Detonate or renovate: Should you rebuild your trailer?

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Is your trailer a rust bucket in need of an overhaul? Perhaps you’ve been wondering how to build a trailer that’s been much neglected – or even if it’s worth repairing? Let’s look at what’s involved.

How much of the trailer body is intact? Even galvanised trailers are susceptible to some rust, particularly if they’ve been left out in the rain for years. Where the rust’s not too bad and hasn’t compromised the strength of the chassis, you can probably get away with removing and painting it with rust inhibitor.

Is the axle in good shape? If it’s bent or rusted, don’t even hesitate to replace it. Costs start from around $80 for a single round axle beam through to a top-of-the-range independent rubber suspension axle starting around $400.

What’s is a trailer rebuild going to take?

The extent of the work and cost involved in rebuilding your trailer will depend on so many things, such as:

  • The size of the trailer and its gross trailer mass (GTM).
  • Its intended use. A box trailer for carting rubbish to the tip can be a simple rebuild and paint job, whereas a boat trailer needs to carry a lot more weight and be resistant to water.
  • How much suspension is enough? If you’re hauling a boat or going off road, invest in the best.
  • Will it be braked or unbraked? By law, all trailers with a loaded weight exceeding two tonnes must have power-assisted brakes, so check the minimum requirements for your trailer.
  • Accessories. How much do you want to pimp it? Think about an off-road hitch, chrome mudguards, submersible lights and dust caps.

Should you buy a trailer rebuild kit?

Depending on the size and weight of your trailer, you can save considerable time and money by buying a complete DIY kit. The upside is you’ll get uniform parts and everything you need. The downside could be you end up with bits you don’t need and you can’t take advantage of secondhand or recycled components.

A kit to rebuild a 2000 kg dual axle trailer will cost around $1100. This includes axles, suspension, disk brakes, coupling, hand brake, hubs, jockey wheel as well as the nuts, bolts, pins and plates. needed for assembly. One with electric drum brakes might cost around $500 more.

Any other costs involved with a trailer rebuild?

When working out your costs, take into account any jobs that need to be done by a professional, such as a certified welder or auto electrician. Remember too that the finished trailer must be compliant with state regulations.

So is it better to buy a secondhand trailer? It might be cheaper, but it’s unknown and you could end up replacing parts anyway. The answer also depends on its use – if you want it customised for your business or to haul windsurfers, you might have trouble finding what you need.

Read through our series on rebuilding your trailer – it will give you a clear idea of what’s involved so you can decide for yourself whether to detonate or renovate.

If you think your trailer needs more protection from rust, here are some of the best methods on offer.


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