You Don’t Have The Plans I Need. Now What?
Sometimes looking for the right plans for the trailer you need is a needle in a haystack. Every site has something, but not exact. What’s next? When you really need a particular trailer that others don’t offer, custom trailer design is just one possible option.
No doubt, if you can dream it, there is probably a way to build it — within reason, of course. However, often you can get most of what you need without doing the full-custom dive. Is it enough? That’s up to you, because it’s a balance. When you need something very specific, the best way to get it, is to design it, then build it, the way you want it. That’s how the world progresses. And yet, sometimes time, money, or other resources say that’s not happening. Here’s a look at both.
Things We Recommend Before Custom Trailer Design
Custom trailer design is not for everyone. The cost is much higher in comparison, and there are other barriers too. Before diving into a custom project, there are a few things you should do. If you haven’t already, try this list.
- Look at the things for your ideal trailer that you can’t find. Is it the size? The desired capacity? or Some special feature? If you can find most of what you need, then maybe you only have to customize a few details. Try this article on When It’s Safe To Customize Our Plans.
- See what things are already available in the market. Sometimes it’s better to just buy what you need rather than reinventing the wheel. Here is an article on the topic that’s worth reading. – When to Buy, When to Build.
- What can you retro-fit? Can you modify something that’s easily available? In other words, can you buy most of what you need, then add or change the unique features?
If these items don’t help, then it might be time to look at custom trailer design.
The obvious benefits of the list above are time or money. Engineering is really an investment, an NRE (Non-Recoverable Expense). Sure, it gives you what nothing else can, but it’s expensive. If you can get what you need and minimize the NRE, then you’re farther ahead. When you can’t, custom trailer design may be your only option.
Benefits of Custom Design
There are a lot of really great things that come out of custom trailer design. First, you get exactly what you want. (Well, within reason.) Second, you have something you know will do the job. There’s no guessing about “Is it strong enough?” or “Will it really work?” Third, you’ll have something truly unique. It’s yours, and you don’t have to worry about licensing or other copy issues.
Finally, you’ll get the best in quality when you build from blueprints by Synthesis Engineering Services. Synthesis is the parent company of Mechanical Elements. We’ve been designing custom products for many years and have a lot of experience with trailers of many sizes and configurations. For instance, read this Case Study of A Specialty Trailer Design as well as this Case Study on Tiny House Trailers.
The Cost of Custom
Without a doubt, Cost is one of the big down-sides of custom trailer design. As stated in our Article about Free Trailer Plans, the time and effort that goes into creating plans is not trivial. If we’ve made it look so simple and easy, then we’ve done our job. If it’s all smooth and presents well, that’s awesome, because we did the hard work so well that you can’t tell. That’s a great compliment.
That said, there is a ton of work that goes into every set of plans we produce. Concepts, and not a few. Deciding just how things can and should go together to make it easy to build well. There are a lot of convoluted trailers out there, because they skip or short-cut these steps. Next is material choice — driven in part by widely available stock, and mostly by engineering analysis using a variety of tools like FEA, fatigue charts, and more. Choices, especially for beam shape, depend on the complexities of loading. While it seems simple, we usually need to analyze the model many ways to be sure it’s good for all the ways you’ll use it. Going back and forth with design, analysis, and sanity checks can take a long time to make it right. This is a step we don’t skimp on.
Finally, there are the details. They say the devil is in the details — and if the devil is the one that consumes lots of time, then that’s certainly the details. All the views that show details, all the notes that give instruction, all the dimensions so you know how to build it. That’s what we do, because it’s just part of doing the job right.
So What Does It Cost?
Custom design makes your trailer different than any other, so the cost is unique too. Without knowing what you’re thinking, it’s impossible to guess about cost. However, here is some direction based on previous work.
There are really 3 categories of custom trailer design.
- Minor modifications to an existing design. If your ideal trailer is a modification of a current design, for instance, a change in length, then the cost is usually minimal. We’ve made these kinds of design changes ranging from $500 to $1500+. Obviously the more complex the changes, the more the cost.
- Significant modifications to an existing design. This is the middle ground. For instance, if we have a trailer that is close, but you need more capacity, another axle, or extensive size changes, then that fits this middle category. Prices range from $1000 up to $3000. Again depending on the changes.
- Full Custom Trailer Design. This is the hardest to estimate as everything depends on the need. Large complicated trailers (one previous example: a 5th-wheel, tandem dully, wide load version tiny house trailer made to specifics) can range in the $5000 to $10,000+ range. Others types of trailers we’ve done in the $2500 to $4000 range. It really depends on the amount of work.
The best bet for understanding cost is a discussion with us. If the numbers above fit your budget, then please give us shout. We’re happy to help if we can, but please understand that we can’t work for free.
When You’re Ready For Custom Trailer Design
If the options for filling your needs are not readily available, custom trailer design is one option. As mentioned above, we know it’s not cheap, and it’s not for everyone. We always recommend that you look at other options for modification first. Perhaps modifying existing plans, or purchasing an existing trailer to modify. If there is no getting around the needs, then give us a call.