Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Harbor Freight Tools Heavy Duty Foldable Utility Trailer

For reasons I'll explain later, Jessi and I are going to sell our truck (Anybody want a truck? :-). However, there are times when we need to haul large items, which makes a truck pretty convenient. So, we set out to find an alternative for those few times we need something. We actually started this process back in September, but it wasn't until a month ago that we finally pulled the trigger.

I learned that our Jeep, which already had a tow kit, could pull up to 2,000 pounds. This would be more than enough for our purposes. Then, I found Harbor Freight Tools' Heavy Duty Foldable Utility Trailer. It can carry 1,200 pounds. Again, that's enough for the types of things we'll be moving.

So, what's awesome about this trailer?
  • The jeep can pull it. A must.
  • It's foldable! Easy storage was a must.
  • It's also small enough that one person can easily move it around. A must.
  • The bed of the trailer is actually 2 feet longer than the truck. A perk.
HFT sells the trailer for $300, and you can use any coupon they promote, like the 20% discount coupon I used. Now, the only downside is that you have to assemble the trailer on your own. They literally gave me two heavy boxes and a set of instructions.

The instructions are in english, but I don't think that helped much. My favorite part was that the instructions kept referencing part numbers (4A, 2B, etc), but as far as I could tell NONE of the pieces had such markings on them. Thankfully, I have years of practice with Legos and was able to match the pictures.

Here are a bunch of photos of the process. It took me about 8 hours to put the frame together. Yeah, that was a long day.

The hardest part was tightening the nuts because they are nylon nuts. That's good because it means they won't jiggle loose, but they're a pain to put on. I just had to take my time and lots of breaks.

I also spent a fair amount of time trying to get the wheel hubs off. It was not easy! It was necessary to assemble the trailer and then I added new, higher quality grease because I read online that they can burn out easily.

The electrical was a little tricky too. I got everything hooked up, but it only half worked. After researching online, talking to my dad & brother, and testing with a multimeter I figured out the problem: The ground wasn't making a complete loop because the metal bars were completely painted. After I scraped some paint off where the metal connects everything worked great. Then I added some protective plastic and tapped up all the splices. It looks good.

Then I added the wood. First was the bed. I cut it in two so it could fold, and then drilled the holes for the bolts. Then I chiseled out little spaces for the bolts so they sat flush. I'm sure they make little machines to make that easy, but I kept telling myself I was enjoying the sun, getting exercise and saving money by manually chiseling out each hole. This was another multi-hour part of this project!

For the sidewalls I added a couple extra features. Each of the studs are held in place by quick-release wing nuts.

I also added 4 rings that I can attached my tie-downs to.

I also bought a set of locks online. These are super cool because the walls just slide together and lock in place.

Here's what the trailer looks like folded up:

To make that easy to do, I exchanged the bolts they provided for locking pins. As you can tell, I tried to make it as easy as possible to set up and store. I timed myself & it takes me 15-20 minutes to get it completely set up. That's not too bad of a price to pay for the ability to store it with a foot print of only 5' x 2'.

The only other weird part is the size of the bed. It's actually slightly less than 8' long because of the side walls. As a result, anything 8' long has to be put in at an angle. Here's an example of some 8' 2x4's. When we get plywood, we'll have to stand it up on edge at an angle.

Here is one more picture of the trailer. I think it'll be a good tool to have around. If you need something carried (that's less than 1,200 pounds of course), let me know.


  1. Amelia Fisher5:36 AM

     I love the idea of this product.The best purchase I made in a while. The price is great and the product even better.

    Dump Trailers

  2. Chris7:13 PM

    Thanks for some great ideas. How have the locking pins held up? I really like that one. Also, do you know what the name of the metal locks would be? I've been looking for them with no luck.

  3. The locks have held up great.

    I had to do a bunch of research to find them. I started at Home Depot, who recommended I call a trailer sales business. They gave me a couple key words to try. I then did those keywords as an image search. Once I found the right pictures, I used them to further refine my search. I finally landed on redtrailers.com that had them for sale. Here's the page: http://redtrailers.com/ShowItem.asp?id=383CB

  4. Biffy8:37 PM

    I'm also in the middle of getting the pieces for the bed and the sides. The corner connectors are called rack corners, I think. I'm getting mine on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008Y2A0RY/ref=gno_cart_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3E01TT185XJY3

  5. Awesome recommendation. Thanks!

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  8. jeanblake801:23 PM

    Wow, I am impressed. Those look like they are really good utility trailers. i'll keep this in mind as we look around. Thanks.

  9. Oh-Snap1:12 PM

    Great write up. Just picked one up yesterday and reading up on tips.

    What thickness of plywood did you use for the floor?

    I like how yours closes completely flush. I am planning to use Elevator bolts on mine so I don't have to make those notches.


  10. I the plywood on the floor is 3/4". Using elevator bolts is a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Jason8:37 PM

    Did you buy new bearings or just put new grease in the hubs? If so got any part numbers? I purchased one last week and am prepping to put it together but want to make sure I have all the extra pieces I want before I start.