Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Design on the Fly

As is often the case when I am busy on a project other problems always seem to come along requiring solving.  While I was building the retaining wall for my shed base I was realizing this space is going to hold a lot of stone.  Using the bending brake at work to form simple corner braces for the retaining wall got me thinking what else these custom made aluminum parts might be useful for.  

My utility trailer is a 2000 Nu Way (A Division of Martin Industries - Florence, AL) kit that I built myself ten years ago.  I have used this trailer for a multitude of tasks hauling sea kayaks, camping gear, dirt, mulch, stone, lumber, furniture, firewood and even a motorcycle or two.

My end use design of this 1300 G.V.W.R. trailer was modular in nature.  I used a 3/4" X 4' X 8' pressure treated plywood panel with rails screwed around the perimeter as a flat bed cargo deck.  The side frame rails have numerous holes where I attached U-bolts for cargo strap connection points.  On a second sheet of 4' X 8' treated plywood I constructed a double cradle rail system to support two 15' sea kayaks side by side. The plywood deck is secured to the trailer frame by six bolts making it fairly easy to reconfigure the trailer to another purpose.  The kayak deck went with the boats when we found that the structure swapped smoothly over  to the kayaks new owner's trailer.  These days my old trailer has mostly been relegated to more utilitarian duty and the cargo deck has remained bolted in place.

The rectangular wooden structure pictured in the photographs is the latest modular add-on I have come up with to make my loose cargo hauling tasks easier.  In the past ten years I have carried thousands of pounds of gravel on this trailer.  My procedure was to spread out a poly tarp over the trailer and then have a load of stone dumped onto the deck.  I would then gather up the corners of the tarp and tie up the whole package as if it was a giant bag of candy.  Just to be sure I ran a couple cargo straps across the bundle.  While this method worked it made me very nervous.  I took it real slow imagining the fiasco if the tarp broke open in a turn spewing gravel out on a quiet residential street.

While I was locked in mortal combat with maple tree roots in the backyard a plan materialized in my mind's eye of an idea I've decided to call the gravel box.  The next day I called my local lumber yard  and ordered four pieces of 2" X 12" treated lumber cut to a specific size.  Later that afternoon I fabricated the .063" aluminum corner braces and stopped by the hardware store for fasteners on my way home from work.

 Wyatt assisted with the final assembly.  He has noticed that his dad is always creating and building things and asks if he can help in some way.  Needless to say I go out of my way to make sure he is included. 

  Removal of the gravel box from the trailer is easily accomplished. After loosening the four turn buckles and removing the bolts and lock nuts all the parts can be broken down to individual pieces for storage.  The total cost of the materials for this newest revision of my handy utility trailer amounted to about $50 dollars.  The satisfaction derived from a little shade tree engineering -well worth it.

1,290 lbs


  1. But can you pull this with your bike?

  2. recumbent conspiracy theoristSeptember 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Nice one Ben. Heck no! shoveling and wheelbarrow hauling all those stones makes me appreciate the power of even the lowly 4-cyclinder gas engine.

    With a granny geared mountain bike I bet you could pull the trailer empty?