Lawn tractor trailer
A lawn tractor and trailer is a very useful combination for hauling things around a property. Being slow and low to the ground makes the lawn tractor suitable for carefully positioning a trailer for loading and unloading like in this picture, or here and, here.
I wanted a small trailer to go with my lawn tractor. I gathered mostly scrap material to build it with, and it was a good opportunity to dabble with fabricating something out of metal.
Here's mocking up the start of it. The rectangular frame is as I found it by a dumpster. The wheels are the front wheels from the old lawn tractor shown here
I find old bed frames in the garbage from time to time, and these form most of the metal for this trailer. They are just angle iron, riveted together. Here I'm cutting the head off one of the rivets to pop the pieces apart.
I'm using a carbide tipped "dry cut saw" to cut the angle iron. The saw cuts nice, much smoother and faster than an angle grinder or abrasive saw. I learned later that even though the saw cuts the bed frame quite well, it's really meant for mild steel, and the harder bed frame angle iron will cause the blade to wear out much faster.
I'm using my mobile workbench
I don't have one of those magnetic welding angles yet, so I jigged it up using a block of wood. The way I see it, first try to do without a tool to establish that I really need it and then, maybe, buy it.
By this time I'm wearing short sleeves and shorts. Not recommended for welding, but the weather was too hot. The occasional sparks hitting my arms were irritating, but not too bad. But I also ended up with a sunburn on the inside of my left elbow of all places, plus where my shirt wasn't buttoned up at the top.
The next time I worked on it, first I made a heavy (14 gauge) extension cord to attach to the back of my workbench so I wouldn't have all these other extension cords getting in the way. This improved my work flow quite a bit. I also dragged out some sawhorses so I wouldn't have to work on the ground.
But as time went on, I got better at it. What made a big difference is when I ran out of the .030" diameter flux core wire and switched to .035" diameter wire. For some reason, that worked much better for me. I was satisfied with some of my welds with this.
My trailer box was on the small side, so I angled the sides outward on all sides. This requires a compound angle cut, but the chop saw doesn't tilt. But by clamping the angle iron at a 45-degree angle (easy enough with angle iron), I as able to cut the miter no problem.
I have to say, I'm very pleased with how clean this saw cuts.
To jig the pieces up at the right angle, I cut a block of wood to fit into the angle iron so I could clamp it in just the right position. The block of wood rests on a piece of plywood as a flat "reference" surface.
I have to say, for making a quick jig like that, wood sure beats metal!
Except for the opening at the back, all the joints are effectively reinforced by the surrounding joints.
The hitch is designed to be bolted onto a rectangular channel, and I was tempted to add one to the tongue. But then I had the idea of just welding it straight onto the end of the end of the angle iron I already had in place. This was the least work and added the least amount of weight. I ground the chrome and paint off the end before welding it.
Welding it on, all sides, inside and out. I'm not sure about any dangerous fumes that might be released from welding next to the plated steel, so I held my breath while welding, then backed away to catch my breath.
The wheels have 26 mm holes in them. The closest "shaft" I had lying around was some electrical conduit. It seems stiff enough, but it's very thin-walled. So to maybe stiffen it up a little, I whittled some hardwood to fit tightly inside and pounded that in both ends.
This may or may not hold. If it bends, I'll have to buy some more solid axle material.
The wheel is held in place by another piece of very hard wood slid on the axle after the wheel, which is held in place by a pin (a nail) through it and the axle. The nail has a slight bend to so it stays stuck in this block of wood. Big washers would have been more suitable, but didn't feel like going shopping just for that.
Now I just need to make wooden panels for the box.
With the box sides splayed outward, all the sides have angled ends. I measured the angle for each side straight off the trailer to make sure my pieces fit the metal frame. I'm using my big homemade bevel gauge, then cutting with a circular saw.
The sides fit tightly. I measured the width for the sides on the front and back, but the bottom rail bowed upward slightly as a result of distortions from welding. Pounding the sides in forces the bottom rail straight again. So the side, in a way, is adding reinforcement.
I pressed the bottom in by standing on the trailer and stomping it down. The bottom fixes the sides in place, and gravity holds the bottom down, so no part of the box needed any fasteners.
Trailer hitch for the lawn tractorI need to mount a hitch ball on the tractor somehow. The hitch ball's bolt is a bit too big to fit in the hole, and I also need to mount the hitch ball a little higher than it is here. I gave it some thought, then decided to make a bracket that attaches to the rod that sticks out either side.
That rod is 16 mm in diameter, and my largest metal drill is 1/2" (13 mm). So I used my plasma cutting pantograph to cut a hole of the right diameter in some angle iron.
The hole was a bit tight, but the plasma cut edges ended up very hardened,
so I couldn't file it out. I had to cut it slightly larger with the
I plasma cut a hole in the top of the channel and a larger hole in the bottom to allow me to mount the hitch ball to it.
The bracket mounts without the need for any new holes or welding anything to the tractor, though it's a bit of a puzzle to get it on. The steel rod in the back of the tractor needs to be slid to the left, then through the hole on the right side and further right so the left side of the bracket can be slid in place, then back to the middle and the cotter pins applied.
The bracket also has a small hook on the bottom to keep it from tilting up if there is any pulling up on the hitch ball.
It would have been much easier to make the trailer attach to the existing hole on the back of the lawn tractor, but this way I can use this trailer with the ATV and also put my big car trailer on the lawn tractor.
I later searched for lawn tractor hitch mounts on the web, and I think this design is sturdier and more elegant than commercially available ones.
And then I picked the apples. Standing on a stool on the trailer let me get at some of the higher ones. A stepladder would have been even better, but this trailer is too small for that.
Evolution dry cut saw review (video only)
Anti-deer tree cage
To my Woodworking website.