I like small trailers and opted for Carry-On Trailer’s 3.5x5LSHS, a 3.5×5-foot trailer with 16-inch tall mesh sides. My wife quickly labeled it the “baby trailer.” The 3.5x5LSHS is usually available at Lowe’s Home Improvement. It’s great for taking stuff to the dump and/or transporting dirty items that I don’t want inside my car. The 3.5x5LSHS is also very popular among 4×4 owners who are looking for a trailer to convert for off-road use. It’s a good trailer right off the lot, but I made changes to make it even better. First mods included Yakima TopLoaders so I could mount my Yakima 1A Raingutter rack, a set of lighted guide posts to help when backing, and a ½” wooden floor since I knew the steel mesh floor would warp under load without support.
The factory 1000-lb leaf springs and skinny 90-psi tires give very little road compliance for a trailer that weighs ~500 lbs most of the time. The trailer would bounce violently over small bumps. I replaced the leaf springs with 4-leaf springs. They ride smoother with light loads and still support heavy loads. This photo shows the difference between the factory 1000-lb 2-leaf spring and my new 4-leaf springs. Note the difference in thickness between the leafs? That’s how the trailer can ride smoother when lightly loaded, but stiffen as the load increases.
I replaced the factory steel fenders with larger plastic fenders to make room for larger wheels and tires. I upgraded the factory 12-inch wheels/tires to 13-inch trailer wheels with ST175/80R13 trailer tires. The 81-mph speed rated tires operate at 35 psi (instead of 90 psi) and are 17% larger than stock, which allows slower hub speeds and should also reduce wear to the wheel bearings. Speaking of wheel bearings, I upgraded to a galvanized Dexter axle with galvanized hubs in 2019. Annual hub maintenance is easy!
In my opinion, a trailer on the road with malfunctioning lights depicts owner as either lazy or inept. I don’t want to be “that guy.” I like my trailer lighting bright and functioning perfectly. Knowing that the factory lighting is cheap and subject to failure from vibration, I quickly upgraded to submersible LED lighting. Also, the stock plastic license plate bracket held the license plate low enough to take a beating, especially if I backed up to a curb. My state allows motorcycle plates on trailers, so I inverted a metal bracket and provided the plate with its own LED lighting. I added steel protective housings, just in case I misjudge when backing. I think the package looks sharp! 🙂
I’ve always wanted weatherproof cargo hauling without committing to a large cargo trailer. Adding ¾” plywood sides and a lid accomplished several things: 1) weather-proofing for the cargo (“rain-proof,” but not watertight); 2) durable protection for the mesh siding; 3) mounting options for more tie down rings; and 4) more stability since the plywood adds about 200 lbs to the ride. With nearly every part of the trailer being heavier, there’s less vibration or rattling; plus, the suspension is pre-loaded for a better empty ride. Two coats of Herculiner bed liner appear to be quite durable, even with rocks and shovels abusing it.
The only possible negative I can think of about my trailer is its tendency to rust. Many Carry-On trailers have rust on them before they even leave the store. Nearly any steel trailer at this price will see rust in its future. The paint on the front of the trailer and fenders is especially prone to chipping/rusting due to debris being kicked up by the tow vehicle. To combat rust, I started by choosing the specimen with the least amount of visible rust. I immediately spot-sprayed with a rust-converting spray paint and then a topcoat of gloss black enamel. The plastic replacement fenders eliminate a usual home for rust, too. Additionally, the super-thick Herculiner finish withstands plenty of abuse and appears to have greatly reduced my need for regular repainting.
There came a point when I needed to load a heavy roller tool cabinet. Sure a couple of strong people could probably get it up the ramps and into the trailer. But I’d rather load/unload such an expensive and heavy item in a slow, controlled manner. Adding a Dutton-Lainson 2000-lb hand winch with 20-ft nylon strap did the trick. I use a cordless drill to make quicker work of loading/unloading. Just when it seemed the winch would be an infrequent need, I discovered that it’s actually quite useful for strapping large items to the trailer. It’s been great to have it, even on my tiny trailer.
