How to Convert a Boat Trailer to a Utility Trailer Design

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Trailers are usually built for a specific function. Boat trailers are made to haul boats to the lake and back. Snowmobile trailers are built to safely haul snow machines up and down the highway to where they will be used or stored. But can trailers be multi-taskers? Specifically, is their a way to use or convert a boat trailer so it can be used as a utility trailer to double for use in hauling lawn mowers, tree trimmings or other cargo around the yard, through the neighborhood or across the country? Of course it can be done.

Know Capacities

Determine the capacity of the boat trailer you are converting. Newer models will have a plate or sticker that indicates the load the trailer was designed to carry.

Calculate the approximate weight of the boat, motor and equipment formerly used on the trailer if the trailer is older and lacks a load sticker. That total is likely to be a fair approximation of what the trailer is designed to support.

Look at the tires if all else fails. Maximum load limits are set for various tires and designs and are listed on the tires. However, many trailer manufacturers commonly use tires rated for far heavier loads than the trailer is designed to carry. To be safe, deduct about 40 percent if using tire ratings to determine the trailer load limit.

Figure the weight of the items you plan to haul. Boats generally weigh considerably less than ATVs, large lawn mowers, snowmobiles and other items commonly towed on utility trailers. Make sure your conversion will be up to the job demanded of it.

Use and Conversion

Decide if the trailer is going to be permanently converted to a utility trailer or if it will be switched back and forth between hauling a boat and utility work.

Design the deck of a “dual purpose” trailer so it bolts to the bunks on the trailer that will alternately support the boat when converted back to a boat hauling trailer. The cargo deck on utility trailers are centered over the axle so the weight of cargo can be centered over the axle or slightly forward.

Consider shortening the overall length of a boat trailer if it’s to be permanently converted to a utility trailer. Much of the extended portion of the trailer ahead of the wheels and long tongue on the trailer can be eliminated.

Design and refurbish the trailer according to your skills and the tools and equipment available.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider leaving the winch arrangement used to load the boat intact. It can be used to pull heavy or bulky items onto the deck and help secure them for transport.

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