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KatieQ 10-20-2013 10:26 AM

Fixing up old trailer
Last year I purchased an old (late 70s) straight load 2 horse trailer. It had been well maintained and was in use when I bought it. It had recently had the floor and wiring redone, but needed a little more work. Since then it has been sitting in my field for a year, and I finally ordered the new suspension shackles and bolts that it needed and hauled it to my mechanic. He is going to check everything over again and make a few modifications I wanted. But he is an auto mechanic, and knows nothing about horse trailers, really. What are some key points he should be checking? How can I be sure the floor is strong enough? The supports underneath are rusty but solid, and it seems to be just surface rust, there is still a lot of metal there. The floor is 1" plywood. I have never had a horse trailer before so don't really know what to tell him. I want to be sure it is safe and secure, so any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.

KatieQ 10-20-2013 10:34 AM

Also, is 1" plywood a suitable floor or are planks better? Hubby says plywood is stronger.

horselovinguy 10-20-2013 11:00 AM

Floor supports need to be checked for rust through and integrity same as your mechanic would check the frame on a car...also all welds that hold and at the cross-member locations.
Axles, wiring underneath is not damaged or compromised from sitting in a field where grass, moisture can do a lot of damage to undercarriages of vehicles.
A floor of plywood...1" thick would of been a special order. Any under 1" I would be concerned with it being strong enough. I'm not sure I would want my horse on a 1" thick plywood floor regardless.
Remember a horses weight is concentrated where the feet are not spread out over the entire floor area...most horse trailers have planks of 2" thick usually 8" wide.
There is also a drainage issue for you with a solid floor.
Urine will not have a way to drain between the planks as trailers are made to have happen... same goes for manure...pretty caustic and wet sitting on that wood floor...{planks are spaced a nail width apart for drainage, maybe drilling some holes in the floor would help some with this but you run the risk of weakening the floor too with it only being 1" thick to start with}
Check all the floor edges for weakness and wood sponginess not only by stand and bounce on it but a screwdrivers poke test... you want to know and fix those weak spots before putting your horse inside and he go through the floor.
Make sure all hinges are working freely, doors, window tracks are sliding correctly and if jalousie window in the front it opens and closes easily, screens if the trailer has them not torn.
Wiring inside the trailer is safely secured to the wall maybe in conduit or plastic pipe to keep it safer from the horse and corrosion.
Brakes and the entire braking system in good working order.
Tires are trailer tires, not car/truck tires. They are made differently and safety is your biggest concern here!
Your hitch works correctly, safety chains are in good condition, emergency brake cord activates if it is on the trailer...the hitch is not rusted and welds are good, strong and safe...
Lighting, interior and exterior all work correctly with no cracked light covers.
If your trailer is a ramp make sure the ramp assist springs are safely in place and adjusted for ease and safety in using the ramp.
Butt chains/bars have good securement snaps or pins. The slot on the wall is secure, no jagged edges to catch the horse as he walks in or out.

Above all else, remember once you are satisfied your trailer is safe and ready for use... HAVE FUN!!

KatieQ 10-20-2013 11:50 AM

So if I take out the plywood and replace it with 2X8 planks, do I run them lengthwise or across the stalls? Some of the hinges, etc need work or replacement but we are addressing those. The tires are good and there is a spare, but good point about the wiring. When they re-wired it they just secured it with snap ties, but plastic pipng would be a good idea and will also look better. I will do that. It has a ramp but I don't know what ramp assist springs are. Obviously it has none. The ramp is extremely heavy and takes two people (or at least a very strong person) to close. The hitch and safety chains are good. I will show this list to the mechanic, and any other people's suggestions. This is great because he is starting work on it today.

Saddlebag 10-20-2013 03:50 PM

The greatest amount of rust occurs where the wood meets the steel because the wood holds the moisture. Bearings needs to be checked. When you park the trailer, put down a plastic tarp or several old sheets of plywood to keep the grass down and to allow breezes to blow thro underneath. Mats should be hung on the divider to allow air between the planks. As for direction of the planks, look at the framing underneath. Talk to an experience person at the lumber yard to get the best wood for this. Some woods have a shorter fiber and are more brittle than long fiber wood which is more flexible.

horselovinguy 10-20-2013 09:01 PM

You would be running your planks the opposite direction of the cross-members.
I would suggest looking at various trailer manufacturer sites for specifications on how far apart those supports are placed... some manufacturers leave much to be desired in strength and then the majority will be pretty close to each other in building specs.

Your ramp if it is that heavy to lift probably had helper springs to ease the load.
If you have a garage door, the springs look sort of like what you have up in the air...same idea of the help to raise the weight of that door off of you.
On the side of the ramp you would see a tab with a hole in it... and again a tab with a hole in it on the back of the trailer next to the where the ramp closes shut.
Seriously, go look at some horse trailers by your barn or at a horse show...if they have a ramp they have something to help assist with how heavy it is to lift and secure that ramp.
Before you toss that plywood floor make sure your ramp has a strong ramp floor... then make sure there is something on that ramp the is good for traction as you load... rubber mat is common but I have seen other things used that worked ...
Save and reuse what you can... projects like these have a way of getting expensive quick.

Good luck and enjoy your project.

KatieQ 10-22-2013 06:25 AM

I will look into the ramp springs, thanks so much! The ramp itself is done with planks, no idea why they did that and then used plywood for the floor, but I suspected that was what made it so heavy. Also, is there a reason to use 2X8 boards rather than 2X6? I ask because I already have a pile of 2X6's leftover from another job.

horselovinguy 10-22-2013 03:10 PM

Not totally sure why 8" over 6"... it might have to do with putting the boards down without having to cut one lengthwise to fit...
My one thought is though how wide is a horses hoof? More than 6"... might have something to do with the weight distribution thing.

Makes no sense why they used planks on the ramp and plywood for the floor...
I'm not positive but I think they use plywood for the ramp on some manufacturers trailers...again take a peek at one that is parked someplace.
You can learn a lot about what you like, more importantly what you dislike in trailers by looking at many brands and options people pick and choose.

KatieQ 10-24-2013 09:59 AM

I think the ramp is still the original boards. They are still in good shape so they didn't bother replacing it. But now I have big concerns about the floor. I definitely want to do it over. Hubby is suggesting we just add planks over the plywood, but that will lessen the headroom and I also want to take the plywood out so I can have a REALLY good look underneath.

Dustbunny 10-24-2013 11:36 AM

You really don't want to put planks over the plywood. That will add weight, lessen the headroom AND trap the urine in two layers of wood. Not good. Planks only are best, IMO.

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