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How to Build Trailer Kits

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether it's for that trip to your local recycling centre or a backyard project, trailer kits can afford you a valuable and versatile transport option for materials. Kits for these trailers are offered in many different designs, styles and weight-bearing capacities. Your success depends on properly following any and all instructions given by that specific manufacturer, and in ensuring all necessary pieces are provided in the kit before commencing.

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  1. Select a form of trailer. There are many forms of trailer kits out there, so you have to decide upon application. For simple towing, you may want to consider a basic utility trailer. If your trailer aspirations involve camping or vacationing, then you'll want to peruse fifth-wheel models and the like. Building procedures may be noticeably different between designs.

  2. Ensure all parts are present. The kit you purchase should contain all the requisite parts so double check each piece against the instruction manual. These components include but are not limited to the framing assembly, fastening hardware, shocks and brake mechanisms and all of the wiring implements that ensure the proper installation and circuitry of brakes and lighting.

  3. Assemble the frame.This process is important as all the other steps that follow depend on its proper execution. Lay out all the frame pieces and/or cross members on the ground with the nuts, bolts and washers needed for each location. Piece it together as per the instructions. Make sure when those instructions tell you to formally tighten the bolts. They may require that you wait until the basic frame is completely assembled before doing so.

  4. Add the tow-bar. Although the process may differ depending upon model, it should be a simple bolt-down procedure. You might have to overturn the frame assembly to bolt it in place. While this may sound obvious, do make certain that the hitching assembly--that at the vehicle end of the tow-bar--either connects or has been modified to connect with the hitching capability of your towing vehicle. In other words, if your vehicle can only take a ball hitch, buy a trailer kit that fits a ball hitch receiver.

  5. Add springs and other mechanisms. These spring mechanisms will supply the shocks for the trailer. Your manual will outline where to bolt down the various spring hangers, spring eyes, and other components specific to that model. Follow the directions carefully as to when to tighten the bolts and in what order to install them.

  6. Construct the wheel assemblies. This next step requires diligence. Again, model instructions will vary. One possible procedure includes first adding the hubs, and then the cottar pin, dust covers and grease hubs. This is all assembled before you finally put the lug nuts in place. Lay out all the pieces in the order given you by the manual in order to overt mistakes and mis-ordering of operations.

  7. Wire the trailer for lights and braking. Your manual should include some form of wiring diagram and colour coding for the wires provided you. Some models give you wire holders that simply snap in place under the trailer carriage. Grab your wire cutters if the wires appear to long. You don't want them dragging or hanging low as you drive. Follow the diagram as to how the colour-coded wires differ per side of the trailer and for which brake and tail light they power when making final connections.

  8. Test the wiring and braking. Have someone follow the vehicle or stand behind it as you tap the brake-lights. You should be able to test the brakes at slow roll wherever you hitch it to ensure safe completion of the project.

  9. Tip

    The truest road to success is to follow the manual to a tee. If the manual is lost or missing, see if the company or manufacturer provides it free on the Internet. This is often the case. Review local trailer laws in your state for additional regulations or laws. These can usually be found at your state's DMV website or DOT website if they are different.


    One of things to look out for is load-bearing capacity. Most kits will specify that in the model description and manual. Pair that capacity to the load you expect to carry. Remember too that improper assembly will certainly compromise the ability of the trailer to haul that limit.

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About the Author

Geoffrey St. Marie began writing professionally in 2010, with his work focusing on topics in history, culture, politics and society. He received his Bachelor of Arts in European history from Central Connecticut State University and his Master of Arts in modern European history from Brown University.

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