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Discussion Starter #1
I have an 8' x 4' utility trailer with a mobile home axle under it. It has wood and metal sides that are about three feet tall. It also has a four foot high tailgate/ramp.

I want to modify it so I can also haul my 14' raft. The fenders are about a foot above the deck, so I can't have the raft lie flat on the deck. I'm thinking that I will cut the sides in half and install some stake pockets to allow me to use the trailer with the full sides when the raft is off.

I plan on storing gear under the raft in the trailer while transporting so I won't have to have a full floor under the raft.

Has anyone converted their trailer in a similar way? How hard is it to load a raft onto a tall trailer at a takeout?

I looked at the trailer porn link and got some ideas, but I'm open to any suggestions.

Pictures of your rigs would be great!
 

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I once had a trailer with the mobile home axle and it was horrible. The seals on the inner bearing were worthless and nothing but a headache. Those axles are only designed to go down the road once and finding new tires can be a real pain. I'd keep looking on Craig's list for a 6x10 utility trailer. IMO
 

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Paddling in to the Future
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if you have problems with your axle just replace it, a 3500lb axle runs about $160 and only takes about 30 minutes to install.

I have a 4X8 utility trailer, I made side rails from 2" angle iron welded on the side, (2ft high) I bolted a 2X12 along the bottom inside, and a 2X6 across the top. I put a removable deck made of 2X6 mounted on 2X4 that rests on the top and just bolts on with some 4" bolts with wing nuts. works great for me, can get dryboxes, coolers etc under my cat, so I can load my cat empty. I put a winch on the front of my deck to pull the cat up so I can load it myself.

Your idea sounds like it'll work very similar to my setup. and I wouldn't worry about your axle until you have problems with it. just pack your bearings every fall before you put the trailer up for the winter and you should be okay. My grandfather has 6X8 home built trailer with a mobile home axle under it, and that axle has been on there for about 30 years. And he is less than perfect at bearing maintenance. So you should be okay.
 

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I have a dual purpose trailer. Echo 2 place ATV trailer. I had stake pockets added, and removable metal mesh side panels made for it. The side panels a 2 feet high. In the past, my cataraft tubes rested directly on the side rails of the trailer (with the side panels off). When I got my raft, I wanted more support, so I've added cross boards. The cargo floor has marine/outdoor carpet for sliding gear, and the cross boards are wrapped in the carpet as well. I'm still working on some sort of roller for the back for raft loading. So far it hasn't been hard to load or unload on boat ramps when I can back into the water to "float" the raft on & off. On trips were I don't have the raft inflated, it makes a good small gear hauler trailer. The total size is 9.5 feet X 6.5 feet. Here are a few pictures. The one picture is the only one I have that shows one of the side panels. I was originally thinking of putting wide boards along the sides, but decided on the cross boards instead.
 

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I have a 9x5 utility trailer. It came with 10" high side rails that match the ht. of the fenders. A added a hinged upper deck to carry a 15' cataraft (and sometimes a 15' bucket boat on top of that!) When loaded the front of the boat just clears the back door of my 4Runner. I wouldn't go much smaller than 9x5.

I made the following modifications over the years...

1. Hinged top deck. Made from 1x6 pressure treated fence boards and 2x4 frame. There are two hinged sections mounted to a 1.5 x 1.5 steel tube down the center. The steel tube is bolted to the trailer frame and can easily be removed.

2. I filled in the open side panels with sheet metal. Stuff in the trailer likes to wander around on bumpy dirt roads. This insures the cams straps will still be there at the put-in.

3. Added a drop down wheel with jack to the tongue, this lets me hitch or unhitch the fully loaded trailer by myself. Very important if you have road trouble while solo driving. I also added a spare tire mount.

4. Added a section of 2" dia. PVC pipe to the back end of the deck to act as a 'roller' for loading the boat. Most times we just carry the boat to the trailer. On a crowded boat ramp it is often easier to get 4 persons to carry the boat to the trailer than wait for a space on the ramp big enough to back the trailer into the water. Plus, it is easier to load my boat on the trailer from the side on dry land than it is to load it from the end in the water.

5. After I burned through the first set of axle bearings I added 'bearing buddies'. These are after market end caps that include a zirc fitting so I can easily grease the hubs.

Some things to consider.....

I wish I had bought a higher quality trailer in the first place. Over the years I ended up upgrading it piece by piece, but often after a road side disaster. Running over dirt roads with a heavy loaded trailer on leaf springs puts a lot of wear and tear on both the car and trailer.

Make sure your deck has enough flat spots for the boat AND folks trying to lift and carry the boat into position. My first version just had planks for the tubes and you end up balancing on the tongue or the gear stored in the trailer to get the boat loaded. This resulted in several injuries as folks fell off the precarious perch while wrangling the rubber.

