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Topic: The Harbor Freight Fold-Up Trailer Build  (Read 15422 times)

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« on: March 04, 2011, 03:49:58 AM »

Well I finally broke down and purchased a Harbor Freight fold-up trailer, Item #90154.  For the last few years, I would rent a U-Haul trailer when I needed to tow a bike.  For what I spent on trailer rentals, it would have paid for the HF trailer!  Oh well, no more!
Stock photos:
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/image_2227.jpg http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/image_4887.jpg

I watched the HF site throughout the winter to see if the price would drop but it was pretty stable at $299.  I drove up one Sunday to pick it up but my local store didn’t have the model in stock.  The clerk gave me a rain check and said that it would arrive in about a week. A week later and with my 20% coupon, I picked up the trailer.  

FYI: If you are on time constraints, wait.  Internet reviews are great on these trailers but most stated to give 6-8hrs to complete.  Give yourself the day to enjoy and make sure you have a friend who is somewhat capable to turn a wrench.

The directions are quite good.  Some reports stated that they were hard to follow and wording was confusing.  We simply followed the pictures and occasionally read what we were supposed to do.  I know… it drives my wife crazy as well!  

Friend, aka hired help!  Rick on the right, me on the left (borrowed from Kendenton!)
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/p937374311-5-1.jpg

I bribed Rick with Corona’s and pizza so he was more than happy to spend a glorious Sunday afternoon with me in the garage.  We lucked out with weather as it was around 60 and sunny.  

Motivation!
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01382.jpg

Before Rick arrived, I did my best to lay out the parts.  
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01381.jpg

http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01380.jpg

About half way through, we laid out the plywood to make sure we were in the right direction.
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01383.jpg

We took a beer break to let the heater warm up the garage. Make sure that you line up the wood properly, measure twice, cut once!  We did it in more than these two steps! Haha
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01385.jpg

Ta-Da!
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01388.jpg
 

Trailer folded up.  Some of the bolt heads lined up and caused the trailer not to close all the way. Close enough.  A few extra turns on the bolts brought the sides closer.
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01389.jpg

Another tip, when you wire the trailer, wire it folded up, standing up.  Yeah, I didn’t leave enough slack and had to do a fab job!  Also, I recommend to use shrink tubing to connect the wires.  
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01394.jpg

Lights work!
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC00968.jpg

All tucked away.  It’s very practical for a small garage like mine.
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01390.jpg
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01393.jpg


I drilled an eye bolt into the wall stud to keep the trailer secured.
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb184/mastros2/Trailer%20Build/DSC01395.jpg

Below is a breakdown of the costs:
Trailer- $259 including taxes, $240 before NJ needed to get paid.

Wheel Chock- $25.  I opted for the permanent chock instead of the removable one simply due to my local shop not having the removable chock in stock.  I saved $30 but will have to take out the bolts every time I want to fold it up.  Not an issue for me.

5/8”  thick plywood- $17.  The HF site recommended ¾” plywood but it was rather heavy compared to the 5/8”.  Price was a few $ more so that wasn’t a factor. Less weight for me to fold up is a good thing.  Get the home improvement store to cut it.  Saves you from screwing it up!

Washers, bolts and nuts- $30.  This was the cost of the hardware of what we used.  Of course I bought extra to add to the toolbox.  

Eyebolts- $12.  Not the strength of what I was looking for but I used them to keep the trailer secured when closed.

1 7/8” trailer ball- $8.  Damn HF!  I had a 2” ball already!!!

Safety Chain- $15.  The safety chain supplied with the trailer was similar of what you would use to hand a chandelier.  I upgraded to a stronger chain and used the supplied chain to keep the trailer closed when packed away.

The only casualty (except for a 12pk of Corona's!) was when my cheap grease gun broke off one of the wheel’s cheap grease fittings.  
 
