# Build of Inexpensive Ultralight Trailer

Discussion in 'General Experimental Aviation Questions' started by Fred in Wisc, Dec 15, 2015.

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1. Dec 29, 2015

### Fred in Wisc

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Environmental test #2- pretty good winter storm- high winds again, about 30mph with 45 gusts, plus about 6-7" of wet heavy snow. No problems. The top has enough slope that it shed most of the snow.

My temporary carport structure was near the breaking point from this snow load- tore out a few grommets and broke a number of bungees connecting the top tarp to the frame.

The trailer seems more robust than the carport, and that has lived 3 years outside. Time to fabricate the rear trailer doors and put the plane away for the winter. I'm satisfied with its durability for now.

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2. Feb 29, 2016

### Fred in Wisc

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Environmental test #3. 63mph gusts with near 50mph winds. The 10x20 commercial tent I had over my boat went over (and it was ratchet strapped down to the boat trailer) but the shrink wrap trailer is fine, except for a few small punctures where the tent hit it going over. those were easily repaired with shrink wrap tape. I still haven't made the trailer doors, it's been cold until this week, and working outside in the snow is no fun at all.

One potential concern- the shrink wrap loosens up in higher temperatures (even when it's 60 and sunny like this weekend). I'm wondering if I didn't shrink it fully or if it's a characteristic of the material. Leaning toward not fully shrunk, since it's not a consistent effect through the whole surface but seems concentrated in certain areas.

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3. Feb 29, 2016

### cluttonfred

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Nicely done, Fred, and to be honest, I actually like the blue. Even looks a bit psychedelic inside.... ;-)

4. Jun 7, 2016

### choppergirl

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My dad can get me cotton bale covers for free from some old farmer he knows, so I'm thinking maybe I could do some thing like you after I frame my flatbed trailer... with the eventual idea to replace the fabric with some sort of metal siding when I can score some... perhaps off an old house trailer or similar. For me the siding is going to be the major cost so I'm considering alternatives too that can be "found" discarded, or as industrial or condemned construction waste (I.e. a house being torn down) rather than purchased new retail...

Are you framing with galvanized steel fence pipe, or electrical conduit, or what not? Someone tearing down a chain link fence might be a source for pipe for me...

The idea being... drill and pop rivet the metal siding or roofing tin into the tubing just like building an aircraft... with through bolts where structural strength is needed. Make your own gussets.

~

On wood outside exposed to the elements, I'm gangbangers on Olympic Elite stain + sealant in one (the solid colors). I painted my porch with only one coat and so far it's tough as nails. It probably not cheap but I got mine for free. Urethane based paint with exceptional UV protection, enhanced waterproofing, mildew and algae resistant (or so says the hyperbole on the can). Beats the heck out of latex paint. I suppose enamel paint would be tough too but I save all my enamel paint for metals (because I can't get enamel paint for free but have to buy it).

I think you want wood to be able to breathe a little bit through the paint, to dry out should it get wet inside (wood has some moisture content naturally anyway)... so that might be a strike in favor of using a paint meant for wood rather that the spray on rubberized coating which probably will trap water inside. I used that stuff under my motorcycle fenders to protect against water spray from the tires and gravel nick's but it's probably going to just hide damage going on from water getting underneath.

You could actually paint your fabric (or shrink wrap?) with the same paint (or latex house paint)for UV and water protection to extend its life...

Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
5. Jun 7, 2016

### Fred in Wisc

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I framed with regular pine lumber. 2x4s and 2x6s ripped down into 1" actual thicknesses. Small enough to be light, big enough to hold construction screws without splitting. Used a lot of triangle bracing to keep things from moving around. The floor is regular 2x4s, I think 24" on center, covered with 1/2" plywood.

It's light enough that I can lift the tongue and wheel it around the driveway by myself. I don't see the point of putting a 250# plane in a 4000# trailer and I don't have a vehicle that will tow something that heavy.

