Here's a photo of my car transport trailer before I started working on it. I use the trailer mainly for hauling long logs for the sawmill and shorter (double 16") length logs for firewood. Here's the condition of the trailer before I started. It has the Log Loader installed.

It's been a great trailer but I want to make a few modifications:
  • New Side Panels. Right now I have wooden sides that are not very good at holding all of the logs on the trailer, and the sides are pretty low so I really can't stack the wood too high. I plan on welding up some heavy duty removable side panels and a back panel that hinges from either side or can be removed all together.
  • Need More Places to Attach Straps. I only have a few points on the sides of the trailer to attach straps to hold down the loads. I plan on adding some more brackets on the sides.
  • Tail Light Protection. I'm on my second set of lights for this trailer and working in the forest with logs and trees is hard on the trailer and both lights get broke out every season.
  • New Coat of Paint. The trailer is rusting really bad and really needs to be refinished.
  • Protect the Wood Floor. I want to coat the bottom of the trailer with some kind of protectant to preserve the wood boards.
I also want to weld up some new fenders and some heavy duty ramps for the bobcat, but in looking through my scrap metal pile I can't find any metal that will work, so I'll save that for another day!

It takes quite a bit of planning to get started. I ususally look over my pile of scrap steel in the garage and on the back of our property for any kind of metal to use. This expanded wire mesh will come in handy.

I found that I had quite a bit of old pipe laying around. The red pipe is from an old horse fence, real heavy duty stuff. The thinner pipe I picked up on Freecycle, it's old well pipe that was replaced. It's rusted and pitted really bad but is still structurally very strong. It's a plus that the two pipes fit into each other so I can make hinges and removable sides by sliding the thinner pipe into the thicker pipe.

I'd say about half my time on this project was removing the paint and the rust from the old metal.

The metal cleans up really nice. Here was a thick rectangular pipe that I cut into sections with my abrasive circular saw. Believe it or not, the abrasive circular saw makes cutting this pipe a piece of cake.

This is an assembly of pipe and metal that I will use on the trailer. Lots of planning and cleaning goes into this project.

Here's the trailer with the first side all welded up and in place.

It came out pretty nice! Notice the poor tail light that didn't make it very far last season. Also notice that I have pins holding the front and back poles onto the trailer so it won't bouce off going down the road.

Here I already welded up two verticals in the front and back.

On this side I started with the top rail, but on the other side I started with the bottom. Either works just as well. You'll notice that there is a slight bow in the pipe from it's weight. I'll take that out when I weld up the two inner verticals.

I used sections of cut pipe to space the bottom rails so they would all be the same distance from each other.

Clamping just before the weld.

Here you can see that the whole side is removable. I removed the panel, turned it around and welded the bottoms of the pipes as well as the top to secure them. This panel is much heavier than I was hoping, almost too heavy for one person to handle. However, that's great for logging because it will hold up well, and I'll be able to easily remove them using the Log Loader.

After both side panels were welded up I installed these rings on the sides. I hold down loads of logs with straps and never have enough places to secure the straps. I'm sure this will be one of the best additions I can make!

Here's the finished side with 'strap rings'. The front ring was already there, meant for a two by four side panel.

Here's where things get complicated. I want to add a back panel that will pivot and is also removable.

Here's the finished hinge.

Here I have a hinge on both sides and the first bottom pipe welded in between. I didn't have enough pipes that were long enough so I had to take two shorter pipes and weld them end to end to get this length. It came out very straight!

I had to do the same with the top rail, weld two pipes end to end.

Decided to put a few verticals...

Here I decided to use some expanded metal mesh for the back gate to keep any debris from jumping out at the vehicle traveling behind me.

I cut the wire mesh with my acetylene torch and welded it with my wire feed MIG welder.

Here's the installed rear gate with wire mesh. It came out very nice if I do say so myself!

One problem I was having is that the hinge pins were really hard to remove. And I was concerned about removing the rear panel and losing the pins, so I added some chains to secure them. The chains make it really easy to remove the pins.

OK, here I'm starting on my tail light protectors using solid square bar steel.

Added a little wire mesh...

Here I show one of them installed. For the bolts I actually welded the nuts on the trailer so it's easy to just bolt them down without having to worry about the nuts. Believe it or not the design and assembly of these protectors took most of a day. It took awhile to figure out what materials I had, what design to use, and what distances I needed around the new lights.

Here I'm starting to paint - finally! On all my projects I use an 'Appliance Epoxy' by Rustoleum. I've found that it's the most durable paint available for exterior use.

Here I'm painting the rear panel. I use three coats of paint on everything. Paint is the 'magic' that turns all my welded creations into works of art.

This is one of the side panels with just the first coat of paint.

Here I'm removing the paint from one of the fenders. These fenders really need to be replaced but for now I'm going to patch the cracks with my acetylene torch and give them a coat of fresh paint.

OK, now I'm getting serious! I removed the log loader and hoisted it up to the rafters on the barn and bought some new lumber for the trailer.

