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Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

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    Hand Bra Designer Garandman's Avatar
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    Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Lots of people here have Harbor Freight trailer kits, both folding and fixed, so thought it might be worth having a dedicated thread of hacks and improvements. I'll start with the loose format:

    • What model / when purchased.
    • Hacks / improvements
    • Problem areas


    Model.
    We have a "Heavy Duty" 1,795 lb trailer model (that seems to have been discontinued for the folder). Purchased it in 2015 to move snowmobiles and bikes. Also purchased a spare tire. Assembly went pretty quickly with a battery powered driver.

    Hacks/Improvements.
    Covered the top with plywood sprayed with black rubberized paint (which had peeled like crazy).

    • Hard-wired a ground wire on both sides. Soldered all connections and shrink wrapped them.
    • Put D Rings four down each side, one front center, one rear center.
    • Drilled the floor so a Condor chock could be bolted on or removed.
    • Use wing nuts (with lock washers) for the license plate as it gets bent when you drop the back.
    • When the metal clips holding the wiring harness corroded, drilled yoke and zip tied harness in place. Eventually I'll get some covering for it, and a cap for the connector.


    Problems.
    Thought about getting LED tail lights and cracked one of the tail lights. But HF had a recall and sent a free set of LED tail and running lights, so Ill try that first. Kind of skeptical because a good marine set is more like $60.

    BTW registration is $22 a year in NH, $20 in MA.


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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    I also have the "Heavy Duty" model with the 5-lug wheels purchased in the 2012 or 2013 time frame. I put a heavy coat of polyurethane around the edge of the plywood bed and liberally applied a clear wood sealer to the rest. So far the plywood is still holding up nicely despite being stored outdoors but I can't say the same for the enamel paint which is starting to come off in sheets.

    Early in the assembly, I disassembled and cleaned the wheel bearings and repacked them with proper grease.

    I'm using the factory incandescent lights but I replaced all the wires with better quality PTFE insulated stock. A separate ground wire is run to every light since expecting a ground to carry through the frame when the trailer consists of painted segments bolted together is asking for trouble. I'm wondering what people do who don't know any better.

    I put galvanized eye bolts in the 4 external corners of the frame to use as tie-down points with nothing in the bed.

    I built walls for the trailer using 1-by lumber to fit in the stupid stake pockets that are within the perimeter of the plywood bed. This means that I can't put 4x8 sheets of any material in the bed and have it lay flat. Why the lower capacity trailers have stake pockets on the outside of the rails that take 2-by lumber but the heavy duty model doesn't is beyond me.

    I also added a spare tire and a trailer jack.

    I've gotten more than my money's worth out of this trailer and it worked perfectly with the lighter duty tow vehicle we owned previously. Now that I have a more significant tow vehicle, I'm looking for a larger utility trailer but I'll be keeping the Harbor Freight one until it rots.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Question I forgot to ask: anyone use expanded metal or diamond okay for decking? Was quoted $285 for a 4x8 sheet of 1/8" aluminum diamond plate, now I'm concerned it would be too slick.

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    ^ It's my bike and my car tls25rs's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Question I forgot to ask: anyone use expanded metal or diamond okay for decking? Was quoted $285 for a 4x8 sheet of 1/8" aluminum diamond plate, now I'm concerned it would be too slick.
    Diamond plate can get very slick when wet. Expanded metal, preferably something that wouldn't rust quickly, wouldn't be bad other than road grime coming up through the deck onto whatever you are towing at the time.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    The other aspect of diamond plate is are you willing to pay as much for decking as you did for the trailer (assuming you used your coupons properly)?

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Anyone at a TTD has seen my set-up.
    -Its the heavy duty non-folding 4x8.
    -I removed the fenders, cause they bend too easily, rub the tire, and make them explode....that was fun.
    -Pressure treated 2x6s and carriage bolts. It sturdied everything right up.
    -*upgraded to a wiring kit from Amazon. Seriously. The factory wiring is of the shittiest quality ever.
    -Walmart storage box
    -2 wheel chocks from Amazon
    -I re-pack the bearings every so often for apparently no reason. They've been fine.
    -Assorted D rings from various stores

    I'm probably into this thing for ~$500 including the cost of the trailer and about 8 hours. Money and time well spent in my book. I like it.

    Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread-img_8227_zpsjvxjlzbk-jpg

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    Last edited by JettaJayGLS; 09-14-17 at 11:48 AM.
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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    How did you guys add a spare tire holder? This is the next thing I need to do. The harbor fright one doesn't seem to fit anywhere now that I put the box on.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    I ordered a spare carrier from eTrailer, haven't received it yet.

    Anyone out truck bedliner on plywood? The rubberized paint we used is pelling off. May rough sand to get better attachment.

    The powdercoat they use sure doesn't hold up, fades fast and flakes off after freeze cycles.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    I've been thinking about plasti dipping a trailer / cargo tray.

    All the people who do sandblasting complain about people coming in to get their dipped wheels stripped. The sand and media just bounces off the plasti dip. Anyone here try it?


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    ^ It's my bike and my car tls25rs's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by LuvDog View Post
    All the people who do sandblasting complain about people coming in to get their dipped wheels stripped. The sand and media just bounces off the plasti dip.
    If plastidip preparation/application is done correctly it shouldn't be too bad to peel off of whatever it was on.

    I also believe they make a substance that can make plastidip wipe off. Sure there is probably a little elbow grease needed too though.
    Dip Dissolver

    To answer your question, never personally plastidipped a vehicle of any sort. I would think bed liner would be more durable than plastdip though especially if the application is on a surface that something will rest on while in transit.

