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Thread: Trailer fabrication question....

  1. #1
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Question Trailer fabrication question....

    I am going to build a steel snowmachine/atv trailer and am wondering if you all have any input on using expanded metal for the deck? I know this will probably need some plastic guides for running the snowmachines on it, but other than that, can anyone see any potential problems? I am going for light weight since it will be steel. Road spray isn't really a concern, I'm thinking more of structural problems.

    Any advice?
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    Default

    Alot of gussets. I saw one, not too long ago that had started to cave in. The trailer was 2 years old. Expanded is great stuff, but beef it up, alot, IMO.

  3. #3

    Default plywood

    I would use plywood myself. When I built mine that is what I used. With plywood you will not need as many supports to hold up the plywood . Unless you use some heavy expanded metal which will weigh as much or more than the plywood. Also not sure what size trailer you are building but if you are going with an 8x10 I would suggest building an 8x12. With an 8x12 you can haul 3 four wheeler's or two and a meat trailer. Also when tilted the approach angle is much less steep.

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Over the years I have built and helped build a variety of trailers. I only know one person that used expanded metal for the deck. He quickly realized that it is extremely hard on ATV tires. You also will have to put some type of guides for snowmachines as the skis will slide around. If your running a paddle track think about your track digging into that expaded metal. I would say that it is not in your best interest. Build it out of aluminum if you want to save weight.

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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default My thoughts

    The trailer will be a tandem axle, about 8'x14'-16' (whatever it takes to get two 6x6's and meat wagon's on together). I have a two place with plywood deck right now and have had to replace the wood a couple of times and it gets VERY slick when wet or icy.

    The new trailer will NOT be a tilt set-up. I am going to build it for strength and don't want to deal with a pivot point. I will use ramps and a drive on/drive off setup. Since the deck will stay flat (no tilt), I don't see a problem with tearing up tires/tracks. The ramps won't be expanded metal.

    I spoke with one of the welders at Greatland Welding about building it out of aluminum. He said they are light and pretty, but don't hold up compared to steel. He said they are constantly getting aluminum trailers in with cracked welds and bends to repair. The trailer he is building for himself is steel as well. I think aluminum would work fine for a smaller trailer (maybe out to 10'), but with the 14'-16' that I am planning, I think I will heed his advice and stick with steel.
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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    You have been given sound advice. Aluminum is not steel! However you said you wanted it light and that's where aluminum has its place. I didn't realize that you were planning on hauling that heavy of a load, I would say steel is to your benefit. I understand your concern with a plywood deck but in my opinion you won't be happy with expanded metal.
    Here is a thought, how does a truck in 4 wheel drive behave on pavement in a turn? Now add lugs to the tires and holes for those lugs. Suppose there is a reason you haven't seen any mass produced trailers with expanded metal? Expanded metal can be slick with ice/snow on it as well.
    If you are set on it, I would go to Weld Air and look at what you are thinking of using. Ask them how much it weighs for a 4x8 peice and see how much weight you are really going to save. Take it for what its worth as this is just my opinion.

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    If you have a plywood deck you should add ski guides so the carbides don't dig into the wood. And a few old snowmachine tracks down the center so when you haul a machine with studs it doesn't rip the wood up.

    I have an OLD trailer with a metal deck, it's just a single place tilt but it works well. My buddy has a 2 place tilt tailer, it has sheet metal where the skis ride (no plywood underneith), and where the track rides it has plywood. Seems to work pretty well.

    How about using diamond plate for decking? I have a car trailer that uses that, works great. It isn't the lightest, but it is strong and maintainance free.

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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default Diamond plate...

    I thought about it, but I think a few sheets would break the bank for me! It would sure look nice though! You guys have some good points. I knew I put this out to you all for a reason ).

    I don't know that expanded metal will save me any weight in the long run. By the time I build up the extra supports for it, it will be just as heavy if not heavier than plywood. I think it would be considerably better in the icy and wet conditions though.


    Hmmm....things to ponder.
    AKmud
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    The porcupine is a peacful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

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    Default expand

    aluminum would work great but you won't like the price of it. Expanded metal work's fine you just need to add a few more cross braces. I like using plastic ski skins on my sled to keep the carbids from digging no matter what deck you choose. good luck.

  10. #10
    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Default *Aluminum*

    I just bought an 8X12 steel trailer after ten years with an aluminum 8X14 Karavan. The steel model is a quality brand, but doesnt even compare.
    Regrettably I had to sell the Karavan because I couldnt move it with me.
    That trailer had seen the war---the worst that Alaskan roads could dish and it never failed or cracked in any way at all. They are more expensive, but worth it in my opinion.

    In my experience trailer dealers push the steel models because they dont often carry the Alum. models--they are spendy to build and stock.

  11. #11

    Default Expanded metal

    I don't think there will be any weight savings. I built a cabin porch using the stuff and although I didn't actually weight it, a 4x8 sheet of the expanded metal felt heavier than a sheet of 1/2 plywood. And this was for a static porch with just foot traffic, for a trailer I would go with a heavier mesh on the expanded metal.

    Most of the commercial flatbeds use solid lumber boards for decking (not plywood). The thicker wood last a lot longer and you can replace individual boards as needed instead of the whole deck.

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    Default steel an rough cut

    I just built one last winter out of steel and rough cut 1X6"s. Its not that heavy and the strength is worth the trade off. Also the rough cuts are eaisly replaceable. I didnt make mine tilt because thats another weak spot. I did use expanded metal for a hidden slide in ramp underneath, but thats it. I also suggest making it high enough to use standard automotive tires. I use 15's it makes the trailer at the same deck height as my pickup, but I dont have to worry about toasting my bearings on long trips. It rides better too.

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