Total for the trailer build was $365.  I did cut costs here and there but I was rather happy with the total price and quality. I still want to add more eye bolts, the grease fitting and a ramp so maybe add another couple of $.  Plus, we did have a good time building it up.  It was well worth a nice Sunday afternoon.  Thumbsup
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 04:15:09 AM by Mastros2 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 10:42:51 AM »

Tractor Supply has the Carry-On brand-this is what I got, as space for storing isn't an issue.  12" tires, 1 ton capacity.  Can carry much more than just a bike or 2.  Added 3/4 treated (important) plywood and a removable chock-works beautifully, and I've built a couple more for guys-once they saw mine they had to have.  Trailer $500 (on sale, usually $599), extras about $200, includes a mounted spare though.  Rigged some brackets to hold the gate at an angle for really large bikes.



« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 10:44:32 AM by radman » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2011, 01:47:34 PM »

I bought a used trailer off someone for $500 and poured another $500 or so into fixing it up.

Thought of the kind you can buy at Tractor Supply....darn flimsy by comparison to what others make.  I thought about Harbor Freight, but so much of their stuff isn't even the better "made in China" stuff so I didn't look closer at it, but I notice they carry a lot of the parts for a DIY trailer build.
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2011, 02:24:40 PM »

Nice trailer, but I would look for a more permanent wiring solution.

Get some 3-wire cable that is already sheathed (so it's weatherproof), run it underneath, along inside the channels at the edge of the trailer to the lights and secure along the way with some padded P-clips.
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 04:11:02 PM »

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and kind words.  It was really fun to put together.  Frenchie, it has been steady at $299 for a while but with this current gas issue I see the price going closer to its reg.  Stop by one day and check it out.  

Should've explained... I was looking for a small trailer for bike transportation and maybe other items in the future.  1200lbs capacity will be plenty for me.  We have a 1 car garage and although it is deeper than a standard garage (approx 26' in length), anything but a fold-up trailer wouldn't do. I thought about a Tractor Supply trailer or other already built trailers but I don't have a permanent place to store it except inside the garage.  Believe me, I thought about putting a trailer on its side for storage and removing the ramp but that would be more work than it’s worth.

The trailer is going to stay inside the garage, not live outside.  I will paint the plywood with exterior paint but it won’t be subjected to the elements.  As for the HF trailer accessories, I would look elsewhere.  Some of their tie-down points look ok, but like what Zero said, not the best quality (see my comment on the safety chain).

The wiring is quite thin so I will be looking to upgrade it in the future.  Most of the wiring is already in a channel and zip tied but will look for the P clips.  The supplied clips are ok but not permanent.

Once I register and road test it, I’ll write a follow up.  
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2011, 04:15:49 PM »

think about using good floor paint for the plywood -- I helped a buddy build a similar trailer 6/7 years ago, and the floor paint still looks good.
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2011, 04:18:16 PM »

That is a good suggestion.  Thanks Bomber!
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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2011, 04:18:37 PM »

No charge for a bud!
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2011, 07:49:06 PM »


No charge for a bud!


I can agree on that price!  Haha!  Bigsmile
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2011, 10:15:07 AM »

I have an HF Folding Trailer.  I gotta say:   Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup

LOVE that damn thing.  Paid for itself in spite of crap castors, lousy hitch ball issues and leaky bearings.  

I just lube the bearings every 500 miles or so - about every other trip.
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2011, 07:04:11 PM »


Yeah I have deed restrictions on things like trailers and such so that's why mine was living at my brother's house. The fold up and storable would be perfect for me.


Same with me.  A few in the neighborhood have trailers outside but I'll keep the peace with the neighbors.


I have an HF Folding Trailer.  I gotta say:   Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup Thumbsup

LOVE that damn thing.  Paid for itself in spite of crap castors, lousy hitch ball issues and leaky bearings.  

I just lube the bearings every 500 miles or so - about every other trip.


I've read so many reviews like this, I couldn't pass it up.  Thanks!  

