Updated RTF Trailer

As people are just now breaking through and running the entire Rubicon Trail, some of us are still just getting our Jeeps out of hibernation.

At a recent club meeting, talk turned to the RTF trailer. We all loved that it was available for trail maintenance, but we didn’t like, or use the air of hydraulic system. Most of the time we hand pumped the trailer to dump.

I did a write-up on it years ago when it first came to the Tahoe side…


One of my buddies asked about converting it to electric over hydraulic. I wasn’t opposed to it but it wasn’t mine to make the decision. So, I reached out to ERTF to ask if we could convert it. With RTF off the hook for costs, they said go for it.

Thanks go out to Tim with the Hills Angels 4wd Club of Reno Nevada. Tim did all the fab work on the trailer. Between he and the club they covered the construction costs. For now, I’m on the hook for the cost of the parts.

Superior Hydraulics in Sparks, NV really stepped up and worked with Tim to get the hoses and fittings dialed in: www.superiorhydraulic.net/

So here are the guts. The original hydraulic cylinder was swapped out for something that would work with for us. In hind sight, the original cylinder might be able to be converted to use with the new system. Battery, electric hydraulic pump and reservoir.

A battery was added to run the electric pump. It is charged off the 7-pin connector. If you don’t have a charge on the battery, it will still do a dozen or more dumps before running low. The manual handle is no longer usable. I’m going to add a Battery Tender connection to be able to keep it charged while not in use, or just before it goes out for a day of use.

Protection is always important. Tim had some old (new old stock) Toyota skid plates around and they worked great.

Tim even went so far as to weld rings to protect the mounting bolts.

Tim has always been bothered by the noise of these trailers as they go down the trail. So, he added some rubber padding along the frame rails and a rubber bushing to hold down the bed brace rod so it won’t make noise.

We’re working on getting the official list of parts together, so if RTF wants to convert the other trailers, they have a head start. There are things we’d change if other trailers are converted but overall, we’re happy. The cost should be under $400, maybe even down to $300 if we can reuse the original cylinder.

When it’s all said and done, the trailer is faster, easier and safer to use.

It’s almost as fast fully loaded, but I’m having trouble uploading that video.

Rubicon Ronin – 6/18/19

Ball hitch for RTF trailer

My truck is a little on the short/small side when compared to my Jeep. The truck is on 33s and the Jeep is on 35s. There’s two more inches of lift on the Jeep than the truck. When I tow the RTF trailer with my truck the trailer has a mean rake to it. It’s like six inches lower in the front.

So, I got creative:


The adaptor pins on to the trailer like the swivel hitch it came with. The ball hitch is bolted to the tubing so my welds aren’t tested. The two nut/bolt combos are welded over a hole in the tubing and so can be tightened to prevent more play in the system. The spot welds around the nuts were rushed and look terrible. I’m out of practice and used the smaller 110v welder. It was raining. The dog ate my welding gloves. I’ll think of more excuses later.

When I use the hitch below, the trailer is just about level behind my truck. And it’s not too tall to hit the tailgate if I lower it.


I’d like to add a box to the trailer but there’s no easy place to put one.


Rubicon Ronin


Trailer upgrade – bear (storage) box

For those of you that are regular followers of this site, this upgrade is a direct result of the bear getting my food earlier this summer.

I picked up a trailer box from Harbor Freight, yeah I know not the best quality but I’m just going to abuse it. I have an unusually long bar for my hitch. Even with the box I can jack knife the Jeep and trailer and not hit the box.


I just bolted and welded up a couple of piece of angel iron for support and there she sits. I’ll pull it apart and clean the edges and paint it later.


So, as long as I have the trailer with me, I have a safe place to store my food. It’ll be good for storing tarps, tie downs and other stuff.


Rubicon Ronin


New trailer hitch

For those of you following my website, you know of my issues with off-road hitches. Here is a link to the two previous postings:


The “Lock N Roll” Great Lake Forge hitch didn’t seem to like the tight turns and difficult terrain of the Rubicon Trail. I bent two of them! Though I must admit, I did roll the trailer twice with that hitch.

So I’ve moved on to the Max Coupler hitch by Kilby Enterprises:


After unbolting the previous hitch, I inserted a 18″ ‘receiver’ tube and drilled two vertical 5/8″ holes to mount the receiver tube to the trailer. A third horizontal hole mounts the unit in the receiver tube and trailer.