My most versatile upgrade has been the addition of Yakima’s Outdoorsman 300 rack and a medium OffGrid cargo basket with 18-inch extension. The new platform is a game-changer during my support of large bicycling events. I don’t place more than 150 lbs on the OffGrid. The basket is more for bulky items than heavy. The OffGrid also has crossbars that are compatible with bicycle mounts. Click here to read more about my “water trolley.”
You may notice a variety of spare tire configurations in the photo album below. I like the trailer to be light and easy to move when empty. The tongue was too heavy for my liking any time the spare tire was mounted forward of the axle. Sure, I could still move the trailer easily enough. But I wanted the tongue to be even lighter. On top of that, I felt the spare was intrusive on such a small trailer, especially since I’ve had just one flat tire in over 20 years of towing. As a result, I decided to mount the tire in what is easily the least-convenient place to access in the event of a flat: under the trailer. A full-sized spare will not fit. So, I mounted a 4.80-12, which is just small enough to fit between the frame cross-members and gives almost two inches of additional clearance over the ground. It’s just a “limp-home” spare tire; I’d replace both main tires immediately following a flat. Click here to see my choice of spare tire carrier.
Those are the details of my “baby trailer.” I’ve upgraded most of the functional items to suit my wants. I can carry bikes and cargo without the wind noise, mounting hassles, overhead lifting, head knocking, or marred paint of a roof rack while providing much of the versatility and positives of owning a compact crew-cab pickup truck. It’s perfect for vacations, dump runs, or as a mini-workhorse (a pony? ) for a stubborn guy who won’t buy a pickup truck. See more photos below. Oh, it’s also versatile in parking situations, especially with my practice of “stunt parking.” See this entry for more details about my trailer-parking-witchcraft. 😉
Ironically, I added a cargo trailer to my garage in 2018. I prefer to use the baby trailer for filthy or wet loads… it’s also more aerodynamic than a cargo trailer. But the cargo trailer is great for moving items that I need to keep dry. See a list of specifications below the photo album. Also, here is a handy guide on how to properly load or balance your trailer.
Who Needs a Truck?
Here are the specs, mostly so I don’t have to dig so much to find them again. Since this trailer has undergone changes, I’ve listed my upgrades in bold with the factory specs lined-out in parentheses:
- Empty Weight: 500 lbs, including the lid
- Payload Capacity: 1500 lbs with Lid or 1535 lbs without Lid
- Overall Length: 94″
- Overall Width: 60″
- Deck Length: 59″ without Rear Gate
- Deck Width: 40.5″
- Gate Opening Width: 38″
- 2″ x 3″ Straight Tube Tongue
- 1.5″ x 1.5″ Angle Main Frame
- 2″ x 2″ x 1/8″ Angle Top Rail
- 1-7/8″ Straight Coupler with Safety Chains
- 4-Leaf Springs
- 13″ Wheels with ST175/80R13 Tires
(12″ Wheels with 4.80×12 Tires)
- 31″ Black Plastic Fenders
(24″ Jeep Style Fenders)
- 2200-lb Galvanized Dexter Axle
- Swivel-Up Tongue Jack
- 1-7/8″ Ball Coupler
- LED Taillights with Steel Protective Housings
- 1/2″ Wood Floor (Mesh Floor is still beneath the wood)
- 16″ Mesh High Sides with 19″ High 3/4″ Plywood Inserts
- 16″ Removable Rear Gate with 3/4″ Plywood Insert
- 3/16″ Exterior Grade Plywood Lid w/1×4″ Framing
- Herculiner Finish
- Dutton-Lainson 2000-lb hand winch with 20-ft nylon strap
- Under-Frame Spare Tire and Mount
- Yakima Outdoorsman 300 Rack with OffGrid Basket
For the custom wheel adapters what options did you choose? Thickness? Did you go with the standard 12×1.50 studs?
Alex – Because my VW wheels have a 49mm offset and trailer wheels are zero, I chose an adapter thickness of two inches. I also chose 14×1.50 studs since they are closer to the proper size for VW wheels. Thanks for visiting. -Scott
Alex – If you’re still monitoring, I wanted to let you know that I’ve switched back to standard trailer wheels, albeit larger than stock. I found excessive wear on the inner wheel bearings and axle spindles. I believe the large offset of the spacers caused this despite still having the tire centered along the bearings. I shared photos of the updates in the main article above. Just wanted to share a heads-up. Take care! -Scott
Thanks for the info!
