Most hardcore off-roaders trailer their 4x4 to the trailhead, and our readers are no different. At least a third of our audience owns both a trailer and a tow rig. But how many of those enthusiasts actually customize their trailer with even a fraction of the modifications they make to their trail rig or tow vehicle? It’s funny, but as it turns out the answer is pretty few.
While we’re not about to cover fully stocked enclosed race trailers with air conditioning, onboard tire machines, and Frappuccino makers, we did take the opportunity to prowl a few parking lots, streets, and condo complexes while at the 2018 Moab Easter Jeep Safari to see what good trailer customization ideas popped out at us. Here are tips and tricks others have done that we thought were worth a mention.
Whether it’s surplus ammo cans, a cheap plastic truck box from the local auto parts store, or a heavy-duty locking contractor’s box, a place to store your tie-down straps, chain, jack, spare wheel bearings, grease gun, and other trailer essentials is a must on any open-deck hauler.
Consider adding a section of receiver hitch stock to the front of your trailer. We welded one on ours and use it for anything from a bike rack (like in the lead photo) to our Warn SDP 6000 winch. Note the hole-sawed stake pockets as well; they make it easier to attach front tie-down straps when hauling vehicles.
You can find these bolt-on tie-down points at most trailer, auto part, hardware, and even Walmart stores. Make sure you use Grade 8 hardware with similarly graded washers on the back side to prevent the tie-downs from pulling out in the event of a collision. The last thing you want is your trail rig coming through your rear window.
Attached ramps can be nice if you only ever haul vehicles. They greatly speed up loading the trailer. These ramps have kickers to support the rear of the trailer, allowing it to be loaded without the tongue attached to a tow vehicle. One caveat to a setup like this is that if the rear of the trailer is facing any kind of incline, the kickers may interfere with the ground and prevent the ramps from sitting flush with the ground.
If your trial rig is pretty wide, you’ll want some sort of drive-over fenders that will support your vehicle’s weight without crushing. That can entail anything from heavy diamond-tread fenders with a central support such as these, adding a thick spacer with supports to the trailer frame underneath your sheetmetal fenders, or adding a bent or miter-cut external tube or frame system of some sort over your sheetmetal fenders.
This trailer holds a couple 5-gallon fuel jugs that can be handy for filling your trail or tow vehicle, but more importantly it has mounts for two fullsize spare trailer tires. If we had a dollar for every story we heard of somebody suffering multiple trailer tire blowouts on one trip we’d have enough to buy an additional trailer wheel and tire combo and the mount to hang it on our trailer. This person is smart!
Here’s a nice pickup box bolted to the trailer deck where it’s not in the way of the towed vehicle. However, what’s even cooler is the LED lighting that has been added to aid in nighttime loading and strapping. If you don’t want to bother wiring in service lights on your trailer, battery-powered LEDs are super-bright. We have a pair of cheapie tractor lights we mounted under our trailer’s dovetail that are wired into the seven-pin connector’s backup light circuit so when we put our tow rig in Reverse the trailer backup lights come on, but after seeing these we’ll be adding some work lamps to the top of our trailer deck for working at night.
We are sure this trailer hauls a tractor or skid steer during the workweek, but there’s no arguing the high-capacity fuel tank that’s notched for front bumper clearance. Not everybody needs that much additional fuel, but its shape serves as a reminder that not every trailer box or fuel tank added to the front deck will allow clearance for longer-wheelbase vehicles or trailer loads requiring more tongue weight. This gives you way more options to move your load around the trailer deck as needed.
A simple set of jackstands such as these allows you to load your trailer without hooking up to a tow rig. The cheap, lightweight stands are held in place with a pull pin. Just don’t forget to raise them before hitting the road.
Another simple method for loading an uncoupled trailer is to add a set of swiveling tongue jacks to the rear. While more common on marine trailers, these jacks can be locked vertically or horizontally by pulling a set pin, swiveling the jack, and locking into place.
While it’s way more common for shiny hot rods and show rigs, a gravel shield of some sort affixed to the front of your trailer will keep debris from kicking up off your tow rig’s tires as well as divert air from blowing your trail rig’s hood or other body parts around going down the highway. This is actually a Taylor roof wing for a big rig or pickup, but we thought the way it is used here was very clever. Also note the cool tow truck hook on the trailer winch, which makes hooking to a front axle housing or frame crossmember easy.
While we don’t usually see them this tall (or reinforced, for that matter) a front bump rail is a nice feature for any trailer. It prevents the vehicle from unintentionally rolling forward and into your tow rig in case of an accident while driving or during loading. If your flat-deck trailer didn’t come with one or it would be obtrusive for your other towing needs, you could rig up some removable bump rail using the trailer stake pockets.