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Harbor Freight folding trailer for towing a little dinghy/kayaks on the freeway?

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  • Harbor Freight folding trailer for towing a little dinghy/kayaks on the freeway?

    Hello, all,

    I have a little 12' aluminum dinghy and some kayaks that I currently strap down to my lumber rack on my truck. However, I am downsizing cars to something without a lumber rack (subaru outback). I'm trying to figure out of something like one of those little $400 harbor freight folding trailers is viable.

    I currently only have room for my dinghy standing vertically next to my house, and not enough room to store a full trailer. So I'm hoping that one of these folding trailers will work. Something like this: https://www.harborfreight.com/1195-l...ler-62648.html


    However, I have a few concerns, and I'm wondering if anyone has experience with these and can either confirm or deny these concerns.

    One, the wheels look small. I see people with these on the freeway all the time, but I also see people doing some stuff on the freeway all the time, so this really isn't great evidence. I just feel weird about smaller wheels because I feel like they have to work harder at any given speed, but I don't know if this is a real fear or not. These wheels are 12" apparently, so I'm guessing more like 15-16" with tires, but that's much smaller than a real trailer. So are the small wheels a concern?

    Two, it seems light. Probably good for towing, but I'm just a bit worried about wind. My aluminum boat is light, and my kayaks are light, and the road down to the lake can get a little windy. Do I need to be concerned about this trailer, like, blowing into the other lane or anything? Or flipping over or doing any other nonsense? If so, could I weight it down or something to solve this problem? The trip is about 30-45 minutes on the freeway.

    Three, just a general concern about harbor freight stuff, quality wise. People seem to really like these trailers so I'm less concerned about these in particular, but just curious about anyone's thoughts.

    So, the tl;dr: Looking at one of those folding harbor freight trailers for towing a light dinghy or 1-3 light kayaks on the freeway for 30-45 minutes. Are these trailers suitable for that trip on the freeway, in mild wind, 5-10 times a year, given their weight, wheel size, and overall quality?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    30 minutes or an hour, maybe....but for long trips at interstate speeds I'd be a bit worried about those 12 inch wheels....of course you'll always have a couple of spares and a small jack in the trunk, just in case. If you're launching in saltwater then spray your hubs and springs with spray grease to help protect them...otherwise salt will start eating on them...

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    • #3
      I would not trust the tires it comes with. You can do some easy modification to get a 13" in there, but it's likely 5.30x 12 as it comes.. You can get 5.30x 12 Carslile USA trail's which is the best trailer tire you can get for that size. It's not very good but it's as good as it gets for those tiny tires
      1961 Custom Craft Sea Ray- 1964 Mercury 650. In family since new.

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      • #4
        There's nothing wrong with 12" tires.
        Like all tires make sure they're appropriate for the load and inflated properly.
        Can't speak to the quality of the tires the trailer comes with.

        As far as the trailer being "too light" and getting blown around.
        It will be fine.
        Motorcycles tow much smaller trailers and they don't blow around.
        1980 Sylvan Aluminum 18' Sportster I/O - Mercruiser 140, Honda 7.5 Kicker, Bennett M120 Tabs
        1974 Glastron V-179, Mercruiser 140
        1984 16.5ft. Alumarine Sealark side console with 82 Merc 50
        Manitoba, Canada

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        • #5
          Years ago I had a boat trailer with 8" tires. I had quality USA tires on it that met the weight requirement and didn't have a problem on the highway.

          My highway problems started with the next trailer that had 12" tires that were chinacrap carlisles. They got replaced the first year.

          I also had that very HF folding trailer. I bought it solely to move and used it extensively for boxes, kitchen table, and other furniture. Never had it on the highway though. It was kinda cheeply made and after buying the wood for the deck and sides it ended up costing double.

          The good news was that after we got settled in our new house I sold it and broke even.

          If I bought one again I would change out the tires right away. HF doesn't provide premium anything. For your use its probably adequate, but don't store it outdoors or it'll rust apart in short order.
          2019 SeaRay SPX 190 OB & Mercury 150 4-Stroke & Merc 5.0 Kicker
          2017 Boston Whaler 150 Montauk & Mercury 60 ELPT Command Thrust & Merc 3.5 Kicker
          2015 Yamaha FX Cruiser HO
          1964 Sea Nymph 14R & 1970 Evinrude Sportwin 9.5
          1960 Mulray 100 Dinghy, equipped with Beaver Oars
          1952 Lyman 15' Mid Steer & Evinrude Big Twin 25
          69 Outboards: 1919-2019, representing 11 manufacturers
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          • #6
            Originally posted by marc c View Post
            There's nothing wrong with 12" tires.
            Like all tires make sure they're appropriate for the load and inflated properly.
            Can't speak to the quality of the tires the trailer comes with.
            I agree with this. Over the years I put dozens of 300 mile plus trips on my small boat trailer with 4.80 X 12" tires on it without a single tire problem. Several times in temps of 100° or more.

