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Refurbishing Horse Trailers


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#1 montikarla

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 03:09 PM

I want to look for my own trailer this summer, and get a beater and fix it up. What are things I need to be aware of? What can I fix and what is a deal breaker on a trailer? I will probably go for a two horse straight load. To be honest though, it probably won't happen this year, but I figured getting the research started on it would be a good idea.

Jenn and The Ellie Mare


#2 rodentra

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 06:41 PM

Cheap is good, but you want something that is safe to pull, & safe to put your horse in!Most people with rudimentary wrenching skills can replace a floor in a 2-horse straight-load- but it's a dirty, not-fun job, so check the floor, especially the corners for rot. How are you at electrical wiring? 30 y.o. trailers are really cheap, but often wires are corroded & compromised in the conduit under the trailer- replacing them takes wiring knowledge & is an up-on-jackstands, dirt-and-rust-in your-eyes-and-hair kind of job. Make sure the lights work, or take someone along who can tell a major problem from a minor one. Have you ever done any autobody work? A light rust on paint can be fixed with rattle-can primer & paint from WalMart, but bubbly "cancers" and crumbling structural angle iron will mean replacing panels & welding. And then there's wheel bearings & brakes........ if you're not sure what you're looking at- or what your skill level is- take someone with you who DOES! That cheap trailer can get really expensive really fast!

#3 montikarla

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 09:34 PM

I'm not afraid of dirty or hard work, so that isn't a problem. I can use most tools, but I don't have a lot of electrical knowledge and I know I can't weld.

Thanks for the reply.

Jenn and The Ellie Mare


#4 SallyQ4

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 07:51 PM

Well, my dreams for a nice used trailer for a few thousand- became a surprize from hubby ($800 from his brothers) ancient, used, and usable, hidiously ugly (as in orange and black!) two horse fixer upper. It is an extra tall, but a ramp. The floor is sound, everything intact where it is important, but with rusted through areas. I have found cheap paint just doesn't do it. I am using oil based rust off stuff, both a primer then a paint. I am learning to bondo, getting great upper arm muscles with all the never ending sanding, and trying to primer before the rains hit- and it is an unusual early rain year here (summer monsoons blowing through). I am reluctant to use it until I get the "bearings packed", which I admit I don't know what it is, but bet it wasn't done by previous owner. Every article I have read say it is important and June is supposed to have it in the budget( but then so is dental on three horses and new shoes)
Lights work, and I hate doing electrical, but can if I need to.
Since this was a gift "horse", so to speak, I have to do it myself. I already have found it to be a life saver when I had to take my horse to the vet for emergency visits when he coliced. And it is funtional, and someday soon it won't be so ugly- really, could not be uglier.
My deal breaker would have been inadequate flooring that you couldn't repair-replace- yourself, welds that are broken anywhere, holes in anywhere a hoof can reach. The ramp on a ramp up must be solid.
Another deal breaker for me would be single axle- must be double- most are- and must carry spare.
As long as it is structurally sound, ugly we can do.
I am a bit of a do it myself person, mostly from necessity, but I like projects. I would still recommend the best trailer you can buy. And I think an old beater is better than nothing, as long as it is safe. Good luck!


#5 WildHorseSpirit

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 11:14 PM

Get a professional to look at all the welds and your hitch. Also have a pro look at your wheels and axles. Don't trust yourself or hubby go to a pro these are the main things plus electrical wiring.

Once that is done and cared for you can patch or weld other metal pieces on and sand, sand, sand and then prime and paint. You could see if your local MACO or car painting places will give you a good price to paint it for you. Around $300 maybe.

Make sure tires are new or close to it.

I have a 1989 Chief Stock trailer I have tons of work to do on it, she hauled soundly a few years ago but it has been parked for years my truck springs gave out so I can't haul horses with it.
I need to pull it out of it's parking spot and make notes what needs to be looked at and done/replaced oh yeah notebooks are great so ya don't forget anything


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#6 eeyore4176

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 04:55 PM

We bought a 1980 something 16' stock gooseneck as our first trailer. My husband is a serious handyman, so the $500 investment to him was a great deal. The gooseneck was solid and the frame was still intact, so we were able to tow it out to a cousin's house to start the remodel project.

