Harbor Freight Trailer

Hi Folks,

I’m new to the forums here (I’m Andy by the way!) and I know this topic is likely played out, none of the threads seemed to address the concern I am having.

I am planning on buying the 870 lb. Capacity Utility Trailer (40 in. x 49 in.) from Harbor Freight. You can view the actual item here:


Naturally I am going to need to extend the trailer’s tongue in order to clear my 12’ Field and Stream Eagle Talon fishing kayak. Most people seem to just weld on a similar size/gauge piece of square steel. Unfortunately, I don not have a welder so I am limited to bolting on a new tongue. If I were to use a square tube, it would be fairly hard to fasten the nut on the inside of the tube.

The original trailer uses a piece of C-Channel steel (open on the bottom). My thinking was that I could purchase a length of that and use since it would be easy to fasten that with nuts and bolts.

So my question is, what size, gauge, and length of C-Channel would I need to purchase to lengthen the trailer?

Any help is greatly appreciated :slight_smile:


I went with the 1195 lb trailer
To get the larger tires. It also has the brackets for 2x4 uprights which I used to build a rack. I carry 16 ft and longer with the front of the boat above my pickup bed. I carry 14 ft without going past the ball all the time without extending the tongue.

I don’t have a truck unfortunately
Things would be so much easier if I had a truck, but unfortunately I am limited to my 08’ Corolla. I did some research and most folks seem to think I can tow the little trailer no problem.

There is another trailer available that is the same size of the one I mentioned above, but it can support more than 1,000 pounds and has 12" tires.

Anyhow, since I have a car, the only conceivable way I could do anything remotely similar would be to set the trailer up so half the yak’ sits in the trailer and the remainder rests in my open trunk. Seems unorthodox but it could work.

why not build a rack on it
and elevate your boat to just above trunk height?

It wouldn’t really give much room
The space between the end of the trunk and the back windshield is probably a foot and a half. It’s not like a truck bed where I have 5-6 feet of extra open space.

Most folks I have seen with this trailer have extended the tongue and had a lot of success with it. The trailer comes disassembled so it would be fairly easy to swap out the existing tongue for a longer piece of C-Channel. I have never owned a trailer before so I don’t know what size or strength steel to get to keep it safe.

Easy to choose a gauge
You are going to have to go to a metal supplier to get the material for the longer trailer tongue, right? Just measure the metal thickness of the one you have, and get the same. If you don’t have a way of doing that, buy a cheap caliper so you can.

The load on this trailer will be so light that there will probably be no need to get something in a heavier gauge for the longer tongue. If you have any doubts though, get a length of square tubing instead of an open “C” channel. I think the way most of those kit trailers are built, you could substitute square tubing for a “C” channel without changing a thing, as long as the cross-wise dimension is the same.

You say the problem with welding is that you don’t have a welder, and if that’s all there is to it, the statement makes me think you would be capable of making good-enough welds if you had one. If that is true, go rent a welder. On trailers, “bolts” and “tighten” seem to be synonomous (you have to keep an eye on them because they get loose), and welds are preferable. But don’t bother renting a welder if you don’t know what you are doing. You don’t necessarily need professional-looking welds on a trailer, but crappy welds might not do, and in any case it’s very easy to burn holes in metal of the thickness used on such trailers.

I’ve had a kayak/canoe trailer for many years, you’ll want the one with the larger wheels, the small ones are ok if you only drive a mile or so to the water, otherwise they turn too fast and the bearings wear out quickly.

You’ll also want a bigger section tube, not a channel, for an extended tongue, there are considerable forces on the extended tongue. The average is 2"x 3" x 1/8" wall for boat trailers, use that and it’ll be plenty strong enough. Doesn’t need to be welded, bolted is fine, do use grade 5 bolts and nylock nuts so it can’t loosen.

Bill H.

Without a truck but the 1125 trailer
I pull the bow up even to the ball and haul 14’.

Get the 8’ trailer, which I move around the yard by hand so your car will pull it, pull the bow up to ball and have 2’ of your 12’ boat hanging out the back. Tie a red rag to your carry handle.

Small wheels

– Last Updated: Jan-21-15 5:55 PM EST –

We had a discussion about wheel size here not that long ago. Several people presented ample evidence that small wheels aren't so bad. I'd prefer bigger wheels, but often with bigger wheels come bigger springs and a harsher ride. No need for one-ton capacity to carry a 50-pound boat. Anyway, going back to that recent discussion, plenty of people have put thousands of highway miles on trailers with 8-inch wheels. Most stories of wheel-bearing failure can be traced to neglected hubs, most commonly on axles that periodically get submerged but without the owner paying attention to the condition of the grease.

By the way, a wheel-bearing expert chimed-in on that previous discussion, and reminded folks that it's the travel/rotation speed of the rollers themselves that matters. Small wheels rotate faster, but small wheels have small-diameter bearings and for a given speed of rotation, the rollers of small-diameter bearings have a slower travel speed than those of larger bearings.

Once again, I'm not suggesting that bigger wheels aren't better, but there's really no truth to the idea that the bearings of small wheels are no good for highway travel.

might help
heres a link to a whole bunch of ideas for trailer mods.


Tongue Extension
This guy used a six foot piece 2 x 1/2 piece of steel. http://www.qsl.net/wa2mzf/kayaktrailer/t1.jpg

I will second or third or fourth the recommendation for getting the next trailer size up with larger wheels. It is only $40 more right now on sale.

It ain’t the highway miles I worry about
It’s the forest service road miles.

