Utility Trailer Advise Needed

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by dheat, Dec 1, 2006.

  1. dheat

    dheat Well-Known Member

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    I found a '70s model Coleman convertible trailer locally for $100. The convertible part is the sides fold up to create a 4' x 6' "water tight" box. It comes with a cover and a spare tire.

    The owner says it looks "rough" but is fully operational/functional. In fact, he just hauled 1/2 ton of tile from north FL to Charlotte, NC on it without a problem. I asked him to define "rough" and he said it has some rust, but nothing affecting structural integrity.

    I haven't seen it.

    Even thought it's local, it's still a good 30 minutes away one way.

    Those are the facts as I know them.

    My questions are:
    * Is rust a show stopper?
    * If not necessarily, when does it become a show stopper?
    * How do I know the existing rust does not affect the structural integrity?
    * Is it worth an hour and a half out of my Saturday to have a look at the thing if I can't answer the preceeding questions?
    * Is age a problem if rust is not?
    * Will it be difficult to find tires (when needed) for a trailer that old? That is, will I more than likey have to replace the wheels also?
    * Are there any other questions I should be asking?

    Your thoughts are appreciated.

    Doug
     
  2. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    At $100, figure 35, 40 bucks each for tires/wheels (depends on size), lights another $50 bucks.
    So figure about $300 for a sanded /painted trailer, (generally thats all it would need).
    I have picked up a lot of trailers over the years, and a paint job, tires, lights are almost always needed.
    Good news, a fixed up trailer can bring $500 -up, easy depending on size.
    Good little sideline for extra bucks.

    This being said, is it worth it to you?
     

  3. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    don't bother. First of all, a pop-up camper floor system is nothing like a utility trailer, It is light gauge framing covered with a piece of plywood, not heavy steel and pressure treated lumber. Second, any trailer tire that is over five or six years old should be replaced. They may look great, but they are aged and will fail, when you are far from home and fully loaded. I wouldn't waste the time and money, ending up with a half-azed piece of junk. Keep your eye out for a good used utility trailer. I just bought a used, heavy duty 6'X10' landscape trailer for $600. The original owner bought it six years ago, and used it twice to haul a little yard tractor to the repair shop. BTW, a 15" trailer tire is about $85, so patching up a wreck might be a little more expensive than you thought. Good luck.
     
  4. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    As usaul Tiogacounty and I disagree. You dont need a 15" high ply trailer tires that costs $85. A $5 or free pair of used 15" not dry rotted tires car tires are fine if you arent hauling over a ton assuming they fit your rims. Sometimes trailers have those "mini" trailer tires but those arent $85 either.

    Rust can be no problem or a huge problem. You will have to be the judge, is it just surface rust or has it weekened the fame? Cant say without seeing it. Tiogacounty may have a valid point about it having a week frame. That also isnt a problem if you arent hauling heavy loads. I dont know what your plans are, so only you can tell if it looks beafy enough for your needs. A complete light set if the trailer needs all new lights and wires is only $30 at discount auto parts stores.

    You dont sound like a mechanical wiz kid, so if you really dont have the ability to tell if its rusted out or too light duty for your needs I think you should pass. I see lots of 4x8 heavy duty utility trailers for sale in the $250-300 range. Those simple homemade type utility trailers are usally so heavily built that rust isnt an issue. Converted campers on the other hand were built as lightly as safely possible with minimum steel thickness. If I found a utility trailer that fit my needs and I could tell was sound $100 would be a steal, but I would have to see this one in person to decide that. If you feel you can tell if its sturdy or not by looking at it then go look at it.
     
  5. floramum

    floramum Well-Known Member

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    Got A Light Harness For A Trailer On Sale At Tractor Supply For $17.00 And Hung On To It For A Year Until Needed Recently.
     
  6. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I spent $250 for a 2 cubic yard handwelded (handmade) 30+ year old trailer with such rust I didn't believe it'd last the month until the auctioneer jumped up and down in the bed. DH and I believe when it DOES rust through we'll be able to support a slab of plywood on the edges to continue hauling. After looking at $800+ lawn mower trailers that didn't even have sides (since I want it to haul manure like a pickuptruck bed) this seemed like a pretty good deal. Will I get my money's worth? If it keeps me from buying a pickup truck for the next few years when I'm doing a lot of new garden installation it'll have saved us over $10,000.
     
