We searched Ebay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree for listings of used trailers, and bought ours off Facebook Marketplace.
Our budget was not huge, so we were open to something that would need some restoration and work- but not a complete fix-up job.
An advert caught our eye that was just goldilocks in terms of condition and price, so we requested a viewing.
We prepared a checklist of things to inspect when we were there: – Condition of the chassis: was there serious corrosion, or mainly surface rust? – Condition of the towing mechanism – Condition of the body and main frame- were there holes, especially where the sides meet the chassis? – Give the wheels a wobble, side to side, to see if the bearings were dangerously worn. Do they spin freely? Was it going to make it home?!
Now we’d purchased the trailer- it was time to get to work!
First things first, all the rotten wood was removed from the floor, walls and ramps.
This was achieved using a battery powered drill where possible, and a crowbar and lump hammer where the screws would not come out.
To make the structural changes and properly attend to the existing metal, we took as much apart as possible. The sheet metal was removed from the front and back ramps. To do this we had no other alternative but to angle grind the rivets and bolts off.
After the wooden floor had been removed, we could assess the true state of the chassis, and the original braking system.
Naturally, there was rust all over the underbody, but no serious corrosion of metal or weak points on the chassis 🙂
The worst of the corrosion was located at the bottom edges of the walls, where the ammonia from the horse urine would have leached down. Even then, there was minimal loss of the metal. But because it was aluminium that was impregnated with contaminations it would be hard to weld up, so we sealed the small hole instead with body panel sealant/adhesive.
The brake system was looking pretty weak though, so it was decided we would replace some or all of the system. We labelled the pieces just in case we needed to know how it went together, and then the whole system was cut out- using an angle grinder- to be fully replaced.
The wheels were removed using a nut runner. The wheel could then be slipped off, and the axel was revealed. It was decided that we would remove both the front and rear axels and their mounting bars, so that we could disassemble the axel and assess the suspension, as this is made of rubber it is likely to be corroded.
The chassis was then wire-brushed using a brush attachment on an angle-grinder. This would allow a closer inspection of the intact metal underneath the rust that had been there.