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Old 07-20-2015   #1
Springboro, Ohio
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 1
Converting a Utility Trailer to a Raft Trailer

Need some help to figure out best way to put a top on a utility trailer that will keep out most water if driving in the rain. The bottom is made of 2x6's and I am putting a heaving grade sheet metal on sides. Problem is how to put a flat surface on top to set the raft on for transport and still allow access to interior for storage when raft is removed. Trailer size is 6 x 12. Thought of using 3/4 inch marine grade plywood and putting three 4 x 6 sections side by side with hinges on one end so I can lift from other side to access contents. Would run 4 cross member 2x4's to provide some support (two at seams). But the plywood would not be connected to cross members....just lay of top to provide support. I'm thinking of putting u-channel edging on sides of plywood to avoid splintering when sliding raft off and on. I would use some kind of locking clasp on side that opens to keep it shut during transport. Would also paint the plywood with some kind of exterior paint to help with weather proofing.
This is a design from someone who has never built or modified a trailer so it may be a disaster waiting to happen. Trailer will be stored outside. Would plywood likely warp, therefore allowing a lot more water to get inside?
Any help or suggestions would sure be appreciated.

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Old 07-21-2015   #2
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 174
Send a message via AIM to J
Check Trailer Porn thread. There are at least a few pics and discussions of what you are describing...

Trailer Porn

and this page too...

Trailer Porn

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Old 07-21-2015   #3
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
I converted my 9x5 utility trailer. I wanted to keep weight to a minimum and I needed to make it removable so I could use the trailer to haul other stuff.

I filled in the sides with sheets of roll flashing, pop riveted to the steel angle trailer frame. They don't need to be super strong, just fill the holes so suff doesn't fall out.

I added a bolt-on top made of two panels hinged along the center line of the trailer. The top is made of 1x6 fence rails open spaced at about 12" o.c., these are bolted to a frame made of steel U channel. The U channel is typically used to mount electrical junction boxes. It comes with all kinds of connection bolts and mounting hardware that can be adapted to the trailer. It is found near the conduit in the electrical aisle of most big box hardware stores. The U channel frame is bolted to the trailer and easily removed. The fence rails are carefully placed to align with my rubber and provide walkways. I cut the weight almost in half by using rails over solid surface.

Some things I learned. All nuts and bolts need to be made vibration proof. At least use Nylock locking nuts or stuff will just shake loose. Screws or lags do not work, only through bolts. I used a lot of low profile T nuts for most of the connections.

I achieve my water proofing by placing a tarp over the load before closing the lid. The tarp is big enough to roll down the sides and tuck under a bit.
Most of the time I want my trailer to be more drip through than weather tight. If I load wet stuff and keep the top covered it has a chance to dry out on the drive home. The tarp is a cheap easily replaceable solution.

My top panels overhang the trailer by about 8" front and back, about 6" at the sides. I took section of PVC pipe, notched them to fit over the fence board and attached them front and back for a smooth edge to drag the boat over. I added a bunch of eye bolts to the perimeter of he trailer so I would have a lot of tie down points.

One challenge with the utility trailer is that the platform is so high that is is difficult to get the boat onto it. I don't often try to do it from the water. I find it easier to drag he boat to dry land, park the trailer along side and lift the boat on from the side. If I roll the boat onto its side I can rest one edge on the trailer and lift the opposite side to slide it on.
kengore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2015   #4
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 11
Raft Trailer

I used a pretty sturdy 4 X 8 trailer with full sized wheels I found on craigslist for $300. I built a box and platform to fit my 14.5' NRS using 2x4s and plywood, sanded and watersealed it. The box is tall enough to fit my 128 liter cooler, drybox, toilet system, and pretty much all the gear I need, to where we don't need to haul anything but people and canines in the car. The box just sits inside the trailer except for two bolts with wingnuts on either side of the back (mostly to add lateral stability). When I need to use the trailer to haul stuff I can just lift the box/platform out. I store the inflated raft on it in the garage during the winter. The attached picture is after 5 years of use.

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