How long did you run the larger wheels before you noticed excessive wear? I ask because I’m about $600 deep in “improvements” and dont really want to spend more on new wheels and tires AGAIN 😅
HAHA! Yeah, I hear you, Brad! I think the adapters were on the trailer for about 2.5 years and through LOTS of towing. I’ve towed some fairly heavy loads, some as high as 1500 lbs GVW. I don’t recommend that if you’ve “downgraded” your springs. See the main article for updates driven by a spring issue. I decided I wanted towing capacity over the lighter springs. Back to the bearings, you’ll probably be fine if your loads are light. Just grab the top of the wheel and tug it left/right (perpendicular to the hub face) from time to time to check for bearing slop. Realistically, I probably could have repacked and continued to run the adapters for years longer with the understanding that I might go through bearings more often (replace every year instead of just repacking). Bearings are cheap. Still, I decided to play it safe since I use the trailer so much. I’ll be taking new photos of the trailer in the coming months to reflect my changes, especially when I install my new EZ-Lube axle. Take Care! -Scott
Hi Scott- May I ask why you swapped your 16″ Mambo wheels with 205/55/16 tires on your trailer for the black steelies/smaller tires? Fitment issue?
Matt – There was no fitment problem with the Mambos. I originally mounted the Mambos as a match to the ones on my Mk6 Jetta. Once I turned in the Mk6 for the GTI, I decided to go with the black steelies as a wheel that would “match” well enough with any other VW I might subsequently own. Later, I bought another Mk6 for my daughter and decided to put the spare Mambos on her car. I then took her steelies and saved them for use on my other trailer. Thanks for visiting! -Scott
Thanks for the reply. I’m planning to do the same trailer also with the 16″ wheel, 205/55 tires- except for a Subaru.
Matt – If you’re still monitoring, I wanted to let you know that I’ve switched back to standard trailer wheels, albeit larger than stock. I found excessive wear on the inner wheel bearings and axle spindles. I believe the large offset of the spacers caused this despite still having the tire centered along the bearings. I shared photos of the updates in the main article above. Just wanted to share a heads-up. Take care! -Scott
Hello Scott, I too make my car “work” first my 1996 Golf and its replacement a 2017 GTI. But I worry that my nice sports car is being beaten up. Love the ideas you’ve put forward! Can you describe what looks like a lid or top on your trailer? Is it lockable? Would you be willing to provide a cost breakout for the trailer and upgrades? Thanks so much for sharing!
Christopher – I don’t recall a total cost breakdown. The trailer itself is the most expensive part. It currently retails for $400. I got mine on sale for $300. The leaf springs were ~$20, the wheel adapters were ~$160, the fenders were ~$80, the LED lighting was ~$50, and the wheels/tires were take-offs from various VW’s that I’ve owned (I’m a bit of a “wheel whore”). The wooden sides and lid were ~$60. The trick with the wood is that the trailer is not square. So I had to cut the wood to un-square dimensions to get everything to align. The lid does not lock. Most of the time, I just use ratcheting straps to hold it in place. But I can use wood screws to screw it shut for additional security (only a deterrent, really). I’d like to re-do the floor and sides in metal, but that’s more expensive and heavier, plus rust control and paint. Worst case is I may need to replace the wood from time to time as the wood rots. Wood is cheap, so it’s not a big deal. I think that covers everything. Let me know if you have more questions. Thanks for visiting! -Scott
Scott I’m struggling to find the right leaf springs. Do you remember the dimensions and brand for the 500 lbs leaf springs you purchased? Unfortunately the link in the article is out of date.
Thank you! -Joseph
Joseph – Thanks for pointing out the outdated link on my page. I’ve seen the suppliers for these springs change a few times over the years. I’ve updated the article with this spring, https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Suspension/Universal-Group/SP-177275.html, which is essentially the same part. Keep in mind that your capacity will cut in half. I’ve considered moving up to a 750-lb spring, also available at etrailer, just so I can carry up to 1500 lbs. But I’m still good. BTW, the 500-lb springs are flat when the trailer has about 1000 lbs of cargo, for a total weight of 1300 lbs. My trailer’s fenders rub if I load more than that. Just a point of reference. 🙂 Thanks for visiting! -Scott
You’re a life saver!
