*originally posted in Dec 2013~Feb 2014 (updates merged)
All of the metal for the trailer frame itself is bought!
It might not look like it but there’s a whole trailer frame neatly stacked in those bundles! All 1/4″ thick aluminium including channels and a square beam. I also managed to source a nice TIG welder powerful enough for the task at hand. This will be FUN! Cutting of the metal should begin in the next few days!
PREPPING THE PIECES
For some, a trailer frame is pretty generic, like some ’80s music sounds, but for me it’s a new adventure!
This afternoon I’ve fabricated the 7 crossmembers (one every 2 feet under the deck). Going for overkill as long as it fits in the budget is a trick many DIY guys use when an engineering degree is lacking, so I went with a full channel frame idea. Of course, the first step was to cut the 20′ channels into 3 equal pieces. Thankfully, I have a nice bandsaw for this:
I broke the blade a few weeks ago so I got a new one just for this application. Superb clean cuts. It’s worth it being well equipped, especially for the DIY guy!
The channel crossmembers need to be notched to fit inside the main longitudinal channels. You guys know I’m an expert with a die grinder, so I used my electric unit to make the notches and grind the surroundings to prep for welding. A file, what’s that?!
As you can see, since those will be out of normal view (under the deck), I went overkill with the grind surface just to be sure I won’t miss any during welding.
The 16′ longitudinal channels prepped up for welding:
I decided to notch them like I did the crossmembers. Meaning that the frame ends will be what they slot into. I think that it’ll be stronger this way.
After a good cleaning, frame assembly & welding can commence!
FRAME ASSEMBLY AND WELDING
Ahhh, nothing like spending Xmas eve choked in welding fumes!
I finished about an hour ago… my hand and my back are fking KILLING me!!! Anyhow, here’s the update for my devoted readers!
Making sure everything is level:
As always, working with what I have is one of my parameters. Old tables, with anything and everything used to shim to level. I used my MIG welder to tack everything into place. I then used TIG for where I could reach and MIG where I could not. Even though I used a torch for preheat, it was not enough for 1/4″ thickness, so I started the welds “early” (before the actual joints to weld) to build up enough heat for good penetration. With MIG + aluminium you really don’t have a choice.
The welds on top of the frame needed to be grind flush for proper deck fitment. The same goes for the bottom, but only where the flatbar for the suspension pickups will go.
The basic frame done (minus weld cleaning):
My final square is 1/16″ off… Like everything else in Wabi~Sabi land, perfection is a fleeting hope, but not bad for a DIY garage build if I can say so!
Like a good stack of tumbling dominoes, the trailer is really coming along nicely!
I went a bit long with the tongue pole so that it reaches the 3rd crossmember instead of the usual 2. The protrusion is 4 feet, which should be more than enough for a box, the jack, and the coupler. I’ve also chosen the easy to fab A-frame method for anti-twisting:
With safety bolts just to be sure:
There’s also one on each of the A rails.
I think that I’m really improving in welding aluminium:
Of course, it’s not perfect, but I’m very pleased with my learning curve! Do I feel an addiction to pure argon? Maybe!
Since you guys know that I’ve cancelled the standalone ECU project, I’ve completely revised my trailer plans so I could implement all my new ideas and features. Since I can now afford it, why not?!
OK, so instead of going with classic cheap under-frame ramp supports that you have to pick up and place, I decided to go all in with pull-out ramps over the frame (similar to rental car haulers). This means fabbing up a frame to hold the ramps and permit the vehicle to drive over:
Yet again, channels are the way to go for this. Of course, I’ve added flat braces each feet to strengthen the ramp frame floors. The braces were welded on top with MIG for speed, with TIG on the bottom for further strength and flushness for the ramps to slide in freely.
At this point, the trailer became way too heavy for me to flip over by myself… What to do? Bingo! I knew that engine crane would come in handy again:
All grinded flush for the upcoming diamondplate floor installation:
By now, I’m sure that the most perceptive of you fellows have noticed how long the ramp frames are… Good eye, good eye! They are indeed 12 feet long! I have matching galvanized ramps that I’ll reinforce with square tubing and middle supports. That means, in theory, that I’ll be able to load and unload any car without removing the bumpers. The rest of the floor will be wood. After adding some extra square tubing to the crossmembers, the wood deck will sit flush at the same height of the ramp frames, making it a versatile flatdeck + specialized car hauling trailer. Not bad, ‘eh?
Time to add the “second layer” so to speak, which is the top exterior trim. That was easily performed with the use of 0.25″x2″x3″ L-shaped beams:
To fit the upcoming wooden floor properly, I needed to add 1/4″ spacers to each side of the crossmembers. Again, using my build principles, I’ve reused the slot pieces that I had previously cut away from those same crossmembers:
Surely, you’ve noticed the tie-down anchor! I’ve welded 12 in total at strategic points around the trailer. What did I use? The remainder of the channel beams of course! I made them 4 inches long so that they overlap to the trailer frame by 1 inch for strength. Here’s another view:
Then I started to add the crossmember floor spacers, using 1.5″ square tubes. That’ll make the wooden floor flush with the ramp sections. Here’s an overhead shot:
The job’s not done, as I’m still waiting on some tubing, but it shouldn’t be too long that the critical step of axle positioning and alignment will commence!
GOODBYE FRAME WORK!
I went third party to get my 1.25″ tubing. It was then as easy as cutting them to length and welding them on. Here’s the frame fully completed:
Nothing is left to do other than install the axles, jack, lighting, and flooring. Extra accessories like the fenders and other “features” will come in later weeks…