How to Build a Pickup Bed Trailer

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One of the handiest accessories for your truck is a trailer. It will help you haul dirt to the job site, trash to the dump or even help a friend move. Traditional trailers aren't cheap. An affordable option is to purchase a broken truck and make a trailer out of the bed. It may not be a perfect solution, but it's still an ideal way to haul goods without the high initial cost of a traditional trailer. In this example, the trailer will be made from a 1981 Chevrolet long-bed pickup.

Things You'll Need

  • Reciprocating saw with metal cutting blades
  • Grinder with metal grinding disc
  • 5-inch c-channel steel, 16 feet
  • Tape measure
  • Trailer coupler to match tow vehicle
  • 12-volt test light
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire crimpers
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Blue butt connectors
  • Trailer wiring connectors
  • MIG welder
  • 3/8-inch ratchet and sockets
  • Open-end wrench set
  • Assistant
  • Locate a truck. You can find deals on used trucks anywhere from a junkyard to craigslist.org. Look for one without an engine but has a salvage title. Whatever parts you remove from the front of the vehicle can be resold. Once you've located a vehicle, transport it to your workspace.

  • Jack up the rear of the vehicle. Support the frame using the jack stands. The frame underneath the cab must be supported as well as the area underneath the bed. You will be separating the two sections.

  • Unbolt and remove the gas tank from the vehicle using the 3/8-inch ratchet and sockets.

  • Cut the exhaust underneath the cab using the reciprocating saw. Then remove whatever exhaust is left underneath the bed by cutting it off the frame.

  • Cut the frame of the truck using the reciprocating saw between the cab and the bed. Don't worry about brake lines or wiring; as long as the gas tank is out of the way, every connection should be fine.

  • Separate the cab and bed with the help of an assistant. Pick up one side of the bed frame and roll it back away from the cab, or do the opposite, whatever works for your workspace.

  • Cut the c-channel steel using the reciprocating saw into two 6-foot pieces.

  • Measure the distance between the end of the frame on the trailer and the bed on both sides. You want these numbers to be the same, so cut the frame with the reciprocating saw on the longer side to match the shorter one, if the numbers are off by more than 1/2 inch. If they're less than 1/2 inch apart, grind down the longer frame stub using the grinder and the metal disc until the two sides match.

  • Weld the c-channel steel into a "V" shape centered on the bed using the MIG welder. The center of the V needs to be at the middle of the trailer; take measurements, if necessary.

  • Weld the remaining c-channel across the V-shape for extra support.

  • Weld the trailer coupler to the end of the c-channel. The trailer coupler needs to match the hitch on the tow vehicle. Make sure it's a correct match.

  • Connect the taillight wiring to a trailer harness using the wire cutters, crimpers and blue butt connectors. Most tow vehicles have a provision for trailer connections---purchase a trailer harness for the bed that matches.

  • Hook up the bed trailer to the tow vehicle and double check that everything works. Taillights should function as designed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Modify your trailer in any way you like as well. If you want to add a tool box to the end of the trailer on top of the tongue, you can do that. Add a winch or other options.

References

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