Latest News: Forums Technical Anybody built a trailer?

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  • #4262

    Looked up the price of a new combi trailer and was amazed to see that they’re £750!
    A quick glance at the Towsure website leaves me wondering where the money goes. Hitch, wheels, and suspension units add up to about £130. Steel doesn’t cost too much either- it’s hard to see the raw materials adding up to over £200 or so.
    I suppose the downside is that I can’t hot dip galvanise it, and it would probably be impractical to incorporate a trolley. However my current trailer is only mild steel painted with galvafroid, and the trolley arrangement is pretty terrible- if designing something myself I would rather have a single trailer with rollers on it for ease of use.

    Am I missing something… like the cost of welding maybe?

    Colin Parkstone

    One thing I like about a combi is that the wheel bearings on the base do not go near the salt water !!!

    Second, a trolley can be replaced when its rusted at a smaller cost than a whole trailer.

    My base has had no new bearings in my ownership, 10 years plus and only two new tyres in 10k miles on the road. Grease yes as often as i remember.


    Arial 1453

    I have built a trailer. What I did was buy a launching trolley and then built the road trailer to fit it. As the road trailer will not be immersed in sea water then ordinary steel box section with lots of Hamerite paint will keep the worst of the weather out. This was built at a fraction of the cost of a Combi trailer.
    Jim Cunningham


    European directive says we can’t build our own any more 😥

    Road trailers have to be build by an established trailer builder to ensure quality standards. Today a trailer must have a type number, serial number and a registered builders number. Apparently too much dangerous garbage was hitting the roads in the past. Maybe you can still build your own behind a used hitch with the builders plate still attached? And hope the police never checks the numbers 🙄

    “Sir, that is not a boat but a dung cart you are towing, according to our computer?”.
    The blessings of Europe…….


    I’d like to see them determine the year of manufacture on a self build.


    @manifold wrote:

    I’d like to see them determine the year of manufacture on a self build.

    No builders plate no driving. Don’t you know the citizen always gets the short end?


    That would make all existing trailers non compliant and illegal without a plate. In the UK we usually have a rule that ensures they don’t (generally) apply rules retrospectively otherwise everything would be off the road everytime there was a rule/law change….eg seat belts in back of car. Even in the eu with the RCD directive on boats they have a cut off year (1996). So how it would be enforced in the near future I think would be very difficult.


    Not sure how this would be enforced. I am currently trying to identify my trailer so I can buy spares and am struggling. Bet I am not the only one. I would like to think there is a pragmatic approach to this, IE if your trailer is in good shape and is safe then no one will worry. Not sure how our European colleagues police this sort of thing though if I was to take a trip across the puddle. Anyone know?


    I built a combi trailer for an Enterprise about ten years ago, just before I changed classes to the Wayfarer.
    I studied lots of pictures of trailers,collecting measurements and formulating a plan of attack. After buying all the hardware(trolley wheels etc.) I turned the boat upside down and built the trolley using the bottom of boat as guide. I already had the wheels,suspension and hitch from a box trailer that I had stripped, and using the trolley as a guide I welded up the trailer. I think the galvanising cost me just under £60.

    You can certainly make a combi trailer for less than £750.



    I’m still contemplating replacing my road base with a better designed version.
    It was a home-build anyway by the looks of it, and has the rather odd design feature that the trolley sits forward of the road base’s A-frame. So to get the boat on or off, you effectively have to lift it up and over the trailer. After many futile attempts at doing this I resorted to using a couple of wooden ramps to help. It is a right pain. The road base is also painted mild steel.

    I think that the longer sections to make up a trailer could be bought easily, as could a delta-plate hitch to join them, and of course the suspension/hubs/wheels which are easily and cheaply available.
    The missing piece of the puzzle is how to make up the axle. I have been unable to source galvanised C-section of the required size. I suppose I could get a length of mild steel galvanised but that would be a real pain as I don’t have easy access to a galvaniser.

    I have, however, come across this complete axle for sale:

    What would the perceived wisdom be of putting a Wayfarer onto 750kg suspension units? Might they have too little ‘give’ and cause damage?


