As you might guess, I’m always poking around and looking at trailers. People can be really creative, so I’m always looking for fun trailer ideas. Things that people do or ways they do it are often inspiring. We can learn a lot from all the smart people around.
On a trip to Moab, I stopped for a mountain bike ride on some of my favorite trails – on Amasa Back. I love the Jeep road up, Cliffhanger, (even though they have now built Himasa, a bicycle specific trail). I like the intense rock obstacles of the Jeep trail along with the challenge of attack. Then, the trail out to Pothole Arch and Captain Ahab down. Ah, but I diverge.
When I got back to the parking lot there were 3 rigs – trucks with trailers – that came in the meantime. I was a little surprised, because 98+ degree heat scares off most people. I thought I’d be the only one there. Though I’m not sure, it seems 3 Jeepers also came to enjoy Moab, and not afraid of the heat. Awesome!!
Well, I can’t help it, I had to look around the trailers. You never know what good trailer ideas you might find.
Truck & 5th Wheel Trailer
One of the rigs there, a nice truck with an interesting tilt top 5th-wheel. At first glance I suppose it was not out of the ordinary, but looking closer, this trailer had several cool ideas worth noting. Unfortunately, I did not get to talk with the owner, because that would have been really interesting, but I did leave a note asking him to let me know if he had an issue with me using photos of his rig. Since I have not heard, I suppose he is OK with it.
First, I have to say, I absolutely love the concept of “Run Whatcha Brung”. It has been my motto since I was young and first went to the drag strip with a beater motorcycle. There were 3 trucks there, all in various levels. The first, a truck with a U-Haul trailer. The second, a great work truck with a run-of-the-mill deck-over trailer. The third, a very nice truck with this 5th wheel trailer. You could tell where the money was, but I absolutely applaud the “Run Whatcha Brung” U-Haul guy!!
While most of these photos are of the nicer trailer, a 5th Wheel (Gooseneck) Tilt Deck, I personally feel more at home with the U-Haul guy. (I was driving an ’08 Sprinter.) Nevermind what it looks like, just go have fun!!
Here are some of the trailer ideas with photos to explain.
Trailer Step Up Ideas
The first thing to catch my attention is this fun little step on the side of the trailer. As with most deck-over trailers, the deck is pretty high, so having a step to assist with climbing on is a great idea. This one welds solid under the frame.
I didn’t realize until later than the hand hold was not in the photo. You can see the handle in other images below. Anyway, the step is there for your foot, but there is also a handle on the upright supporting the 5th wheel frame. The handle with the step makes a very useful feature as a good trailer idea.
It seems so obvious, like I have probably missed it when looking at dozens of other trailers. Anyway, I like it. So, perhaps I will add one as another option in our Deck-Over Trailer Plans.
There are a bunch of products on the market made to dampen the ride when towing a trailer. This image shows just one such product, obviously made for the gooseneck trailer connection. Many of these products use rubber isolation, while others, like this one, use air. You can see the small air bag for absorbing some of the trailer motion.
I don’t recommend one product over others, but when I saw this, I thought some of our readers might be interested in the concept. Search for trailer hitch cushioning for more ideas.
The other thing worth pointing out in this image are the safety chains and the breakaway cable. He is using good chains and nice stout anchors. The one thing I don’t like is the breakaway cable attaching to the hook, rather than the truck. It’s a little thing, but for those with interest, here is an article about safety awareness.
Tilt Deck Extension?
People get creative when they need it. I must say, I don’t really know the origins of this (one of the reasons I really want to talk with the owner). Anyway, at the front of the tilt top there are 2 extension plates as you can see in the photo. It looks to me (a guess) that they wanted a little more length to the tilt portion for the wheels of the Jeep.
(The word “Jeep” of course, being a generic term for the vehicle they haul with the trailer, because I don’t really know.)
Interesting, these 2 plates appear to be added later to the trailer. And, they are bent down slightly – welded to the C-Channel which has bent under the load of the Jeep.
A related item is the clasp (or clasps) for securing the tilt top down in the travel position.
Note that there are 2 clasps in this photo. The first (faded red handle) is probably the original, but is now obsolete. Then, the second is much beefier and includes a handle extension that is welded on.
I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that the second one replaces the first, because the first is wimpy – and because the two plates (mentioned above) require some extra pull-down force to secure the tilt top. Extra pull-down required because the plates bent the C-Channel (as we guess above). You can see that the tilt top does not set all the way down by itself.
I could be wrong in my guess, of course. Again, I’d love to ask the owner.