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            • #7
              robert graham Thank you for your input... good call on the spares and jacks reminder, definitely going to have those


              matt167 thanks! I'll do that

              marc c thanks

              JimS123 Planning on changing the tires after reading the comments in this thread

              CatTwentyTwo Thanks, that's a great data point.

              Appreciate the input, everyone. My sense of things is that this is a cheap trailer, but that it's doable on the freeway. I'll plan on getting one, upgrading the tires and bearings, and using it but not trusting it

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              • #8
                After many many years of pickups, did pretty much the same thing a few years back. Could no longer justify the size and gas mileage of a pickup for just the occasional trip to the lumber store. It was replaced with a Honda CRV and a pretty nice 5x10 aluminum trailer that's easily stored on it's side, inside the garage. Best move I ever made. Now in addition to being available to cart stuff that won't fit in the CRV easily, it does the snowbird thing with me from Michigan to Florida and back (Wife's "must have's" won't all fit in the car, and there's a couple of bikes as well). Maybe 800 lbs total, including trailer weight. Car doesn't even know it's there. 20.5x8.00x10 tires run at x-way speeds all the way there and back (1100miles each way).

                My point is, given reasonable care, those small tires are fine, even on longer trips and freeway speeds.

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                • #9
                  I had one of those Harbor Freight trailers that I used to tow my motorcycle (900 pounds) from Florida To New England... It was fine. I covered it with 3/4 plywood, added tie-down eyes, a ramp and a plate for the kickstand and put it on the back of my Jeep Patriot (2000 pound tow capacity)... And, I logged more than 250 miles before those factory tires gave out... BUT... I will say, on their behalf, I had no idea how long they had be sitting in the box AND I was traveling at 65 MPH on a day that was 103 degrees! And... Really... the tires didn't give out, it was the valve stems that popped out of their holes in the rims.
                  I called triple A, they hauled the trailer to the nearest Harbor Freight in Valdosta GA, I bought two new 13" tires and rims and I was on my way for the rest of my trip up north and back home again... Nearly 3500 miles all together... (and I used the trailer with the bike two more trips like that...

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                  • #10
                    I used one to haul my 900lb ate to the mudlark. First the bearings in the hubs are not standard size. if you loose a hub you will not find bearings at your local auto store. they install the grease seals in the hubs BUT you need to pack the bearings as the grease that comes with them is just rust prohibitive. In the end I would buy a better trailer. standard bearings and hubs. get on craigslist. By the time you assemble with plywood add another $100 to price. All that said mine is 5 years old with paint falling off and I still use. trailer tire tread all but gone.

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                    • #11
                      I have built 4 of those trailers and kept 2 for my use. I bought the first one in 2010 and am still using it with the original tires with THOUSANDS of miles on them. Keep them inflated to 60psi and you won't have any problems. I use it mostly for hauling multiple kayaks and canoes on highways and pretty rough off road trails. I have hauled dirt,gravel,truck engines,mulch,firewood,lawn tractors,drywall....you name it. I did not like or need the folding feature so it is bolted solid and has 3/4" plywood for bed ( which has been replaced once). Of those 4 trailers none of them have ever had an issue.
                      The older I get,the less I care what people think.....Central NC

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                      • #12
                        I bought that exact trailer back in 2005, and it has gone through some pretty severe punishment! I've had somewhere around 2000 to 2500 pounds of dirt on it. (short trip only, low speed, axle was visibly bowed!) I've also hauled around 1500 to maybe 2000 pounds of bricks, at 65 mph, for 120 miles 1 way. I've also hauled a snowmobile (salted roads) for a 900 mile round trip snowmobiling trip. Trailer also sits outside all the time.

                        In 15 years, I have replaced exactly one set of tires, with another harbor freight tire! (did that about 3 years ago) No other maintenance other than squirting some grease in every so often. She 'aint pretty, but it works surprisingly well!

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                        • #13
                          not much help but for what its worth there is a house in my neighbourhood that has a real utility trailer with proper tires, and a full frame, stored vertically up against the side of the house. he seems to have mcgivered a trunnion block and hung a turnbuckle up on the brick. seems simple, its out of the way, uses almost no space and isn't an eye sore. could likely do the same, storing the boats the same way

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                          • #14
                            If you are worried about the bearings running at highway speed, you can do a little math to see just how fast those bearings are turning. Just remember PIE X Diameter to determine how far it goes in one revolution.
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                            • #15
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                              Originally posted by gm280 View Post
                              If you are worried about the bearings running at highway speed, you can do a little math to see just how fast those bearings are turning. Just remember PIE X Diameter to determine how far it goes in one revolution.
                              It is only 1681 rpm at 60 MPH
                              The older I get,the less I care what people think.....Central NC

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