    Just some thoughts to share:

    750 kg each? or both hubs combined?
    I use 300 kg each (600 kg in total) and the wayfarer with its rig and sails is enough to make the suspension work. The empty trailer has no suspension because the springs push it all the way up all, the time. I can imagine the same happening if the suspension is too heavy. The effect is similar to a too too light suspension where the load pushes it all the way down, all the time. In both cases the suspension has no travel. The mentioned weights are maximums, maybe the minimum weight is also in the specs?

    My hubs are heavier then the ones that are commonly used by British wayfarer trailer builders, that is because I travel long distances and I usually carry a bit more stuff then a racer would take to a weekend race. Because of those long, high speed, distances (German Autobahn) I also put mini (car) wheels and tires on it. Since they are slightly larger they make less turns but more important I now have tires that can handle the speed and distance. The commonly used “balloon” tires are often rated for max. 30 mph or less. Please check the speed number on the tire on the internet before you go on the motorway at 60 mph! I think these balloon tires are only good to drive down the road to the harbour in spring and back home in Autumn but should never be used for a serious distance or at speed.

    Remember that half the weight is on one wheel and the other half is on the other wheel, except while cornering, then one wheel is obviously loaded more then the other. Ohw, and about 60 kg is on the hitch. 60 kg seems to be a general accepted best hitch load. That is about what a man can lift with one hand/arm. The actual load on each wheel is thus: (((Weight of boat and gear) – 60 ) / 2 ) kg.

    The axle you referenced is one option but there are also separate hubs that bolt to the frame (4 bolts each). Those would allow you to use anything to construct the A-frame.

    If I were to make a trailer (And I did once, 20 years ago) I would weld it all and as a final step drive it on its own wheels to a galvanising workshop. Galvanised steel is almost impossible to weld unless you sand the zinc off. But even the smallest trace of zinc makes it hard to weld properly. I would never use pre-galvanised steel unless the whole thing is bolted together sort of like Mecano. And if galvanising is really no option consider several layers of galvanising paint, that is a binding agent with tiny zinc particles in it, would be my choice. But a good few layers of machine paint may do the job just as well. My old trailer I covered in metal coloured Hammerite without a base layer and with some rust still on it, a good solution as long as it checked with a small brush and Hammerite every year.


    My plan is to buy pre-galvanised if at all possible, and then bolt together with U-bolts. I live on an island so the cost of getting to the nearest galvanising yard and back would add very significantly to the project. I am hoping to do this trailer project for under £250 total; a return fare with car and trailer is £187 plus fuel (ouch!). And in all likelihood I would need two trips with the car unless they offer a “galvanise while you wait” service which seems unlikely.
    My other boat weighs 2500kg and its (professionally manufactured) road trailer has axles bolted to the chassis rather than welded, so I don’t see why this method can’t work with a Wayfarer.

    Re the axle, I think it is designed for 750kg AUW- I will investigate about minimum rating.
    I always presumed that when you buy suspension units rated at 250kg, 350kg etc that this was the rating for the whole lot.
    I like the sound of bigger wheels- I have had bad luck with trailer wheels giving up and rusting, despite never dunking them- must just be the salt in the air. Is there a point at which small car wheels start becoming more economical to buy than large trailer wheels?


    @No Disgrace wrote:

    Is there a point at which small car wheels start becoming more economical to buy than large trailer wheels?

    Yes, about half way down the Autobahn to Hamburg……

    That is where a friend of mine blew a tire and wished he had followed my advise. I can guarantee that after such a situation you really don’t care about costs any more, you just want the best and most reliable tires money can buy. Specially when, the “Polzei” urges you to find a wrench and you suddenly remember the whereabouts of your cross wrench….. Back home in the bike shed…..

    BTW a pair of car wheels and a set of decent tires is far less expensive then being fined by the German “Autobahn Polizei”.
    And of course there are fuel consumption considerations too. Better tires give less roll resistance and better driving behaviour in general, making it safer to drive. Though a special trailer cover saves more fuel then good tires IMHO.

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