Replacing a floor board in horse trailer - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Replacing a floor board in horse trailer

I bought a horse trailer! Got it through word-of-mouth from a 92 year old lady who bought it brand new 15 years ago and has not used it much. It is a 2004 McBride extra wide, extra tall two-horse bumper pull. We found out about it through a friend of a friend who knew I was looking - it had not been advertised for sale yet. I got it at a great price, but it hadn't been registered or inspected since 2015 (those are required yearly here). So first we had to sort out the registration issue (the owner couldn't find the most recent registration, only one from 2012, so we had to fill out a few extra forms for that), and get it inspected.

This lady was just delightful - she still rides! But she says she only walks now, and that her showing days are "probably over", hahaha. This is why she decided she didn't need the trailer anymore. So while it has gotten little use, the fact that it stood around for years means there are a few rust spots to touch up, but the frame is very solid, and there is nothing else wrong with it. The tires had to be replaced because the sun cracked them. I picked up a really nice set of 4 tires at a great price so they're going on this week. We hooked it up to our truck, and lights and brakes worked like a charm, even after sitting that long. But it will get a thorough inspection by a mechanic as is the law here anyway.

When we got it home, opened it up, and completely removed the rubber mats, we did discover that one board is quite soft on the end near the ramp. The other boards seem fine, but snow was seeping in from the sides (I am going to add weather stripping to prevent that from re-occurring). and dripping into that corner which was slightly lower where it was parked. I dug at the board with a screwdriver and scratched off what I could. The wood is still fairly solid under the top layer (I couldn't jab the screwdriver more than 1/16th of an inch or so), but I'd still feel better if we replaced this board. While we could probably use it as is, especially with the heavy rubber mats on top, but it's probably going to keep getting worse so while we're putting on Rust Check and have it all taken apart, we thought we might as well replace it. Only, we're stumped about putting a new board in. There is a metal lip on both ends (front and back) with very little wiggle room. How will we get the new board in there???

Attaching photos so you can see what I mean. You can see some surface rust on the frame underneath which we will treat with rust protector.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Horse trailer 001.jpg (144.1 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg Horse trailer 002.jpg (107.2 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Horse trailer 004.jpg (125.5 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Horse trailer 006.jpg (144.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg Horse trailer 010.jpg (280.6 KB, 5 views)
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post #2 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 02:24 PM
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First, congrats AA - thatís a good looking trailer and youíll love having it and wonder how you could ever have done without one before.

Second, I would like to suggest that if youíre going to replace that one floor board (no argument there - it needs to go) that you replace the others as well. Weíve replaced floor boards a couple of times over the years and itís not hard and itís not too expensive. Please see following notes:

1. With any new floor board itís a very good idea to put a water sealant (we used Thomsonís) on the entire board - all six sides. That greatly increases the longevity. You need to allow a day or two to paint it on and let it cure.

2. Floor boards are easy to take out. Cut the junky one with a saw and pull it out then the other ones pull out quite readily. Note you may have to cut a second one in the event youíre not getting enough wiggle room. A pry bar or crow bar may be needed. Will take an hour or so to complete.

3. Floor boards are easy to put in. The first bunch will be slipped in at maximum or correct lengthy ..the last board or maybe last two boards will require a combination of either ever so slightly shorter than the others and/or a tiny corner cut off (looks like a tiny triangle when removed). The last boards are done this way because if all boards are the exact same you run out of wiggle room (Iím sure thereís a physics term for that). Also, the shortened boards, if they are needed, should not be shortened so much they fall out of the channel. A hammer and scrap wood to tap boards into place will be required. Will probably take three or four hours to do.

4. Old floor boards can be recycled into various projects around the place so wonít go to waste.

5.if you do decide to go with replacing just that one board, I think youíll probably still have to cut it out and make it slightly shorter with the corner cut out to get it back in.

6. This is just my personal preference but if youíre going to replace all boards, and the frame can handle it, perhaps you would consider going side to side instead of back to front with the boards. I think short boards provide better strength than long boards.

