This also gave me a chance to evict nests of many sizes and types. I straightened the light mounts, and attached the new ones which had the same hole pattern, what luck! Unfortunately, I broke a file in the process. (I thought these were supposed to be hard.)
Testing as I went, I used the 4-pin connector which came with the kit. Unfortunately, I had to trim the rubber boot, as my truck already had one. It occurred to me later how serendipitous this was, as my camper uses the 6 pin connector. I’ll be able to have them both plugged in simultaneously, yipee!
My buddy had some reclaimed lumber from a blown-down structure that he offered. I was grateful and picked out some pressure-treated 2×4’s and some plywood sheets. I staggered the 2×4’s to attach to the ‘belly’ supports while also making use of the front-to-back angle iron. The plywood would then rest on these, over the top, extending the width a few inches on both sides. What was 4’ 9” would now be 5’ 3” which will accommodate my four-wheeler or riding lawn mower with much more comfort.
I placed the first sheet on, and marked where I needed to cut to accommodate the wheel well and “arm support thingy.” Then I determined how far I could extend it over the side, and still have a seam land on one of the supporting boards. Handy saw in hand, I made modifications on the spot, and screwed it down.
Next, I measured how wide the second piece could be. I didn’t want such a crooked edge on this one, so I broke out the horses and circular saw. Modifying it to fit, I screwed it down too, with quite a feeling of accomplishment.
Lastly, to top it all off, I had a diamond-plate toolbox which wasn’t being utilized any longer. It’s bulky, and a pain to remove every time I want to load my camper, or need the full length of my truck bed. Instead, I drilled holes and mounted it to the tongue of the trailer. Now my straps, come-a-long, and other goodies have a permanent home. This added storage will come in VERY handy on my upcoming trip. In the end, I now have a trailer worth triple what I’ve invested in it!