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Interests, Projects & More

Motorcycle Trailer Project

This trailer is made up from two different components.

Harbor Freight Trailer Kit

Sears Cartop Carrier

Click small photos for a larger View

I took this trailer on a 6,300 mile trip from northern California to Kansas City, Little Rock, Idaho and back. I was impressed on how well it behaved itself. Except for a noticeable bit more clutch use when starting to move, there is really not much of a feeling while riding that something is behind you. When towing with a vehicle, like a pull trailer behind a SUV, there is ample feedback to help you remember that "it" is back there.

One of the noteworthy things I learned on the trip was that the trailer will tow without problem during "hellish" crosswinds and driving rain. While heading east from Abilene Kansas, there was a colossal  thunderstorm moving slow  to the north; threatening to cut off my route. The storm was so large I think it would have taken about 8 hours for it to clear my path. I suited up and headed east hoping to beat it. Though I had to lower my speed to about 40 mph in the driving rain and wind, the trailer tracked true with no indication of slipping sideways, no leaks also.

One very important thing I learned was that when pulling a trailer with a motorcycle, gradual acceleration is important because if you accelerate like you normally do without a trailer, you will peel the tread right off your rear tire. When I left home, I had nearly 80 percent of my tread. When I got to Branson, MO, all the tread was gone and cord was nearly showing. Of course, getting a tire while out on a trip was very expensive. When I arrived home, I had nearly all my tread because I used my "new" acceleration technique. Finally, I have made long cross country trips without a trailer and with. The great thing about a trailer is that you can carry kitchen items and food as well as being able to lock things up.

I appreciate all of the help I received from the participants of the Delphi Motorcycle Trailer Towing forum in helping to make this trailer successful. These links were also very helpful:

This is the updated HD and the trailer. Photo taken along Hwy 395 south of Walker, CA.

Update: I put a lot of mileage on that trailer. In 2009 I towed it with my newer Harley, a 2004 Road King Custom to Key West, FL then on to Daytona Beach were the bike and trailer stayed for the winter. In the following spring, I continued my trip with my final NE destination, the east end of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia.

By the time I made it home, I had ridden on 9,300 miles on that leg alone and I saw more than 60 different attractions along the way, many of the best attractions are listed here. There was no problem with the trailer at any time but in upper Ohio, I had to replace the tires and I serviced the bearings as well. I averaged 39 miles per gallon towing the trailer.

This photo was taken in N.S. on a waterway fed by the Bay of Fundy. When the tide comes in, it produces a wave which locally is called the "Tidal Bore."

This photo was taken on the "Beartooth Highway" with my new Tag-a-long trailer

Another (and last) Update: In 2011, I thought I was all done taking road-trips by motorcycle and so I sold the trailer. Despite my best efforts, I just couldn't sell my Harley so, I came up with another road-trip. At that time, Harbor Freight Trailer Kit Freight was selling a trailer called the Tag-a-long. I thought the trailer would work great, so I bought one and made some alterations to it by adding a spare tire and rear bumper extinction that was a great place to store my tent and chair.

Photos with captions

Original Trailer Modifications

I originally went with 2 bicycle kickstands and I was not happy with them because of there asymmetrical look and they were not all that sturdy. I since have installed a regular trailer stand and it works a lot better. In the building process, I narrowed the trailer axle by 6.5 inches. I would recommend only 5.5 inches because the fenders were squeezing the shell. I ended up spacing the fenders out 1/2 and inch on each side to resolve the problem. I lengthened the tongue and added an additional cross member out of angle iron. I am very happy about the way it tracks, no sway at all.

I installed some small bumpers in the back. I can plug in some other longer ones and set the whole thing on its back edge. When storing for the winter, I probably will remove the shell and store the trailer separately. I ended up mounting the license plate up high on the shell. The original Harbor Freight position, would have been dragging when moved by hand. Click Here for more bumper information

I wanted to make a carrier for a couple of chock blocks and a spare fuel can. It had to be inexpensive, lightweight and functional. This is what I came up with it is made from a surplus ammo can.

Specific "step by step" instructions on how I made this carrier are available on this link. Click Here

In order to support the lid, I made holders from PVC, so far, they seem to be working OK. If The wind is blowing, I have the option of clipping to my attachment points on the bottom of the carrier. This will lower the lid a bit.

It is amazing how much room there is the containers will keep things from moving around. I have a strap attached to the box in the front, it holds everything back. With the wheels located so far toward the back, it would be real easy to overload the hitch. If necessary, I can move the whole carrier 4 inches further aft using another set of holes. My next phase will be to build a support for the spare tire behind the axle and under the deck.

Trailer Enhancements

Trailer Venting System

Because of the black color of the Sears car top carrier that I used for my trailer, and the heat that would be generated inside, I wanted to have some airflow at least when motoring down the road. This inexpensive solution is what I came up with.

Question, When is a trailer bumper not a bumper?

Answer, when it's a lug wrench.

I have been "lugging" around a 1/2 inch breaker bar to use, if, and when, I need to change one of the trailer tires. I always like to find ways to multi task whenever possible. This is what I came up with.

Trailer Storage Solution

One of the things that I really like about this trailer is that I can store it in a reasonably small area like shown in the photos. The small  bumpers on the back allow me to raise the trailer and store it vertically. Like this it is completely out of the way. After I took this photo, I placed a large duffel bag of my son (who is in the Army) stuff in the middle between the wheels. The cross member holds it up.