To extend or not to extend

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To extend or not to extend

Postby johnandtricia » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:45 pm

The wife and I decided to go with the Harbor Freight 4' x 8' 1720lb super duty trailer which I have yet to purchase. This is my first build so I have no clue. We are just going with the classic tear drop design. My question is first do I need to extend the tongue of the trailer 16" as most here do? And also moving the axle back 4 inches is there a bolt pattern to do this on the trailer or do I have to make my own holes?

I know that if I extend the tongue I must also change out the ball coupler as well.
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Re: To extend or not to extend

Postby bobhenry » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:16 am

As you extend the tongue you have effectively moved the wheel rearward so there should be no need to do both.

I towed Chubby for almost 2 years with the stock tongue and was always concerned with the flex I experienced in the stock configuration. Adding a 2 x 2 in the center was reasonably simple and I was very impressed with the improver road manners and the ease of backing that was added by simply adding the 18" of tongue length. As a bonus you can actually cantilever the body forward 18 to 24 inches and give yourself a bit longer trailer without any problems.

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and here is Harvey's spin on the tongue and where I got my idea

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Re: To extend or not to extend

Postby Nobody » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:19 pm

As Bob said, I too used the HF 1800# (that's what they said at that time, 2006, tho now I believe it is listed as 1720# ??). I moved the axle toward the rear approx 4", at least as much as I could do without changing location of the cross member. My TD is 60" wide & 117" long. The floor frame over hangs the chassis at the rear about 3" & front about 6". The curve of the profile (combined Gruman/ultralight) adds another half inch or so at rear & about another 8" at front. For years I'd estimated my total weight (TD only, no contents except mattress & battery) at 1150#. Last September I took it to the local Pilot truck stop & put it on the certified CAT scale. Our normal galley gear(coffee pot, tea kettle, 1-burner butane stove, propane oven, staples, utensils, etc., approx 45-50lbs) was inside as well as a couple of folding chairs in cabin, & tongue box contents (Ext cord[s], chocks, lug wrench, misc blocks, stabilizer jack handle, etc., approx 30lbs). Certified weight on wheels was 980#, & tongue wt on a bathroom scale was just under 200# so my estimate of 1150 is pretty close without gear. Loaded for a trip, I estimate rolling weight (including tongue) is 1250, 1300 max. I carry my spare tire, Honda EU2000i generator, ice chests, water jug, small charcoal grill, etc., in the shell of my p/u. I've towed the TD over 22K miles since 2006, beginning with a 4cyl, 5-spd, 1995 Nissan Hardbody, King Cab, 4wd p/u. Probably towed it close to 10K miles with that rig & changed in 2008 to a Toyota Tacoma, V-6, Auto trans, 4wd, crew cab p/u with hi-rise fiberglass camper shell. The Nissan performed well except at high elevation & when facing a medium strong headwind. The Tacoma has met or exceeded ALL my expectations at elevations up to 10K ft & 'bucking' 20-30mph headwinds.

I devised my tongue extension because I simply couldn't abide the 'clunky' HF coupler, & I like the easier backing maneuverability with the extended tongue.
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Re: To extend or not to extend

Postby johnandtricia » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:16 pm

Ok now pardon my newbieness but from what I have been reading on here you move the wheels back in order to make room for the door and extend the tongue because of turning and backing issues.

From what I gather from you I extend the tongue and that allows me to make the "box" bigger, or am I misunderstanding
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Re: To extend or not to extend

Postby bobhenry » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:32 am

As Harvey said he is 5 foot wide and 117" long on a 4' x 8' trailer frame so yep you can build a bigger box.

Chubby is 5'6" wide by 120" nose to tail on a modified (read mashed and mangled) HF frame. I used the axle cradle, tongue assembly and two dock rails to repurpose the frame.

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Re: To extend or not to extend

Postby Nobody » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:07 am

johnandtricia wrote:Ok now pardon my newbieness but from what I have been reading on here you move the wheels back in order to make room for the door and extend the tongue because of turning and backing issues.

From what I gather from you I extend the tongue and that allows me to make the "box" bigger, or am I misunderstanding


Extending the tongue has little or nothing to do with how big you make the 'box'. I devised the tongue extension simply because I didn't like the original HF coupler. Adding the approx 18" of extra tongue length resulted in better maneuvering when backing. The farther your axle/wheels are from the coupler/ball, the easier it is to maneuver ANY trailer while backing up. This is especially true with small trailers such as a TD. It also gave me room to mount a tongue box.

The HF 1720# trailer suspension springs are mounted in a 22" long piece of 2 1/2"x1 1/2"x1/8" thick 'C' channel. The channel is welded to a 30" long piece of approx 2'x2"x3/16" thick angle which is bolted to the side rails of the trailer chassis. Moving the axle location is as simple as unbolting the suspension mounting bracket, moving the axle to the desired spot, squaring to the coupler, & drilling new mounting holes. I was limited as to how far back I could move my axle (approx 4") by location of 1st cross member forward of the chassis rear, but the change worked out well for both my door placement & for better load balance with a group 27 battery in the galley area as well as all the other paraphernalia carried in the galley. With the tongue extension & tongue box mounted in front I probably wouldn't have needed the axle move for proper load balance but the move did aid in the door placement I wanted. If I'd used larger wheels & correspondingly larger fenders I'd either have had to move the axle farther back or change the location/width of my doors. Using the factory 12" wheels & building 'over' them has worked well for us, & in more'n 22K miles towed I've noticed no degradation of performance with the smaller wheels. Regardless of wheel/tire size, over the years I've developed a habit of checking hub temperature/appearance at every stop. So far the 12" wheels/hubs have 'run' as cool as any of the 15-16" wheels I've used on larger trailers.

Check my album for pix of my TD construction from initial trailer chassis assembly thru TD completion (as if you're ever really done ;) )
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Re: To extend or not to extend

Postby Wesley25 » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:32 am

Hi, sorry but I am also a newbie making a TD. I looked at your very helpful photo but I am unable to see how the 2x2 is fastened to the 2 cross members. Would you mind clarifying or point me in the right direction?
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Re: To extend or not to extend

Postby bobhenry » Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:00 am

2 crossmembers :shock:

I took mine all the way to the rear and wound up with a class two receiver after I shimmed it ( 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 )

I simply put a single grade 3 bolt in each with nylock nuts on one build. I had my welder buddy handy for chubby and he stitched a small weld on the connections on that extention
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