The floor had some good boards and some that were starting to rot. We took them all out to put in new flooring. While the floor was out, we found two of the braces under the trailer had broke a weld. So . . . went to welding those back and added additional braces. Did axel work and all the electrical wiring while the floor was out too. One side wall of the trailer had a rusted out spot about a foot wide that went half way up the wall. Bought sheet metal and welded that on.

Next step was to sand blast the entire thing. We went through a lot of sand, but it got it stripped. Next we primered it two times. Used a good farm implements primer. Then painted it two times also with a good quality paint. Floor went in and we hooked it up to the truck and towed it home. Never once used it to actually haul horses. Turned around and traded it off for a new bumper pull and got $1500 for it on trade. I keep looking to find another smaller project trailer to take for day rides, but I think my husband might kick me out of the house if I made him work on another trailer this year (he just finished putting in the living quarters of the newest trailer we bought).

Now, if I would not have had my fix-it-up family, there is no way I would have bought that original trailer to begin with. I don't know how to weld (or at least my welds never hold anyway), so that would have been a deal breaker for me having to fix the braces and put on new wall parts. Running electrical isn't too bad. Replacing boards takes what seems like forever. Sanding and painting were my favorite part, but the most time consuming.
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#7 WildHorseSpirit

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 02:36 AM

I was lucky it had new wiring *which due to being loaned got messed up but repairable* and had 3/4 new flooring an ex friend of our's husband put the last part in which needs redone they used the wrong stuff to fix it to the frame....
But at least it is mine for now.....One never knows
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#8 PaintMyPast

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 12:37 AM

So, I don't mean to hijack, but I also just purchased an older (we're assuming late 70's? don't have the title yet) two horse bumper pull. It's nasty. In okay shape, all the important parts are sound, and surprisingly, the electric is all great! Lights inside and everything! But the paint is actually the color of flat rust, and it has bright shiny new chrome-y things on it. Really, really, not pretty. And three big bulgy rust spots, and surface rust. Good floor, though!
Anyway, my dad and I are going to begin overhauling it this summer. I plan to clean it, take inventory of what needs to be repaired, cut out the rusty parts, weld in new steel, have it sandblasted, painted, re-do the inside with a new divider and bumpers, have all the underside (breaks, bearings, etc.) worked on, and then have it primed and painted.
So... my question... what are some things that you guys wished you had in your bumper pulls? Or any trailer, for that matter? I already have one wish, the interior lights. But I'd like to get more neat-o accessories.
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#9 siseley

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 12:00 PM

questionicon.gif crazy.gif

Have you looked at the horse trailer world dot com? They have a lot of folks who have completely rebuilt their "tag-A- Longs", and have lots of good advise. they also have a used section for trailers where I bought an oooold two horse, straight load for quicky day rides, and all I had to do was cosmetic repairs and new tires/bearing repacks! Cost only $750 dollars, and tows fine. Taint pretty but has gone all over the desert and up the mountains.

Good Luck....Steve

Edited by siseley, 31 May 2009 - 12:03 PM.

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#10 PaintMyPast

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 05:54 PM

crazy.gif Oooh... cool site. I skimmed about 35 pages on the trailer talk forum. I really need to decide what to do... I like these tag alongs, but I may need a bigger trailer. For me, though, the fun is in the refurbishing... so I don't really care if I have to sell it for less than I put in it. I only paid $300 for it, and I know where I can get sheet metal fairly cheaply, my dad, brother, and brother's friends, and I all weld, so that's not a big deal at all. I used to know someone who sandblasted, so maybe that will work out well, too...
My biggest problem is that my horse went up in the mangers on another 2H once, and put his foot through it. He severed his radial artery. It was terrifying for me, but he rode like a champ all the way to the vet and hasn't had an issue getting in the trailer, but he still wants to rear up and put his feet up. I've been working with him, shortening the tie, lengthening the tie, putting him and taking him out before he has the chance to, gradually increasing the time, etc, but I am still worried. So I may just scrap this one and get a slant load. But I am dying to make this one pretty grin.gif
Thanks! smileywavey.gif
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*~*~Favorite Quote of the Week*~*~


"Animals are unpredictable things so our whole life is unpredictable. It's a long tale of little triumphs and disasters and you've got to really like it to stick it. One thing, you never get bored. Here, have more whiskey." --James Harriot


#11 montikarla

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 07:54 PM

Thanks for all the replies. I was at home this weekend and spent the majority of the time at the barn so I hadn't had a chance to get back on here.

