HF-Trailer



My last Harbor Freight trailer was the standard 4' x 8' folding trailer that originally came with the 8" wheels. During it's time under my hand, i upgraded the wheels to 12" wheels (4-bolt rims), which was about all I did to the trailer. It served me well for many years, and several thousand miles. It has since been sold to another party that used it to transport more stuff to El Paso.


This time around, I decided to start with the HF HD trailer platform (5-bolt rims), and beef up that unit for handling loads of wood.

Using the 20% off coupon, I was pretty much out the door for about $287....quite a deal for the Item 94564 1720Lb Capacity Super Duty Utility Trailer.


While the trailer by itself is pretty good for the list weight, I decided to add on a few braces to make it stiffer, and ensure that it would last longer with less maintenance.

The first upgrade is using Grade 8 1/2-13 x 1 bolts and Metal locking nuts in the tongue of the trailer. Normally, there would be two bolts that go through these holes. Should one of them brake, you've lost a considerable amount of strength from this portion of the trailer. Inserting 4 Grade-8 bolts is much stronger, and provides redundancy.


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I used a bunch of metal from Lowes, 1/8” x 1-1/2” Angle Iron (steel). As you will see, I left the angle in the steel to keep the strength and rigidity.
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Rather than cut the Angle Iron, I opted to notch the frame, and fit the angled steel into the frame.
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After cleaning up the metal and removing the paint around the adjoining sections, I welded these steel sections to the boxed frame. The nice thing about this is that I can still take apart the trailer, and break it down into a forward and rear section, should I need to store the trailer for an extended period.
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When welding up these open spaces, it's important to fill in the gaps. Any open gap, if not filled will vibrate, weaken and eventually crack, ruining your frame.





