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HF Trailer for non-MC use


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I'm looking to purchase a trailer for non-motorcycle use. Something for hauling substantial lumber from Home Depot, or bringing home a new fridge or stove or ??? Maybe even help a friend move across town.


Since this will get used 4-6 times per year, I don't need anything too hefty. Harbor Freight offers two folding trailers, and whatever I purchase will live in my garage. I imagine the stronger of the two would be my preference, and I'm aware that I'll have to lay some inch-thick pressboard or plywood over the frame and get some tie-down anchors bolted or welded on, but who's got experience with these things?


How do they tow?

If they're bouncy, has anyone added some simple shocks to them?

How's the stock lighting? Bright, or barely adequate?

Is the paint durable? Who makes a touch-up spray can that's a reasonable match?

What about the standard hitch? Up to snuff for hauling up to 600 lbs of furniture or appliances?


Any other info you can supply would be appreciated.

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No first hand experience but the people I know that had one were happy with it. Towed bikes and such, stable at highway speeds. One thing to remember about the HF trailers is you have to build it supplying your own deck material. In PA that means you have to take it to a special inspection station to have it certified ($200) then you can get the paperwork for a title. Check you local regulations. I was going to get one but with the time to build it, expense of inspection it was better for me to spend a bit more and get one that was ready to go.

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Danny caddyshack Noonan

I'm on my second one. Sold the first one on a move and didn't need it....until another move. I've towed bikes, quad and lumber up to 8ish inches deep and full width and length on it. No bouncing issues. I hook tiedowns into the stake brackets on the sides. I can't fit a full size 4wd quad and its debris trailer on mine (4 x 8) though. May have to upsize to something other than a HF trailer. The casters are actually fairly substantial for a HF product. Mine get a lot of abuse going into and out of my shed with a 2 x 6 mudsill and over concrete joints. Have towed the 12RT on it, but only up and down the street to prepare for a trip that turned into a no-motorcycle trip.

If you have good upper body strength, you should be able to put it up and take it down by yourself. However, it ain't light.

No issued with lights although I did break one and simply replaced with either a HF light or Autozone. One needs to be careful with the wiring though. You need slack due to the folding of it. Wire it with it folded to avoid having lines too short and ripping out when you fold it.

The paint is rock solid, no touch up needed.

The tilt ability allows loading bikes and quads by riding.

I did 5/8ish plywood on mine and had a bunch of 123 primer sitting around so that was used like paint. Also, threw sand on the wet paint after a heavy coat for traction. as a poor man's walnut hulls.

Edited by Danny caddyshack Noonan
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My son has one, He put a 3/4 in. deck on it and sides, changed the wheel bearings to a good bearing. He hauls his Harley from So Cal to Portland Or 3 or 4 times a year at 70 MPH has had no problems says tows straight does not even feel it behind the car....

Edited by Norm 83
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I had the Northern Tool Version, that I put 3/4" plywood and painted, then put the bigger wheels on with Bearing Buddies (grease fittings for the wheel bearings). I also had to replace the wiring harness as I bought it used and it hadn't been stored in the best conditions. But it served me well for hauling my sport bike to lots of local track days, and to several distant ones as well. I sold mine and replaced it with an enclosed trailer after a late fall drive back from Barber Motorsports Park involved a lot of salty Wisconsin Interstate miles. It took me about a week to clean the salt out of all the nooks and crannies of my poor track bike. But, the open trailer served me well and as an added bonus, when I decided to sell it I had a buyer in 20 minutes.


A friend of mine used to store his by using a winch to lift it vertically up against his garage wall. So, if you don't feel like folding it up, you could store it that way.

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Not to stir up the pot, but everything I've ever used from Harbor Freight is disposable (some of the guys at work buy stuff there - I use it a few times and wind up chucking it in the dumpster).


It all comes down to: What is your tow vehicle's capacity? How much weight do you want to put on the trailer? How much payload does your potential new trailer have? And probably a few other questions along those lines.


If it was me, I'd buy a better quality used trailer. Look around. Go to a dedicated trailer dealer near your place, and see what they've got. Sometime's they'll even have used units.



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Last I heard (a few weeks ago when I was last in the store), HF had suspended sales of their trailers pending resolution of an issue with the DOT over approval of the tires they supply with the trailer. Might check with your local HF store to see if they're selling them now.


My $0.02 worth...if I was looking for one for light use, I'd probably buy the heavier duty model, esp. if was 'on sale'.

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I bought mine in 2005, after I sold my Ford Club Wagon (Econoline) and bought a Toyota mini-van. It is used maybe three or four times a year for things too big, heavy or dirty to go in the Sienna. It probably has 3000 miles on it with no problems.


The lights are standard trailer lights that work, nothing special. (Replaced once by HF under a recall for insufficient side lighting.)


The paint is still bright and un-chipped, and there is no rust, but I store it folded in the garage.


The casters were light duty plastic, similar to what I have on my desk chair, but they lasted for 12 years on rough concrete before one cracked and I replaced them all with rubber tired steel casters.


My deck is 3/4" plywood, somewhat gouged and dented, but still solid.


The wheel bearings should be re-packed before use as the factory "grease" is mostly a rust preventative. With proper lubrication, the bearings themselves have held up fine..


Mine is the 1195lb model, and I've carried at least that much weight in lumber. It has also carried lots of furniture, drywall, plywood, appliances, bagged concrete and lawn tractors.


Towing is easy, I've never felt a need for shocks.