  7. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I agree with everything you wrote. I have a bit of experience with the trailer he is looking at, having owned several and recently completed major structural repairs to one. The reason you rarely see anybody using an old pop-up camper as a utility trailer is that they are really built very lightly, They typically have a sheetmetal frame, no actual structural steel to speak of, and this is topped with a layer of 1/2 ply or, more recently OSB. The sides are extremely lightly framed with 1"x2" stock with 1/8" plywood stapled to the interior and aluminum stapled to the outside. The bottom line is that you can take one, remove the top, interior and canvas, and end up with something that looks like a utility trailer. It will have no serious cargo capacity. It will rot very quickly if it's left out in the weather. It will have very light duty running gear, (some even have 8" rims!) And, it will probably fall apart pretty quickly. Our local "Penny saver classifieds" has several utility trailers in the $300-400 range listed. There is also a titled trailer made from a pick-up bed and frame, for sale cheap. Now that would make a long lasting, heavy duty, cheap rig. As for the comments about tires. Trailer tires are not car tires. I recently needed a 15" ST rated trailer tire and I was stuck in a rather remote area. The local dealer told me he could set me up with a nice heavy truck tire. After I looked into it, the 15" trailer tire was rated to carry almost twice the weight of the truck tire. Just because a car or truck tire is the same size, doesn't mean it's a suitable replacement. I know this wouldn't apply to this situation ,but it's a common misconception, and in some cases, even the guy trying to sell you a tire doesn't get it.
     
  8. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Tioga,
    Excellent post about tires. just because it's round and black don't think all tires are created equal. Another thing to consider is tire diameter which few take into acct. A 15" tire will spin slower at speed than an 8" or 10" tire which is why the heavier the truck the taller the tire. Spinning at higher speeds heats up the tire and works the wizz out of the wheel bearings.
    Popup campers are built to be as light as possible and still functional. The steel framework is extremely thin and most of the strength is in the plywood floor. Many do not have a straight axle with springs but instead use a torsion bar or just a rubber torsion,dampner for suspension.
     
  9. tallpaul

    tallpaul Well-Known Member

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    He says coleman convertable- not converted coleman pop-up... if ya read the initial post it sounds like it was a utility trailer from the git go? If it was a utility trailer form coleman it very well could be worth the money and just may be a stp above a converted pop up trailer.... it all depends. Tires are an imortant item but it depends on your intended uses and needs to the quality of tire ya need. I tend to use the highest rated tires on all my stuff because I have been known to ... uh... ahem ... overload stuff if needed....
     
  10. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    Yep as said id figure on it needing lights and tires for sure. I haven't seen to many trailers around here rust bad enough to worry about. But if its up north with the salted roads and all. :shrug: Bottom line is how much do they sell for in your area. Around here a $100 trailer is well worth fixen up!

    I bought a new 6x12 dove tail with lift gate last year, to haul my ATVs and lawn mowers. To keep the cost of there trailers down the trailer company used junk yard car tires on new white spoke wheels. What a great idea for light duty. The side walls are so much lighter the trailer rides softer with a load and handles better (less bounce). I love it. Plus i can change them out for a few bucks every year or so when they dry rot or flat spot from setting in one place to long.
    When buying tires the load rating is stamped on the side wall in pounds. But id make sure to stay way below there rating as most of them seem to lie a little. Or at least they don't ride safely (on SUV's And Vans) as far as handling is concerned.
     
  11. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    For $100? Go buy it. The axles, spindles, hubs and springs could all be used, as could most of the framing, to build a new trailer...

    If you can pull it in one piece the 30 minute drive to your house, I don't see how you can go wrong...

    Ask the guy if he'll guarantee it to make it to your house and if it doesn't that he'll come and get it back and bring you your money...he might say OK...and if he doesn't, buy it anyway...

    I spend $100 for a tank of gas in my suburban...that's chump change for a trailer...
     
  12. dheat

    dheat Well-Known Member

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    All,

    tallpaul is correct. It's *not* a converted, Coleman pop-up, but a Coleman convertible: the edges of the floor fold up to form short walls. The dimensions are 4'x6' folded. I assume the dimensions are 6'x8' unfolded.

    I haven't looked *at* it yet, but I have a lot more to look *for* now. Thank you all for your input.

    Doug
     
  13. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    While we are on the subject, my uncle got a completely run down travel trailer for nothing, a Rollite I believe, tore the top off and perfectly good utility trailer, I just got a 4x8 for $375, same one cost close to $500 at TSC, not a steal, but I guess I did pretty good...