Last edited by Chevaux; 04-13-2019 at 02:32 PM.
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post #3 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevaux View Post
First, congrats AA - youíll love having it and wonder how you could ever have done without one before.


3. Floor boards are easy to put in. The first bunch will be slipped in at maximum or correct length..the last board or maybe last two boards will require a combination of either ever so slightly shorter than the others and/or a tiny corner cut off (looks like a tiny triangle when removed). The last boards are done this way because if all boards are the exact same you run out of wiggle room (Iím sure thereís a physics term for that). Also, the shortened boards, if they are needed, should not be shortened so much they fall out of the channel.
I really don't see how this can work as the board needs to get under both lips (front and back) and since it is the last board, there is no wiggle room. I was told we'd have to cut the metal lip on the back and re-weld it, which we can do, but if there is a better way, I'd love to know what it is... I can try your method, but I don't think it will work here.
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post #4 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 02:46 PM
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Actually, I take back that one statement about nipping the corner off and I take back the statement about going horizontal.

Now that I think about it, we cut a corner off at each end, same side, so we could wiggle the board in. I wish I was closer to you as Iíd gladly come over and help. The first time we did I was extremely sceptical about it working but it did. I think one of the reasons it works is that boards are not snugged up to each other like you would do in house flooring as you do need gapping to let horse fluids out and to also allow for weather related expansion. By pushing the already in place boards as close together as possible, you gain a few more millimeters of openness for the last board/s to slip in and once they are in, you even out the boards to create equal gapping.

Looking at your trailer again, I do not think you could do horizontals as it looks like there are no channels on the sides to use to slip the boards in. But not to worry, it will still be good.
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post #5 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 06:17 PM
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Hi AA!
In the one foto of the bottom, notice how one, maybe two of the boards are a little shorter than the rest.
Cut all of the boards full length, and fit in as many as you can by installing then at an angle, and then pushing them straight. A small cut-off at two opposite corners will help with this. (see sketch)
When you get down to the last couple, trim them a little, and use a couple of big pry-bars to flex the board until you can get it past the steel. If you can't make it happen, trim a bit more.
Even if you have to trim off a full 3/4 - 1 inch, there will still be enough to hide the ends under the metal lip. Put countersunk screws thru the board and steel crossmember to hold it in place if you feel the need, altho once covered with the rubber mat, you'll never notice the small gap. If you do put in screws, use stainless steel or brass hardware so you can get them loose easily if the need arises.
The boards in this trailer appear to be rough-sawn Oak, and where you live, you shouldn't have any trouble finding more material. You may find that you need to have one board narrower than the rest to get a good fit. Unless you have a full sized table saw at home, have the lumberyard do this for you. My trailer has between 1/8 and 1/4 inch between the boards; this one looks more like 1/2 inch, and that's probably just fine, but I wouldn't go much wider than that.

(edit to add) The soft spot doesn't really look too bad. As a temporary fix, install a square of scrap Aluminum sheet over the damaged area, and extending onto the adjacent board; something about the thickness of a street-sign would be ideal. Put two small screws down into the wood to hold it there, and bury it under the rubber mat. Periodically inspect from below, but I wouldn't worry too much until you notice the rotten wood creeping down toward the bottom of the board(s). Then do them all.

(edit again) Fill both sides first, and save the final board for in the middle. You will be able to get the steel angle-iron to flex a little bit in the middle, but not at the end where it is welded.
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Last edited by george the mule; 04-13-2019 at 06:37 PM.
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post #6 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, now I sort of get the idea of the two opposite corners cut off... and I could see how it would be a little easier to slide all the boards against each other, then spread apart again.