The covering is marine shrink wrap, the stuff they use to wrap boats for winter. It's treated for UV resistance, surprisingly tough, light and cheap. The shrink wrap extends down below the edges of the trailer and keeps the wood dry. It spent a nasty Wisconsin winter outside with no significant degradation, and the wood is all unfinished at this point. I may paint the underside of the trailer, but the stuff inside will stay raw. It's exposed to the same humidity and temperature variations as the exposed studs in my unheated garage and those are in great shape after more than 60 years. Keep 'em dry and they'll be fine, I figure. In an ideal world, I'd have used 4mm marine plywood with 6oz fiberglass coating but that was $2500 rather than$130 for shrink wrap and tape. I'd rather put that money in the plane.

It's only had minor maintenance required- a couple pieces of shrink wrap tape to some small punctures from ice and fallen branches, plus going over the shrink wrap with the torch again once the weather got warm, it was kind of loose. I think that's related to the ambient temperature when it was originally shrink on- it was in the 30's or so, pretty dang cold.

Total cost into this is under 500 including buying the trailer. could have been less if I'd had more time to scrounge, but winter was comin' and I needed to get the plane in a safe place so I had to buy stuff. I'm trying to fly on a real low budget, much like you are, and I'd rather put the money in the plane than the trailer. Now I just need to finish up some other projects so I have time and room to take the plane apart and get it sorted out. I think conduit could be a good choice of material for something like this. Bend the corners with a regular conduit bender, you could even make a little peak in the roof by not bending quite to a 90. Rivet stuff up with little plates at the joints, or weld it. I'd use lots of diagonals for stiffness so the doors and such don't get all misaligned. I went with wood because it was readily available and I can build quickly with it. Go with what you have available in terms of material and skills..... Last edited: Jun 7, 2016 6. Jun 7, 2016 ### choppergirl ### choppergirl #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jan 31, 2015 Messages: 1,576 Likes Received: 560 Location: AIR-WAR.ORG ★★☠★★ A homemade trailer in Texas containing a Kolb Flyer projet for2000:

Yeah, the trailer can be lightweight... probably light as possible... you're basically towing only the weight of a man inside. Basically you mainly want to protect your plane from exposure to the sun and weather and be able to drive it to an airport and back without wind damage and getting even more bugs splattered all over it.

I have wood and am comfortable with building with it... and using a table saw. I've seen videos of guys do a wooden frame into the vertical support rail slots (or whatever you want to call them) on a flatbed trailer, and then put heavy plyboard up for walls for a quick and dirty trailer build. I guess if you painted it it might be somewhat water resistant. But plyboard is heavy and seems like a heavy way to go for siding material, so I want to try and aim for something... much lighter.

I think I'd go with galvanized conduit, and use something wider diameter or heavier on the corner supports, or L angle. It may be challenging drilling through the siding and hitting the round conduit squarely in the center on the other side however, even with something like a chalk line, unlike using wood, which would be fast to do with just a cordless drill and sheet metal screws. I'd rather use something lightweight like aluminum siding to side and roof it with. Where to get that in the quantity I need though is going to be challenging. Siding off a derelict house trailer would be perfect. Maybe I'll go with marine winterized covering with you, I've watched videos of it applied long ago. Tube bending would work great in that case, the less sharp corners the better.

I just went out and measured my target trailer, and it turned out to be a lot shorter than I imagined, 6x13, with a 5ft "into the truck bed" hitch. Its fairly lightweight but steel. My wing halves and fuselage are both 18.5 ft, so I need a 20x6 trailer. I'm going to have to extend it by 7 feet, move the axle, or use a longer trailer. My ultralight wheel base at the wheels only, is 5ft wide, so I'll have plenty of space to walk between the plane in the center, and the wings hanging against the wall in straps and racheted down.

Trailer Build Album

So... some scheming lies ahead...

I could just extend the trailer and floor it, and park it with my plane in my dad's shop, but that would end up taking up a big chunk of space where he likes to work on tractors.

