There are more horses in the United States today than at any other time in history, including prior to the invention of the internal combustion engine. The vast majority of horses are transported in a horse trailer.
While wood flooring in horse trailers is common, it is not perfect. Even with rubber matting placed down over the top of the planks, wood trailer flooring wears out before other parts of the trailer. If you’ve purchased a used horse trailer, you should replace the wood plank flooring prior to transporting a horse.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Crowbar or wrecking bar
- 1/4-inch-thick sheet steel
- Tape measure
- Soapstone welder's crayon
- Oxyacetylene cutting torch
- Copper wire-feed welder
- Angle grinder with disc sander attachment
- 1/2-inch-thick rubber stall mat
Use your crowbar or wrecking bar and hammer to rip out all of the old flooring planks. Be sure to remove every remnant of old screws and bolts from the angle iron floor joists that supported the wood planks.
Use a disc grinder with a sanding disc attachment to sand all of the newly exposed metal thoroughly. Be certain to grind off all old paint and any rust that has formed. Remove the paint for 6 inches up the side, at a minimum.
Measure the length and width of the trailer floor space. Remember the old carpenter’s adage of “Measure twice, cut once!” Do not make the mistake of cutting your flooring too small.
Place the 1/4-inch-thick sheet steel on saw horses or another raised surface in order to protect the floor of your shop or the ground. Use a welder’s soapstone crayon and measure and mark the dimensions of the trailer floor space on the sheet steel. Mark the reduced dimensions from outer edge of floor area to midjoist for connections if the floor space is too large for one piece of sheet steel to cover the entire area.
Grind the flat surfaces along the sides of the edges of the sheet steel with the disc grinder. Remove all remnants of rust, paint and grease from the sheet steel to ensure a solid weld.
Install the sheet steel on the flooring support joists of the trailer floor space. Ensure the fit is tight and correct. Use the copper wire-feed welder to spot weld the corners and one point in the middle of each side of the sheet steel.
Crawl under the trailer and weld a high-quality bead between the sheet steel and each flooring support joist of the trailer.
Weld a solid, high-quality bead along each edge of the top of the sheet steel and inside the trailer as well. Weld the junctions between individual sheets of steel also if you have used more than one piece to cover the surface of the flooring area.
Sand all the welded joints with the disc grinder to ensure a level surface on the floor and visually inspect the quality and security of each welded joint.
Cut a 1/2-inch-thick rubber stall mat to the same dimensions as the floor space area of the trailer. Lay it on the newly installed steel flooring after the welds and surrounding metal have cooled. Ensure that the fit is snug and correct.
Tips and warnings
- The weight of 1/2-inch-thick sheet steel is considerably greater than the weight of the dimensional lumber flooring that came with your trailer. This will alter the handling characteristics of your trailer when pulling. Exercise due caution and drive slowly until you've figured out the new handling characteristics.
- Metalworking with cutting torches and welders is dangerous. Please exercise all appropriate safety precautions. Seek out competent professional instruction prior to using these tools.
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