I’m building a motorcycle trailer so it has to remain pretty light, I was having the worst time finding the right replacement leaf.
Your posts are an inspiration, keep up the great work!
Glad to help. Thanks for the kind feedback! -Scott
Scott, I’m thinking of purchasing the same trailer for my Can Am Spyder. Let me know or send pictures of your up grades. Thanks
Willie – I’m not sure I understand the nature of your question. This webpage has photos of nearly every upgrade I’ve done to the trailer. Have a look at the photo album below the article. With that said, I believe this trailer is far too small for your Spyder. Thanks for writing. -Scott
Thanks for your previous reply regarding the wheel size and fender clearance. I’m also going to look into the wheel adapters to get the offset and to be able to use 16 inch tires which match the tow vehicle.
Now, please talk about the numerous tie downs that you have on the trailer. I am building something similar and would like to add many of these too. However, everything I’ve seen has been too big or over engineered ie machine hooks. Where did you find them? Thanks
Johan – The anchors I used were by Keeper, model #5652. They appear to be unavailable. Keeper has a chrome version that can probably be painted black. My black ones have been repainted over the years. See the item at https://amzn.to/2RhnlwS. I do not use the supplied anchor or the 3/8″ bolt. Instead, I removed the bolt and replaced it with a 1/2″ long replacement hex bolt. I use a small stack of washers to take up the slack. Good Luck! -Scott
Johan – If you’re still monitoring, I wanted to let you know that I’ve switched back to standard trailer wheels, albeit larger than stock. I found excessive wear on the inner wheel bearings and axle spindles. I believe the large offset of the spacers caused this despite still having the tire centered along the bearings. I shared photos of the updates in the main article above. Just wanted to share a heads-up. Take care! -Scott
On the Road trailers in Warren, Maine will custom make a 4 x 6 utility trailer with a wood floor and wood sides and larger tires and it tilts for loading or dumping. $1400 This company makes all the trailers for the lobster men (for hauling traps between their homes and their boats) in mid coast Maine so you know they are done right. I’ve been using mine for three years now hauling personal items back and forth between Maine and New Jersey – no problems. It works great doing all those other jobs around the house (moving leaves, trash, etc.).
Tom – Thanks for your note! My first trailer was a 4×8 dumper. I used it for nearly 20 years. The dumping capability was good, but also annoying in a way. With the axle centered along the trailer, I had to focus on loading further forward to manage the tongue weight. Otherwise, it would rattle a bit as the trailer rocked fore/aft during transit. I’m not sure if I explained that well enough. Anyway, I noticed something about most of my loads. See this photo: https://stealthgti.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/oldtrailer.jpg. The thing these loads all have in common is I very seldom used the last two feet of the trailer. So I decided to buy one that simply didn’t have that last foot. HAHA! It’s been working great! Thanks for visiting! -Scott
Any tips on how to get the fenders off?
Brad – The factory fenders are welded on. I took my trailer to a shop, had them cut off the fenders, and then grind the mounting points smooth. I primed and painted the areas when I got home. I suspect any shop that does welding also has a cutting torch/grinder and should be able to do it for you. Thanks for writing and good luck! -Scott
Thanks for the detailed build write-up. I found this page while searching for small multipurpose trailer options. I was looking for something that I could use to haul yard debris, bikes, kayaks and other general items. I picked up the trailer for $330 during the Christmas holiday sale ($495 after tax, title and registration) and invested another $300 in the 1A towers, risers, brackets and big stack kayak racks (I already had some crossbars and bike racks). With the trailer and the existing rooftop cross bars I can now haul seven kayaks and probably just as many bikes with cargo space for paddles, PFD, coolers, etc. Perfect!
I’ll soon work on adding a wood deck and maybe sidewalls. I think I’ll keep the springs and axle stock but will look into larger/wider tires to help it survive the winter potholes and track better thorough the ruts and grooves that have developed on the local highways.