At first glance it seems that the lumber is OK on the trailer, but upon closer inspection you'll see that it is in need of replacement. Here you can see the worst warped boards. I can almost stick my hands through the crack! The worst part about these cracks is that my hoist chain always gets REALLY stuck in the cracks causing me some frustrating down time when out logging.

Some of the ends of the boards are starting to rot pretty bad as you can see here.

And probably worst of all are the rotting board ends where vehicles are loaded. I would hate to have my bobcat fall through the trailer from a rotten board!

Here I'm cleaning up some rusty metal with my angle grinder and wire wheel. It's amazing how easily this rusted metal is cleaned up. This piece of metal will be used for the back end of the trailer.

This trailer was designed as a 'car transport trailer' and had short ramps that slid in hinged openings in the back of the trailer. Well this ramp setup didn't work very well for my 7,000 pound skid steer. The bobcat bent the ramps so they wouldn't go back in the ramp holders and actually bent the metal lip that held the ramps (shown here). As you can see in this photo I used my oxy-acetylene torch and cut out the ramp holders.

Then I cut the bent 'lip' that held the ramps.

The piece of angle iron that holds the lumber on the trailer is bent up really bad and is really too thin for use with the bobcat. But in order to get the metal out I had to remove the boards. Otherwise I would have burned the boards (and the lumber used here is treated lumber, toxic if burned). To remove the boards I had to cut a few with a circular saw until I had enough room to slide the rest out.

Here's the stripped down trailer.

This is what is left after cutting off all of the 'junk' metal, just the angle iron from the frame.

This trailer was very poorly designed. As you can see in this photo there was a piece of metal that held the boards down in front that was welded, cut and welded several times, in fact probably every time the boards were replaced this piece of metal was cut and re-welded. As you can imagine, it was in really bad shape and only a welder could replace a board!

Here's about 150 pounds of steel that I removed from the back of the trailer including the ramps, ramp holders and angle iron that held the boards in place. I'll be able to use this steel in other welding projects.

Another thing I noticed is that much of the trailer wiring was disconnected including three of the four wheel brakes! This will be one of my very last projects, re-wiring the electrial.

Here I'm cutting the boards for the trailer. I had some extra room on one side so I cut both side boards lengthwise to distribute the space (so I wouldn't have one skinny board on the trailer).

The angles were cut for the front and the factory lumber stamps and markings were removed with a belt sander.

I use this chop saw for my deck wood and it really came in handy here.

Here's the lumber cut and ready to go!

I left a gap between the end of the trailer and the boards so I'll have some room when I weld up a new rear end.

Since I cut the front lip off I need to rebuild one from scratch. I want to build it so that it's easily removable to replace a board without having to cut with a torch or weld.

I decided to use some half inch thick steel for the lip. Here I'm just getting the general feel for it.

Here you can see in the front center that I bought this big round half inch thick steel plate from the scrap yard. Half inch plates are very straight and not too heavy (about 30 pounds for this plate) and give you a good surface to weld on to get your alignments spot on.

Here's a shot of my old antique drill press that I picked up on Freecycle. This thing is built like a tank and works great for making holes in steel!

Here's my bracket starting to come together.

I decided to add a few extra brackets for more support (welding them on here). You can see that I'm using flux core wire in my welder that makes a really nasty white oxidation when welding, which is easily removed with a wire brush. I could use a cleaner 'inert gas' with a solid wire but I've heard that the flux core gives a deeper weld on heavy metal. Plus I don't have to worry about refilling my gas tanks (flux core doesn't require any inert gasses to weld).

I've found that it's best to clamp everything to the trailer prior to welding to get all the angles correct.

I picked up a 'pen' that holds soapstone, which is used for marking lines on metal. This works much better than I expected and if the line is in the wrong place it is easily wiped off. And the marks holds up well to high heat. Here is a hole position marked with soapstone.

To get perfect alignment I drilled all my holes first, added the bolts, and then welded them to the bracket.

I just welded the front of the brackets here and then removed the whole thing for additional welding at the welding table. Take a look at my new welding helmet with the white flames!

On all the bolts on the trailer I welded the nuts directly onto the frame of the trailer. No lost nuts!

Here's the finished bracket. You'll notice that I didn't put a brace on one vertical because this is where the log loader attaches.

I've been wanting to do this for some time, here I'm welding on a 'security chain'.

This bracket is going to cover up this unsightly hole that was apparently left from a broken trailer lift wheel (the newer wheel was placed to the side as can be seen here).

Here it is before the weld. Just after making the weld I doused the whole bracket with some water to cool the metal before it could affect the trailer wiring. This cooled the metal before it could melt the wire, worked really well.

Here's the welded on security chain (the thickest chain of the three). It attaches to the truck with a large padlock. Now I won't have to worry about someone taking my trailer when I'm parked in the city!

And the chain attaches to a bracket on the trailer when not in use.