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    Awesomeness, Inc. MattR302's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Plastidip will peel off I feel it's sprayed on thick enough. It's a huge PITA to remove if you just use a couple thin coats, basically just enough to achieve full coverage.

    I wouldn't use it on a trailer deck. Mine is bare marine grade plywood now, but what I would do is probably roll on a thick coat of an oil based primer, and sprinkle on some sand while it's still wet for traction.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    agree on skipping the Plastidip route ... i've done multple sets of wheels, a hood, badges, etc ... it's not all that durable and just a bitch once it starts peeling.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Read threads elsewhere, they suggest Sherwin Williams has a very tough deck paint. They suggest putting down a coat or two, sprinkling in sand, letting it dry, then add a coat as sealer.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Read threads elsewhere, they suggest Sherwin Williams has a very tough deck paint. They suggest putting down a coat or two, sprinkling in sand, letting it dry, then add a coat as sealer.
    I would use a marine boat deck coating, like a resin with abrasive mixed in

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by JettaJayGLS View Post
    .........
    -I removed the fenders, cause they bend too easily, rub the tire, and make them explode....that was fun.
    ..........
    Same here. On my way to Georgia this spring I saw smoke in the mirror about dawn and had a fender folded forward rubbing on the tire. When I tried to bend it back a bit it just broke off. Looked over to check the other side and it was gone. Hope it didn't go through someones windshield in the middle of the night...... I bought new fenders and mounting brackets from a local Tractor Supply in North Carolina and they are MUCH better quality.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyO View Post
    I would use a marine boat deck coating, like a resin with abrasive mixed in
    Awlgrip used to sell the grit in a small can. We always used it when we painted boat decks as it worked great!

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Is it asking for a ticket driving around with no fenders? Seems like it'd be pretty nasty for anyone behind you to see with wet roads, plus your bike would look like it won a hare scramble by the time you get there.

    I bought a trailer without fenders (conversion from a pop up camper) and found some cheap ones to install at tractor supply

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Is there a consensus on "the next step up" beyond the HF trailer and whether it is better bang for the buck?

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveM View Post
    Is there a consensus on "the next step up" beyond the HF trailer and whether it is better bang for the buck?
    I'm torn, the HF trailer doesn't work for me, 5'x9' is minimum to put my UTV on it

    I have looked at the cheap trailers places like Tractor Supply and others carry, and they would probably be suitable for the amount I would use it.

    but... every there I see them, busted lights are common, they rattle, mesh steel decks sag, I am leary of the structural integrity of rusting steel in northern New England

    then I have looked at the aluminum trailers at ProLine , they weigh half as much (even my V-strom weighsmore), LED lighting mounted in a protected location, spare tire, tie downs that are either directly or indirectly attached (with welds, not bolts) to the frame, ( not tie downs that are just attached to a wood deck )....... but nearly double the cost, and the cheaper trailer has 15" wheels, while the ProLine only has 13" wheels (but can be upgraded for $$$)

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveM View Post
    Is there a consensus on "the next step up" beyond the HF trailer and whether it is better bang for the buck?
    Our boat trailer is Load Rite and their utility trailers seem popular.

    Boat Trailers & Specialty Trailers | Load Rite Trailers

    Mission seems to build good aluminum utility trailers and are Maine based.

    Mission Trailers

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Mission is an "ALCOM" company. They also make EZ-Hauler, who made my 6x12 all-aluminum enclosed. I am incredibly happy with my EZ-Hauler. I'd buy anything from ALCOM.

    I also own a nearly 20 year old Worthington aluminum. It's fantastic as well. As they say, integrated, flush mount lights. (This thing predates LEDs, but these are maint free lights.) Sturdy fenders. Light weight. Mine has PT decking and PT stake sides. I think Worthington went under at one point but then came back. Last I saw the dealer in Greenland NH where we bought this trailer was stocking them again.

    I'd go full cheap for an HF or spend for an aluminum. I'm not sure I'd do anything in the middle.

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveM View Post
    Is there a consensus on "the next step up" beyond the HF trailer and whether it is better bang for the buck?
    I would argue that that space belongs to Kendon, but I was basically told to fuck off the last time I brought this up

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by number9 View Post
    I would argue that that space belongs to Kendon, but I was basically told to fuck off the last time I brought this up
    They look terrific, but may be more than one $tep beyond HF

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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Minor improvements but progress while I wait for the deck to dry out before application of the Behr textured paint..

    The Fulton spare tire carrier is beautifully made. Costs $29, HF is $28 but none in stock locally.. eTrailer has one for $17 plus shipping.


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    Re: Harbor Freight Trailer Containment Thread

    Update on the paint. Got the Behr extra-textured paint, which is only about $35 a gallon. Marine deck paint is over $100 per gallon. BEHR PREMIUM Extra Textured DECKOVER(R) Coating | Behr

    There is a foam roller recommended. It comes out of the can very thick so spring for the foam roller.

    Pressure washed the old finish off, then used a wood cleaner and scrub brush. Let it dry in the sun for a day then sullied the Deckover. Put the first cost on too thick: put on just enough to cover and recoat. Had just enough to do the top 4x8 with two coats. The rubberized finish on the backside still looks good.

    Nice grainy surface should give grip even it’s a bit wet. We’ll see how it holds up but so far, big thumbs up.

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    Last edited by Garandman; 09-26-17 at 05:16 PM.
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