Nicely done! I’m sure that trailer will serve you well for a long time. If you find it bouncing too much, just toss a box with 200-lbs of bricks in the huge area beneath the kayaks. I guess 200 lbs of ice and drinks might be more practical! 😉 A little weight goes a long way to stabilizing the trailer. The wood you plan to install will help, too. Thanks for visiting! -Scott
So I am looking at this exact trailer for an overland tent mount build. Will probably do the axle / leaf flip to get better geound clearance. I was looking at larger wheels and tires. Can I go 205 without needing spacers? Seems like that will be much wider than stock tire. TIY and thanks for the post. It has been very helpful!
Matthew – I think they’ll rub. In fact, I’m really sure they’ll rub if you don’t at least flip the leaf spring bolt so that the nut is inboard. Clearance will still be really tight after flipping that bolt. That was the case with my 195’s, anyway. Are you planning to mount wheels that’ll match your tow vehicle? If you’ll need lug pattern adapters, you could always space them with the adapters. First, you might want to try test fitting a trailer wheel with 205s. It’s not hard to borrow one from Walmart, even if you have to resort to buying it and then returning it. HAHA! That way, you’ll see how a 205 fits with a zero offset wheel. From there, it’ll be easier to figure out how thick to build your adapters. You’ll want to do your axle flip first, though. I’m certain the fenders won’t clear 205s unless you flip first. Good Luck! -Scott
After measuring ground clearance with stock tires. Also after reading about your bearing issues using a spacer, I may just upgrade to them to the 175/80 13 like you mention above. It looks like those will add a couple of inches, clear the included steel fenders, and allow me to focus on the tent mount portion of the mod. Thank you for the fast response, and great article.
What is your tow vehicle?
It is a 1989 Suzuki Sidekick. Great for offroad but very little power. Trying to keep the load as light as possible.
Light is good, that’s for sure! I envy the Jeep and Toyota folks who can do the wheel swap with their trailers without resorting to adapters. My bolt pattern converts to 5×4.4, which is not an available trailer hub size. But you may be in luck! The 5×139.7mm bolt spacing on your Suzuki equates to a 5×5.5″ trailer hub. Instead of adapters, you could replace the trailer hubs with 5×5.5″ units. BUT, that would require upgrading to a 3500-lb axle swap since this bolt pattern does not appear to be available for the 2000-lb axle. *I’D* do it if I was going for the long-haul. But I”m a nerd that way. 😉 Champion Trailers can supply an axle that’s custom length for you. Check them out at https://www.championtrailers.com/axles-galvanized-3500-lb/. From there, find a 5×5.5″ hub and you’ll have a match.Your Suzuki wheels will offset by 25mm, but that’s nothing compared to the 52mm spacers I had to use. Good Luck! -Scott
Yes my ultimate goal is to get it where one spare takes care of all. I do have two more questions for you.
Do you know if the 13″ wheel / tire combo you linked will fit the the factory steel fenders? I made that assumption and measuring seems to make me think it will fit.
Have you ever tried the timbren axle-free trailer suspensions before? Jist curious for future upgrades.
Thanks again for all the help
Matt – I don’t think it’ll fit. But I have to admit that I didn’t try before going straight to a 25″ tall VW wheel/tire. Even if the 13″ wheel/tire fits, I’m confident that it would rub once the trailer is loaded and the springs compress. Look at these two photos, one with the stock 12-inch wheel with an overall diameter of 21 inches, the other with my VW wheel with a 25-inch diameter. This isn’t an apples to apples comparison because the second photo is with the trailer loaded with 1000 lbs of gravel. However, it’s worth noting that the plastic fender in the second photo is mounted ~3″ higher than stock. Compare the locations of the fender tops. I’ll share a third photo that I forgot I have. The third photo is with the 13-inch wheel, which is 24 inches in diameter. Imagine the fender three inches lower. That is why I don’t think the 13’s will fit without a fender swap or an axle flip. Here are the photos:
As for the Tmbren axle-free suspensions, I looked at this for a bit, but decided against them due to cost and a requirement for me to remove my box to install them. My box is screwed onto the trailer in pieces and sealed; so, removing it is more of an ordeal than I want. HAHA!
I’m working on a similar trailer build, I’d love to know where you got your “Undersized Load” sign.