The stake pockets have served well for tie down points, but I recently found stainless steel eye bolts on clearance, and used those to replace the pocket mounting bolts.


There is a long, twelve-year, ongoing thread about these trailers at advrider.com, probably more than you'll ever need to know: https://advrider.com/f/threads/harbor-freight-trailer.123255/

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We pulled a HF trailer (4'x4') 40,000+ miles in 2016/2017 - it didn't have a lot of weight on it, but the cargo was important to us (our dogs!) so we paid close attention to the trailer and associated bits. In general it held up well. The tires from HF are a crap shoot for sure. Total trailer weight was about 300lbs loaded, but the GVWR for the trailer was a 1000lbs - which is to say, we were WAY under. Still, we had a couple tires delaminate, one that's on there now that leaks air even sitting still but for the life of me I can't figure out where it's coming from (this has started since it's been living in the garage - it will get replaced if the trailer is ever to be used again), and several go far more miles than expected. (I can look, but I'm sure at least one pair did 10,000 miles).


All the grease was cleaned from the bearings at time of purchase and it was repacked with quality name brand stuff - we regrease regularly, which is a necessity as it leaks out the caps and the rear seals. Speaking of caps, I wanted to put on Bearing Buddies but even going to a trailer supply place and trying all the options that were in the ballpark of the hub size, well, none of them quite fit. In fact, the knock off set of bearing buddies that HF sells don't fit. Oh - and one side kept loosing caps ...because it was a slightly different/smaller size than the other side (and we never found one single cap that would really fit - except ones taken off other trailer display models at various harbor freights along the road - at one in Vegas I swear there were like seven things missing from the trailer which the guy said had gone to other customer whose trailers had lost or broken random bits). We didn't spend much time on the freeways/at speeds over 55/60mph, but when we did the grease would fly - actually coming out of death valley at well under that speed it was flying pretty good too :)


The lights were crap - we replaced with a nice $50 LED set that was much brighter and has yet to have any problems/need a new bulb anywhere :)


Since it was sprung for 1000lbs and we didn't want the dogs bouncing off the ceiling ALL the time I put on a set of adjustable leafs (leaves?) and set it for about 500lbs (so they just bounced off the ceiling SOMETIMES).


The wiring itself was probably ok, but I went ahead and replaced it with a new set when I did the lights.


The tongue coupling was a little more finicky than others I've had on "nicer" trailers, but it never got stuck or fell apart or anything. We did replace some of the hardware along the way with nylocks and such, but nothing ever fell off or broke.



Edited by szurszewski
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Thanks all for sharing your experiences. I guess the HF trailer will do. It's just for local towing, so probably the farthest it will go is about 100 miles each way. Seems like the important thing is to replace the wheel bearings and keep an eye on the tires. Should be easy.


Now, if I could just find that trailer at 1/3 off i an HF flyer, like the motorcycle lift often is, I could get it for about $225. I keep checking the ads in the automotive magazines at the local supermarket. Sometimes they have offers that you don't get in the HF mailer.


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We ran the original hubs/bearings (though I did almost replace them just so I could get a cap to stay on the one side!) - we just cleaned out the original grease, repacked it with “good” grease and made sure to keep them greased.




...I shouldn't harp on the cap issue. I mean, there are DIY solutions of course - I don't have an in-house machine shop, but I did manage to whip up this almost-stock replacement coming out of Death Valley:




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Unfortunately, the general 20% and 25% off coupons usually exclude trailers.

The larger capacity model usually goes for $339-349 with coupon, I've seen the smaller capacity version as low as $259 with a coupon (sorry, expired Aug 19).


The Harbor Freight coupon database at www.hfqpdb.com has a complete list of current and recently expired coupons. You can print out the ones you need as you need them. The local clerk says they can scan the codes from my phone if I don't want to bother printing them out, but I've not tried that. No need to save the emails, ads and flyers "just in case" I might need something.

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We ran the original hubs/bearings (though I did almost replace them just so I could get a cap to stay on the one side!) - we just cleaned out the original grease, repacked it with “good” grease and made sure to keep them greased.


...I shouldn't harp on the cap issue. I mean, there are DIY solutions of course - I don't have an in-house machine shop, but I did manage to whip up this almost-stock replacement coming out of Death Valley:





How much you askin' for a set of your homemade bearing buddies? :S


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The model as pictured is available, in kit form, free to all long standing bmwrt members, but it differs from bearing buddies in that it lacks the convenience of a zerk fitting . A newer iteration, with zip tied in zerk, is also available for a modest charge. Upon request both zip ties and duck tape can be color or pattern matched.


Oh - speaking of zerks, The stock ones were pretty fragile and quickly replaced. Of course they were replaced with harbor freight zerks - repeatedly.

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By the time you do what should be done to upgrade, you can find a used trailer with real wheels/tires and carry capacity.


We've bought a small all aluminum off road trailer.

I frequent several trailer forums wrt kayaks/off road/micro campers etc.

Very little long term positive comments wrt HF w/out mods.


But, but, a couple folks who rebuilt, use short distance, etc were positive.


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  • 4 weeks later...

FBee; i don't own a pickup, and needed to haul from time to time, so i build a folding deck trailer because the crap that was available up wasn't even as good as what HF is offering. they are handy to have, and the price advertised is hard to beat. from the pictures i'd want to weld the frame after assembly . ( but not destroy the folding feature). i used 1/2" plywood decking.


the 12" tires are not to small so would be liveable, but would prefer 14"

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