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Economical Off-Road Trailer Build: Part II

Posted in How To on May 1, 2012
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The off-road trailer bug is still biting as we continue the construction and modification of a Harbor Freight 4x8-foot utility trailer for use on moderate trails. In this segment we’ll install a plywood deck and a Harbor Freight trailer side kit in addition to wiring the lights and registering the trailer for the road.

Though we had hoped to be a bit further along in the project by now we’re pleased that we aren’t, as it has allowed us to re-think our plans of attack on a few of the intended modifications. First and foremost, we were building bigger than we needed to; the plan for the trailer started out as “economical” and we want to keep it that way. Though we’d love some slide-out drawers and swing-out worktables (and a kitchen sink) we’re not building an RV. So, we’ve pulled in the reigns a bit and are taking a somewhat simpler approach in its modifications. We haven’t closed the door on furthering the modifications in the future but for now we’re going to build what’s necessary for our immediate needs: an off-road trailer that will haul basic gear, serve as a base camp shop/kitchen, and provide a sheltered sleeping area.

The off-road trailer project is rolling but it still has a ways to go. The Harbor Freight trailer side kit is a cool addition that gives us a head start on modifications. With the included lights installed we were able to easily register the trailer and get a Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) plate.

Our next step in this project is to design and build an upper deck that will support upward to 600 pounds while stationary. The top deck will hold an ARB Series III Simpson Rooftop Tent, which weighs about 135 pounds. The extra pounds come in to play when you add two sleeping adults to the tent. We’ll limit any extra gear carried on the upper deck while towing in order to keep the trailer’s center of gravity low. In addition to the ARB tent we’ll also install an ARB awning and tent annex.

Check back next month to see the progress.

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