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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2011, 07:35:26 PM »

I have a very similar trailer that I bought from Home Depot about 10 years ago for $229 I believe. I haul my KTM dirt bike with it regularly.
The floor paint is a very good idea. I painted mine when I put it together and it looks great 10 yrs later. I found this link with the trailer I bought. It is now 499. Wow. It is a little bit heavier that the Harbor Freight model. It folds up and i store it in my townhouse garage no problem. I wish the casters were a little closer to the rear wheels to make it easier to lift, but it is not too bad as is.

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200356493_200356493?cm_ite=125691&cm_pla=Trailers%20%2B%20Trailer%20Parts%3ETrailers&cm_cat=Nextag&cm_ven=Aggregates
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2011, 08:42:28 PM »


think about using good floor paint for the plywood -- I helped a buddy build a similar trailer 6/7 years ago, and the floor paint still looks good.


Not to one up bomber (hi John  ) but i use a clear wood stain on the wood on my trailer. The advantage is that the stain won't make for a slick surface unlike the paint especially when it gets wet. The down side is that since mine sits outside i put a coat on once a year. 15 years and the wood shows no ware.
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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2011, 09:25:06 PM »

Put traction beads in the floor paint first. You can pick it where you buy the floor paint usually. I know my local Sherwin Williams carries it.

No more slippery  Razz
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« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2011, 11:45:34 PM »


Put traction beads in the floor paint first. You can pick it where you buy the floor paint usually. I know my local Sherwin Williams carries it.

No more slippery  Razz


Excellent!  I'll be purchasing the paint at my local SW so I'll ask.

Clear wood stain.  That may be an alternative.  Thanks!
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« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2011, 11:03:16 AM »

This is it:

http://www.sherwin-williams.com/do_it_yourself/products/hc_sharkgrip/?referringCategory=exterior_paint_coatings/masonry_concrete_products/
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« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2011, 02:12:18 PM »

Where is Concho Heritage and Cousin Vee-Twain when you need them?  Lol
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« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2011, 03:39:42 PM »

cheap, son, ah said cheap!

A little sand thrown onto the wet paint/clear finish will provide all the traction ya need ;-}
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« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2011, 04:42:51 PM »

Haha, just steal the sand from some kid's playground!  "I need this kid..."  Lol

All jokes aside, I have heard basic sand will work.  Depending on how much the sharkgrip costs, I may opt for that.
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« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2011, 05:10:08 PM »

Yep - playground sand spread onto the already applied but still wet paint - works, easy, inexpensive.
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« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2012, 10:32:17 PM »

Hey Mastros. It's been a year. How's it been living with this thing?
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« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2012, 12:24:13 AM »

It’s been fantastic.  The trailer actually has been holding up really well.  I packed the bearings again at ~1k miles but that is more preventative and recommended from other owners.  

Due to our small space, it works really well for us.  I can unfold it and then fold it back up by myself and goes right into the corner of the garage.  Also, it has been quite useful for moving furniture and bikes.

Since the build, I haven’t added anything else to it.  The only upgrade I may do is welding the corners and some more support pieces to it but not necessary at this time.  I have a friend who welds it will be free (minus the cost of beer).  Maybe I'll add better wheel bearings and casters but as it stands, it is great.  Thumbsup  
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« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2012, 12:28:31 AM »

One last thing regarding the sand mixed with paint.  

Yes, it is a nonslip surface.  Would I do it again, probably not.  I may add just a tiny bit or find less coarse sand.  The sand really rips your skin from your knuckles every time you accidentally rub your hand on it.  I did overdo it with the sand though.  
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« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2012, 03:01:15 AM »

Thanks for the call back, and the advice on the sand. So I guess the "proper" method of applying the sand would be more of a "dash of salt" kind of application?
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« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2012, 10:10:46 AM »


Thanks for the call back, and the advice on the sand. So I guess the "proper" method of applying the sand would be more of a "dash of salt" kind of application?


