Foldable Custom Trailer

Foldable Custom Trailer

We generate a lot of debris from our various projects, but don’t have a truck to haul it away. Initially, we would just pile it up in the garage until we could borrow a truck. However, this got old pretty quick and it took a lot of coordination. We already had two pretty new vehicles and we didn’t want to store a third, so getting our own truck was pretty out of the question. Then, we came across the trailers at Harbor Freight and saw that they had a model which folded up when not in use. We realized this could be an efficient, low cost solution, so we went through the reviews and started looking into outfitting our car with a hitch and wiring.

Finding and installing a hitch on our 2013 RAV4 was straightforward and didn’t take very long. (We did buy a tourque wrench for the job though.) The wiring was more involved, requiring the removal of multiple interior panels and took a few hours to complete. With the car outfitted, it was time to get the trailer ready.

Considering the towing capacity of the vehicle, we decided to go with the lighter capacity of the two available trailers and there hasn’t been any regrets with that choice. It has held up very well. The trailer comes in multiple boxes and requires lots of assembly, but it is straightforward and mostly consists of just bolting together all the components.

Based on details from products reviews and our own experience here are the “modifications” we did during assembly:

  • Apply Loctite Threadlocker to bolts
  • Repack wheel bearings
  • Run a dedicated ground wire for lighting
  • Replace casters (used when trailer is folded)
  • Add a sheet of plywood as a deck (a deck really is required on this type of trailer to provide rigidity)
  • Built custom removable walls (allowing full 4’x8’ sheet goods to fit even when installed)
  • Add a trailer jack

 

Our preferred method of loading is to tarp the load, then use an elastic “net” to hold down the tarp and contents. One or two truck straps on top of the tarp and net can be added for extra support on heavy loads.

 

 

 

 

Empty trailer returning from a dump run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail of corner perimeter walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooks between wall panels can be installed “upside down” to accommodate truck straps or rope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The supports for the walls are installed on the outside of the floor to accommodate full 4’x8’ sheet goods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A threaded insert is used to provide rigidity to the walls and prevent the holes in the wood from wearing over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each panel is labeled. (Given that P=Passenger, D=Driver, F=Front, R=Rear) Panels are labeled: F, DF, PF, DR, PR, R

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trailer can be folded by a single person, but it takes some practice. After removing the four bolts as indicated in the operating instructions, tie the rear of the trailer up (at slightly less than straight up).

 

 

 

 

 

A taut line hitch is an ideal knot to use here as it can be adjusted after being tied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the trailer is folded, it fits neatly in the corner of the garage. The walls are hung from the upper shelf to keep them out of the way. The hitch ball, ball wrench and bolts used for assembly are kept in an old tool box underneath.