Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Bug Out Vehicles - what goes in them and how to employ them

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Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby Rich » 19 Feb 2013 18:30

I've been using a single-axle landscaping trailer for a couple of years now. Taken it up and down the coast 3 or 4 times hauling household goods and then around town hauling cement, 16' lumber, 12' drywall sheets, scrap the the local scrapyard, mowers to the shop, as well as building material around my house. Advantage of single axle was it was cheap when I got it and was cheap going through the multiple toll roads. I've overloaded it a couple of times with a pallet of cement (2500lb apiece). I put all new tires on it along with new bearings and grease. Also have a spare hub which I carried in my truck on the 1,000 mile trips.

Disadvantage was the limited capacity plus I needed something much heavier to transport construction equipment, cars, tractors, etc. Also wanted a flatbed to make loading pallets easier. Right now I can only load a few where I have to take off the loading ramp and then slide the pallets up forward using the forklift arms. Big pain in the rear. Plus, with me driving old cars it is only a matter of time before one dies on the side of the road and this will give me the ability to haul it to a mechanic/back home. With my winch I would be able to hook up my truck to the trailer via the front and winch the dead vehicle up onto the flatbed. Three axles instead of two means that one tire can blow out without stranding me. Three 3k axles means I should be able to transport around 7k pounds. Additionally this is much higher off the ground than my landscaping trailer which has gotten stuck a few times.

This one was real cheap, homemade almost 30 years ago. All steel on the surface, not wood like the wood that needs replacing on my landscaping trailer but steel diamondplate. The lights need work, the brakes aren't hooked up, and it looks like there is more rust than paint. Since it is cheap I hope to sell my landscaping trailer for what I paid for this one. Also need chain binders as my ratchet straps won't cut it on a flatbed. Harbor Freight has some for cheap. Plus have to switch out the hitch to a pintle which I prefer (more degrees of freedom for offroad and IMO harder to steal because rarer).

Also it is homemade with no VIN but I researched ahead of time and my state makes it easy to request a VIN plate and get it inspected to make it legal. A little hassle but not a show-stopper. Trying to figure out how to get a permanent trailer tag which will save me money in the long-run.

Another feature is that the farmer that built it put 2x3 slots along the sides so I think I'll be able to install sides which would help me in case we have to move household goods. Getting the brakes to work would be another nice plus.

I think my wife is irritated that I bought another rust bucket but in the long run I think we will be much more prepared for little additional cost. I definitely spend a lot of time trying to figure out my limitations and then how best to mitigate them.
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Re: Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby DIM TIM » 27 Feb 2013 18:26

Doesn't sound too hateful. Greater hauling capacity is cool, but more materials to repair now ( bearings, hubs, tires), still sounds like a fairly good deal to me. :)
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Re: Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby Rich » 28 Feb 2013 10:40

I've been estimating the materials to get the lights working... looks like $160 to shift over to LED. Haven't figured out the bearings yet. Tires look very new so I'm hoping the bearings are in likewise good shape (but that is probably too much to ask).
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Re: Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby DIM TIM » 03 Mar 2013 20:43

I don't know there Rich, but if it was me, I'd think more than twice about the L.E.D. lights. Bearings should still be easily found and fixed and most last a good while unless there is a LOT of hauling chores done. You might get lucky on that one, but if you can, I'd change them out first thing just to be safe.

Oh, and don't forget spares.......just in case. ;)
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Re: Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby Rich » 04 Mar 2013 12:21

DIM TIM wrote:I don't know there Rich, but if it was me, I'd think more than twice about the L.E.D. lights. Bearings should still be easily found and fixed and most last a good while unless there is a LOT of hauling chores done. You might get lucky on that one, but if you can, I'd change them out first thing just to be safe.

Oh, and don't forget spares.......just in case. ;)


Yeah, the lights are bad I know so I will go ahead and replace them.
I won't be doing any non-local driving with it in the foreseeable future so I think bearings can wait until I have loaded data (temperatures by touch). Even then my loads will be topsoil, mulch, maybe a small tractor. Nothing for a 3 axle trailer.

Last time for my newly purchased (but very poor condition) trailer I ordered spare bearings and a hub. When the parts arrived I figured out that the trailer not only had different tires (14" vs 15") but also different hubs... so I had to use my emergency hub immediately with the existing one being made a spare. It worked but not with the bearing caps I had ordered. The beauty of a spare loaded hub is that you can actually swap bearings on the side of the road. Very important to me when I was making 1,000 mile trips loaded to the max with it twice a month!
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Re: Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby DIM TIM » 06 Mar 2013 15:52

Was going with some friends of mine to a stock car race once when their trailer had a bearing fail. They were about to give up and call it a night, but one suggested an auto parts place nearby for a replacement. Took him about 15 minutes to get it and get back, and they replaced it right there on the edge of the highway.
Took them about another 15 minutes to change it, and they still had plenty of time to make it to the track, get unloaded, and qualify for the race that night. They had some at home, so knowing what it took, and it being a common one was awsome. Glad the parts guy had it.

Coolest thing I ever saw !
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Re: Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby bruce741 » 30 Nov 2013 04:35

Even then my loads will be topsoil, mulch, maybe a small tractor. Nothing for a 3 axle trailer.
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Re: Shifting to a 3 axle flatbed trailer

Postby Rich » 01 Mar 2015 14:05

I've really been through this trailer: new lights, paint (top, underside, etc), brake controller, all new wiring, and just swapped from 3 down to two 5k axles. This will get rid of the mobile home axles that it came with.

Have one last item to do: make bumpstops for the axles. Other than I need to get it registered with the DMV as a homemade.
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