Box Rocket Homemade trailer build.

Box Rocket

Well-known member
Been almost a year since I last posted to this thread and 10 years since I started it. Seemed like a good time for an update. I haven't changed too much with the trailer since my last post from last year but it's probably getting a pretty serious overhaul this summer. The past 10 years of use have been awesome and it's been great to have the room to haul all the gear for my family of 6 on extended outings.

By my estimation I've put approximately 80k miles on the trailer since building it, with a major portion of those miles being offroad. I'm not one that travels very slow when offroad, in fact most people that have come on one of our trips have commented about the pace and that we move significantly faster than they ever do when they do their own trips. So that means the trailer has had a lot of rough, hard, and fast miles. As a homebuilt trailer, and my first major welding project I've been really pleased that it's been completely trouble free it's entire life....until the last trip. :)

As per usual we were traveling very quickly on a very rough, rocky road in southern Utah. We were 50+ miles from the nearest paved road. I started hearing a clicking sound that was new. I stopped to check it and found that I had broken one of the leaf spring shackle hangers off the frame. Because the trailer has been so reliable over the years, I don't really carry spares or other things in case of a trailer breakdown. So it took a bit of creativity to get it fixed.

But first a few pics from earlier in the trip before the trailer broke.
IMG_2338 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_2436 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_2452 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_2483 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_2510 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Back to the breakdown.... Remember when I said this trailer was my first major welding project. I've improved quite a bit as a welder of the past decade since building the trailer but as you can see from this photo the shackle hanger did not have great penetration on the frame. Honestly I'm quite surprised this hadn't broken long before.
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

My son and I got to work on the fix while my wife made lunch for all of us. You'll notice in this picture that the box of the trailer is welded directly to the frame. This presented a problem because the only way we could fix the shackle hanger was to somehow clamp it to the frame but there was no way to clamp it to the top surface of the frame.
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

I had my cordless drill but in the rush to leave home I forgot drill bits. But I had a chisel. So we used the chisel to punch two holes in the side skin of the trailer and two more in the floor skin of the trailer so that we had a way to tie around the frame rail. I used a small prybar through the hanger and a generous number of zip ties around the frame and prybar to hold the hanger in position against the frame. For good measure we slathered the hanger and zip ties with JB Weld and used a ratchet strap from one spring to the other to help hold it in place laterally.
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Definitely not the nicest trail fix but was the best we could do with what we had with us in the remote location. The only thing that matters with a trail fix is if it works to get you off the trail. This one ended up working great as we backtracked 50 miles down the same rough road we had just come down. We got into a small town after dark but found a shop the next morning that let us re weld the hanger to the frame. The "real" fix took us all of about 15 minutes and is now stronger than it was originally.
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

This whole experience has hastened the refresh that has been planned for a while. I wasn't planning to redo the suspension because it had always worked but now I'm looking at changing it up. At the moment, I'm debating sticking with leaf springs but using some longer ones that I have. Or, building a custom trailing arm/panhard setup with airbags. We'll see how ambitious I get when I start digging into it.
 

old_CWO

Active member
You sir have earned an A+ in zip tie engineering.

If it were me, I wouldn't even consider a fancy suspension. Your original (novice welded) stock cheapo trailer spring suspension met every need without question for a decade of rough service. When it did give up, you got it off the trail with zip ties and epoxy. A pair of fresh longer springs with shocks and you have at least another ten years worth of reliable service put back on while improving trail performance. Simple, cheap and effective - that's pretty hard to beat.

Photos I have saved of your trailer in various configs and colors are in my folder of ideas and best practices. Thanks for sharing!
 

dstock

Explorer
I have to agree, great trail repair!

I had a couple novice welds go on my trailer after a couple trips, but it's been so rock solid since I'm starting to take it for granted. I agree with old_CWO that some minimal upgrades will probably get you another 10 years. I do get the itch to upgrade often but then I talk myself out realizing, it's been working great, don't mess with it.

Of course now I've probably doomed myself...LOL.
 

Box Rocket

Well-known member
You sir have earned an A+ in zip tie engineering.

If it were me, I wouldn't even consider a fancy suspension. Your original (novice welded) stock cheapo trailer spring suspension met every need without question for a decade of rough service. When it did give up, you got it off the trail with zip ties and epoxy. A pair of fresh longer springs with shocks and you have at least another ten years worth of reliable service put back on while improving trail performance. Simple, cheap and effective - that's pretty hard to beat.

