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Bugout Trailer


The Weekender Chassis

A 4x8 bolt together trailer from Harbor Freight $299 when it goes on sale. For a light duty, 4' wide teardrop this may be all you need.

Custom 5x8 trailer
So what do you do if you want something wider, or heavy duty. You build it yourself. For a 5' x 8' trailer here's the price I got to build it myself…
Steel: $242
Torsion Axle $189
Coupler $22
Safety Chain $6
Aluminum Alloy Wheels $160
Tires $80
Welding $195
Total Price $814

So are you shaking your head thinking, wow, that's almost 3 times as much, and digging out your Harbor Freight catalog so you can call and place your order for that so much more affordable 4x8? Yes, I thought so. That was my first reaction too. But remember, there are many people that built a 4x8 teardrop, and then later wished they had built a 5' wide teardrop. And some of them end up joining what we call the 2nd teardrop club, building a 2nd, 5' wide teardrop and selling the smaller one. You know, building a teardrop is a lot of work, and a lot of money. Why not do it right the first time.

So we made the decision to go with a 5' wide trailer in spite of the extra cost. We also went with the nicer looking wheels, and the torsion axle so that the teardrop wouldn't bounce all over the road.

Reduced cost custom trailer
You could further reduce costs by welding it yourself, or finding a friend who can weld. Here's an example of a reduced cost trailer.
Steel $242
Axle $75
Leaf Springs $34
U-bolt kit $10
Hanger kit $18
13" Wheel & tires $100
Coupler $22
Safety Chain $6
Total Price $507

Well now we are at least in the ballpark. That's only about $100 more than the Harbor Freight trailer at regular price, and you've got a much nicer trailer, and a wider trailer too!

Widened Harbor Freight Trailer

How about using a 4x8 and building a 5' trailer on it, with recessed wheels? The best thing to do is to weld on wings, and build wheel wells. Here's an example of how 1 person did just that! It's also important to note here, that this is no longer a bolt together trailer. It's been welded up.
Here's the cost breakdown for this idea
Trailer $299
Steel $94
Welding $130
Total Price $523

Wow, that's more than building one from scratch! And now you have the complexity of the wheel wells and the lost legroom to deal with. Kinda like sleeping on a queen sized bed, but your legs and feet only have a ¾ full bed to sleep on.

Wooden frame with wooden I-beams
This idea is not developed or tested yet. I see several potential problems with this idea.
1) The strength is all in the vertical direction, with none in the horizontal direction.
2) Moisture can really mess up this design
3) Do you really want to design a teardrop that sits 6" higher then it should?
I don't have time to develop this idea right now, but your feedback is certainly welcome...

All Contents Copyright 2004 by Mike Schneider

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