It’s a one-off I had made at a sign shop. 🙂 Thanks for visiting! -Scott
Hey Scott, did you just mount the new fenders by bolting the plastic hub right to the frame, or did you use an L bracket to allow use of the top step? I see where you had to notch the plastic to fit over the angle iron so I plan on doing the same thing. Would be nice to see how you mounted the fenders vs me reinventing the wheel (literally)
Matthew – I had not previously shared photos of how I mounted my fenders. So, you’ve asked a good question. My fenders sit too high to bolt directly to the frame. Instead, I used a set of electric fan straps to hold the fenders in place. Here’s a photo of them in my application: https://stealthgti.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/baby-fender-01.jpg
Yes, I cut the excess after taking this photo. HAHA! They basically sandwich the plastic fender to the mesh sides with the flat ends of the straps acting as clamps. You can find a set at https://amzn.to/2OhgHFM. Obviously, these are not structurally sound, but they fulfilled a legal requirement to have fenders. Later, when I was installing my wooden box, I replaced the straps with wood screws. They’re much stronger, perhaps even strong enough to support some weight. I probably have six screws on each fender and use fender washers to spread the pressure a bit. But I still avoid sitting on my fenders. I hope this helps. Take Care! -Scott
Thanks for all the help. Ready for the tent!
Scott, this looks great. I have the same trailer that I am planning on using for transporting my kayaks which are longer than average. I have already replaced the tongue with a steel tube from On the Road Trailer that Tom mentioned above to account for the kayak lengths. My question for you is about the box. I don’t see how the sides are attached to either the trailer or the floor. It also looks like the front panel isn’t attached.
I guess I am wondering how you added the sides around the wiring tubes.
Thanks for this great write up.
Trevor – Thanks for your comments. I’ve added photos to the bottom of the album which detail the shape of the sides as well as how I attached them. I had neglected to add them earlier because they had my old finish on them. But check them out. You’ll see how I cut long notches for the wiring tubes. I left room for the wires to enter/exit. I attached the walls to the front and sides in a rather crude fashion by using 3/4″ screws and fender washers to clamp the walls to the mesh sides. They’re painted black to conceal them. I then ran RTV along the bottom to fill in any imperfections and I used A LOT to fill in the large notches for the wiring tubes. Look closely and you may be able to spot it. The Herculiner hides my RTV a bit. All of this effort did not make the trailer waterproof. Instead, I refer to it as “rain-proof.” Rain water can still get in through the tailgate when the trailer is sitting still. The floor MAY get wet (usually doesn’t), but water runs out the back instead of accumulating. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if you have more questions. -Scott
I should also point out that the trailer box is not square. It’s most noticeable on the front wall and tailgate. Be prepared to make some uneven cuts on the sides to make the edges align.
Figured I’d pop in here instead of the YouTube feed.
I’m continuing progress on the trailer build. I attempted to remove the fenders but havent had any luck yet. I attempted to use a sawzall to the spot weld and nothing. It will be something I have to revisit. On similar note. I need to do some maths. I’d like to be able to run a more highway friendly tire as my wife will be using the trailer for camping. Where I get confused is all the different heights and measurements and such. I run 16s (205/55 tire) on the Mazda. It has a 8″ hitch height and I have a 5″ ball mount. I had read these trailers are 13.5 tall but it’s looking like the Mazda is probably a” taller.
Per my last comment on the YT feed I did get the in bed channels cut out with a dremel and cut off disc.
I’m going to be replacing the lights with the Same kit you got but with loom around the wire. I’m also looking at how I can safely secure it under the trailer. Can obviously just zip tie it but looking for other options
Jake – Taller tires on the trailer will certainly increase the tongue height. I cannot tell you by how much. When I made the changes, I just leveled the trailer, measured the tongue and ball heights, and then bought a ball mount with appropriate rise (or drop, if appropriate for you). It can be a bit of trial and error. As for cutting off the fenders, I didn’t do it myself. I just let a shop figure it out and then paid the bill. It was worth it to not have to worry about technique or buying tools. I suspect they used a cutting torch.
The project continues.
I got the wiring done…Loomed entire wiring, clean grounds, etc. Much better than the factory garbage. I also installed a front jack (reese 2k).
Got some PT plywood but of course, HD completely messed up the cuts and i dont have a table saw. I’m debating on just using cedar decking board now.
Next task will be doing some bearing buddies but after watching a few videos, its a bit intimidating reinstalling the old bearings for the time being.
