The Free Trailer

As the title says, I got this trailer for free. My wife says it wasn’t free, because she’s paying for all the upgrades. Oh, Tomato Tamato, its still free to me. 😀 I had been using my boat trailer with two board sideways across the bunks to work as a two kayak trailer. But on float trips we end up with three or four kayaks on one trailer between spots for launching and the pull out. I did not want to modify my boat trailer, as I have to clean up and sell the jon boat. I needed a new trailer to work on.

I posted on Craigslist looking for fixer up boat or jet ski trailer. I said no mater the condition contact me as I want to modify it to be multiple kayak trailer. A couple days later a guy from about an hour away sends me and e-mail. He has a trailer that had been setting for 15 years that he was going to fix up, but he never did anything and his wife is tired of it. He saw my add when looking to buy another boat and trailer. He said, its rusty, a lot of work and the tires are destroyed. It has a title and you can have it for free if you come and get it. That just hit my cheap gene like a hammer and I was on the road to get it. I had to turn it upside down on my current boat trailer to get it home, but I did and it got here.

1 - Trailer side

This is how it looked originally. I was removing all the bunk equipment and thought I better take some pictures. Some of the bunk equipment nuts and bolts were so rusty I had to grind the heads or bolts off to remove them. I got the face mask out and the two wire brush attachments for the angle grinder and started working.

Notice the tire rim in the bottom of the picture. These get cleaned up also. The mechanic that replaced the tires said each wheel had its own old mouse nest in it.

3 - Fender

Here is a before and after for the fenders. It was getting late one night and I had finished one of the fenders and needed to get it primed. So I held the untouched well next to the cleaned and primed fender. There is some residual pitting, but it is all cleaned up and painted.

4 - wheels on

Up to this point right here I have cleaned and paint the rims and have new tires. Yes those are the same rims. The angle grinder had been wearing me out. I wanted to get moving on and was getting close to putting up of the risers, where I wanted to be from the beginning. In my rush, did you notice, I put the fenders on … backwards.

5 - sizing bars

This is where the build gets interesting and I get started on the risers and cross arms to carry the kayaks. What you are looking at is two uprights made from 2″ x 3″ x 1/8″ thick steel channel. I had this laying around my shop and needed to use it up.

I started but cutting a slot in the top of the back channel on the existing boat trailer frame. I just cut the top out so the riser channel could slide in and rest on the lower side of the channel. Then I clamped it in to place and check for level and tack weld it down, verify level and weld it into place. Repeat for The front riser, but that did not require any cutting. It just clamped to the back side of the old dump hinge channel and welded it into place.

Yes this used to be an old Dump hinged trailer. I have no intentions of ever opening the dump hinge once it became a kayak trailer so I just removed the locking pin and welded it shut. Dump hinges are a notorious place to loose the ground on your frame also.

6 - bars onThis picture shows the cross arms clamped in place and then the next picture the cross-arms are welded across the tops and down the sides. I used 1 1/4″ x 1/8″ thick square tubing for the cross-arms. It is really stout stuff and that is why I used it. I could have bought 16 gauge metal, but it’s not that much cheaper and this is so much stronger. I just cranked up the heat on the welder and got to work.

After this point I notice the front riser is stiff and good. The back riser is on the long channel and it flexes, a lot! You can’t see it in this picture, but I put a flat scrap piece of 2×3 channel cut out and welded caps over the top of the risers and welded a 1 1/4″ square tube between the risers to stiffen them together. This stiffener piece also helps support the kayaks on the top rack when on their sides.

Another angle below here, but this time with the fender mounted correctly.7 - Top brace added

On the amounts of materials. The risers are roughly 4′ each. There is 2″ between the bottom of the bottom of the lower cross-arm and the tops of the fenders, 21″ of space between the two cross-arms and 22″ of space to the top of the risers from the top of the upper cros-arm. The cross arms where 6′ long each. I bought a 24′ stick from Maryland Metals in Hagerstown. It cost $33 and I cut it into 4 – 6′ sections. I also bought a 6′ piece of the same tubing to be the stiffener between risers. They cut this one for me so I did not have to buy a full stick.

8 - kayaksSo now the carrying capacity of the trailer is all fixed and ready to be tested. That is a Tarpon 100 on its side on top against the riser and a small Elie strapped to it. The bottom cross-arm is carrying a Commander 120 so it could be sized for carrying  the commanders and Ride 135’s. I was checking how long the cross-arms needed to be. In this picture they extend 34″ from the Riser and extended past  the fenders by 5″ and you can see I have plenty of space. I took the saw z-all out and cut 4″ off of each cross arm. This was still more than plenty as the widest points on the kayak are between the  two cross-arms.

Next I got thick eye screws and inserted them into the ends of the tubes to serve and ratchet strap and tie down lashing points on the ends. The ends seemed like a real clothes snag and sharp corner to hit and the eyes really rounded them out. I did not get a good picture while installing them. I just inserted the eye into the tube, corner to corner at 45 degrees and welded them in place. This way they round the ends of the channels and are not sticking up when trying to slide the kayaks on from the sides.

???????????????????????????????Here is one of the screw eyes welded into place. It will serve as the tie does strap attachment and you can see how it rounds out the end of the square tubing.

9 - Trailer FinishedI bought pool noodles from the store and cut them in half and sliced down the length. The slipped over each cross-arm and wrapped with black duct tape to provide some outer abrasion resistance. Many trips are planned to test this working ability.

Here is the finished trailer with nothing to add but side reflectors.

10 - Bearings old to newHere was the only problem I ran into.The trailer felt smooth to roll it, what could be wrong, but lets check the bearing away.

The passenger side bearing where fine and repacked and went right back on. The seal on the drive side had been leaking and water got into the grease. The inner bearing was seized to the spindle. The old bearing and race on the left show obvious heat damage from the degraded grease from water infiltration. That is a new bearing and new race on the right. If I would have drove this as is, I would have destroyed the entire drivers side and maybe needed a new spindle, hub and all. As my buddy Greg says “A little preventative maintenance goes a long way.” It’s slowly starting to sink in to this thick skull of mine.

I am not going to cover that is this post, but maybe in another.

Enjoy the day and get fishing!


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