Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

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Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby Billinthedesert » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:37 am

Gang, I have been looking from time to time at the Northern Tool 5X8 trailer, daydreaming.
This morning, I told myself I really need to cut up the rusty old boat trailer out back and scrap it. Then, a very dim bulb flickered on ...
:thinking:
What I have is a rusted old 1957 Little Dude C-16 boat trailer made in Fort Worth. The configuration may be less than ideal for a tiny trailer, but looking at the 1957 brochure, the C-16 model is rated for a 1,000-pound load.
The wheels needed to go anyway, so those and perhaps the axle spindles would need to be replaced. I'd of course remove and discard the tipping boat carriage whose fulcrum point is just behind the rear wheels. From the rear of the main frame to the ball hitch is just over 13 feet, and the frame is 52 1/2 inches wide between the heavy fenders.
Deferring to the many here who actually know a thing or two, is this possibly a contender for a tiny trailer chassis? Would I have to move the axle forward? The less I have to do, having virtually no experience with this stuff, the better.

http://www.fiberglassics.com/library/in ... 2.jpg#file
It's about 76 inches from the rear of the frame to this point on the tongue.
Imagefullsizeoutput_119b by ComeWatson, on Flickr
Imagefullsizeoutput_119a by ComeWatson, on Flickr
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Re: Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby Billinthedesert » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:06 pm

Here are a couple more views with most of the boat hardware removed. The thing seems very well built with good American 1950s welds. Axle is 18 inches from the rear of the chassis. My gut tells me it has promise but am awaiting wiser opinions before getting too excited.


Imagefullsizeoutput_119d by ComeWatson, on Flickr

Imagefullsizeoutput_119e by ComeWatson, on Flickr
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Re: Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby GTS225 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Well, Bill......first we should find out how many people this will have to shelter when needed. Just one...or two? If two, I suggest it's going to be a bit narrow.
If just one, the width would work, but the length is a bit short.
You could lengthen the frame toward the rear, gaining a bit, with the added benefit of balancing the load on the axle. If you pay serious attention to materials used, in order to keep the weight down, you could probably make it work.

Roger
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Re: Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby Billinthedesert » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:59 pm

Thanks Roger. The frame really is in odd proportions as it sits -- not much rear end and a whole lot of tongue, which could probably be shortened a couple of feet. It would be nice to have 60 inches of width to work with vs. 52, but I could get past that issue building over the wheel fenders -- or live with 48 inches of width inside. That's probably enough if your roommate is a really close friend. ;-)
Those little tires are only 16 inches in diameter ...
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Re: Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby les45 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:08 am

By the time you modify your trailer to make it work for a teardrop, you will probably have spent more money and effort than you would if you started with a new NT 5X8. I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to clean up "rust buckets" ( cars, trucks, dune buggies, motorcycles, and trailers) and I've finally concluded that they are just not worth it.
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Re: Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby GTS225 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:01 am

Les45 has a valid point. You're gonna have a double handful of man hours into modifying that, and I just noticed that the spindles and wheel relationship appear to be spindle mount. If they are, you're going to have to replace the entire axle in favor of one with hubs and stud mounted rims. From my perspective, you'd be time and money ahead to start from scratch and build one from raw materials.
Sorry to kick you in the backside with a reality check, but if you do pursue making that one work, you're still going to have a rather old trailer with unsatisfactory dimensions.

Roger
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Re: Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby working on it » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:44 am

* I like the idea of saving and re-purposing an old, and neglected trailer frame, to be made into a teardrop (or squareback) camping trailer. I had a derelict motorcycle trailer?
frame that I had bought almost 20 years before I got the urge to transform it into a camping trailer, but it had never been used or moved in all those years, so it needed some work. It had a bent/broken tongue, and 8" wheels on a spindly axle (w/rusted-out hubs & bearings), so those were necessary upgrade items, along with needing to extend the length from 60" to 96" (to build a 4x8). The 50" width was fine, since the plywood sheet flooring could sit atop it.

* I was doing a cheap, no/low budget, stealth build, and didn't replace the suspect (unknown weight capacity, too much positive camber) axle, so I put on larger hubs/bearings/14" wheels as a short-term fix, and proceeded to enlarge the frame dimensions using new steel tubing, and upgraded/extended the tongue using 3" square 3/16" thick tubing, 6 ft long, welded to three cross-members. After that, it was overbuilding all the way, using 3/4" plywood w/1/2" oak pieces as inner framework. steel bracing, and 10-12 tubes of PL adhesive. Only the failure to totally replace the axle on start-up ever surfaced as a problem, later on. And, somewhat a problem, was adding 12" to the front and 24" to the rear, which should've been the opposite, which caused an initially too light tongue weight (because I added too much weight in the galley).

* As to the OP's old boat trailer, if it was to be built into a 4x8 (the width is right), or even a 5x9 (building over the wheels), my concern would be with the suspension (I'd replace the springs/hangers/axle/tires & wheels first!) and the small size of the tongue material. A long tongue is good, but I'd want to have a beefier cross-section for strength. Otherwise, after stopping the rust, it's in no worse shape than my old frame was, and after improvements, my trailer frame has been a solid basis for what's got to be the heaviest 4x8 around (now almost 6 years after first use). I'd be even less concerned if the build was to be a lightweight, foamie-type camper, as those can often end up less than 1000 lbs. Go for it!

saving an old trailer frame.jpg
saving an old trailer frame.jpg (184.24 KiB) Viewed 689 times
2013 HHRv "squareback/squaredrop", rugged, 4x8 TTT, 2150+ lbs
  • *3500 lb Dexter EZ-Lube braked axle, 3000 lb.springs, active-progressive bumpstop suspension
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Re: Putting a 1957 boat trailer to work ...

Postby Billinthedesert » Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:04 am

There is a lot of experience here. I got to thinking this would very likely get expensive in both time and money -- and in skills and tools I don't have. Will probably just try to sell or scrap it.
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