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Rebuilding your trailer part seven: Floor it

In the seventh part of our series on rebuilding your trailer, we replace the trailer floor.

The first step is to decide on the trailer parts you will use. Will it be treated boards, marine plywood or a metal floor like steel mesh or plate? Mesh will be a nightmare to paint, while chequerplate is less likely to rust but can be expensive and slippery when wet. Wood is strong and easy to install but must be weatherproof.

Consider what you’ll use the trailer for and how much weight it has to carry. Then there’s the question of how you’ll get the welding done, since a metal floor will invariably require welding.

Lay the framework

Before you can begin to re-lay the trailer flooring, there are a few preliminary steps:

  • Clean the frame, removing all dirt, grease and rust.
  • Remove any bolts that are rusted into the frame. Where possible, keep one that’s in good shape for referral when buying replacements.
  • Give the undercarriage a thorough coating of rust inhibitor.

 Wooden floor

A wooden floor is pretty easy to replace – just get the boards and fit them into the trailer – although it’s not always so straightforward.

  1. First, trim the wood to fit snugly in the frame.
  2. Slot the board ends into the channels one at a time. Most will slide in at an angle then straighten up, but once you get to the last couple that won’t work so well.
  3. To insert the remaining boards you could cut a hole in the C-channel and either weld it back again or bolt on a U-piece. Alternatively, bolt the last board in place, leaving the cut piece open. (Another way to fit the final boards is to bend them – using a jack and counterweights – until the end matches the frame, then lower the jack and let the board slide into place. Young, springy boards work best as they’re still flexible.)
  4. Drill holes through from underneath to match the frame, then bolt the wood down.

Metal floor

If you’re replacing your trailer floor with metal, remember that weight is important and that it needs to be welded into place.

  1. Have the sheet cut to size, then lay it over the frame. If you plan to bolt it, mark and drill the holes.
  2. Once you have the sheet in place, ‘spot’ weld at each end to hold it there.
  3. Attach the sheet using bolts and/or welding.

Whether you’re an experienced welder or have a mate doing it, remember to always take safety precautions. Wear a helmet and gloves and treat the equipment with caution.

Now you’re ready to put the finishing touches on your trailer, which is the final step in our series.

Now that you have the floor on your trailer, take a look at the best ways to secure your load.

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