What I love and hate about my trailer – Urban Logging Trailer Build Pt 1

If you haven’t seen my log trailer before, it makes loading large, heavy, and especially odd shaped logs very easy.  It has loaded many many logs over the years and has helped me out so many times but it’s time for me to upgrade.

Because the arch pivots off the back, that essentially turns the trailer into a mobile gantry.  For lighter loads up to a few hundred pounds, the trailer can be used to move things around.  I’ve used it for moving machinery, new tools, small logs, and especially frequently for stacking slabs.

When I bought this trailer it was really all I could afford at the time.  It was previously used for hauling a skid loader and had an open center 5×10 deck. I liked that it was a shorter length since I don’t have a lot of space in my driveway and I wasn’t planning on hauling longer. When I got it, I set about strengthening the middle, replacing the brakes, and adding the log handling items like the winch and arch.

Now before I get into hating on this trailer which has done so much for me, let me share some of the things I love about it first.  Firstly, I really like the over size.  It’s short length makes it very nimble and allows me to make pickups in tight spots.

I also like the low deck height.  This makes it a bit simpler to load logs as they don’t need to be lifted as high.  It’s also the right high for my sawmill which makes it convenient for offloading directly on to it.  It’s also very easy to step up onto it and when I use it for moving lumber, the resulting stack isn’t too far off the ground.

Another thing I love is the steel deck.  The smooth, seamless deck makes it very easy for logs to slide on and off.  It’s also pretty much indestructible with my use case.  Nothing will dig into it like a wood deck would.  It’s also nice that it’s seamless because it keeps precipitation off of anything beneath it – protecting the frame, axles, and wiring from extra moisture.  Another added benefit is because it’s welded to the frame, it also serves as bracing to prevent the frame from racking just like sheathing on a stick framed wall.

The angled rear of the trailer is great as it acts as a mini ramp to help get odd things onto the trailer.  If the arch is being used right, the log shouldn’t rub on the back end of the trailer but sometimes there’s limbs or branches hanging down and the angle helps to direct them up onto the bed without them hanging up.

Now for the things that I don’t like.  The first one is also one of the things I do like: the length.  The overall deck length combined with the axle placement makes it difficult to load a log to achieve proper tongue weight.  The axle placement wasn’t a big issue when this was used for hauling equipment because a skid loader is shorter and has a more compact weight.  It would be very easy to park a loader on this trailer and have the correct tongue weight.  This isn’t true of a log which could be the entire length of the deck and have an uneven weight distribution.

The deck width could also be a bit wider.  That would give me some more flexibility in the width of the logs I can pick up.  The opening on the arch is just under 5′ and with the logs that I deal with, it’s pretty easy to get a crotch section which needs to be trimmed to fit through.  A bit extra width would provide more flexibility when maneuvering these logs.  An added side benefit of the added with would be the trailer wouldn’t be invisible behind my truck.  The current one is narrower than my truck so I cannot see it while towing.

The payload capacity is also a bit limiting.  It’s very easy for me to max out the weight capacity and I’d like to be able to plan for larger logs.  The current trailer has tandem 3500lb axles which puts the payload in the 5000-6000lb range.

Another area that I’ve never been happy about is the tongue area.  It just feels like wasted space to me.  I’d like to see this area better utilized to extend the deck and get a little more length capacity for free.

Here’s an initial sketch I drew to get my ideas out.  The new trailer will have a 6″ tube frame with 4″ C channel cross members.  These will all be set flush on the top to support the steel deck (instead of being dropped down to support a wood deck).  The deck will extend onto the tongue a bit and the winch mount will move forward as well.  The rear of the trailer will be angled and the sides will extend back to allow for the pivot point for the arch.

As of putting together this intro, I’ve been busy already bringing my ideas into reality and you can see how things have progressed from the initial sketch.

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