Last week, on Towing Tuesdays! we looked at four tips to build an all-round smarter, better Harbor Freight Folding Trailer. Here are four more tips to help you with your folding trailer build!
Making it fit
There are three easy steps you can take to make sure you never have to worry about problems folding the trailer at the pivot.
- Set your 48″x48″ plywood far enough back (no-brainer)
- Turn the screw around so the nuts go on the outside of the trailer (this is contrary to instructions, but go ahead and be a rebel)
- Cut out a sliver of the corner by the screws, just enough to let the board rotate without touching the bolt.
Forget the carriage bolts
The trailer uses carriage bolts (bolts with a square shape below the head) to stop the trailer from folding up. This means every time you want to fold and unfold the trailer, you’ll need to use tools.
You can eliminate the need for carrying tools with your trailer by using two trailer pin and clips like this one. You can buy them for a few dollars at your local hardware store. Alternatively, any other thin pin and clevis will do.
Use a 2″ x 4″
Need an extra set of arms, a 2″ x 4″ can come in handy time and again if you’re doing this project on your own.
- Working on your drilling/bolting/nutting?
- You can do it the back half of the platform raised to make it easier on your back.
- Working on your clips and wiring?
- Having the trailer up is the perfect time to add more clips and tidy up your wiring. Leave a little slack for the trailer to fold without pulling any of your wiring. You’ll be glad!
- It also comes in handy in helping you prepare to fold your trailer for upright storage, but more on how to fold your trailer in a future Towing Tuesdays! article.
Mounting anchors and a motorcycle wheel chock
There’s no sense in building a trailer that you can’t tow motorcycles on. Given that this is a folding trailer build, we’re going to want to keep the equipment as flush as possible so that you can still fold the trailer with ease.
- Use anchors in four points
- Use plenty of washers to help prevent wear and pull on the plywood
- Install the anchors with bolts perpendicular to the direction of the bike
- Secure a wheel chock in place using wing nuts rather than standard nuts, so that you can quickly tighten and remove them
- You can also consider drilling two sets of holes for the wheel chock, depending on the lengths of the motorcycles that you’ll be towing.
- Set up the motorcycle wheel chock at a distance that will balance the weight over the axle.
Level your trailer
The tongue of the Harbor Freight Folding Trailer is several inches above the hitch height of my 2012 Jeep Patriot 4×4. As a result I needed to go up to about a 4″ rise hitch attachment, and just like that, the trailer was nearly perfectly level.
You really want your trailer to be as near level as possible.
- If your trailer tongue is pointed upwards (ball higher than tongue) the trailer will have additional weight on the rear axle.
- If the trailer tongue is pointed downwards (ball too low), this puts more weight on the tongue, coupler, ball and hitch. The end result is an increase in susceptibility of the trailer tailwagging.
- A downwards pointed tongue also increases the angle from the ramp on to the trailer bed, which means motorcycles would need additional ground clearance to avoid bottoming out. See next pic.
Get a bigger ramp
Are you bottoming out trying to get your bike up the ramp and onto your trailer? Don’t have enough ground clearance? No problem. Most 5′ long ramps won’t do well to get the average cruiser with a low ground clearance up on your Harbor Freight Folding Trailer. You’ll need to invest in a longer ramp, or at least an arched ramp to help from bottoming out.
Next week on Towing Tuesdays we’ll get into all of the other goodies that you’ll want to buy for towing motorcycles on your trailer. Until then, happy towing!
Towing Tuesdays! is a weekly column for anyone who’s ever even thought about getting their motorcycle from Point A to Point B without riding it. Whether you’re taking it to the shop downtown, or hauling ass outta town, this weekly column is guaranteed to put tongues to balls. Trailer tongues. Hitch balls. Come back next week for even more bad trailer puns.
Check out all of our Towing Tuesdays! articles right here!
Your Harbor Freight trailer is a tilt frame style trailer. You can pull the front a frame pins to lower the rear of the trailer for ease of loading. Yes it will tilt when you load the bike. Have the ramp in place and a helper at hand. Most light to mid weight bikes can be loaded by 2 people. Place ramp and secure in place. Run front wheel onto ramp. Trailer will tip up in front, down in back. Stand on rear of trailer deck and bring bike forward. Your weight will help keep the trailer from tipping forward to soon. By the time it reaches balance point you will likely also be beyond high centering the bike. No it does not always work this way. It also helps to have a Condor style wheel chock to catch the front wheel. Since the Condor has a quick detach kit that mounts almost flush to the trailer floor it is easily removed to fold the trailer for storage. I have loaded a Harley Softail this way.
I use a 7 foot long arched ramp that I can ride the bike right up to load. I don’t bother with the trailer tilting and don’t recommend it either as the angle is quite steep and the drop quite sudden. I’ve done it on other tilting trailers but not this one. As for a wheel chock. I have mine secured with two bolts using wing nuts that I simply hand tighten, meaning that the wheel chock can be secured and removed in seconds.
I really appreciate you sharing your tips though, and I might do another post in the future on loading your motorcycle on the trailer. Thanks for all of the input today, John!
I’m going to try what this guy did. He uses the tilt feature, but prevents the trailer from tipping forward with a trailer jack.
Hey Brian, thanks so much for sharing that. Looks like he also added an extra addition to the end of his trailer to make it even longer, that would also help to keep the angle from being too steep. Not bad. I’m using some 7′ ramps instead. I’ll have a review of those up soon.
How do you keep the trailer the rear the rear of it from just coming apart
My very first trailer was one of these 4×8 folding ones made by Harbor Freight. Yeah, it’s cheap, but it’s versatility make it actually very functional and nice for storage. I loved mine, and we took it all over the country, fully loaded, and it did great.
I really like the idea of using the clips. They should really speed up the unfolding and folding process. What are the dimensions of the clip in the photo?
Clips come included with the trailer from Harbor Freight!
I am not sure how old this article is, I found it while doing a search on harbor freight trailer modifications. I bought one many years ago and have not used it .. so I am having to replace the tires and wiring harness on it (it was left outside) as well as the plywood. One thing I would definitely suggest is getting some shrink wrap for the wiring harness. It is just added erosion protection.
I had to replace my wiring harness as well as my turns signals as the incandescent bulbs would literally rattle out of their housing. Very affordable little trailer, but you get what you pay for. If you want something for rare use, and can store it somewhere dry and warm, it might hold up, but for frequent use or being left outdoors, not so good…
As you mentioned, you can eliminate the need foe having tools to fold up the trailer by replacing a few parts. My brother has a trailer that needs tools to fold and unfold it. It seems like he is always forgetting the right tools, and has to improvise. It would be good for him to see if his trailer can have these parts swapped out.
Great article but one question. For the ease of folding by using a pin with safety clip, that works great for the side hole, but what about the other hole ontop?..i would think it needs to be another compression configuration whereas the side is a shear load that a pin works great.
What exactly do you mean by “the other hole ontop”? This article is six years old. I sold this trailer many years ago and haven’t seen it since so I’ll need you to really spell it to me to freshen up my memory, sorry haha