Dirt roads insure that anything in an open trailer will be covered with dirt on arrival. If it rains it will be caked in mud. I have solid sheet metal panels in the sides and place a tarp over the contents of the trailer prior to closing the hinged deck. I also make sure all the cargo is wrapped up in a dry bag or at least a trash bag. If the drive back was really muddy I just hit a car wash on the way home.

Make sure your deck is high enough to clear your intended cargo. I had to raise the frame a bit to make sure it would clear the cooler and my action packers.

No matter how well you plan, once you get the boat loaded there is always something that you need to get to under the deck. I can slide the boat to one side of the deck and open the opposite hatch if required. I'm thinking of installing some hatches in the side panels that would let me dig for something.
 

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Oh Yeah, the BEST trailer upgrade I made was installing LED lights AND a ground wire (not frame ground). I put all the wires in a plastic flex conduit bolted to the underside to protect them from gravel.

I have not had a light failure or changed a bulb since... almost 5 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I need to have a heavy duty trailer and my wife would kill me if I showed up with a second trailer. We just don't have the parking area.

I'm thinking of using about 2x6 wood cross members that I would attach to the stake pockets that hold the utility sides in place similar to what cataraftgirl does. How many do you think I need to carry two rafts safely?

I'm also considering using three pieces of steel square tubing as cross members and then bolting some wooden 2x6s length wise to use as the deck for the raft.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. Keep them coming!
 

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Oh Yeah, the BEST trailer upgrade I made was installing LED lights AND a ground wire (not frame ground). I put all the wires in a plastic flex conduit bolted to the underside to protect them from gravel.

I have not had a light failure or changed a bulb since... almost 5 years.
I'm not at 5 years, but I'll second this. I replaced with LED and wrapped in conduit. Super bright and no more getting pulled over because my trailer lights are super dim until I do the crap shoot wire wiggle we've all done.
 

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I think I have 7 or 8 cross boards, and they are 2X6. Mine are attached to the siderails of the trailer. I drilled holes in them to use a heavy duty zip tie to secure them, and I also use 2 foot cam straps as well. So far this has worked, with no slippage of the cross boards on dirt roads. I'd love to devise a better securement method, but this is working, plus it's easy to remove when I need the put the sides on for gear hauling. I wrapped the majority of each board with the outdoor marine carpet, so the raft slides on easily. I'd love to see a picture of Kengore's PVC roller set-up. I can probably attach a roller to the last cross board in the back. Kengore's warning about flat places to stand is spot on. Those 2X6s are sturdy, but they do flex a little if someone tries to stand on them towards the middle. Eventually, I'd love to have a flat upper deck of some sort, but for now the cross boards are working. I don't have much space between the trailer deck and the raft/cross boards. Just enough for small or flat stuff like chairs, oarss, soft bags, etc. I wish it was high enough to slide my SOT touring kayak under there when I want to bring both.
 

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I specifically got my second trailer with 2' tall sides to fit gear, coolers, dry boxes, and full size totes under the raft. As another post stated, it does tend to let stuff get dirty and dusty when driving around on dirt roads. But the fact that all the gear can go in the trailer is great.

This is a 5 x 10 utility trailer made by Haul Rite near Aztec, NM, with a couple custom features - I had the tongue length increased 1' to ease getting in and out of my van, and had the rear gate cut flush with the 2' sides (instead of 4' long for loading ATVs and the like). I now have 5 - 2x6's across the top of the trailer to set the rafts on, painted with an exterior patio paint that allows the rafts to slide pretty easily. The spacing allows easy access to everything thru the top, and allows me to push the raft to the side to get to stuff if needed.

My wife and I can load the 13' or 15' raft on the higher trailer when we are alone, but I could see it getting more difficult in the future. One key addition I would suggest with the higher sides is a roller on the rear of the trailer - since I added the roller it is much easier to load the rafts. I think it would also be helpful to add a winch on the front to pull the raft up and on, but I haven't done it yet.

Bottom line, I have been very happy choosing the 2' high sides. The added gear hauling capacity is a great benefit.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Pbowman, your set up looks about perfect for me. My trailer is either going to have to stretch to 10' or I'll need to get a longer one. I guess I bet get welding...

Thanks again!
 

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PBowman, How do you attach the 2x6's to the top rails? I'm looking to do the same thing and would like something more than CatGirls zipties.
 

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I am always in search of a better method, so I'd love to see how he does it as well. I thought about U-bolts of some sort. My only requirement is that it's easy to remove when I want the trailer sides on.
 

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I bolted 2X4's to the railing on my trailer using wingnuts. and then screwed 2X6's in to the 2X4's then the whole deck can be lifted off the trailer by undoing 4 wing nuts and knocking the bolts out of the way. sometimes I just take the rear two out, and lift up the deck to get to things underneath (when the boat's not on it) could probably put some lifts on it to do it with the boat though.
 
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