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This Old Trailer....
Here's a way to have a bike hauler that won't break your bank account
and it's also very useful for other things like hauling furniture and stuff!

By Chet Walters

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This ol' trailer is 7 feet wide by 12 feet long. It's your basic farm trailer which can be had for about $900 these days. This one is built from square stock ( not angle iron ) which makes it light and strong. It uses Chevy wheels, has good suspension and has adequate room to haul up to five quads or three dirt bikes or three small road bikes or several lawn mowers or two large bikes and a small like here or furniture or whatever. The ramp makes it easy to load and with the "custom made" very inexpensive tie down and chock cleats, it is extremely utilitarian for little expense.
The "custom" tie down cleats are made from 3 inch by 7 inch square 3/8ths u-bolts that you can get at the hardware store for about $3.00 each. You can see the arrangement for easy tie down of bikes with chocks and many many other things.
The cleats run through the floor of the trailer. To do this, make sure you are lined up with the frame under the trailer for strength (see below). Hold the cleat in place and tap with a hammer to mark the holes. Drill 1/2 inch holes through. Wobble the drill a little bit at the top so that the curved part of the u-bolt will "park" more or less flush with the floor. Before you drop in a new cleat, use a 1 inch spade bit to make a little valley in the center (as shown) so that you can get a finger or two (sometimes a screwdriver will help) under there to raise the cleat. This pic is of a "parked" cleat. It is nearly flat with the floor so that loading and unloading is not hampered (you won't trip over them) and also so that you can haul nearly anything at all anytime and your bike tie down cleats won't interfere.
This cleat is raised with a bike tie down hook inserted. Very easy to utilize and plenty strong. Large enough to accept more than one hook and when parked, the cleats stay out of your way. Note that the cleat only raises about to inch so that it will not bend under stress.

Do not use a J-HOOK type strap.  J-hooks are designed to have the flat edge against semi-trailer hard surfaces.  If using just to hook to an eye bolt or cleat, the lines of force will make the J-hook tend to pop off as there is little left to keep it on.


Underneath view of the major row of cleats in the front for tie downs. As you can see, they are AROUND THE FRAME and you should not use tie down cleats that are just through the wooden floor since the planks can raise or break.
Check this closeup of a cleat under and around the frame. The u-bolt has been reinforced with large thick washers. The thing is double nutted with threadlock applied so it stays good and tight and is strong at the frame to take the stress of a heavy bike that may be hooked above. See that the nuts are run up the u-bolts so that the cleat only raises about to inch up top so that it will not bend under stress.
Note arrangement of the chock cleats. They are 2 inch by 4 inch square u-bolts dropped through the floor, but these don't need to be around the frame. You should not use these for high stress tie downs, but they indeed hold the chocks securely.
As noted, the chock cleats don't go around the frame. They are secured underneath with double nuts and threadlock (if you live in the frozen north where they use salt on the roads, after the first year or so, there is no need to worry about the nuts coming loose as you can see).
The chock cleats are raised and the chock inserted. This is plenty strong. We have hauled Gold Wings for thousands of miles using this trailer and this method, and this year we hauled two Valkyries without mishap (we almost got airborne outside of Akron where there was a dip in the road and had no problems at all).

For securing the loose ends of the tie down straps, we carry a ton of 4" zip ties. Just wrap up the flappy extra straps and wire tie them to the tie downs. You don't want them flapping in the breeze to damage your paint or chrome. These are also useful for wrapping up those long handlegrip tassles too. Once you get where you are going, just cut them off.

Your loading procedure will vary with whatever bikes you will be putting on the trailer and your brand of trailer too, of course. Here, we moved the Valkyries back a little (we added a few chock cleats back about 9 inches from the originals as you can see in picture 10) to make room for the Seca and to also balance the load over the axle to reduce tongue weight. This arrangement handled very well all the way to Daytona 2001 (click here for a photo essay of that trip).


Questions? Contact Chet at Chet says 'Be sure to write!'