Photos I have saved of your trailer in various configs and colors are in my folder of ideas and best practices. Thanks for sharing!
I don't disagree. The whole reason I did leaf springs in the beginning instead of something more elaborate is because how reliable and effective the leaf springs are. Breaking a spring hanger off the frame isn't gonna leave you stranded. If you busted a weld off on a trailing arm, you might be completely screwed. More than likely it will get some different springs since I have some on hand that will work well.
 

Box Rocket

Well-known member
Resurrecting this thread. Twelve years of pretty hard use with the trailer is starting to show some effects. May last post from this past spring with the broken spring hanger was the impetus for a relatively complete refresh of the trailer planned for the next few months. Here's what I've got planned.
Few minor repairs/tweaks to the tub construction.
Replace the tongue mounted cooler with an actual locking Tongue box and start putting together a full power system.

But the big ticket item is a revamp of the suspension. I've long been a fan of the simple reliability of the leaf springs. They've just worked well for the past 12 years and with the exception of the spring hanger failure last spring, have been trouble free. Can't complain considering the many thousands of miles and my driving style that isn't very kind to the trailer. But I'm doing something different this time. Should be fairly inexpensive since I have most of the components already. I got this idea from a friend in Australia who built this setup for his offroad trailer.

FZJ80 front radius arms will be used as trailing arms. FZJ80 rear panhard will be used as a panhard on the trailer and I have a pair of Firestone airbags to be used as the "springs". I already had a set of spare radius arms and a panhard. So the airbags have really been the only cost for parts and i got a brand new set of bags for $100 on the local classifieds. Any additional cost is just materials for fabricating the brackets etc.

One thing I'm quite excited about is the adjustability with the airbags and being able to "tune" the suspension for different trailer loads/terrain.

This pics are my friends, Australian trailer.
radius arm by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

radius arm2 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

In this completed photo you can see that the arms were ultimately turned right side up, rather than upside down in the other pics. Not sure which may I'll set mine up yet.
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

One other bit that has happened recently was some new tires. I've been running some 33x10.50 BFGs that were take-offs from my tacoma. They still have some tread left but are showing some cracking from age. It was time to replace them. I found a pair of used 37's in great shape on the local classifieds for $30! Couldn't pass up that deal. Worked a trade for some 17" wheels to match the cruiser and now I have the new wheel/tire combo for the trailer. They will force me to build some new fenders. LOL. The current fenders just won't work with these big tires.
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr
 

keane

Observer
I really like the new suspension, I am doing my trailer suspension in a similar style using a spare set of front radius arms off a 79 ford bronco.

The rim and tire combo look great also
 

GeoFelipe

New member
Excellent! Like very much the result, inspiring me for my first project.
Sorry if I missed it, what are the dimensions of the box?
Cheers

Enviado desde mi SM-G950F mediante Tapatalk
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Dreaming of Jupiter
by Ted Simon
From $16.02
Into Africa
by Sam Manicom
From $25.52
Road Fever (Vintage Departures)
by Tim Cahill
From $6.99
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
by Laurence Gonzales
From $9.99

Coopsdaddy

Observer
Were do your think weight could be saved,would 1/8 thick frame material be sufficient?any other area of the frame and box area to save weight?
What was your inner hub to hub measurement?
 

Box Rocket

Well-known member
Were do your think weight could be saved,would 1/8 thick frame material be sufficient?any other area of the frame and box area to save weight?
What was your inner hub to hub measurement?
1.8" material for the frame could work but you'd probably want more crossmembers to keep it strong, which would probably equal the weight of a heavier material with less crossmembers. The lid would be better being aluminum but steel is what I had on hand. It's kinda heavy but it works.
 

Box Rocket

Well-known member
I recently finished the rebuild of some new fenders to fit the 37's and a bit of a refresh on the rest of the trailer. Lots of stuff cut off from the adjustable rack that used to be on it. Tire carrier is removed, for now. Recoated the tub with raptor liner and sprayed the whole thing white. Kinda diggin the simpler, clean look.
Trailer fenders by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Trailer fenders by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Trailer fenders by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

New tailgate latches
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

New tongue box.
Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Untitled by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_4842 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_4855 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_4845 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr
 

Box Rocket

Well-known member
Wow the new tires look gigantic on there. How wide did you make the fenders? Looks like they could double as lunch tables now!
Well it was a 4" jump in tire size so....
The fenders are about 14" wide IIRC. Made them just wide enough to fully cover the tires, whatever that ended up being. They do make a nice flat surface for things though. Nice to stand on, the camp stove fits will on it, I'm sure some other things too.
 
Top