Yes.  I really added a nice layer.  When you think you didn't add enough, you added too much!
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« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2012, 08:45:46 AM »

Sorry more question(s): how big was the box it came in. Will it fit in a sedan's trunk?
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« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2012, 10:49:48 PM »


Sorry more question(s): how big was the box it came in. Will it fit in a sedan's trunk?


I bet the box fits in a HF trailer



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« Reply #27 on: March 24, 2012, 01:04:36 AM »

I think the longest box is 4'.  All boxes are approx 1' wide.  You would be ok if your rear seats fold down.  
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« Reply #28 on: March 24, 2012, 02:56:21 PM »


You would be ok if your rear seats fold down.  


And they do, sweet! Well it looks like I have my afternoon cut out. Managed to fix the dryer today without burning my house down, so think I will treat myself  Cool

Thanks for the guidance Mastros!
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« Reply #29 on: March 24, 2012, 11:33:55 PM »

Not a problem.  Tell me how you make out.  Thumbsup
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« Reply #30 on: March 30, 2012, 09:39:43 PM »

This is a 4 1/2 x 8 ft Home Depot Snowbear trailer I bought back in 2006.  I removed the steel sides and built the wooden side racks.  Used pressure treated wood, of course.

Instead of buying a wheel chock for motorycle hauling, I made one out of wood (pressure treated) I had on hand.  I used 2x6's and the side braces are 3/4 inch plywood, also pressure treated.  Each side brace is screwed into the 2x6's with eight 3 inch deck screws, so I think there's no chance it'll break.  It's bolted into the steel floor section of the trailer with 4 bolts.  

The mod has saved a lot of weight and wind resistance.  It's been extremely useful, and it turns my Corolla and Subie Outback into a very useful cargo hauler.  Believe it or not, the Corolla is rated to tow 1500 pounds.  I've used it for hauling home improvement materials, to camping gear and supplies, to motorcycles.      

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« Reply #31 on: March 30, 2012, 09:55:05 PM »

Another useful tip, replace your bearing dust covers with Bearing Buddies.

http://www.etrailer.com/Grease-Caps/Bearing-Buddy/BB2441.html?feed=npn&gclid=CMvbzK2DkK8CFYrb4AodU2ZKzg
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« Reply #32 on: April 01, 2012, 10:30:09 PM »


Not a problem.  Tell me how you make out.  Thumbsup

Just completed day 1 of the build. It is possible to put these things together on your own, just takes longer. Plan is to get it kind of working, then get the wood. Then drill the wood. Then treat the wood.

Have some additional tips and observations...

  • Compressed air and a Chee-Z-Ayr-Rench from HF makes things quicker, and maybe cuts down on muscle aches. That wrench was sizzling and spitting oil when it was resting  Lol
  • Need some big sockets to do this job, for some fasteners. My 21 and 22mm came out of the tool box. Looks like the castle nut for the wheel needs a 31mm/1.25 inch socket, which I do not possess. So it was channel Locked on, just enough to get it not to fall off.
  • Even though it folds, the front part is kind of tall, fouled the overhead storage in my garage. Make sure you plan out the build, as there is folding and standing up to be done.
  • NJ trailer registrations expire in March, regardless of when you purchased it. Looks like I timed it pretty good.  Cool


Feel good about the progress I made on the trailer, but my pack rat syndrome took a major step backwards today - everything from an old motorcycle battery to discarded packing material laying the floor got used today. The "some day I might need that" neurons were validated... not good.
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"When you corner, you have to put your toes on the pegs, you big Sasquatch!" TJConc

Bikes from my past: 2004 BMW R1150R Rockster, 2006 FJR 1300, 2007 Triumph Tiger 1050, 1994 Kawasaki KLR650
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« Reply #33 on: April 02, 2012, 02:54:42 AM »


Feel good about the progress I made on the trailer, but my pack rat syndrome took a major step backwards today - everything from an old motorcycle battery to discarded packing material laying the floor got used today. The "some day I might need that" neurons were validated... not good.


Haha, keep that in the back of your mind for the next argument with the wife!

Glad everything went well.   Thumbsup
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