Good work! I’m not a fan of Bearing Buddies because they seem to blow-out the rear seals on the hub if you overdo it. I upgraded my entire axle to include Dexter hubs. That said, I probably have more money in upgrades than the cost of the entire trailer. HAHA!
What I’d like to know is where you found the “Undersize Load” sign.
HAHA! Thanks for the note. I had the sign made at a sign shop, taking care to get the colors, font, and proportional dimensions about right, when compared the full size versions mounted on the back of commercial carriers. Take Care!
Hey there, if you’re still around… I’m looking at getting one of these for a camping gear trailer. My concern is the my gear won’t come close to the limit and I’m worried about it bouncing a lot. Also, I will require some interstate travel – once we can go outside again anyway. Are the wheels and things up to the task? I’ll of course have a spare, but, I don’t want to have to worry about an issue like that on an extended road trip or something.
I’ve watched your videos (a few times) over the past few months and have no doubt the little trailer is up to the task! Just need to get it right. I’ll
Also be using it to move my twin daughters back and forth to college which is roughly 1200 miles round trip by way of 99% interstate travel. I had a Uhaul trailer when they were freshmen and ended up needing new rear tires as a result. It was just too big and heavy despite being “under weight” according to their website. I have a 1600 pound tow allowance.
Chad – The mix of larger tires (which require larger fenders), softer springs, and the box have really helped with bouncing. Every now and then, I still hit something that sends the trailer into the air. But the spring/tire upgrade make the landing a little better. At least that’s what I tell myself. 😉 Just make sure you’re loading things that can take the vibration and jolting. Keep breakables inside the car, less fragile things in the front of the trailer where the ride is smoother, and hardy stuff (like clothes or wood) in the back since they can take a beating. Of course, manage the tongue weight by biasing your load. Also, if you’re moving beds when you move your daughters, note that mattresses won’t fit in the trailer; it’s too small. However, mattresses can be strapped to the top of an enclosed box, if you go that route. Good Luck!
Makes solid sense, thanks for the reply.
What brand of guide posts did you install? Where can we get these? Do they wire in to the rear lighting system easily?
Gerry – I honestly don’t know the brand of what’s on my trailer. I bought them over 20 years ago at a truck stop (I moved these guideposts from a previous trailer). Later, I wanted sealed LED for the lamps and bought a set of “Bores Mfg” lamps, available at https://www.boresmfg.com/shop/1-led-light-assembly-red-140r/. If I was starting today, I would just buy a full set of guideposts/lamps from Bores. Remember, these are designed for big rigs and are entirely too tall to be seen behind a small vehicle. As a result, I cut mine above the bends: Remove the lights and wiring, cut the pipes FROM THE BOTTOM to preserve the threads at the top, file the cuts smooth so the wiring is not damaged, then reassemble. I did a few test fits with zipties to see how high I wanted to position them. Using the car’s rear window as a guide, I had to find a happy medium between “high enough” to be window height, but “low enough” for my view to not be cut-off when backing up my driveway. I hope that answers your question. Thanks for visiting.
I love your YouTube and blog posts on this trailer! The attention to detail that you cover is very informative. Do you have any recommendations on storing the trailer using a minimal footprint? For example, can it be stored on its side or on its tailgate? (Assuming it is in factory condition and unmodded). Any storing no-no’s?
Second question, when loading 1/2 cubic yards of dirt, mulch, rock, etc… Given the smaller square footage of the trailer, do you find that much material misses the cart and is essentially wasted?
Nicole – Thanks for your comments! I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts. I don’t recommend storing the trailer on its side. Doing so will undoubtedly bend the fenders and it’s probably not very stable. I think you could stand it on its tailgate. However, you’ll need to take some precautions. First, the overall length of the trailer is 92 inches, which will just BARELY clear the ceiling in your garage IF it has an 8-ft ceiling. There is hardly any room for resting the trailer on any protective padding. This is not a problem if your ceiling is higher than 8 feet. But you’ll need to remove the tongue if your ceiling is less than 93″ heigh. Perhaps more important, the weight of the axle and wheels will probably cause the trailer to want to tip over. You will need to either find a way to strap the tongue or box to a wall or perhaps fashion a brace from 4×4 lumber to place between the axle and the floor. You could also store the trailer with the wheels facing the wall. I think that may be less convenient, though that would also expose the open side of the box for stacking a few extra items to store. What do you think? Thanks for visiting.
