Better Than a Rooftop Box – Take 2

After a bit of a delay I finally got around to finish painting the trailer begun some time ago. I think it has turned out really well but is eggregiously over-engineered – hence it has a new acronym-derived nickname: MOET (Massively Over Engineered Trailer). At least it should last for a good long time!

Here’s some shots of the (mostly) finished product, which is painted with Interlux Brightsides marine paint using the “Roll and Tip” method. There’s just two things outstanding for this right now – I have the vinyl to sew up a matching yellow spare tire cover and I’m in the process of designing a new LED-illuminated license plate holder to mount on the back center of the box (you can see the power connector for this is already installed in position). Yes, I’m not satisfied with any pre-made ones on the market currently. 🙂

Click on any of the images below to enlarge the picture.

Front3-4Front View – Note the shiny paint!

Rear_3-4Rear View – Showing changes from the original version including illuminated guide posts and high signal lights

Rear-OpenHatch Lid Open – With revised integral wiring channel for compartment lighting

Ear-FrontFront View of Added “Ear” – I needed a way to mount the guide lights which would allow them to clear the lid rim

Ear-RearRear View of “Ear” – Additional turn/stop signal light and guide light wiring is routed through here into box. Note the quick disconnect to allow removal of the guide posts for storage.

Driver-Rear-WiringChannelDriver Side Wiring Channel – Including protective cover for wiring junctions and switch for lid LED light

Pass-Rear-WiringChannelPassenger Side Wiring Channel – All wiring is routed inside dry fitted 1/2″ PVC pipe to protect it from cargo damage

5 thoughts on “Better Than a Rooftop Box – Take 2”

  1. hi. I have hb 4×8 with see through sides and no top. I need to make new solid sides and top, as it’s easier to pack for vacation that way I think.

    Are your sides removable or solid with floor? (Box)

    Interested in your poles
    Any info on them?

    I was thinking of having two sticks that fold 90* horizontal, but like your setup.

  2. hi.
    I have 4×8 with see through sides and no top.

    Need to make new sides and solid top.
    Can you tell me more about the marker sticks?
    Thought I would do some sticks that fold horizontal when not in use but I like your setup.
    What’s the cost?

    Is your trailer fully box or you have a gap between floor and sides?

    1. Cargo area is a fully enclosed box and is water (and pretty much air)-tight. Were it not for the chore in disconnecting the wiring and undoing the mounting bolts, it could be removed from the trailer for other uses.

      The marker sticks are from West Marine, they are for use on a boat trailer. I like them in many ways but I have to say that the rubber “hose” material used to waterproof the flexible springs at their base cracked right away – seems I’m not the only one, check the rating comments at http://www.westmarine.com/buy/west-marine–trailer-guide-led-light-kit–9369836 . I’ll probably put a piece of automotive heater core hose over that section and hose clamp it in place.

      1. Two updates on the marker posts/lights:

        • I did add the automotive heater hose to the base of the posts and it slipped over fine and provides more support/stiffening to that area which helps to hold the posts upright at speed
        • I’ve seen a similar product on street plows and wood chipper trailers in my area that’s simply a flexible neon orange marker. Looks durable, but likely not illuminated like my posts.
  3. Long-term use update: here’s stuff you should know or that I’ve done in the several years since building this.

    1. The trailer is still great and very useful. It’s easily gone 6,000+ miles. We use it to take our stuff to family camp every year plus for other trips & errands.
    2. The box finish has mostly held up very well but has had some cracking. I believe this has to do with putting the “wrong” face of the marine plywood out and/or using dimensional lumber in some places without fully sealing the insides. Regardless, the box remains sound and weather tight. The trailer frame has some surface rust and bubbling under the faded cheap powder coat finish but is still sound. The wiring inside PVC pipe approach worked out great.
    3. It’s really strong. A 40+ foot spruce tree fell over the trailer when a microburst hit our yard. The tree was kept off the ground by it’s branches but one of them drove straight down on the lid and loaded the suspension down – the branch snapped off on the lid but I found only a tiny dent after cutting the branch out. 🙂
    4. Harbor Freight is not currently selling these trailer frames or wheels. It appears they had some issue with the quality of parts from their Chinese suppliers and the wheels failed US DOT regulations. If they do become available again (or you go for a similar one elsewhere), be sure to fully disassemble the wheel hubs and remove/repack the bearing grease and adjust the spindle nut properly so the wheel is tight but doesn’t drag. Apparently they come with very unsuitable grease and a loose fit – I found that out the hard way. Had to replace a bearing that had let water in and rusted badly. No problems since doing that and repacking everything very full with a good quality wheel bearing grease. I carry a spare bearing with me because it is an unusual size.
    5. Guide posts. The West Marine guide posts didn’t last long at all before failing in many ways (rubber cracking, drooping) but the final blow was when the tree fell on the trailer (see above) and shattered the brittle plastic tube on one of them. I’ve since gone for snowplow markers which aren’t illuminated, but added reflective tape at the tips for better visibility. These are very resilient (vinyl over wire braid) and work great.
    6. I added a permanently mounted swing-up lid prop (which is tensioned in use via a screen door safety spring) with over travel protection via a light chain – this prevents a gust of wind from accidentally flipping the lid forward or causing the lid to slam down on the box (or an arm in the way).

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