Building a Log Hauling Trailer

Things I Used

Maybe it’s because I now live in the country, or maybe it’s because I’ve been hanging around my buddy Matt Cremona too much….but I want to play around with milling some logs. I intend to build a chainsaw mill next week then tackle the giant Matt Cremona bandsaw mill in early 2019. Before that though, I need to modify a trailer so I have a way to go pick up logs and haul them home. That’s what I’m doing this week.

The premise is to make and attach an arch to the back of a trailer that can pivot forward and backwards. You connect a winch to the arch, then you can tilt it forward to grab onto something, then winch the arch back to pull it up and onto the trailer. 

Now that you see what I’m going after, lets get into building it. 

This project might seem big, and I suppose it is in size, but it’s actually a pretty simple build. Also, I’m using it in this case to haul around logs but it’s also worth mentioning that this design would be good for lifting and hauling anything that’s big and heavy that you can get a chain around. I personally have a lot of rocks on my place I’ll be going after next. 

I started off by cutting the tubing I’ll use for the arch to length. I’m going with 1/4” material for almost this entire build. We don’t have the stellar tree diameters that you in the north do, but I still want to build this thing heafty so I’ll always have the power should the need arise. 

For the mean time I only cut the four bottom parts of the arch. I didn’t want to weld the complete arch on my shop floor then the risk it not fitting exactly right on the trailer. So next I started prepping these parts to be welded. I started by sticking each one in my Triton SuperJaws and grinding in a bevel on all the edges that would be welded to another joint. 

Then I moved the parts back down to my floor and stuck them together. I first tacked them into place then welded them close. For this project I’m using my Power Mig 210 MP Machine and if you’ve been wanting a welder it’s worth noting that this machine is currently on sale. You can save over $400 until November 8th, 2018 by using the promo code PM999 at check out over at LincolnElectric.com

Now Cremona has his arch mounted permanently to his trailer, but not yet knowing how often I’ll use mine, I wanted the arch to be removable. I’ve been traveling a lot recently so Cody actually tackled designing this removable system for me. Then on top of that he even cut out the parts needed with my Torchmate CNC so everything was ready for me to assemble. Annnnd he even got footage of it! What?! What a guy. I do have these tool paths available for download in the plans section of my website if you’re interested. 

These mounting brackets have a bottom plate that will be attached to the deck of the trailer, then two vertical plates that will sandwich either side of the arch. Then all three components will get a hole so a pin can be placed all the way through. This will create the pivot needed but also make the arch removable should we want to use the trailer for regular hauling. 

I started these off by lining out the placement of these side plates,  the important thing here is to make sure they are parallel to one another. You wouldn’t want that arch pivoting up and having an interference issue. 

I’m using a 1” diameter pin and to give it a little more support than the 1/4” plate material, I welded on some collars, just cut from a 1” steel pipe, onto the outside of both side plates. 

Next I set it onto the trailer and threw a level on it. Not surprisingly, the deck of the trailer needed some attention before the plate would be level. Note: you do want to make sure your trailer is level before reading level on this bracket. To fix my unleveled situation I used my 4” belt sander to take down the high spot on the deck. After fine tuning the left and right I moved on. 

With that done I moved to working on reinforcing the bottom side of the trailer with some steel. For this I’m going with 1/4” angle iron and the important thing is for this angle iron to line up with the holes in the mounting brackets. Instead of welding the brackets to the trailer, they will be attached using nuts and bolts so they too will be removable. The arch will be removable with the pin but should we need/want to remove these brackets as well, then we easily can. 

So back to placing this angle iron, I first transferred over the hole location from the mounting brackets to the side of the trailer. Then I cut the angle iron to length and stuck it in place…be sure to leave room for not only the bolt but also the washer. I used some scrap wood to build up the deck some so I could get a clamp in place to hold it while I set up to weld. 

I placed a piece like this in line with the front holes as well as the back. Then started drilling the holes through the deck and through the angle iron. I am using 1/2” hardware but started off with a small bit then stepped up a few times until getting to a 1/2” bit. Oh and the important thing here is to make sure these plates are parallel to one another, just like the plates on the brackets. You want everything on the same line so that the arch doesn’t run into anything going up or coming down. 

Once all eight holes were drilled, I stuck the hardware in then tightened everything down. 

Now while I was working on all that, Brain was working over at my puny drill press, punching a hole through both of the uprights. It was a 1” hole through 1/4” material so it was a job that required patience. By the time I was done with the deck, he was done with the holes so I took the uprights and smoothed out my welds with my grinder before pinning it onto the trailer. 

To attach them to the trailer, I set it in place between the two vertical sides plates on the mounting bracket. Then moved to the end of the leg so I could lift up on it, align all three holes, then shove the pin through. It’s worth noting these pins come with a hole in the end to place another pin to keep this pin from coming out. Which of course is a good safety. And now you can kinda see how it will work….

After getting the other side mounted I squared up both uprights to each other and the mounting brackets, then took a dimension for the final arch piece. I cut it to length then welded it in place. It’s not only easier moving the arch into place, building it this way but it’s also a safer bet over fabbing it on a shop floor, moving it into place on the trailer, and hoping everything lines up. 

With that welded up, the last bit on the arch was to weld on some gussets over each one of the seams. These I hand cut with my Tomahawk plasma cutter because I used thinner material. For these I went with 3/16” material. I only placed these on the front of the arch so I have four total. The middle two were easily done with the arch laid down but the fender wheel of the trailer got in the way of the outer two so I stood it up to complete these. 

Now while I worked on the arch Cody and Brian were figuring out how to mount a winch to the trailer so it could work! I actually went out of town the day they were working on his portion and unlike earlier, they did not get me any footage, but here an overview for ya. 

Cody cut out a giant plate on the CNC plasma cutter to fit in the tongue of the trailer for the winch to sit on. He welded it to the bottom side of the trailer instead of the top side so that when the winch is under load it will be getting pulled into the tongue vs being welded from the top it would just pull against the welds. 

The winch and battery were mounted then a heavy duty D Ring was welded onto the arch to create a grab point for the arch. 

And that’s pretty much it! Next we just had to go find a log to test it out. A buddy offered two down oaks at his place for us to remove so we loaded up and took off. They both had giant root systems still attached so I first cut those off to make hauling them up on the trailer easier. 

I’m already considering some add ons to make hauling easier. Somebody on Instagram suggested adding Jacks to the back end of the trailer, which I think is a great idea. Then I’m also playing around with the idea of ramps with rollers in it to make getting the log up and over the trailer lip easier. But we’ll see! Of course if I do any modifications I will be sure to bring you guys along.

If you have doubts about what something like this can handle then be sure to check out Matt’s Instagram and YouTube channel as he lives where the beast trees are but his arch trailer hasn’t met one it couldn’t handle yet. Also he has been into urban logging for years and has a ton of knowledge on the subject. 

That’s it for this one. Watch my video above for a better look at this project. And stay tuned for the next video where I build a chainsaw mill and slab up these logs. I’ll see you soon.