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how to turn a fifth wheel into something else, v001

or, “how to destroy something to make it better”

so my friend tony called me up and said he knew where there was a trailer i might be interested in. it was free, it was hammered, stripped, and was a 5th wheel to boot.


my rig isn’t set up for a fifth wheel, being a van and all πŸ™‚

… so the woman called me, told me about it, and i told her i’d get back to her.

so a week later i go look at it.


someone, in the process of stripping it, had cut the front of it off, so there wasn’t even a way to tow it if i had the rig to do it.

so i figure i’ll head out there with my generator and a sawzall, cut it up into manageable pieces, and load it into my buddy chris’ truck. (f-450 for the win πŸ™‚ …

then he mentions his boss has an 18 ft car trailer…

now we’re talkin’ πŸ™‚

so today, we headed out there to get it… when i said it was in rough shape, i wasn’t kidding…


it was kinda a mess. πŸ™‚

i shook my head and laughed at myself when i realized it’s got dexter wheels on it.
the irony is that i was desperately looking for a pair of these a couple years ago, and now some little old lady gave me five of them πŸ™‚

anyway, so we used a bunch of cargo straps and a come-a-long to load it onto the car trailer…


and we then headed out…


of course, we had had a lot of fun backing the 8 ft wide car trailer down the 7 ft wide road to go get it… heh πŸ™‚

and the 5th wheel was too wide to pull up past the car trailers wheel wells…


so we kinda had to make do πŸ™‚


7 ft of overhang is a bit… much, but we weren’t going far, and it was secured very very well πŸ™‚

so we get to our destination, and decide that most of the work can be done where it sits… so out comes the implements of destruction… (8″ angle grinder and a sawzall for the win πŸ™‚


note the style of the spare wheel… that’s a 4 lug dexter wheel. if you have any kicking around, let me know, i’m short one, or 7, depending on how you do the math πŸ™‚

anyway, what truthfully amazed me was how bent everything was. stick and staple construction sucks, *cheap* stick and staple is even worse… although i was amused by the steel rod bridge trussing…






and the rear floor supports are gone, and now we have the front floor bracing and the front bulkhead…


which cannot stand up to the mighty sawzall from milwaukee…


i used the angle grinder for the small stuff, but this is 1/8″ wall 2″ x 8″ “C” channel for the outside beams, and the center one is an 1/8″ wall, 2″ x 6″ box tube… tough stuff.

the horizontal cut was also through 1/8″ gussets welded on the corners, so it was slow going…

i thought about making a utility trailer out of this:


but truthfully, it sits higher than i like. (all my trailers have a really low center of gravity for a reason, and i’m picky as hell about my engineering)


so the impact wrench couldn’t touch the suspension bolts….

but the angle grinder made short work of them…


and off comes the frame rails (don’t worry, most of this steel will be used for other projects, or recycled)

and now we’re down to what i was after…


a set of lightweight (2500 lb rated) 4″ drop, dexter axles, with brakes.

when i build trailers, i pretty much insist on double axles and brakes. it’s a whole lot safer when someone does something stupid on the highway… and they will.

i’ve been looking for a set of light ones for a while, since i’m putting together a 12′ pop top gypsy vardo, with the goal of keeping it light enough to tow behind a small car. these should fit the bill nicely. truthfully, i expected a 25 ft fifth wheel to have a lot bigger brakes… but these are plenty big for my vardo, since most 12 ft trailers don’t even have dual axles, let alone brakes…

so we clean up all the parts and load them into chris’ truck…


breaks down surprisingly small, although it weighs about 1000 lbs or so…


so yeah… new project coming down the pike when i get my house done, and get some time…

but now you know how i spent my afternoon πŸ™‚

thanks for the help chris πŸ™‚

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