Harbor Freight Trailer Mods: What do you recommend?

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Harbor Freight Trailer Mods: What do you recommend?

Postby Audnorge » Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:09 pm

Finally took the plunge! Used my July 4th 25% off coupon to get an 1195 lb Harbor Freight Trailer. Of course I got home and inspected all the parts, and it seems to be right. It's out on the patio, awaiting the first bolt, and I plan on taking my time and getting it right. I keep telling myself if my teardrop build goes badly, at least I have a utility trailer!

I'd really like to hear any and all advise you may have regarding my trailer build and any modifications I should consider before we call it done. I'm planning on a 5x8 cabin, using an elevated floor and I am seriously considering foam or foam sammich construction..... and avoiding as much "overbuild" and excess weight as possible. I know how to frame a house, and that won't be happening here!

I have already decided on these modifications:

Scrap the casters, stand and folding capability and build a solid, sturdy and squared frame. Add something to replace the redeployed crossmembers used to make it a non-folder.

Add some 2x2 steel tube up the middle and extend the hitch coupler maybe a foot as Bobhenry has suggested many times. As part of this mod, I will also weld the folding angle tongue rails to their brackets, as I do not need them to fold or drop the bed. Should I just go head and upgrade the coupler, or is the HFT one cool?

Weld some small corner diagonal braces for strength and squareness. The rear two corner braces will be used to mount light scissor jacks.

Remove the smallest leaf on the leaf spring pack for a softer ride, round any sharp edges and grease the springs.

Put all wiring in flex conduit for protection.

With the welding requiring repainting, I am just going to paint the entire trailer. Our Southwest sun turns the HFT red into chalky faded pink in just a couple years.

Questions:

I may have some weight in the simple galley like stoves, water jugs, etc, and for sure a hefty tongue box with possibly the 60lb spare from my Jeep and Hi Lift. It won't have any fancy cabinetry, tanks, sinks, batteries, etc. and I may go with a square back design with a lift up half hatch and ambulance doors on the bottom rather than a curved rear hatch. Do I need to move the springs back?

Do I remember correctly that you can reverse the spring-axle assembly to move it back on the frame some?

What else am I missing? Any and all advise or comments welcomed!
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Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Mods: What do you recommend?

Postby Audnorge » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:04 pm

Oh yeah, I remembered I wanted to put a receiver tube on the rear end, theoretically to put either a bike rack or a cargo tray back there. Useful or no?
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Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Mods: What do you recommend?

Postby Nobody » Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:03 am

I think you may be 'expecting a lot' from a 1195# trailer, unless you go all 'foamie' construction. Using 'standard' TD construction methods (1/2 or 3/4" ply walls, or 'stick' type wall construction) the weight starts to add up pretty fast. Remember, that 1195# includes the trailer weight too, & often a little bit of 'gear/supplies' adds considerable weight.

I'd definitely do the tongue extension but I'd use a 2x2x3/16" square tube starting at 2nd cross member from the front. I'd also use 1.5x1.5" (minimum, 2x2" even better) steel angle bolted between 1st & 2nd cross members underneath, & bolt the tongue extension between them rather than do any welding. Turn your coupler base upside down to contain the tongue extension & go with an aftermarket coupler that fits the extension. That's how I did mine & the only thing I'd change is I wouldn't drill vertically thru the coupler base/tongue ext; I'd just let the coupler base provide any needed stability.

You may or may not need to move the axle back, depending on how you fit a 5x8' cabin on the chassis. If you plan for sure on having a 'receiver' at rear for a bike rack or whatever, I'd move the axle back a few (4 or 5) inches. I dunno 'bout 'reversing' the axle to move it back; first I've heard of that??

I've found that the BAL type crank down stabilizer jacks work very well & are generally easier to mount than scissor type jacks, JMO ;)

Instead of welding the 'A' frame members I just replaced the removable pins with bolts/nylok nuts & called it good. The only welding I did on my 1740# HF chassis was adding the tabs for the front stabilizer jacks. Near 7yrs, 20K miles & one rear end collision later everything is holding up well & nothing has 'shaken loose' yet :thumbsup:

Check my album for lotsa pix before, during, & after construction...

Oh yeah, I don't think I'd remove any spring leaves. You'll probably need all the capacity you have.
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Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Mods: What do you recommend?

Postby Audnorge » Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:02 pm

Great feedback Harvey, thanks! I'm still trying to digest that second paragraph, it looks like you may have the solution I need here.

I am going to TRY and build the lightest I can, no 2x4 wood framing and really looking at foam panels with light components.
Last edited by Audnorge on Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Mods: What do you recommend?

Postby bobhenry » Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:25 pm

One pecularity on these trailers is the need to add a hard wire ground to the socket housing in the stock tail lights. I did it by adding a ground wire around the socket and trapped it with a mini worm clamp ( radiator hose clamp style )

I ran my 2x2 square tube from front to back and sleved the opening with 1/8 flat stock at the rear for a class 2 draw bar, bike rack, cargo rack or whatever. One trailer was bolted as harvey suggested and the other was welded. There is no advantage to either that I have found.
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