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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
ONE YEAR UPDATE <Please read through this…you’ll probably not want to buy one of his trailers afterwards. After a year, much of the trailer has been rebuilt. I cannot recommend them. The wiring, which was just stapled to the deck, is getting trashed from road wear. And now needs work. It was totally unprotected. Mudflaps also had to be added, as the lights kept getting broken by stones. The warm and fuzzy feeling of having a new trailer only lasted a couple of weeks…until I had to start rebuilding it. >
So I picked up my trailer from Tim (3 Forks, Mt.) and thought I’d give it a review for those of you thinking of getting one;
I wanted the 12’ trailer, (7’x12’ $2300), but I wanted an extra plank wider. Final size is a full 12’x7’9”. Total length is just over 16’. That bumped the cost up to $2550. It pulled beautifully on the way home, at up to 70 mph. The tongue weight is heavy, around 60 lbs.



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The frame and undercarriage are nicely welded and finished. The joints are welded both sides, which didn’t have to be done, but reflects his attention to detail.
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The axle is a 2300# axle, with a five lug hub on 2 5/8” spacing. It has a grease zerk for the hubs, and a nice rubber plug to keep things clean. The tires are 175/80-13”. 2/4 ply, rated to 1300# each
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. This leaves the trailer deck sitting at 28” off the ground.
The roller is full width. It’s a simple tube, spinning on a rod at each end. No bearings. Which means that on a gravel road it makes an ungodly amount of noise, and must be strapped down.

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There are three things that I can see that I’d point out as flaws, or at least needing to be aware of; the wood on my deck is bad. The 1x10s are planer gouged, bowed and crooked. I’m not too upset about it, since availability has been awful lately, and these were probably the best he could find.
Second, the planks are fastened with 1/4” carriage bolts, lock washers and a simple nut, instead of nylock nuts. Forty nylock nuts would not cost more than about $15. I’ll be changing that out myself. Lastly, Tim sells these without a title, as a homebuilt. The buyer has to go through the bother of the inspection and paperwork, plus the additional expense.

It has a budget winch with a strap that reaches about 3’ beyond the trailer. The tongue jack just barely levels the trailer when fully extended. <after a year, it’s now ready to get replaced. Junk>.
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I had to add a 6” lift hitch for my Tundra to level the deck. All in all it’s a good trailer for hauling a raft. It’s about $2,000 less than an aluminum model, so I’d say it’s worth the money. <update: while it’s ok for a couple of rafts, you wouldn’t want to haul quads on them. They’re too lightly built, and flex too much.>
 

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I had Tim do some work on my trailer, added a roller and winch and winch post and I was happy with his work. He gave me some great advice regarding my POS home built trailer and saved me tons of money on rebuilding.
 

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FWIW when I had the welding and fab shop, we sold trailers as "home-built" also, isn't a big thing here in Colorado to get one titled, just fill out an "Affidavit of assembly" and present it when you go to register it. The DOT hoops you have to jump thru to get a trailer design certified and the fees to do so are outrageous here, would have added a couple hundred bucks to the cost of each trailer, we elected to keep the prices low, and folks didn't seem to mind.

We as well had the Affidavit forms in the office most of the time. I did have one customer in AZ that had so many hoops to jump thru in order to get it titled though, so I'm betting all states aren't the same in regard to this.

It sure looks like a nice rig, the only thing I'd mention is, the winch riser, the upright part, really needs a gusset where it connects to the tongue. Pulling a loaded boat onto a trailer is going to put some hellacious strain on the weld, and could possibly tear the top of the tongue off if it failed, rendering the trailer un towable. Distribute the stresses and mitigate the chances of failure.

Also, FWIW, it looks like you could replace the decking with the "Trex" composite product and never have to do the maintenance wood requires, no splinters etc. Either way, I'd put some 5/16 washers under the head of the carriage bolt to distribute those stresses and eliminate the wood "rising" at the end of the boards when you replace the nuts with Nylocks. I can also tell you we used Jam Nuts instead of Nylocks, as it's a difficult task to hold the carriage bolt once the nylon part of the nut engages with the thread. Just run one nut on, and jam another behind it. Loctite Blue is your friend as well.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Now that I’ve used it a bit, I’ve lowered my opinion of the quality, and attention to detail. I’ve worked in a fab shop, and know what quality looks like. This trailer is adequate, but rushed, and slammed together.
I measured the deck, cross corners, and it’s out of square by 1 3/4”. That’s difficult to make something that badly. Also the deck boards are not fastened down in the middle of their length. So they’re bowing and opening up. I have a new trailer, but I have to start working on it?
Now l can only say that it’ll haul your boat, but it’s not a first-rate product.
 

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That's REALLY out of square..
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's REALLY out of square..
At first I thought the planks were cut badly at the mill, as none of them were flush at the frame, so I started measuring. That’s for shit. I’m not happy badmouthing a local builder, but people are ordering these things from out of state...they need to know what they’re going to get.
 

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Are the tires wearing badly? If the frame isn't square, the axle likely isn't either..
 

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You can always measure from the coupler to the spring hangers, should be the same on each side..
 

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If this was mine I think id add some more bolts on each plank. Looking at the underneath, looks like there are two more steel crossbars the deck isn’t fastened to. In a few years I’d be afraid of losing some decking on shuttle roads such as the main Salmon, MF, or Deso. Specially the “drive it like you stole it” shuttle driver.

2x10s would add strength but also weight. Wouldn’t warp as easy though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I bought the bolts and nylock nuts today to do exactly that. I’ll also be replacing the existing nuts and split washers with nylocks. Nylocks are permanent. Rebuilding a new trailer...what fun.
 

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I cannot recommend Sleeping Giant trailers/Mobile Repair and Welding enough in Livingston, MT. The Nardella family provides old-school customer service and extreme quality. Our trailer is 11 years old, has seen lots of miles on roads of all condition, and is good as new. We LOVE the tilt feature, makes unloading a one handed operation. Truly a lifetime build, and very affordable, 406.222.1560.

Bob

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Everyone bitches about the price of Toyotas, but they sure do last! If the cab was physically bigger I'd probably own one myself, but I am so cramped in my wife's 4Runner, that I don't think I'd be comfortable in one
 
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