Just a side note - there isn't a hubby. I am hoping that if I find something I will be able to hijack my friend's fiance to go with me. He knows his stuff.

Jenn and The Ellie Mare


#12 Alaskandraft

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 02:37 AM

I thought I'd post a few pictures of the 1968 ww 4 horse stock we refurbished some years ago.
We bought it for $200.00. Floor was rotten, storage area door was off of it, it was rusty and had broken suspension pieces. The rear roof was caved in and had broken supports in the roof from years of snow loads. The bracing underneith had broken supports. Of course every board was rotten. Tires were rotten and the tongue was twisted and broken. No Jack to speak of.

This was the only one I could find of the before to give you an idea of the color it was. Its on the far right.....(ignore giant butt thats in the way)


First thing we did was jack it up and put it on stands. Take off all rims and tires and do an inspection of the undercarriage and suspension. We bought all new suspension springs and swings for both wheels and side for 120.00 which is a good price for these parts. We also went to a large heavier spring. replaces brake parts also. Found a good set of used tires with a e rating. The whole trailer was sanded inside and out to remove all rust and loose paint, then osfloed.(rust inhibitor)



We didn't like the framing underneith. We have a lot of gravel roads, well that could use grading on a regular basis. so they are rough. We welded more angle Iron under the supports to help support the floor boards since with the added weight of a horse bouncing can break boards.



We completely striped off the old trim and polished it by hand to get the shine back. All the front rock shield was removed along with the old broken plexiglass windows, hindge for the storage door was replaced. All the old metal was cut out. You have to cut out the rotten angle iron that holds the boards down to replace the boards. If you don't want to weld them back in , you can bolt them back down with carriage bolts so the horses don't catch their hooves on it, or you can do like we did and used Aluminum angle and just rivit it to the side of the wall. We had to also cut a 6 inch peice off the sides and weld a repair strip in were the sides had rusted through. All braces on the roof that were broken were welded and / or replaced.



All the trim was welded back on after it was polished. Everything was painted. We picked white roof to help keep the inside cool, silver on the roof inside for reflective values, white sides so the inside of the trailer didn't look like the black hole of the universe. Red gate to contrast the inside.



After a month of straight work on it and good weather for the paint to dry(heavy duty industrial oil base) you have a finished product. it recieved new wiring harness and plug. New tongue and heavy duty jack was welded on the tongue. The last peice was the roof piece. transformed sows ear to a sick purse.....better than new..




An artistic touch front and rear



We sold it later for $4,500.00. Cost to restore came to just under 500.00 in parts and paint. $200.00 to purchase. LOTS OF ELBOW GREASE>>>Priceless.. happy0203.gif

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#13 El Bandito

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 10:50 PM

OMG! Nice job on that trailer!

I relly like the words on the front, and back. Lovely color and good job re furbishing it

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#14 Dolly19

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 11:58 AM

My dad bought me a trailer and we fixed it up last summer. It's a lot of work, and a lot of money ... it's almost worth it to buy a newer trailer (we put about that much money into mine xDDD) but there is also a lot of satisfaction in making a trailer your own.

This is the only original picture I still have


We had to completely sand down and repaint every part of this trailer (the inside was so rusted over we had to get a wire brush sander after it and still never could get it all off), replace the floor boards, the plywood walls were completely rotten, the middle divider was rotten, the floor covering was soooo nasty from hauling cattle and not being cleaned, we had to put new metal flooring in the tack room and feed bin area, had to completely rewire and put new lights on it, replaced the window, then we did a little stylizing out with the diamond plating and molding. I'm sure we did more .. but ya get the picture xDD .. it's still not completely done though, we have to get fome padding, finish staining the center divider, and get new tires












#15 meeker_gurl8789

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 11:08 PM

We got our trailer for 300 the guy just didnt want it... it had new floors wiring for lights ect it only neded a new floor in the tack room, one door is welded shut, no center divider and a new paint job... Its an old 2 horse straight load but hey for 300 you couldnt go wrong oh and the tires are practicly new ill post pics later i have to take more of the after on the paint job... You just gotta know where to look and get a good deal

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