~

At one time we had an old school bus... my dad bought in great shape for $2000. Removed the seats to move school lunchroom tables around inside of it... assuming you could open up the back end of a school bus without a problem, and wench your plane up into it on a ramp, and it was wide enough, and tall enough, a school bus might make a great little truck/trailer. You'd have to go in tail first though because the wheel wells bulge up on both sides would obstruct your plane tires going in further. Plus you'd really be wenching your plane up pretty high to get it in (but then planes are light so...) ~ Where did you source your marine covering from on the cheap? I'm down south and away from the coast, so it's uncommon rare stuff where I live... probably much more common and locally available up north. I think I'd want to get it in a color like silver, white, or grey to lessen the heat buildup inside. Last edited: Jun 7, 2016 7. Jun 7, 2016 ### BBerson ### BBerson #### Well-Known MemberHBA Supporter Joined: Dec 16, 2007 Messages: 12,158 Likes Received: 2,382 Location: Port Townsend WA That is a neat looking trailer with the metal apparently screwed on the inside of the frame. For fabric cover, look at geotechnical fabric (landscape fabric). I bought a 3 foot by 300 foot roll for$80
They have small rolls at Home Depot in the garden center, I think. It would require paint to fill the unwoven fabric.

8. Jun 8, 2016

### Jerry Lytle

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Cheap can be good! A simple method of providing very strong very light diagonal bracing is to use steel strapping. Available in the dumpster at your local lumber yard. Use the narrow strapping about 5/8 inch wide. Apply at 45 degree angle on the inside framing. I use drywall screws because I like the threads. This is tough stuff, hard to drill. I use a small nail set over a wood backing to establish a hole for the screws. Anchor one end with a screw perpendicular to the material. At the other end use a longer screw angling it toward the end of the strap; start with the strap about 1 inch away from the wood backing and slowly drive the long screw home. This will tighten the strapping to the point you can play a tune on it. If it tightens to much just leave it at that point and drill a hole where ever the strap crosses a stud and screw tightly. Now if your end screw is not down tight, take it out and put one in perpendicular. Two of these on each wall will make your frame as stiff as if you used plywood sheathing. If it still has the clips on the strap tape the ends for safety.

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9. Jun 8, 2016

### don january

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I took an older steel two place snowmobile trailer and welded some 7x16" plateform's in the back corner's. The KR-2 slip's on real easy with the help of a boat wench mounted on front. Tail hang's out there a bit but no problem. Don't need an in closed trailer not going flying if it's raining too much. Plane sit's under roof. I guess that's one of the difference between UL and ABEA? That fabric can be forgiving if she's raining though.

10. Jun 12, 2016

### Fred in Wisc

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Jerry, that is a great idea! I'm filing that for future use.

11. Jun 12, 2016

### dino

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12. Jun 12, 2016

### choppergirl

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I think if I sprung for something $7.78 a foot (12x1)@$7.78, I'd compare vs very thin corrugated galvanized roofing material... (8x2)@9.95

