Trailer Build – Day 3 & 4

Trailer Build Phase

These two days I am discussing together, since they both had the same focus due to our very first mishap… dun dun dunnnnnn. Things had been going so smoothly, I guess we should have been expecting something to get fooled up. It wasn’t a mistake per se, more so an unexpected issue we wouldn’t have been aware of, had we not had the good fortune of getting advice from one of the employees at the welding shop. As it turns out, one of the welders at the shop used to be a mechanic, so he is very familiar with the particulars of a properly functioning trailer, and what needs to happen for the trailer to pass a mechanic’s inspection (required for motor registration and licence plating).

On July 30th (Day 3), the first thing we did was tack on and weld the tongue cross bar. IMG_20150730_153209As I mentioned previously, this adds rigidity to the tongue, and it is also where the tongue jack will be mounted. Next, we continued on with mounting tandem axles to our suspension system.

Leaf springs mounted underneath the axles.

Leaf springs mounted underneath the axles.



This went smoothly, and we were able to get everything on, until our friend at the welding shop pointed out a small flaw. So for context, I’ll explain a little more about the suspension system. suspension diagram

On each side, each axle is connected to its respective leaf spring by a pair of U-bolts. One on the inside and one on the outside of the spring. Our trailer is (as the internet tells me) “underslung”, meaning the springs go under the axles; we did this to give ourselves a few more precious inches of headroom inside the tiny house, since this set-up allows the trailer to ride comparably lower to the ground than an “overslung” trailer. This type of suspension set-up has the spring saddle sitting on top of the leaf spring (and under the axle), to translate a round surface to a flat surface. The anchor plate sits under the leaf spring to allow the U-bolts to do their job and clamp the axle to the spring (which is in turn bolted to the trailer frame as I showed in the last post). Here is the bit that we didn’t think about. Since the springs are fixed in place in their hangers on the inside bar of the wheel well box, everything attached to the spring would of course be landing in fixed positions based on the location of that bar. Our spring saddles unfortunately were positioned directly on top of the weld that attaches the hub to the pipe portion of the axle. I understand this is a lot of jargon and it’s hard to picture without actually being there. This picture gives a bit more perspective, as you can see where that inside bar of the wheel well box lies, and the weld I’m talking about on the axle. axle diagram

Our friend said that our current set-up would prevent the spring saddle from making proper contact on the axle (and right he was, as a weld is an uneven surface after all), and an inspector would not pass it. This meant that even though our tires had good clearance, our wheel well boxes were about half an inch too narrow. The only way to fix that was to cut out the entire section, shorten the connecting ribs between the two wheel well boxes, and re-install all the pieces of steel to allow for slightly wider wheel well boxes. WHAT A MESS!! IMG_20150730_192846Cutting all of this out with zip cuts and the torch, grinding down the uneven surfaces, remeasuring everything again and welding a second time over to put it the way it needed to be put us back about 5 hours. It was so disheartening. You definitely wouldn’t be able to do this sort of thing alone- two people were absolutely necessary to lift and hold all the pieces in place during the measuring and tacking process. About half way into our day on August 2nd (Day 4), we had gotten back to where we were, before finding out about our mishap. I was so happy to be able to help Tim with this stuff as much as possible, especially where he had mysteriously hurt his back over the weekend. We make a great team 😀

Me, tightening the nuts on the U-bolts. As you can see, the U-bolts are sitting inside of that dreaded weld that connects the hub to the axle pipe. Success!

Me, tightening the nuts on the U-bolts. As you can see, the U-bolts are sitting inside of that dreaded weld that connects the hub to the axle pipe. Success!

Tim, bending a U-bolt into alignment with a vice.

Tim, bending a U-bolt into alignment with a vice.

And, we're mobile!

And, we’re mobile!


C-Channel with mirrored pairs of holes drilled in it to accommodate the ball hitch.

We then continued on to weld the piece of C-Channel to the centre piece of the tongue for the ball hitch to attach to. The holes allow the hitch to mount at variable heights, depending on the specs of the towing vehicle. That was all we had time for before calling it a night.

I know there are going to be more unexpected hiccups along the way, but I learned a lot on this first one. Particularly about your headspace and the effect it has on your communication as well as short term / long term outlook on the project as a whole. I think as long as I can remember that these things are inevitable, and all a part of the process (!) I will be mentally prepared to jump the hurdles as they come our way. This comes naturally to Tim, lucky duck, so I am looking forward to honing my skills on staying positive. It’s about the journey, not the destination,  right?!! 🙂

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