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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some trailer advice on putting together a trailer for my 14ft raft for <$1000. I'd like to be able to use it as a utility trailer with removable sides as well. I searched around on the forums a bit, but didn't find the info I was looking for. Here are a couple options I am kicking around:

1) Modify my existing harbor freight trailer into something like below. I could pretty easily and cheaply add a deck which would fit my boat. But, I question its ability to make it through a Deso shuttle safely, tow at highway speeds, and generally hold up.


2) Buy the deck-over tilting snowmobile trailer, below (~$600). It looks like it would work well for towing a raft. But, the smaller 18.5 x 8.5 x 8 tires seem like they might lack clearance at rougher put-ins and would be spinning awfully fast on the highway. Also, the deck-centered axle seems like it might be problematic for loading/towing. And, I'd have to rig up a way to add side walls for it's utility purposes. Does anyone have experience with a trailer like this? Thoughts?



3) Buy a larger utility trailer ~ 5'x10' and modify to add a removable deck on top, like below. Looks like I can get one locally for about $1250 with 15" wheels. Then adding rails for the boat + sides for the utility trailer would be beyond that. More than I want to spend, but seems like a solid option.



What are your 2c?
 

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option #3....no question. i just did the Deso shuttle. It trashed 2 smaller trailers pretty good. (5'x8' 12" wheels) multiple lites that were welded and rollers are now in the desert.

option #3 already has sides, just need some 2x10 strapped across the top.

If you do it right...you only cry once.
 

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Option 3 for sure- I just modified a 10' utility trailer with 15" wheels. PM me if you go that route and need some ideas. My cross braces and rear roller come off with just 8 bolts and I'm back to a utility trailer again.i did all my mods- braces, roller, winch and stand for $300

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Another vote for option #3. I have an 9.5 X 6.5 ATV trailer with added stake pockets & removable 24 inch metal mesh sides. I did as ENDOMADNESS and strapped on 2 X 8s wrapped in marine carpet. No roller yet. Works pretty well to slide the fully rigged & loaded raft on & off at the put-ins and take-outs. Osseous's bolted on design sounds a little more secure. Look at the trailer porn thread, posts #85 & 96 for another buzzards similar design.
 

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Those trailers are way under engineered to drag rafts around the western US, and I'm talking about paved roads, forget the dirt roads. One friend ended up dealing with three episodes on one chama trip (from Boulder), and that trailer is now serving a different purpose. I will say the issues were primarily related to the small tires, but the rest of the trailer is of similar (lack of) durability. Save yourself the headache and go option 3 now, not after you learn the hard way.
 

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Take a look at tractor supply. They have 5x8's starting around $800, non-sale pricing. I haven't looked too hard into the specs on them, but superficially, on the lot, they look a whole lot better than the harbor freight fold up toys.
 

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Get a small trailer with small wheels. Fixing problems with them out on the road will test your patience and repair abilities. Also when you get to the takeout and your trailer is not there, you will hope that your frame is a takedown type. Everyone should have to figure out what to do now at least once.
 

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Option 1 sucks! Those little tires don't like long hauls over time.

Option 3 is the better if not the best.

Option 4 could be to find an old motor boat trailer and modify it. I've seen some sweet set ups from old boat trailers. just a thought.
 

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I might have a great option 3 for sale in the near future.

5x10, custom welded raft attachment (remove able ) with steel frame and supported 2x12 runners with rollers and storage for other gear underneath. Let me know and I can take a few pics to send. Not sure on price but it's a real sweet set-up for a 12-16 foot raft.


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So I have to weigh in since it is my trailer shown in option 1.

First of all, let me say that I paid $275 for the trailer and another $125 for the wood and galvanized posts to build it back in 2011. It did take a day or so but I enjoyed it. Secondly, my boat at that time was only a 12' Tributary so weight wasn't an issue. The trailer has performed admirably on trips to Grand County, The Main Salmon, The Green through Browns Park and around Colorado. It tows well if you keep the weight forward and tows at high speeds (70 MPH+). Its the 1720 capacity trailer with 12" wheels, which are fairly standard on small trailers. In summary, for the price, I got something to hall my boat (with no stress on the bottom I might add since there is no weight on it) and use around the house and yard for a pittance. At the time it was a good investment and fit my budget

I just rebuilt it with larger skids and no sides for my new 14' boat. Its a bit overloaded and the tongue is way short but since I already had it, I opted to go that route instead of buying a new trailer. If I didn't already have a trailer, AND was feeling flush, I'd go with something more commercial from Tractor Supply or Jax. $1250 is a lot to spend, but one has to weigh how much you will use it and where and how fast you want to drive over bad roads.

These harbour freight trailers aren't bomb proof, but for $300, what do you expect....and it gets you a trailer that is quite roadworthy in most circumstances.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I hear you, John_In_Loveland. I've got a HF trailer already, so it's appealing from a cost perspective. Your solution is one of the more elegant mod's I've seen of the HF trailer for sure--- its what made me even consider it.

I'm leaning towards getting something along the lines of #3. I'll try to find one used to save some $$$, and then modify as necessary.

Another question for everyone; what size is about the smallest that you can fit a 14' raft? 5x8? 5x10? 5ft width looks like the sides would be right under my tubes, so I could easily add runners to support the boat and then store gear below.

I worry that an 8' long trailer deck would have the bow of my boat too close to the vehicle. I have another line on a real nice 5'x12' trailer, but that'd really take up a lot of my driveway.
 

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I had a trailer similar to option 1 also, for my 14' raft... Had...

It was OK on the highway, but just OK. You feel and hear every single bump in the road, and that tells me it was taking a beating (which it did and I now bo longer have it).

On some of the rougher roads to the rivers, it was barely adequate. It struggled mightilly. And definitely took a beating. By the time I got rid of it, it was in pretty rough shape.

Some suittle companies won't shuttle trailers with the small tires like option 2, and some won't even do option 1.

I went to option 3 two years ago, and wish I had started there from the beginning. The several years I got out of the HF trailer can be considered a rental I guess, but Imnow kinda view it as I paid $1,800 for a $1,500 trailer... LOL
 

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I live in slc & have used a 20 yo 4x8 home depot utility trailer with those small bias ply tires. I've gotten to know most of the tire repair guys to & from the middle fork, yampa, main fork, deso, etc. most recently this morning I spent an hour or so at Bruneel Tire Factory in McCall (good guys who explained to this short bus rider the difference between bias ply & steel belted radials in the size range of st 175/80R13). Needless to say, the next trip will be with option#3 & the HD Special will be reassigned to dump runs as it should have been from the start.my 2¢- hope this helps
 

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seems like i remember folks talkign about the HF trailers and they were pretty cheap built. you may want to do a search on HF and trailer, could save you some bucks in the long run.

good luck, buddy has a old snowmobile trailer with the little wheels, says to just lube it up every few hundred miles.
 
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