First post, apologies if there is a certain way of doing this which I am not aware of!
I recently received this trailer (https://imgur.com/a/gBjqR) from my inlaws because they were just going to sell it off and it's supposedly been in the family for 70+ years. I figured I could turn it back into a usable trailer for light hauling, camping, etc.
As you can see, it has been frankensteined over the years and has been sitting for a long time unused and weather exposed. I have viewed other threads I have run across but nobody seems to have much information. I am attempting to figure out what parts would be original to the trailer, what has been added, original dimensions, what year it would have been from, and such.
I have never done anything like this so I'm kind of at a loss for where to start, other than taking it apart and wire brushing the paint/rust off to see what is salvageable. Any ideas, links, help, or otherwise would be much appreciated!
Hi Caleb, I saw you were from Saratoga Springs and got excited as it's near me----but then I saw Utah. I am in New York.
There never was a Model T trailer per-say. There have been many trailers made from Model T and Model A parts which is what you have.
Here are your pictures posted below:
The axle, spring, wishbone, spindles, and crossmember appear to be from the front of a Model T.
I am not sure if the wheels are A or T. I have always been bad at telling unless the two are next to each other.
(Message edited by Chad_Marchees on April 15, 2017)
Thanks Chad! So were all trailers basically a create-you-own with a mix of whatever parts were available?
It looks like those are wood wheel hubs with the spokes cut off to fit inside the wire wheel. Interesting!
That is correct. Often "used up parts" were re-purposed and made into other things, trailers being one of them.
You could "restore" it in the spirit of making new wood for it and leaving the rest alone in its natural rusted state. Or you could go full scale and make it a museum piece where you disassemble and restore and paint every part. Or maybe somewhere in between. There is no right or wrong with this project because it is homemade.
No, not all trailers "back then" were home made. Some were, of course, but one could purchase a factory made utility trailer from a number of manufacturers. Yours looks like a neat home brew dump bed trailer and worthy of a rebuild. Good luck with your project, Bill
The ad below is from the F.P. Lyons Iron Works in Manchester, New Hampshire. The basic utility trailer could be upgraded to a camping trailer.
The Lyons Camp Bungalow
Welcome aboard. Hang on, it's gonna be a bumpy ride. What you probably have is a homemade trailer created from salvaged late Model T or Model A parts.
Definitely a front axle as it has no differential or driveshaft. If the wire wheels are T, they are late 26 or 27. If they have lug nuts and bolt on, they are probably Model A. There is a raised dimple on the hub if they are Model A's. That would put them 1928 or later.
A lot of Model T's were repurposed after their usefulyness as a car and some were turned into Dooodlebugs or farm implements and some were turned into Speedsters or dirt racers or hot rods of the day. And, some parts were used to make trailers. No model T's had a trailer hitch, so it would have been something someone crated to fill a need.
Is there a family vehicle that goes with this trailer? If not, then restoring the trailer will depend on what you are going to do with it. What car will you hook it up to? If any.
I can't make out if it has a ball type coupler or a farm implement type coupler with a hold and pin.
The wheels are probably 21" as a guess and new tires and tubes are available. Don't know if the tailgate comes down or not, so you might need new hinges or just the connecting hardware. Either way most farmers of the day would use barn door type hinges and hardware, so that is where I would look.
Oak or hickory or ash if you want to restore it. Old barnwoood if you want to just replace the worse boards and leave it period correct. Carriage bolts with square nuts are probably found on it and would be a period correct replacement
Come up with a vision for it and start making sawdust!
The wheels are 30-31 model A and 19 inch, not sure how they were adapted and the cut off spokes are interesting but a concern. It is a dump bed trailer with barn door hinges for the dump.
Neat and I would rebuild it but only use it as a utility trailer around the yard or for short trips to the local farm market, the hub assembly is suspect to me without seeing it in person. I like that it has the T spring, axle and cross member. Now you need to hitch it up to a Model T!
Thanks all for the input! I will post updates as I make progress for sure to get further input!
Robert: No family vehicle that goes with it unfortunately. I will be using it locally for the most part, just utility for hauling small loads. I'll be hooking it up to my Dodge Ram when in use.
Tim: Definitely have the wheels as a concern and will ensure they are safe for use during the rebuild! A Model T is definitely a future project after I have completed school.
Cool start on a old school trailer. Tim
So many things to like about this thread!
A young fella, model A wheels on a model T axle and boards that need replacing! :-)
Make sure the wheel mounting is good, re-pack those wheel bearings and use the tar out of your new trailer!
Caleb, your question about trailers could provide weeks of posts! That's a good thing!
I've a similar(ish) trailer deep down in the woods too.
"A Model T is definitely a future project after I have completed school." Yessss!
I suspect the A wheels were added when the wood spoked wheels failed, or they couldn't easily find tires to fit it.
Looks like there's enough there to figure out the missing wood pieces. It will definitely be a neat period trailer, and a wonderful family piece.
Are there proper conversions for the wheels to fit on this axle?
You can put 1926/27 Model T Ford wire wheels right on those spindles , They are lots of them around . I would put the wood wheels back on they are easy to find as will .
Model T's were used up right down to their bones in the 30's thru the 50's at least. Being 69 years old and going to numerous farm auctions over the years I can tell you T trailers in various types were very common. I wound up with 6 for pretty much taking the time to hauling them off. As one writer said Model T's bones were everywhere and to some degree still are.
