A Poor Man's Truck -- seeking opinions on foldable trailer


I've had to be creative (and borrow neighbor's trucks a lot) to haul my lumber. I also have a small garage. While browsing today I found a foldable trailer (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber154). Hmmm. Anybody in rec.woodworking have an opinion on this thing? Seems big enoulg to carry my 4x8 baltic birch. Plus I can store it in the garage.
Is it a hassle to fold it and un-fold it?
Is it pretty stable?
Is it a piece of junk?
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Never Enough Money (in snipped-for-privacy@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com) said:
| I've had to be creative (and borrow neighbor's trucks a lot) to | haul my lumber. I also have a small garage. While browsing today I | found a foldable trailer | (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber15 4). | Hmmm. Anybody in rec.woodworking have an opinion on this thing? | Seems big enoulg to carry my 4x8 baltic birch. Plus I can store it | in the garage. | | Is it a hassle to fold it and un-fold it?
You'll probably want a helper.
| Is it pretty stable?
Mine seems to be - but I've avoided loading it above the side panels.
| Is it a piece of junk?
Doesn't seem to be. Just remember that it's a light-duty trailer.
Bonus hint: shave the inside of the panel stakes slightly starting at the point where they're above the trailer floor - otherwise you'll find that your 4x8 panels are a /really/ snug fit.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/solar.html
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You might want to check out ebay for a foldable trailer. There's a seller on there, based in SoCal that sells brand new utility trailers at a pretty good price, including a folding one. I can't find their seller name at the moment but it's something like "myjdm". They import the trailers and some other aftermarket car and truck parts from China.
I bought one of their 4'x5' non-folding trailers. It's decently made, 14 gauge powder coated steel frame.It includes a light kit, and the paperwork you need if you're going to get it registered. I know they sell a foldable version as well as other sizes. I'm planning on getting one of their 4'x8' models for another project I'm working on.
Prices are better than Harbor Freight and they seem to always have em in stock, when I tried Harbor Freight before I bought my first one, my local store didn't have any, didn't know when they were getting any and when I called their main office here in Camarillo, CA, they told me the same story. If you happen to live in SoCal, you can pick it up yourself and save on the shipping charges.
John Emmons

