Years ago, I picked up an old highway lighting trailer. I lined it with plywood, did a spring over axle, swapped to it 5 on 5.5 and put on a universal hitch.
Over the years, I’ve repaired and replaced the hitch, rebuilt the front side of the trailer after the my Jeep’s bumper fell off and replaced the tailgate and now it’s time for tailgate 2.0.
The trailer has served me well over the years. This is a very early shot of the trail and me hauling in the kiosk for the Long Lake Trail.
Though I’ve not always treated the trailer as well as I should have…
That was an empty trailer, too much speed and one tire hitting a rock. Two snatch blocks and a winch and I had it rubber side down again.
I did replace that slide down tailgate but it was time for a new tailgate. What I had laying around was a Jeep tailgate designated for my ‘project’ Jeep. Well, the trailer needed it more than the project. Out with the old, broken (again), slide in set-up.
Mocking up the brackets, yes, it is an old bedframe. Cheapest angle iron around.
In with the new Jeep tailgate.
I tried to get fancy with an adjustable bolt set-up for aligning the sides of the trailer to the tailgate. It’s just too loose. I need to weld EVERYTHING.
It’s still using the stock latch system.
Next week, off to Pick-n-Pull to get some tailgate straps, so I can hold the tailgate level when open or drop it vertical to unload rock.
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
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.
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.
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.