2-1/2 in. x 8 ft. Corrugated Utility Gauge Galvanized Steel Roof Panel - $9.95 each That stuff is supposedly very thin (read the reviews) so don't be blown away by its structural capabilities... good for a sidewall on a storage shed, and maybe for a trailer, but you wouldn't want to roof your barn with it... and then walk on top of it. This is the 'thin' version. Evaluate it in person before you bought, because it is kinda chintzy. Something like this below is what I'd shoot for for myself, as its what I imagined, and what someone else arrived at for a conclusion that had to house my same model/type plane: However if I was to add up just all the new sheets I'd need at$10 a pop, just by counting visually in the picture, I'm getting above $500 just for the siding. So alternative stretchy/fabric type materials are tempting if I could get them for free after someone was done using them. Last edited: Jun 12, 2016 13. Jun 12, 2016 ### BBerson ### BBerson #### Well-Known MemberHBA Supporter Joined: Dec 16, 2007 Messages: 12,158 Likes Received: 2,382 Location: Port Townsend WA 14. Jun 12, 2016 ### choppergirl ### choppergirl #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jan 31, 2015 Messages: 1,576 Likes Received: 560 Location: AIR-WAR.ORG ★★☠★★ Harbor Freight carries cheap tarps, and sometimes you can get the small ones for free with a coupon... on special holidays. However, I wouldn't use handy tarps to cover a trailer (those woven pattern square kind of tarps), even if you come up with a nice way to stitch them together, because over time with creases and the wind beating on them, they seem to fray and tear up. You'll see it on the blue ones... you get white fray marks and lines. My thinking is if you are carrying a trailer down the highway at 50mph, the wind is going to beat on it a lot and make it oscillate (flap), and fatigue. They do come in handy for a lot of other things, like covering things asap when its about to rain (motorcycle, lawn mower, a project you are working on, tools, a pool, a car with a leaky roof)... or better, keeping dust and water drips off of things in storage or just hiding stuff from casual prying eyes. 15. Jun 13, 2016 ### don january ### don january #### Well-Known Member Joined: Feb 11, 2015 Messages: 2,660 Likes Received: 1,087 Location: Midwest I would suggest you ask around some local farmer's that may have a semi trailer used for hauling crop's and see if they have an old roll tarp, they are around 40ft. long for the wilson or timpte type trailer's. You can buy a new one for about 100.00 for every 10 feet. Very strong material and one fair used tarp would do a complete 20 ft. trailer, top side's and front. Google Surco elec roll kit and check out there tarp's. Or like I said most farmer's throw away there used tarp's after installing a new one. 16. Jun 13, 2016 ### Jon Ferguson ### Jon Ferguson #### Well-Known Member Joined: Dec 15, 2011 Messages: 827 Likes Received: 382 Location: Harpers Ferry, WV Kind of looks like a Junkers... 17. Jun 13, 2016 ### choppergirl ### choppergirl #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jan 31, 2015 Messages: 1,576 Likes Received: 560 Location: AIR-WAR.ORG ★★☠★★ That it does, doesn't it. Or a Ford Trimotor ;-) My trailer build just got a kick in the pants. Someone offered a free 17' boat with trailer on Freecycle, but you had to take both. So I jumped on it. Normally everybody has always beat me to the punch on Freecycle every single time, but this time I decided to cheat a little and mentioned I lived on a farm and could bring her back garden stuff if there was anything she wanted. I must of hit the right chord, because somehow that moved me to the top of the list... getting a free broken riding lawn mower with it too, that I'm going to try to repair for a friend. As my crazy Uncle Udet use to say, don't count your boat trailers before they are in your back yard. If its a nice boat and trailer, I may offer a deal with my dad instead, to trade it for him, for him to build me a custom 20x6 frame. Don't know until I see it. It may be nothing but a fiberglass carcass full of leaves on a rusty flat tired boat trailer buried under what's left of a tarp, complete with field mice... spaschke and Jon Ferguson like this. 18. Jun 14, 2016 ### choppergirl ### choppergirl #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jan 31, 2015 Messages: 1,576 Likes Received: 560 Location: AIR-WAR.ORG ★★☠★★ Well, I got a boat trailer, boat, and riding lawn mower for free this afternoon, after much adventure. First thing I ever got from free from Freecycle.org... they emailed me back and said I could pick it up after 7pm, so I jumped on it. Thus starts my super cheap trailer build... (to house my motor glider) 17ft boat, so I assume the trailer is about the same.... I got to get this thing home. The riding lawn mower is going to be the hard part!. It was brutal getting it up my homemade ramp but it worked... with extra hands. Lots of pumping up of boat tires too... What it looked like from Google Earth, and pretty much the same, when I arrived: First picture once I got it home (at 12pm, like 3 hours later... even though it was only 40 miles away): He said the motor worked... My future Ultralight Runway Airstrip mowing machine? Too small, but the price was right... free. Something futzy about the transmission I was told. And now the adventure part....: Lets just say, one of the tires blew out on me and shredded after about 15 miles. I drove on the rims another 10, before it too came off and skidded off into the bushes... Plan A was for my friends to go to Walmart tire center and see if they had a 4x4.80 - 8.00 tire. I decided to work on plan B, which I decided would work, and told them to abort Plan A.... Here you can see... my McGyver'ed Plan B.... from beside the highway I had to drive real slow, at 25mph, because the tires would heat up. I probably have them under inflated at 30psi. The sidewall said they were rated up 60, but didn't want to chance it as old as some of them were. Also the trailer lights went out, so I had a friend follow me all the way home with blinkers on. Trying experience, with a stop at Waffle House somewhere in the middle.... Its pretty rusted through and through, so... who knows... I might be able to use it, I may just throw it back in the sea.... Price: a Walmart plastic bag of beans (literally - like Jack in the bean stalk), and$15 worth of gas I tanked my dad's truck back up with for letting me borrow it.

Pretty much about what you would expect for a free boat and trailer...

Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
19. Jun 14, 2016

### Jon Ferguson

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Tractor Supply should have just about everything you need to make her like new.

20. Jun 14, 2016

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