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I was in the same situation several years ago. We lived in an apartment and did not own a truck. But, I needed to carry plywood and other supplies on occasion. When I weighed the costs of a truck and insurance against a $200 trailer, the choice was a no-brainer.
I bought a trailer just like the Harbor Freight model. It was fairly easy to assemble, easy enough to fold up, and it stored easily at the end of our carport. But I couldn't really put sides on the trailer and still be able to fold it up (unless they were easily removable).
When we moved to our property, I stopped folding up the trailer and built permanent sides for it out of pressure treated lumber (See picture at www.mountain-software.com/trailer.jpg). Since the trailer frame is almost exactly 4x8, I inset the plywood panels into the framework. This allows me to carry full sheets of plywood (though it's a tight fit).
I've owned the trailer about 14 years now, and it has seen a LOT of use. I've hauled countless sheets of plywood and other lumber, various building supplies (plumbing pipes, large tools, etc.), helped friends and family move their stuff, brought home multiple loads of bark dust, delivered firewood, and carried many loads of garbage to the dump.
By hanging a couple feet off the front (over the tongue), and a few feet off the back, I've hauled lumber as long as 16'. Though most of the time I'm carrying 10' pipes or lumber under 8' long.
My trailer is rated at 900 pounds, which does limit what I can carry to a degree. For instance, I wouldn't want to try carrying a load of gravel or sand. However, I pull my trailer with a 1976 Rabbit which doesn't weigh all that much itself. So the weight limit of the trailer hasn't really been an issue. Other than a couple of loads of wet garbage, I haven't even come close to the weight limit.
Unlike most trucks, I get 30 mpg with my car when I'm not pulling the trailer, but can still carry items many small trucks can't. In addition, the trailer only costs about $30 a year to license, and is covered by my auto insurance at no additional cost.
I highly recommend these little trailers...
Anthony
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'Not Enough Money' could have been my 'name' when I bought mine. While it wasn't from HF, I think these are ALL made in the same factory in China.
Anyway, at the time I didn't have a 'specific' use for it . . . just thinking ahead and the price was DAMN right!! It took an afternoon of casual effort to assemble. I used a full sheet of 3/4 ply {scrap I had scrounged}for the bed. I had to notch it for the hinges. It basically sat in my driveway for about a year. It's first use was to pick-up a 15 foot boat {YES, the bed is only 8 feet}. By bringing along some wood blocking, screws, and a cordless drill/driver, I was able to form a bit of a 'cradle' on-site. 200+ miles each way - and no problems.
Since then I've built the 'rails' and transported 1,000 pounds of topsoil for Joanne's raised beds garden. Just as a 'ho-hum' - several full sheets of heavy ply & MDF, rolls of roofing material, 50-lb bags of gardening materials, etc.
I do have some experience with 'small' trailers & their construction . . . I've had a couple of boat trailers, and presently own one that I modified to fit a specific sailboat. A few comments specific to the HF trailer and your questions. . . .
Obviously, it's strong enough. Although carefully looking at the axle and comparing it with the 'heavy duty' axel & hubs on the 'mini' trailer I just bought from HF - I would get the 'heavy duty' version, if the price was 'right'.
I specifically wanted the 'full sheet' bed. I have to take it off to 'fold' the trailer. It is stored behind the trailer. {The sheet could have been cut in half to allow folding without removal}. A couple of bolts & nuts have to be removed for folding. I thread them through other holes so they don't 'walk off'. I have the room, so I only fold for winter storage. Ready to go it weighs maybe 225 pounds, while it is sprung for over 1,100. Thus the unladed 'ride' is stiff and 'bouncy'. Mine tracks perfectly straight. She also handled the MAX load with ease . . . I SHOULD have checked the tire pressure and pumped THAT to MAX as well. They got really 'squished' and I had some difficulty HAND-PUSHING it up the drive.
Now that I been 'coerced' into trading in my 18-year old pick-up for a 7-year old RODEO, the trailer has sort of 'come into it's own' . . . I can no longer toss sheet goods in the back of 'my' vehicle.
Definitely NOT a 'piece of junk', but I think they are ALL a bit over-priced. Especially now that the 'Free Shipping' has gone away {If you have a local outlet - one just opened DANGEROUSLY near me - that is a non-issue}. Recently, HF has offered them at some REALLY GOOD discounted prices. That is why I picked up a heavy-duty 'mini' for $160. {The 'regular duty' was $130}. The tires & axles would cost more than that if purchased on the normal market.!!
Depending on your 'sensibilities' and usage I would recommend two 'extras' - a folding 'tongue wheel' and {especially since the price has gone down} a 'trailer dolly' for moving it around - more so when it is loaded.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop

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I have the same trailer and I am very pleased with it though I do not use the folding feature. I can tell you that to fold it, you would need to remove whatever stake sides you have installed, and then remove 2 bolts from each side (4 total) from the lower portion of the trailer. The bolts are not terribly difficult to reach but it would be a slight hassle it seems to me. As far has handling on the road, the trailer works fine behind my tiny Ford Aspire.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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NEM,
I, too have the same trailer, but I keep mine folded in the rear of my garage. I use it a few times a year to haul extra kayaks for friends on group paddles. I mostly haul my wood in the back of my Dodge Grand Caravan, however I view this trailer as a back-up to that process. I definitely would use the trailer to haul things like dirt, concrete blocks, etc.
I think that the structural integrity of this trailer is fine, however, when I bought mine from HF in 2002, it was rated at 990lbs max load capacity not 1175lbs., so what you get now may be different.
I added a 3/4" plywood floor to mine but have yet to make the stake sides (although I have a set of locking brackets for the future sides). I also added small, stubs to the stake receivers to attach my old kayak racks that used to fit on my old Caravan rain gutters but don't fit my current van. I may, someday, extend the tongue to better haul the kayaks.
With just the 3/4" floor attached, I find I can fold and un-fold the trailer OK but it is getting heavy and, at 59 years old, it is just on the edge of my capabilities for folding safely alone. With two people, no problem.
All in all I am pleased with this trailer and wouldn't hesitate to buy one again if needed. I am very comfortable driving it around town and on short trips, but I worry about the 12" wheels on really long, high speed trips.
I have a set of photos of my assembly process. If you're interested, email me and I'll send them to you.
Bill Leonhardt

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