I am about to own one of these trailers, waiting on Lowe’s shipment. After reading your post I am hoping you can best advise. I want this unit to last, so initially I will definitely plan on your wood floor idea and protective paint. I live in NH so get all weather ranges/seasons. I will tarp it for winter protection for now. I like the idea of this small/light trailer that I can drag/move to store in back yard corner. As a new homeowner I did not want to purchase a truck either. I have a 2019 Toyota RAV adventure w/5000 tow capacity, but there are times a small trailer makes life easier with dump trips, purchases, and moving items. My questions, besides above plans, are what minimal, immediate upgrades would you recommend?
ie… change to 4 leaf spring? Tires?
What tire size can I upgrade to with stock axle and fender to improve smooth ride?
Michelle – Thanks for writing! Before I answer, please double-check your RAV4’s towing capacity in the owner’s manual. I think it’s 3500 lbs… and with trailer brakes. Without brakes, I’d be surprised if it’s even 2000 lbs. On to your question, you’re on the right track with your trailer. The 3.5×5 is a great tool. There are a few times when I wish it was larger, perhaps if I want to move sheets of plywood. Otherwise, it’s perfect! As for mods, consider leaving it stock for a bit to see how it meets your needs. I don’t know if the 4-leaf springs will make a huge difference alone. I did mine after the tires. In my mind, it’s an improvement, but I can’t prove a thing! 😉 You won’t be able to fit larger wheels or tires unless you cut off the fenders and replace them with larger units. My current tires are P195/60R14, which are passenger radials intended for my now-retired Jetta. Those tires are 23 inches tall, compared to 20.7″ for the stock trailer tires. I honestly don’t think there’s room for much larger under that fender. Even if a tire that’s just one size larger will fit, remember that the fender clearance will reduce as the trailer is loaded. Again, you’ll want to experiment with your usual load. I started with light loads and noticed that my trailer bounced quite violently. BUT, had I chosen to add the wooden floor, sides, and lid first, the additional 100 lbs may have been enough to smooth the ride without resorting to my other changes. It’s really tough to know without experimenting. What do you think of that? Sorry to get long-winded. My mind was racing through the scenarios since my path to upgrades might be different today than it was three years ago. Take Care!
I’ll jump in and say that 150lb of kayaks has not been enough to smooth out the suspension. There is a slightly elevated manhole on my route to the lake that I’ve had the misfortune of passing over a few times. The Outback’s suspension sucks it up with ease but the trailer will literally leave the ground. I’ve found that it takes several hundred pounds of cargo before it chills out. Fenders, tires, leaf and axle are also on my shopping list. I’ll probably just use the parts list you’ve documented here since you say it’s worked well.
Thanks for sharing that.
Thank you for responding and advise. Yes you are correct, my Rav4 Adventure tow capacity is only 3,000lbs. Regular Rav4 is 1,500lbs. I flubbed on that original post, lol. I now have the trailer and It road pretty smooth on the highway taking it home, but on the back roads it bounced a few times with uneven road and pot holes, but it is empty so expected that. I will plan, scrubbing some rust areas, painting, and placing the floor with tie downs like you show. I will order that parking swing up foot also. I’m pretty handy and comfortable with tools etc… so actually looking forward to this project.
Thank you for providing such detailed information on your build. I have been contemplating buying and modifying this trailer for some time. Now that I came across your site I may take the plunge!
Do you recall the size the Kenda Loadstar tires in the second picture from the top of this page?
Correction: The picture is the third picture from the top of this page.
Thanks for writing, Mike! The Loadstars are ST175/80D13. They’re slightly taller than the P195/60R14’s that I have now. But they fit with my larger fenders mounted higher than stock. Take Care!
When you load/unload the heavy tool cabinet, do you have a set of ramps you use in conjunction with the winch?
Thanks for writing, Ty! I do have a set of ramps. See this video for a demo: https://youtu.be/A6w7UgsEfFY. I’ve since purchased a set of longer, folding ramps that also have lips along the sides. They allow me to roll objects up and down without having to tend the load as much as I did in the video. Take Care!