And it’s a longer trailer.

That part shouldn’t be a problem
You got a longer trailer and bigger wheels, both of which are a good thing. I don’t know what your exact concern is regarding smaller wheels in the case of these back roads, but here are some thoughts regarding what some people might worry about. As far as wheel bearings go, the failure of which is what people like to harp about, slower-speed travel on rough roads is an easier life than high-speed travel, so no worries there. Also, the greater load at the moment of impact with a bump is no greater than the continuous load applied to the bearing when the trailer is loaded to capacity, and of course any of these kinds of trailers are very lightly loaded when carrying boats (think of spring deflection as an instantaneous load indicator and you can see that this is true. The springs don’t deflect to the degree that they would when overloading the axle just because you hit a bump).

Bigger tires on rough ground, of course, provide a smoother ride (irregularities are less abrupt as encountered by a larger tire than a smaller one).

I have that trailer and I
bolted on an extension. Not sure of the size but if I remember correctly the original trailer tongue has to be bolted on. So, take it to a metal supply place, show it to them and tell them what you’re doing. Let them solve it. Oh, and also definitely use nylock nuts.

Best way to bolt-on?
To answer Guideboatguy’s assumptions about welding…I have never welded anything in my entire life, so renting one would be pointless unfortunately.

As for bolting a square tube on, how would I do that. Would I drive a bolt through the trailer, the top of the square tube, and out the bottom?

cheap chinese junk
My personal opinion is that Harbor Freight is the Dollar Store of tools. Most are cheap Chinese knock-offs. Every time I go there, I decide to spend the extra money and buy something decent.

That said, some people love HF. My boss does but regrets most purchases.

IF you get a trailer, check the bearings and stress-points. If you are going on long trips, HF trailers rarely have bearings rated for the freeway.

And the stress-points may not survive a lot of bumps with a decent load.

I looked over their trailers and after checking the bearings, stress-points, welds, materials and adding the cost of my modifications to convert a flat-bed into a multi-kayak trailer, it was actually cheaper and better to spend an extra few hundred bucks and buy a Malone Micro-sport.

Bolting on a square tube

– Last Updated: Jan-22-15 11:17 AM EST –

I just looked at the photo of the trailer you are considering. Based on what I see, I'm pretty certain that the way the original tongue bolts on is with bolts going vertically through the top surface of that "C" channel through the matching surface of the trailer frame. The side surfaces of the hitch bolts through the sides of that "C" channel.

With square tubing, for the rearmost attachment of the tongue to the frame, drill bolt holes through the top of the square tube, and reach in through the open end to get a wrench on them.

For connecting the square tube to the front of the trailer's frame, drill holes in the top surface of the square tube to match those you see in the top of the original "C" channel, then drill matching holes in the bottom surface of the tube, but make them larger so you can insert a socket wrench to get at the bolt heads. This will be a little tricky, but not too bad.

For connecting the square tube to the hitch, drill the same pattern of holes through the sides of the square tube as are present on the sides of the original "C" channel. Again, it's probably easiest to put the bolt heads inside and the nuts outside. You probably can't get a wrench onto the bolt heads via the front opening of the tube on account of the hitch being there. Instead, you can drill a set of large holes on the bottom surface of the square tube, through which you can insert a box or open-end wrench. Another option would be to use bolts that are a bit longer than need be, and once you get the nuts on far enough, grab the free end of the bolt with a really big pair of vice-grips, and use the vice-grips on the excess bolt shaft instead of the usual wrench on the bolt head. It's not that the vice-grips will have as much grip as you need, but between them and the friction of the bolt head against the inside of the square tube, there's likely to be enough torque to counteract your tightening of the nut (flattening the free end of the bolt for a better grip helps too. Two big hammers will do that, a sledge hammer held firmly against the bolt as an anvil, and a two-pound hammer for striking the opposite side). If all that fails, you can still drill the necessary wrench-access holes and do it "the right way".

Drilling big access holes in the steel tubing with a hand-held drill will be a little difficult, but less so if you gradually work your way up with larger and larger bit sizes.

Bolting a square tube
To bolt on a square tube I drilled a hole all the way through the tube, so the bolt would stick out the bottom. Of course you’ll have to use longer bolts than what comes in the kit. And again, use nyloc nuts, or lock washers, and Loc-tite(belt and suspenders)

If you do that, …

– Last Updated: Jan-22-15 11:24 AM EST –

... you'll probably need large, thick backing plates under each set of bolt heads. Otherwise applying the torque you need will very likely cause the side of the tubing to buckle inward. I've done the bolt-through method, and it can work fine as long as you do something to prevent tube deformation.

You might also look around at the places selling bigger enclosed trailers. My trailer I bought like 20 years ago was from one of those places, it’s all welded angle iron, rated at about 1100 lbs. and is 4’x8’ (if I were to buy it again I’d go a bit bigger), but it’s held up just fine. I’ve got an 8’ 2"x 4" tongue added (2’ of that is inside the trailer frame) but it works with up to about an 18’ or so kayak. I’ve put on Yakima cross bars so can use their saddles and have carried 5 boats at one time on it. And…it was cheap. Only downsides are the paint isn’t the greatest, I’ve repainted it twice and it needs it again, and when you’re towing it you have to search the mirrors for it because it’s so smooth and quiet back there you can forget it’s still attached to the car. It’s got 15" wheels btw. I use it for everything from hauling my Harley, to the lawn tractor, garden supplies and the kayaks.

Bill H.