Thread: Custom aluminum SUV trailer
04-16-2011, 04:38 PM #1
Custom aluminum SUV trailer
Just thought I'd share some pics of my freshly completed trailer for my SUV. Perhaps some of the customizations I had a need for can be of use to someone else. I had the basic trailer built by Rocket Trailers in Fort Meyers, FL. over Christmas and picked it up right after New Years. Great people to deal with and they did good work. Frankly, I would have preferred to build the whole thing myself but I can't by the parts and assemble it for what they did it for. I gave them the drawing of what I wanted on a Thursday morning and sent me pictures of it by the end of day Friday. Not bad considering the aluminum tri-axle (for my other boat) I had another company build took over a month.
You'll notice that the trailer is somewhat overbuilt, at least for one ski, but future plans include adding an upper rack for stacking another SUV or 3-seater. I only wanted to buy one trailer so I had this one built heavy enough to add on to.
I also had an issue with storage even though my Ford Excursion is pretty much as large as you can get as far as SUV's go. See, I have a wife, 1yr old son, and two large dogs. I pack everyone up and head to Florida for two weeks each May, plus several other shorter trips throughout the year. That's why I have the rather large storage box on the tongue. I also had an aluminum version of a typical hitch-mounted cargo carrier, so I figured I would find a place to mount that, yet make it removable. The winch post was a perfect place for it because I use a hitch pin to secure it and I can remove it easily for normal use. I also have the waterproof bag that straps to the rack so It ends up having almost as much storage as the box does (17.5 cu ft.).
Some notable additions/changes that I made:
- Fabricated an aluminum winch stand that matched the angle of the post (so it comes out level) so the bow roller would be low enough to properly secure the ski.
- I didn't like the tongue where the I-beams attached to it because there was a lot of movement even when pulling it home empty. You can see the way it was in the first picture. The better way is to double bend the I-beams so that they straddle the tongue, but then again, this isn't a 15K capacity trailer, so it's not that big a deal. I added support above the tongue for the the tops of the I-beams to rest on to better distribute the weight. The way it came it was supported only by the bolt. I also added proper wedges and a longer bolt to fasten the I-beams to the tongue so it was completely tight.
- I didn't like the way the tongue was fastened to the front crossmember with a u-bolt so I added a 5" channel crossmember and used angle and a regular bolt to secure it properly. It also stiffened up the front of the trailer considerably.
- Added carpeted boards to the inside of the fenders to keep spray and debris from hitting the ski. Also added mud flaps to the fenders for the same reason.
- The bunk brackets were kind of cheesy so I changed them to the hat-type. They're stronger and look better.
04-16-2011, 06:43 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- near Toronto, Canada
Very nice done
04-19-2011, 12:11 AM #3
- Join Date
- Apr 2011
That's a thing of beauty right there.
04-19-2011, 08:00 PM #4
05-03-2011, 01:42 AM #5
Looks really nice. Whats the tongue weight going to be with goodies in the storage boxes?
05-04-2011, 07:01 AM #6
Thanks to you and everyone else for the nice comments. I haven't weighed it yet but it feels like it has about 100lbs of tongue weight as it is in the pics. I'm anticipating another 200 lbs of gear. Fortunately the baby stuff is just bulky and doesn't weigh much. I'll use the rack/bag for most of that. Other than that it's just luggage, fishing gear, a few tools, etc. I can't imagine it would get anywhere near the 500lb mark, which is what the coupler is rated for, but if it gets even close that I'll change the tongue to a 3x4 and add a heavier coupler (surge with disc brakes). I planned for all of that eventually, especially if I add the 2nd ski.
I also have a little room to move the ski back to lighten it up too. I'll know for sure on Friday when I pack it up. Time to head for warmer weather - 34 and a little frosty this morning
05-06-2011, 05:32 PM #7
- Join Date
- May 2008
They built a couple for me.
They are very good at taking your drawings, etc., and turning them into reality without breaking the bank and without taking forever. They actually listen.
I'm just about ready to have them build me another one....soon as I save up a few more pennies.
Well worth the trip to get it done right.
Matt IS the man.
05-07-2011, 07:15 PM #8
05-13-2011, 11:14 AM #9
- Join Date
- Mar 2010
Awesome!!!! Great design.
06-09-2011, 09:16 AM #10
Here's an update... I used the trailer with all the storage capacity for my two-week vacation to FL last month and it performed flawlessly. The extra length really helped launching and retrieving, especially at high tide since the ramp I used was less-steep then.
As for the tongue weight, though, I knew it was heavy after I had it loaded up, but still had no idea how much until I procured a cheap bathroom scale while on vacation - 280lbs empty and I had to have 200lbs of gear in the box and on the rack. Yeah, I know I said it felt like 100 empty, but I was really mistaken I got the tongue weight down to 210 by moving the axle forward 4.5 inches. It was either 4.5 or nearly 13 because the front fender mounts would have had to go on the other side of one of the crossmembers. I did some testing with jacks at different points to determine where the best place to remount the axle, and at the 13 inch mark the tongue weight was down to 60, which would have been too light unless I added some balast to the tool box.
I finally took it down to a nearby truck stop last night and weighed it and was surprised at the 1780lbs total weight. Moral of the story - knowing the weight is important, and manufacturers trailer weights aren't always correct (they said 200lbs!)! I haven't decided whether to lighten it up any more or not. I tow it with my Excursion, so it's not like that kind of weight is really a problem, plus the trailer tows very well. Other than a couple times a year, the box will be empty or just have some extra vests and other light weight items in it.
It's funny that it's almost at the weight to need brakes and it's a single ski trailer
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