If I remember Western Auto and maybe Sears sold trailer kits and parts to build farm and utility trailers. And guess which frames were used to do it with.
Finally had some time to get around to stripping this thing down! First notes:
1. I'll need to find someone to do some spot welding as the first angle has cracks on both sides. They currently only are on the top portion of the frame. I'll likely have them weld in a support piece underneath as well.
2. Need to take back the battery powered Ryobi Angle Grinder I bought and get a plug-in instead. Ran through two batteries just to get the paint/rust off the top tube on one side. This is going to take a bit.
3. Wheels I think I will be just sending out to have someone sandblast and powdercoat them to match the color of the rest of the hardware. Wife wants to do seafoam green, as that was the color of her dads old '36. Just gotta figure out what color to stain the wood so it looks decent with the seafoam accent.
4. Thanks for humoring me everyone! I tend to go on and on when I have some whisky in me.
Nobody mentioned the fenders. Are they Model A, like the wheels? (I don't know much about those modern cars.)
Caleb, unless you are into self flagelation, I would suggest you get the whole frame sandblasted. It will be much quicker, will do a far better job, and will likely point up other areas needing attention/repairs. That way you can get straight into painting and enjoying bringing it back together.
Mine was in much better order than yours, and I was able just to make repairs and seal the woodwork to maintain the original look. This was hard for me, as I like woodwork, and would enjoy the work needed on yours.
Allan from down under.
That is definitely a consideration Allan. I am waiting to hear back on some quotes right now to see if that is going to be within my budget to do.
Is that a T frame with the front crossmember moved towards the middle? Really like the bends for the tongue.
Neat trailer, I suppose the spindles are welded in a locked position. A model wheels and fenders
As long as you have it down this far I would cut the frame at an equal length on each side where it "pinches" in. Next pull a straight line from the center of the spring bolt to the radius rod ball and extend. Now you can engineer the tongue so everything is straight. The way it sits right now is way off but will track itself but offset, I am just compulsive about things and would like to see it fixed like a factory unit in a jig.
That is going to be a really nice trailer, I would take the opportunity now to make it better before calling it finished. Looks like Sears Allstate tires.
Dave, I have a T framed trailer that has the front cross member moved in the frame! Where the heck is that thing?
Great to see you posting again Caleb!
John Tannehill, I think the spindles are bolted rather than welded. If you look, there's a bolt through the the axle just enboard of each end. The steering arms were probably hammered over 90* and bolted. I suppose doing it that way you could shim the wheel alignment with washers.
So a few updates:
1. After spending a while taking a grinder to the frame, I discovered a few small cracks which will need to be welded. So, I am reverting to the suggestion from Allan and taking the frame and hardware to be sandblasted this week.
2. In the midst of getting all the box irons taken apart and old rusted bolts removed, one of the irons snapped, leaving me one short. I tried hitting up a swap meet yesterday, however the irons I found don't match the ones I needed. In fact, I can't even find ANY available online! If anyone has suggestions, I am open. Thought about finding a local blacksmith to whip up a new one. I picked them up anyway just in case, along with a spare set of wire wheels in case there was anything wrong with the ones I have now. At $40 for the pair, I figured I have spent more money on worse things.
3. I was able to remove all the lug nuts from the wheels without too much problem, keeping all intact. However, now I am down to the hub I am not sure how to go about getting the rest of the assembly off and how to reincorporate the hubs back together without using the old spindles if possible. I have heard that I can use Suzuki Samurai hubs because they use the same bold pattern. Also wondering about considerations since I do not need to have any brake hardware since it is a trailer. Any ideas appreciated!
Somebody sure was creative with the original wood wheels and forcing the spoke stubs into brake drums. (Is that concrete between the remainder of the spokes or just an illusion?)
(Message edited by Erik_johnson on May 21, 2017)
An illusion. Just about 70 years accumulation of dust, dirt, and grime I haven't been able to get out yet.
If you don't like the Mickey Mouse hub set up, you could get two good Model T hubs and see if you can purchase two of these adapters:
Unfortunately I am currently living on student loans so that's out of the question for the moment. If I can get them all apart (questionable), I think My best bet will be to custom cut some hardwood to fit inside the drums to replace the old spokes.
And just for shits and giggles, lets throw another wrench into the gears. Good night sweet spring perch. How do I get this thing out to replace it?
On a side note, The frame is stamped on both sides, though I am not sure if it would be a serial number or for some other purpose?
I've had great success removing perches with an air hammer. More times than not, it will destroy the perch though. In this case, I don't think that should be an issue.
Caleb, a few minutes with a grinder and a welder will fix that box iron up just like new. No need to look for another one. Dave
That will a neat trailer to restore back to its original 'home made look'. I have the remains of a homemade 2 wheel trailer made from a T front axle and frame but its not as well made as yours is.
Here's a good thread from the 2009 forum on trailers.
David, the whole shebang is down getting sandblasted now, I have a welder coming to my house later in the week so i'll have him look that piece over as well.
Also found out today that no local tire shop will take the tires off the '31 wheels since it wont fit in their machinery. Glad I got the spare set so they can be blasted while I figure out the originals.