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Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring #44: Franken-Rack gives life to Harbor Freight trailer

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Blog entry by Paul Bucalo posted 06-04-2015 09:52 PM 5845 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 43: Tool Tip - Simple Depth Gauge for Twist Bits Part 44 of Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring series Part 45: Harbor Freight Folding Utility Trailer Build »

Last year, my first LumberJocks project was the Franken-Rack, a huge wooden rack that mounted on the rook of my 2001 Chevy Blazer. The concept was sound. The construction sturdy and useful. Unfortunately, it was too heavy for the roof’s infrastructure to support, so off it went, late last year, to go through this past winter under heavy canvas cover. On April25th I made an excellent buy on a Harbor Freight (HF) 4’x8’ Folding Utility Trailer. Over the past month I have been working on its assembly and the creation of a wooded stake side and gate system. The goal: a trailer that could safely carry 4’x8’ sheet goods, lumber, workshop equipment and furniture, bought as well as made.

The full set of 58 pictures showing construction from start to finish can be found here at my Google+ profile. I have only added some pictures showing the finished build.

The HF trailer comes in two heavy boxes. One contains all the frame, axle, assembly components and accessories. The other box contains the two wheels, fenders, lights and wiring. Assembly wasn’t difficult, just time consuming. I started assembly in the dungeon with the front and back frame halves, then assembled the rest outdoors. Without a garage or shelter to work in, I could only work on the assembly and stake sides build while weather cooperated. It’s important to note that most of the washers used in this assembly were added by me. That’s a little over 120 of them, in four different sizes. I guess this is one way to save cost in manufacturing, because I spent close to $45.00 USD just in those. The jack stand was extra, an additional $20.00, I believe. I also bought a dolly for around fifty. Minus the stand and dolly, and with an initial cost of $239.00 for the trailer, I have somewhere between $350-$400 into the project. All I need to add at a later date is a spare tire and frame mount for it.

The trailer was designed to be folded in half and rolled away to a side or corner of your garage. I wanted a more solid construction. I didn’t have a need for a folding capacity. I routed the wiring a little differently, by having it split and run through each leg of the front “A” frame to the rest of the trailer. You can see in the finished build picture that I have used plastic automotive wiring cover in the “A” frame section to give better weather protection. Wherever the wiring harness passed through a metal frame clip I wound several wraps of electrical tape to protect from the sharp edges. I added zip ties where I felt more control was necessary. I didn’t use the junction clamps for the wiring, instead using butt crimps that were generously wrapped in electrical tape to keep water out.

Final Construction Pictures

Trailer after the second coat of Flood UV protecting deck stain and sealant had been applied. You can see the cross braces behind it and to the far right the removable gate against the shed:

I designed the staked bed to have two rear gates. The one you see is for sheet goods and any condition where the full-height gate isn’t needed. Carabiners are used to secure the hinged gate when the full-size gate is used. As you see it, I would use the locks normally placed on the full-size gate. This keeps me from having to have four padlocks:

I had concerns with using ratcheting web straps over the top of the sides compressing them and causing fractures at the half-lapped section of the side stakes. To avoid this, I added cross braces atop each of the half-lapped stakes:

The braces are attached to the stakes via a sliding lock bolt. Each lock bolt is secured from opening via a carabiner:

The trailer is pretty much finished. All I have to do is add (already purchased) tarp tie downs and strapping loops, probably later this week. It has been used to haul pallets back to the house. Worked great.

Next project—-The Dungeon; an ongoing saga.

-- Paul, Upstate New York, USA



5 comments so far

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

758 posts in 1777 days


#1 posted 06-04-2015 09:56 PM

I forgot to mention in the blog that some of the lumber used in this construction came from the disassembled Franken-Rack. This is why the stakes and 1”x6” sides look like they have been used before.

-- Paul, Upstate New York, USA

View luv2learn's profile

luv2learn

2949 posts in 2720 days


#2 posted 06-04-2015 11:46 PM

Awesome build Paul, you will get a lot of use out of your trailer configured that way.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

758 posts in 1777 days


#3 posted 06-04-2015 11:56 PM



Awesome build Paul, you will get a lot of use out of your trailer configured that way.

- luv2learn

Thanks, Lee. Now I can bring in all the lumber I need for the dungeon workshop.

-- Paul, Upstate New York, USA

View TomiP's profile

TomiP

1 post in 19 days


#4 posted 06-29-2019 10:05 PM

Hi Paul.
Enjoy your projects. Can you please point me to the 50+ photos you have on the Harbor Freight build? Especially the images of how the trailer sides were done? As we know, Google+ no longer exists so other posts no longer work.
Thank you, Tom [email protected]

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

758 posts in 1777 days


#5 posted 06-30-2019 12:17 AM


Hi Paul.
Enjoy your projects. Can you please point me to the 50+ photos you have on the Harbor Freight build? Especially the images of how the trailer sides were done? As we know, Google+ no longer exists so other posts no longer work.
Thank you, Tom [email protected]

- TomiP

Hi Tom,

Thanks! I have some good news and not so good news for you. The good news is that this summer I will be rebuilding the trailer. All new wood (stake sides, front and back), as well as all new LED lights and wiring harness. The new lights are due to a recall from HF. I bought the new wiring harness long before the recall was announced, thinking that was part of the original problem.

The wood is being replaced because a couple of years of little use and being out in the weather has turned the pine boards and pressure treated plywood deck into moldy evil looking stuff. I’m also going to be changing the design to better suite the needs now. I don’t need to transport sheet goods—I have a pickup with an 8 foot box—and I am expecting to move next year. There is a good change I will consider using thin boards instead of horizontal two-bys, with little to no space between them, to reduce weight and aid in transporting loose goods. I’ll decide for sure when I am ready to dive into the project.

The bad news is I don’t know when I will be starting the project. Some time this summer, is a surety, with early fall as a desperate last ‘for sure’. Until then, I just don’t have the time to dig out the photos—not even sure where they are or if I have kept them all. I’ll post the new construction/rebuild. Up to you. I hope you can wait. :)

Paul

-- Paul, Upstate New York, USA

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