I had this small piece of expanded wire mesh laying around and I got the idea of bending it to make a protective cover for my trailer running lights (small side lights). One of the lights were broken out last year from logging. Here I had no idea of what design I was going to use, just that I wanted top visibility of the lights from semi truckers who are much higher on the road than most.

I had some flat steel that I welded on the sides. At this point I usually have more of a plan and an idea of what I'm going to weld but here I'm just flying by the seat of my pants LOL. Back to the scrap pile to see what I have...

I found some leftover half inch steel from the bracket that holds the boards down, real heavy stuff! It will do the trick.

Here's the finished light guard. I also welded a small plate on the lower half of the back for extra strength. I gave it a swift kick and it didn't budge. Looks like it will hold up to getting hit by a big log LOL. I welded up a second one for the other side as well. Notice that I had to put the side panels on to be sure that I had clearance and that the inner pipe didn't interfere with the bracket placement.

OK, back to another project, the rear end of the trailer. Here I have some super heavy duty angle iron that I'm using for the top bracket. Here you'll notice that I had to put on both sides and the rear swing gate to make sure I had my alignment correct so I had enough clearance to close the gate.

This is going to be the bottom half of the rear end. The angle iron wasn't long enough for the top or the bottom so I had to weld two of them end to end and use my new round plate to get them perfectly aligned. After welding I ground down the welds so you couldn't even tell that it was two pieces.

Here I'm welding on the bottom half of the rear end.

Grinding down the weld with my angle grinder...

Changed gears here again... painting the light guards and bracket that holds the boards down.

Since I didn't buy treated lumber, I'm treating it here with Thompsons Waterseal Plus.

I had this extra piece of steel laying around and decided to weld it on the very back end of the trailer as a ramp for the boards to slide in. I noticed that when I tried to put the boards on the trailer they got caught on the lip and had to be worked in by hand. Not anymore with this ramp installed!

Here it is welded in place. I tried it out using this old board and it works great!

Next I moved on to the electrical work. I had a bunch of new wire that came with my new trailer light kit so I decided to replace all of the old wiring.

Here's the back end ground down and ready for paint.

Here's a photo of the finished wiring. You'll notice that I change gears alot, it keeps things interesting and as for grinding, theres only so much you can take at one time LOL.

I epoxied a few plastic brackets along the axle to run the brake wires across to the other wheel. This will keep them up high and prevent the wiring from being pulled out from catching on objects (like the last wire).

OK, now I'm going to have to do something with these rusty old ugly wheels LOL.

A wire brush cleans them up very nice.

I decided to take a peek at the inside of the hubs...

I was going to repack the wheel bearings but it looks like this bearing seal is acutally pressed on the hub. I won't mess with it until I know more about how to remove it and replace it (probably need a new seal when re-installing).

The brakes look like they still have some life in them!

Here I'm taping the wheels with duct tape and newspaper getting ready to paint.

To remove the wheels I used a hydraulic jack and jack stands, very secure. Take a look at the condition of the fenders before I painted, very bad!

Here are the wheels after three coats of paint.

And after removing the tape and paper. I'm sure once I drive on these the rims will get just as dusty as the wheels.

Here's the trailer with all the rust and old loose paint removed, ready for a fresh coat of paint.

Here's a couple shots of the trailer after three coats of paint.

I used all fifteen cans of paint with none to spare! I ended in the middle of my second coat on the log loader. I probably don't need more paint on the loader since it was a touch up paint job. Notice I switched to a different paint. Sounds like it's going to be as tough as the appliance paint and not as shiny.

Here are a few shots of the finished product and two and a half weeks of work finally finished! I can hardly believe it's done!

And best of all, it fits perfectly in my barn for storage out of the weather.

Well it's been a couple weeks since I 'finished' my trailer so I've decided to have another go at it. Here's some old steel I'm cutting up, this will come in handy!

I didn't have quite enough 3 inch C-channel so I had to buy some new steel from the steel yard. It cost quite a bit more than used scrap steel but I've been holding out for three inch C-channel for quite some time to build my ramps and haven't found any scrap. So I bit the bullet and bought four new long pieces for the bobcat ramp.

Here's my first ramp coming along quite nicely.

For the cross sections I used the old ramp holders that I cut out of the trailer. It was two inch by three inch angle iron. It worked great spaced seven inches apart because there are 3.5 inches between every section of metal all along the ramp.

Three inch C-channel is standard for hauling skid steers. The only thing that I changed was using two by three angle instead of the usual two by two, and I made the ramp six feet long instead of the typical four or five feet long.

Here I cut the bottom of the ramps with my torch at an angle so I don't have such a big 'bump' when getting up on the ramps. I plan on putting a steel plate to cover the bottom of the place where I cut.

Another thing I'm going to add is an 8000 pound winch!

More work on the ramps...

Testing the ramps with my Jeep Liberty...

And after days of work, I finally finished these trailer ramps!

And the winch too!

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Page Posted on March 7, 2009
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Chris Hardwick