Thanks @Chevaux and Steve! We're going to try to find hemlock to replace the old floor, with oak being the next option. We'll definitely put something on to seal them all up. But honestly, they all look pretty good except for that one corner. And even that corner isn't that bad - I can't jab a screwdriver in there very deep. But I figure we might as well start with a fresh floor, though the aluminum plate would be a great temporary fix if we want to haul Harley to lessons before we can get this fixed. I know someone who could get us a piece easily (he's a welder). We'll have to see how much we can get done this week. My daughter is itching to haul Harley to lessons so she doesn't have to ride the lesson horses anymore! This will allow us to take him along every week and do as many shows as she wants. It's not as nice as the one we were renting, but it's ours! And it's a lot nicer than any of the other trailers we looked at in that price range, so I'm pretty happy with my purchase. The quality of a McBride isn't on par with Merhows or Sundowners, but it's what we can afford for now, and as long as it's safe, I'm happy.
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post #7 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 07:31 PM
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You can cut the rotten board with a saw to remove it, cut the replacement board a little bit shorter to get it to fit, and then using a drill, drill holes through the board and metal cross frames the board sits on. Use bolts with beveled (rounded heads) to secure the board to the frame with a nut underneath the frame. Use pressure treated pine if you can get it, and like Chevaux said, treat the wood with Thompsons water seal. NICE TRAILER!!
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post #8 of 22 Old 04-13-2019, 07:53 PM
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If you're pulling out that wood, you could make a lovely rustic ledge-and-brace door from it! Personally, I'd dry it out, apply antifungal to the hole, dry it again, bog it up with wood filler, waterproof the whole floor, and expect another 20 years' service out of it, first. Really, really! You can keep on checking the structural integrity of the wood meanwhile. You can even fix the rubber mat on top so that there would be no risk even if an entire floorboard fell out. Which it won't!

And I don't say that lightly. Wood lasts, unless you've got termites or dry rot or borer etc. Unlike the metal floors in some of our local trailers here. One of those rusted through in someone's float that wasn't getting checked out on a regular basis, and the rubber mat on top was flimsy and not well attached. Result, the horse's leg went through, and abraded against the road, and the horse had to be put down. Complete horror story. Trailers need checking. But not everything needs to be new, all the time. It just needs to have structural integrity, and a decent mat properly fixed on top of it.

I suspect the hole in that corner would have come from manure or urine pooling there, against the door. Moisture seeps in, and microbes start to digest the wood. That's why you keep the wood dry. If you treat the wood with a surface waterproofer, make sure you do both sides so the wood doesn't warp - the underside as well, or atmospheric moisture / moisture from wet roads will cause the wood to swell on one side only, and buckle it.

Great instructions for floorboard replacement! A very DIY crowd here.
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post #9 of 22 Old 04-14-2019, 12:27 AM
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Nice trailer....
The road now beckons that you don't have to rely on others...
FREEDOM!!!

It does appear that your boards were laid from edge to center from both sides...
Center board is cut shorter...

It is hard to see clearly, but watch the second board in next to the one with rot damage...
I think there is shadowing of wet/dry that has occurred to it although not as extensive a issue.
With the water damage and corner rot that is also the spot to check for the metal closure angle-iron to be damaged underneath and not seen.
Your mechanic can and should inspect that weld and area closely for weakness as a precaution.
He may need to cut the weld to do a inspection which at that moment would be the time to remove and replace all the boards if you are of that mind...
Do some prep work at home of sizing/pre-treating before taking the trailer in..if it needs to be weld cut, run the boards to the mechanic and do the deed before he neatly re-welds shut that corner completing his inspection.
Just clue him in to your plan and needs so he can be "in-the-know" and help you help you...
...
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post #10 of 22 Old 04-14-2019, 12:42 AM
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I hope I'm not high-jacking this thread, but since some of you have mentioned Thompson's Water Seal........

Do you need to seal pressure treated lumber?

When I got my second hand (but nearly new) stock trailer, I really had the urge to put deck oil on the boards, to help preserve them. But more than one person told me, "No, you don't have to seal pressure treated lumber." Should I? Would it do any harm?

There's a lot of stupid out there!
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