FYI, the wheeled trailer stand gets removed before hitting the trail.

I lucked out and the first hitch configuration I used to mount the unit to the Jeep got the trailer pretty level. If I hadn’t bent the stock Jeep ball hitch, I think this would be dead level.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get a chance to test the new set-up this season. Although I will be out on the trail, I don’t think I’ll be needing the trailer. I’ll post up again after I test it out.


Rubicon Ronin


Trailers on the Rubicon

A few years ago, the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s, working with FOTR, moved more than 70+ cubic yards of rock to fill “The Mud hole”.

Loading trailers

Last weekend, a group of volunteers moved 16 cubic yards of gravel (with road base and a binder), up the Richardson Lake Trail. Many projects in between have used trailers.

Just about everything you can imagine have been hauled along the Rubicon with a trailer, okay, almost everything. Even people down the river…

Hi-Lo's in the trailer races at Jeepers Jamboree!

Hi-Lo’s in the trailer races at Jeepers Jamboree!

Trailers are so important to the Rubicon and its maintenance that RTF used an OHV grant to buy six of them. They were featured in a previous post. (RTF Trailers)


Over the last few days, FOTR moved 90 bags of concrete to Cadillac Hill for a project they did this morning. I helped out a week earlier by taking a trailer load of concrete to just above Morris Rock.

The trip started okay. I stopped by Steve Morris’ cabin, where the concrete was being staged and loaded up 12 bags in to my trailer. I have an old highway lighting trailer that was gutted and sold at auction. I bought it from a guy who had a bunch of them from that auction. I cut down the front panel to match the sides and welded up and installed some channel tubing for a slide in tailgate. As pictured before, I used it to haul in the new sign for the Long Lake Trail (16E12).

Bringing the new trailhead sign in for TKS-11

Bringing the new trailhead sign in for TKS-11

After loading the trailer with 12 bags of concrete, I headed for the staging area. I thought it was going to be a quiet Thursday morning drive in to Morris Rock but it was Friday morning and the Auburn Jeep Club and the Dirty Dozen Jeep Club were both getting ready to hit the trial. I aired down as quick as I could to get in front of them. But some got out in front of me. It was a slow drive even for a guy hauling a trailer of concrete.

The drop went okay and I left the trailer and checked out the Long Lake Trail at the bottom of Cadillac Hill. Still a fun side trip. Coming back up Cadillac, I got hung up at the hairpin turn.  Even with 35″ tires, there is an undercut just past the halfway point through the turn while you’re trying to climb on to the slab on the left while avoiding the stub of a rock sticking up on the right.  I had to stack a few rocks but got through it.

I picked up my trailer and headed home. After getting to Observation I breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed another gear and speed up down the trail. That was a mistake. I wasn’t 50 yards past Observation and felt a good, quiet, tug on the Jeep. As I looked over my right shoulder, I saw the left tire of my trailer sticking straight up in the air. The trailer was on it’s way over and I couldn’t do anything about it. While the trailer was loaded, it towed fine. Unloaded, it was bouncing off every rock in sight. By speeding up, I was now applying enough force to flip the trailer. The left tire hit a rock and up and over it went.

Story to follow...

Story to follow…

The point of the large rock in the picture put a small hole in the bed of the trailer and then broke out the tailgate as I couldn’t stop in time. I figured I didn’t have much time before someone was going to drive by so I had to get it righted and quick. Being alone, I had to double time it.  I pulled my recovery gear bag, and the winch line.


A snatch block off the tree in front for a change in direction. And a second snatch block off the tree at the trailer to actually pull it back over.


A quick run of the winch and it was back to the rubber side down. I was able to get it righted before anyone came along.

Now I had to replace the tailgate before I was to haul gravel the next day.  John Briggs helped me out by pulling out and old piece of plywood and 2×6 to get me back in the game for the Richardson Lake Trail project the next day.


Here I am pulling “doubles”. We had left the trailers at Miller Lake Saturday night. I had run up to Miller early Sunday morning and hauled both back to the staging area for Sunday’s effort. What a noisy run down that trail.

Lesson learned, don’t be in a hurry while towing a trailer on the Rubicon and always carry enough gear for a self recovery.