This was an interesting section. In this image, the trailer is upside down, and you are looking at the portion of the trailer that the slipper spring sits in. The problem with this setup is that the bolt on the left cannot be left in place, due to the slipper spring plate needing to be flush with the trailer frame. The bolt on the right side goes through the slipper spring plate to help hold the plate to the frame. As well, noted the square holes on the left, they line up as well to allow a carriage bolt through both holes. So, sine the bolt on the left cannot remain there, and to remove it without bracing it would weaken this corner section of the frame, I improvised with some hot-glue.
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Here the trailer is upside down, and receiving a longer 6ft section of angle-steel applied to the bottom of the trailer. In this case, from the top of the trailer I have welded angle steel into the top of the trailer, and bolted a longer section of angle steel to the bottom. It should be noted that the bottom (longer 6ft section) is only bolted so that if I have to take apart the sections I can do this without having to break welds.
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Bearings and seals;
Rather than use the existing Chinese bearings, and their supplied Vaseline type grease, I opted to get some quality bearings right off the bat.
Bearingsdirect.com has good prices on bearings, races and seals. Their shipping is quick too.
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new Seal
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OLD Seal, note the Vaseline….
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New Bearings from Japan, NSK bearings
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OLD bearings. I will keep these, just in case something bad happens to the NSK bearings….
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Bearing Installation
When removing the old bearing races, be sure to use a brass punch. Brass is softer than the steel sidewalls of the bearing housing, and won't mar the sidewalls or mess up the bearing seats
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Be sure and clean up the mess made by the brass punch. You don’t need any of the shavings in your bearings
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When installing the new bearing races, be sure to go slow, and don't allow the bearing race to get knocked into the axle hub sideways. Aside from marring the axle housing, and deforming the bearing race, getting it out can be a real pain.
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I often keep old bearing races from other vehicles to use as press parts, etc. This Bearing race that is being used to knock the race into the hub comes from my Saturn from wheel bearings. These parts are just the right size to assist in getting the bearing race all the way into the hub.
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Nice clean sides
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After packing the bearings and putting into place, you can knock the replacement seals into place.
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VERY IMPORTANT:
Before you install the hub on the axle, be sure to inspect the axle and ensure it is free of any debris that may tear up your seal. In this picture you can see there is some welding splatter from the factory that fell onto the axle spindle. This will tear up your seal. Take a good wire brush to the spindle to rid it of any paint and debris such as this welding splatter.
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Wiring:
The first time I wired up my old trailer, I used the provided clips to hold the wires in place. The nice thing with using the clips, it's quick and easy. The bad thing about using those clips is that they come loose from the frame, they cut into the wire and are generally crap.
This time around, I used Flex Split Wire conduit to protect the wire, and then good 'ol bailing wire to hold the Conduit in place. 
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Rear lights:
Generally the light setup is lacking, and allows the lights to be mounted really low, and thus prone to being damaged by rocks or generally not seen by cars or large trucks that are behind you. My old trailer I had the lights mounted up high, but I didn't reinforce the setup. This time around, I mounted the lights up high, and reinforced the setup with additional bracing. When you are barreling down the washboard road you want these extensions to be as stiff as possible. Also, having the trailer lights up high, allows you to see where the rear end of the trailer is when you're backing it up. This is especially good if you have a pickup truck.
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Decking:
The deck started out as ¾" treated plywood. So that it would last a long time, I treated the treated plywood to some BEHR water proofing. I put two thick coats on each side of the deck. Then, after that I put two thick coats of Valspar Storm Coat Latex paint. Now, I’m sure people will say the paint will come off. If so, that is ok, I'm not worried about that. The paint is a cheap solution to providing one more layer of protective coating. When it starts to come off, I'll put some more on. No big deal.
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Trailer Tongue Box:
I could have gone down to HF and picked up an "Official" Trailer Tongue Box to install on the trailer tongue. The problem with these smaller boxes is that they will not allow a full size tire to fit inside the box. There tires and wheels are expensive enough that I would like to have it out of sight, and therefore out of mind of any potential thieves. I had this box from my old trailer, so I decided to brace up my Trailer tongue, and install a large locking box.
Again, I welded a brace on the trailer tongue to provide more stiffing and strength to the tongue, and provide better support to the box. (Yes, the picture shows that it is not welded, but that is what happened here, it was welded in place as it is shown)
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Tie Downs:
When strapping down a motorcycle or anything else for that matter, you need to have some strong points to tie to. Here I installed some plates that allow for a fairly flat deck, but are still strong. The underside uses Flat washers to spread the pressure, and locking nuts to keep it all in place.
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Towards the front of the trailer I installed an old set of Tacoma Bed D-Ring Tie Downs (PT785-35054). These D-rings are really nice in that they are strong, and the D-rings move around. Great product for the side mounting of the trailer:
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Security:
If you're going to leave anything on the trailer at night, you may want to consider locking it up. I use a Master Lock Truck bed Security Lock ( No. 8287DAT). I've used this lock for a number of years on my previous trailer when locking up my bike with a large cable.
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The bottom portion of a lock. The lock is held in place by two machine screws that are screwed (threaded) THROUGH a steel plate. In this case, I run the screws through the welded frame, then threaded through the backing plate, and to ensure nothing comes loose, two locking nuts to keep it all tight.
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Just having a visual security device is usually enough to make a thief move on to an easier target.
Here is a picture of the old trailer and a large security cable running through the frame of the bike and the lock on the trailer floor.
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Bearing Buddies

To keep the bearings cool and well lubed, rather than use the provided dust-caps, I opted to install Bearing Buddies, model 2047. I ordered these from Etrailer.com, which has the correct size at a good price.
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Fender Stabilization:
If you don't stabilize the fenders, you will end up with a cracked frame, like is in this picture. The fenders flop around so much that they stress the frame, and eventually crack it where the bolts go through the frame.
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In fixing my old trailer, I used some metal strap to assist in hold the fender still
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On this new trailer, I decided to really stabilize the fenders, and to add some mud flaps. During my last trip to the forest for wood gathering, I had a lot of mud thrown up on the wood from the trailer tires. This time around, I'm going to attempt to prevent so much mud slop from getting on my straps and the rest of the trailer.So, along with providing a stable fender, the two rear sections of the fender hold up the make-shift mud flaps.
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The bolts that hold the fender stabilizers in place; One goes through the frame, and one is held in place with a larger fender washer and locking split washers
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Overall
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I'll have some pics up some time of the side rails and tail gate for the trailer.....
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