View Full Version : Trailer Mod advice wanted

Heavy D
04-01-2008, 10:11 AM
Hi all, I'm a long time reader, but post very rarely b/c normally I can find the answer to what I need by searching. But I'm looking for a different perspective on this trailer.

Here's the issue: When I put the 3 Good-One Patio 30 smokers on my trailer (or any heavy load) the trailer rocks back and forth while driving down the road.

The trailer: It's a bed from a '49 Ford bolted to a flat bed trailer. I'm not sure what the axle is from. It started out old and rusted. I did some body work, and had the whole thing sprayed with Rhino Liner. (pictures below)

So how do I keep this thing from rocking back and forth? Putting on shocks? Change leaf springs? Balancing the load is a bit difficult as it's only about a 4'x7' internal measurements. What are your ideas? Thanks in advance!

Side view

Front view/underside

Rear view/underside

The Pickled Pig
04-01-2008, 10:40 AM
I don't know if this will help your problem but I've always heard that it's important to have at least 10% of the total weight (trailer and cargo) on the tongue for stable towing. So maybe by loading your heavy items in front of the axle, stability will be improved? You could also have a storage bin welded on the frame between the tongue and the trailer body to store wood and/or propane tanks to increase tongue weight.

04-01-2008, 10:44 AM
As Paul said, more weight in the front. I generally load things so that 60% of the total weight is in front of the trailer axle.

04-01-2008, 10:45 AM
put more weight on the trailer and try it. i bet you are getting alot of wind turbulance because of the trailers shap.

Heavy D
04-01-2008, 10:52 AM
Thanks guys, I'll try more weight in the front (maybe make sure my canopy weights are in front) but the 3 Good-One smokers just barely fit in (ie, I have to cram them in to be able to close the tailgate).

Good point on the wind turbulence also, hadn't thought of it that way.

In the end, it might just be something I have to live with, and just drive the back roads vs the highways, and take it slower.

But if anybody else has any ideas, please let me know.

04-01-2008, 11:05 AM
Do you have a pic of it loaded?

Heavy D
04-01-2008, 11:15 AM
Sorry no, our first comp isn't till late April, so all 3 smokers won't be on it till then. But basically, I have to position each smoker in a different angle to get all 3 of them on there.

Here's a link to a picture of the smoker....... http://www.aceofheartsbbq.com/model30p.html so you can get the idea of what I'm putting on there.

04-01-2008, 11:44 AM
But if anybody else has any ideas, please let me know.

It could be an alignment problem. Probably toe-out...

The axle looks like an old I-beam front axle. If the kingpins are welded in place (to keep the spindles straight...) they may have been welded slightly out of parallel. If that's the case, you might be able to give it toe-in by removing the axle and swapping it end for end 180*. If that can't be easily done, you may be able to have a good frame and alignment shop bend it straight to the desired toe.

Another thing that can have a BIG effect on single axle trailers is hitch height. Even with a slight 1/16" toe-in (a good thing) if you raise the ball too high from level it'll change the effective caster and cause the trailer to hunt or wonder from side to side. I'd shoot for that hitch to be dead level from the ball its mounted on and the toe set to zero or slightly toed-in.

If you've got any buddies involved with dirt track or stock cars you might be able to find a pair of toe plates like the ones below. Those and a couple of identical tape measures will tell you in a couple of minutes if the axle is toed in or out. Or you can try checking it this way (http://www.quadratec.com/jeep_knowledgebase/article-48.htm). That's were I'd start.


04-01-2008, 12:37 PM
I think it would be best to drive that trailer over to Columbia and have someone do a little body fabrication/work to it, put on some custom wheels on low profile tires and mount a SW large on it, with spoiler. Now, that would look sweet!

Heavy D
04-01-2008, 02:47 PM
Thawley, thanks for the alignment idea. I hadn't thought of that. When I purchased the trailer, it had 2 different size tires on it, and the old/oversized one was well worn, and I didn't even think of that till you pointed it out. I'll do the simple test tonight just to see, and then maybe run it up to the shop.

KC_Bobby, oh yeah, that's a great idea, but figuring how this baby looked when I got her, I'll stick with the baby steps. Although, I had thought about getting some spinner hub caps!:-D


04-01-2008, 07:15 PM
My Dad built 2 of these for me. I had them for several decades.
Studebaker bed--same era--looks like the same set up.

A couple of things.
If it is bouncing from side to side (like from one tire to the other) it needs firmer springs, shocks, or tires. Both of my trailers did that.
Dad added more leafs to the springs on one. On the other, he welded up brackets and mounted two old shocks from a junk car. Both fixed the problem.
If the air pressure is low, it will do this.
If you have modern automotive tires with soft sidewalls, that can cause it also.

If it is swaying like wagging a dog's tail--the guys above hit it on the head. You need 10% tongue weight and tires that are aligned with just minimal toe in. Dad says that that style of trailer is hard to get tongue weight on because they are inherently "balanced" front to rear. A tool box or some filled coolers on the forward frame should help a lot.

If you can get under it, you can take some measurements from a known point around the hitch area to each side by the wheels and check some alignment issues. First, measure to an comparable point on each side of the axle just inside the wheel. Should be the same.
The distance between the inside front of each wheel rim should be the same or no more than about 1/8" or so smaller than between the rear portion of the rims. Never more at the front than at the rear of the rims. Sometimes hard to get that measurement.

Those trailers are great when they pull right.
At least till Mother Nature reclaims them :oops:

Good luck,


Heavy D
04-03-2008, 09:38 AM
Thanks to all for your ideas and suggestions. I finally got around to taking some measurements last night.

The distance from the hitch to the same point on each side of the axle is almost identical.

But measuring the alignment based on the link/tip Thawley gave leads me to believe the alignment is off. The front of the tire is about 3/4" wider than the back of the tire. Hopefully this weekend I'll get it up to the shop I use to see if they can do anything. If they can't, I'll attempt to break through the rust and flip the axle around so at least it's toed in.

Kapn, You're right, the trailer is balanced almost perfectly front to back. When loaded, it bounces side to side, and I'm first going to explore the alignment, and making sure I have plenty of weight in the front of the axle. Then exploring firmer springs or the addition of shocks, if it still needs it.

beam boys bbq
04-03-2008, 05:44 PM
we bought an pit that got the name the wiggle wagon because of the same thing we put bigger tires on and mage the toung longer so the trailer was flat to the truck and was suporting it's own weight

just an fyi


04-03-2008, 06:20 PM
Definately add shocks to it if your filling it up with all that gear.
Do as said earlier and check the toe out,and you should be good to go,so what's you're first contest?

Heavy D
04-04-2008, 02:22 PM
Definately add shocks to it if your filling it up with all that gear.
Do as said earlier and check the toe out,and you should be good to go,so what's you're first contest?

Our first contest is the North Kansas City Hyvee, on Apr 25-26. We'll probalby hit GAB and then Paola in August and call it done. We're just a few guys looking for a good excuse to get out of the house.