Harbor Freight Trailers for Rafts - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 07-10-2013   #1
 
Estes Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 35
Harbor Freight Trailers for Rafts

So I know this topic has been covered a little bit in other posts, but I still don't feel like I have a yay/nay on if it's actually a viable/good idea.

I have a 14.5' SOTAR and am not sure if it will fit on the platform you could construct on one of these.

If you've used these or made a conversion, please post pics / raft + trailer dimensions and let's see it!

Thanks a bunch.

Here's a link to the trailer I was thinking about

4' x 8' Utility Trailer - 1720 Lb. Capacity

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Old 07-10-2013   #2
 
Lawson, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 27
Hi Imus-

I have that exact same trailer, and I was able to build a platform sturdy enough to hold an AIRE 156R. Don't have any photos handy now but will see if I can find some.

Platform is constructed of short 2x4s at each stake location to raise it above the wheels, then 2x4 "rails" on top of the 2x4 stakes, then plywood (3 sheets cut down) for the platform. Custom design that I basically made up as I went.

Had this rig for 2 seasons now: not sure I would do it again. It works OK, but you really need something with a winch no way to add one. It is also not what I would consider tough enough for a road like the one to Sand Wash (Deso) so I left it home for that last summer.

Bottom line for me is by the time you buy the trailer, wood, bolts, etc. it might be better to just invest in the real deal. FYI the trailer is a kit so you have to put that together...then build the platform...took a good bit of my time.

Later, EZE
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Old 07-10-2013   #3
 
Evergreen, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 131
I have this exact trailer and it's truly a terrible choice for towing a raft. I wish I had never bought it.

It's too short and too narrow, your raft will sit (and rub) on the wheel-wells, unless you build out a whole wide-platform that sits above the wheel-wells and frame, and at that point your time and expense starts to exceed what you would spend on a decent used raft. Don't do it. I should have bought a decent used snowmobile trailer, would have worked much better.
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Old 07-10-2013   #4
 
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 245
My Harbor freight trailer has worked out pretty well for me. I put some cross beams on it and put the plywood floor above the wheels. I also extended the tongue a few feet and added the harbor freight winch too. I have used it regularly for a few years now and it has held up to every thing I threw at it. Here are some pics with my small cat, but I also use it to carry my 18 foot Aire Cougar with no problems. Of course, I don't have to go over mountain passes, so I can keep the bigger boats stiff enough to hang over the ends a bit with no trouble.












The extra bits added about $100 plus my time. It works pretty good for what it is. Anyway, thats just my opinion, your milage may vary......
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Old 07-10-2013   #5
 
Lawson, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 27
Hi Bosco-

That looks very similar to my deck system!

I also had to extend the tongue, but I just bought an 18" hitch extender. Do you have any close ups of how you extended yours and added that winch?

I also noted the roller on the back...looks like schedule 80, but what's inside?

Thanks, EZE
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Old 07-10-2013   #6
 
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Sorry, those are the best I have right now. I'll get some more when I get home this weekend.

Basically, I just ran the extension between the base plate and the T plate on the existing coupler that came with the kit. I added a piece of angle iron a few feet back towards the deck. The extension butts up to the angle and is welded in place. The angle iron is the cross piece that you can see my spare tire is mounted onto.

The winch is mounted on a flat piece of metal that is welded on top of piece the same stock I used to extend the tongue. That bit was then just welded on top of the extension.

If I was to do it again, I would not make the extension as long as I did. I think 2 - 2.5 feet should be plenty.

The roller is just black iron pipe. It was a stock size I got off the shelf with the ends pre-threaded. The PVC slips over that, then I used 2 90 degree threaded couplers, with 2 close nipples to attach it to 2 base plates that are lag screwed into the deck. Picked up everything off the shelf at Lowes.
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Old 07-10-2013   #7
 
Southeast, On the river...
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 28
Hey Bosco... How wide is your platform?
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Old 07-10-2013   #8
 
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 151
I keep my 16' raft trailered on one. I also extended the tongue. I built a platform 20" over the deck with top rail and Kee Klamp fittings to get the boat over the wheels.

I did this because I may one day have to store it in my garage so I had to get a folding trailer that I could take apart.

It works fine, but if I had the option I would have bought a snowmobile or a dedicated boat trailer.

Kyle
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Old 07-10-2013   #9
 
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by eze420 View Post
...
Had this rig for 2 seasons now: not sure I would do it again. It works OK, but you really need something with a winch no way to add one. It is also not what I would consider tough enough for a road like the one to Sand Wash (Deso) so I left it home for that last summer.

Bottom line for me is by the time you buy the trailer, wood, bolts, etc. it might be better to just invest in the real deal. FYI the trailer is a kit so you have to put that together...then build the platform...took a good bit of my time...
Ditto.

Had one for three seasons and just recently scrapped it and bought the real deal. It worked OK as long as we never left the highway, and even then, there is a huge difference in towing that thing and our new trailer. Much nicer ride with the larger trailer.

Once we started taking it on some of the rougher roads to the put ins and take outs, it got beat up pretty quickly, and I spent a lot of time and money fixing it. I probably spent double the cost of the trailer over those three seasons on repairs and replacements, in addition to the platform I built.

Some shuttle companies may not even shuttle those if you plan to use a third party to shuttle your vehicle.

Save up and get a good one....
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Old 07-10-2013   #10
 
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 8
I had a similar experience to BoilermakerU and eze420. I would say you should spend a little more for a tougher trailer now so you don't have to make a repair after every trip. It won't cost you more over a few years.
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