Tilt Deck Hiding Lights
One issue we see with tilt deck trailers has to do with the lights. Where do you put the tail lights if the deck tilts down to the ground? Especially when you want a knife edge loading entry?
One idea we see sometimes is a “hiding” light system where the bar that holds the lights folds up under the deck when the top tilts. I think these two photos capture it pretty well. This first photo shows what the light bar looks like when the tilt top is up (light bar down).
The Pink arrow points to the linkage connection. The light bar (and the 4 supports) pivot on a shaft. As the deck tilts down, the linkage makes the light bar fold up into the trailer frame.
The second photo also shows the light bar, but from the front (the way the trailer rolls down the road). Back side of the light bar if you want to think about it that way. This one has a nice view of the linkage connecting bar, and the pivot rod for which the light bar moves. It adds some complication, but it is a nice way to have big lights in full view when traveling, yet tuck them up out of the way when tilting the deck down for loading.
Ideas For Storage Under The Trailer
With a Deck-Over trailer, the decks tend to be pretty high, which leaves space under for storage. Some designs use some of the space for ramps (under the back) – which our designs do. In this case, there is a storage box under the deck.
In the photo you can also see the storage box between the Gooseneck uprights, which is very common with 5th wheel / Gooseneck trailers. This side mounted box is not so common, but certainly a good idea. A good sealed metal box under the trailer deck adds a lot of good space for storage ideas.
Spare Tire Storage
Speaking of storage, the high mount spare tire in this photo is a little different. In this case, they have utilized the area above the gooseneck as a location for the spare tire.
While I do think this is a good use of space, there are 2 hiccups that I see.
- First, this particular tire has no protection from the sun. That will certainly mean faster rubber degradation, like dry rot. Best to keep the spare covered, for sure.
- Second, that is a big, heavy, wheel and tire, so it will take some effort to get it there, and to get it down. That is a lot of weight to lift that high. If you are by yourself, getting the tire is quite a task. You don’t want to drop such a tire as it will certainly bounce, and probably uncontrollably.
Gussets And Stiffeners
While we are looking under the trailer, let’s look at the structure. In general, this is a nice I-Beam frame with a tilt top. In the image below, Pink Arrow 1 points to the other end of the hiding lights linkage we show above. I like that every part of the linkage has some adjustability.
The Pink Arrows 2 point to gussets supporting the front trailer suspension bracket. We see this on both sides of the trailer. Such supports and gussets are great ideas for stabilizing the trailer suspension. Often this function is accomplished by a frame cross member that joins the brackets across the trailer. In this case, the gussets are only on each side (not crossing), but they do add a bunch of frame stiffness.
Pink arrow 3 is a little surprise. In general, this trailer has a pretty good build, so an open tube end is a little surprising. When building, it takes so little extra effort to cap the tubes to keep moisture out. I look for these kinds of things to know about the quality of the build. If the manufacturer is trying to cut corners, this is the kind of stuff they leave off. This happens to be the hydraulic cylinder reaction tube, so that is extra surprising they did not take advantage of a simple cap for both torsion resistance and sealing at the same time.
Trailer Winch Mount Ideas
Finally, one of the nifty ideas on this trailer is the high mount winch. It makes perfect sense, with the tilt deck down, you want a winch reach the vehicle. So, they mount it high, and at an angle. Clever.
See the image below also.
The high winch mount is in the large Pink circle. It is high, but it also mounts using a 2″ receiver, so it can come off easily.
The smallest Pink circle is the handle for climbing up on the trailer using the step we discuss above. It’s a good place for it, and simple bent rod to weld on. Nice.
The medium pink circle is around something I have not seen before. At first I thought it was a light, which is a good idea for a trailer like this, but . . . . That round thing is a plastic holder for the trailer registration.
I did not consider the need for keeping the registration with the trailer, but if you pull with multiple vehicles, that is one of those really good ideas. I would not, however, put it in a plastic container where everyone can see it. That seems so vulnerable – for vandalism or for a thief to get information about you.
Perhaps copying the idea of keeping the registration with the trailer is good, but I would put it some place not obvious, and not in a visible container.
Great Trailer Ideas
Certainly this trailer has a few good ideas to think about. Some are great as they are, and some might need a little mutation if you want to add them to your trailer. Hopefully some of the ideas here make you think about fun improvements possible to your trailer. Enjoy.
By the way, if you have other good trailer ideas to share, we really want to see them. Share using the comments below, or submit them using our Contact page.