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How-to setup Carry-on 4’x6’ Utility Trailers with DIY Racks


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Scott

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#1
The 4’x6’ Carry-On Lowes / Tractor Supply (and other places) utility trailer is becoming a popular base for building Camping or Multi-Sport trailers by adding racks.  Their lightweight, reasonable cost and compact footprint make them perfect for towing with Subaru sized vehicles.

[Image: 44485420162_00b744f84a_c.jpg]


I recently picked one up when Lowes had them on sale for $499 to use as a DIY No Weld Trailer Rack demo base.  For showing how-to outfit trailers with different types of racks depend on what your hauling needs are.

Because it added 40 lbs of unused weight on mine, first thing I did was cut off the drop gate.

[Image: 29261683558_fc6992f291_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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#2
The next thing I did was “tune” the suspension to match my planned loaded capacity for it. The factory GVWR is listed as 1980 lbs.  After removing the gate from mine, it weighed 237 lbs. That gives a 1743 lb load capacity, which exceeds what most smaller vehicles can even tow. So to keep it from bouncing down the road, a new set of springs was in order.

One of my trailer part suppliers set me up with a set of 3-leaf springs that are the same length and height profile as the factory 2-leaf springs. The new 3-leaf springs would change the trailers GVWR to be 1500 lb GVWR.  This gives you around a 1260 lb load capacity.  For my needs, this was still overrated, so I removed the bottom leaf.  With 2-leafs, the springs will give a 1150 lb GVWR.  That provides around a 910 lb load capacity, which is just about right for me.

[Image: 28264099187_1ba17b3539_c.jpg]

While replacing the springs, I also did a spring-over swap which lifted the trailer 3 1/2".  Doing this required welding on a new set of spring seats.

[Image: 29261684768_58c649cfa5_c.jpg]

[Image: 44535703381_92ba1db258_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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#3
Using DIY No Weld Trailer Rack components, there are a few rack types and variations you can build for a Carry-on 4x6 utility trailer.  To figure out what type of rack will work best for you, think about these two questions.  First, what will you be hauling on the racks?  Kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, bikes, cargo basket, rocket boxes, roof top tent, ??  Second, how much space do you need under the racks for the rest of your gear?  

The first type of rack is Low Cross Bars.  Using DIY No Weld Rack Towers, cross bars with 19” of clearance under them can be setup.  The Towers get bolted to the top rail of the trailer and a variety of cross bars can be used, I normally go with 1.5” square tubing.    

Those cross bars are spaced 42" apart and are 60" wide.  
[Image: 30670811868_5b98351551_c.jpg]

Most standard Yakima and Thule rack accessories will attach to 1.5" square cross bars.
[Image: 44491306612_78ca8892a1_c.jpg]

Low Cross Bars work nice for setting up a Tent Topped Camper, here is a customer example.
[Image: 42731976920_498187a432_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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#4
The next type of rack is Medium Cross Bars.  For these, I switch over to using DIY No Weld Rack Brackets and 1.5" square tubing.  The uprights get bolted to the bottom and top rail of the frame.  Then the cross bars are set 30" or less above the deck.    

Those cross bars are 60" wide, the uprights are 30" tall and the uprights are space 51" apart to clear the wiring tubes.
[Image: 44109727854_39d9de7537_c.jpg]

For attaching the uprights, I use a 1" holes saw to recess the nuts.
[Image: 34203924612_f926145a0e_c.jpg]


Here is a comparison of Low Cross Bars and Medium Cross Bars on the same frame.
[Image: 30958410948_38507dfe38_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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#5
The next type of rack is Tall Cross Bars. These are the same as Medium Cross Bars, but for cross bars taller than 30" or depending on how much weight you plan on carrying, I add connectors. The connectors between the front and rear uprights make for a stronger and more rigid rack.

[Image: 30958415608_f92639e177_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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#6
With the axle moved under the springs, the lift you get makes room for upgrading to ST175/80-13" trailer tire.  On standard 0 offset trailer wheels, they stick out past the fenders a tad.

[Image: 46589440771_0fe031d023_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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#7
The next type of rack is a Tall Roof Top Tent. These have a few differences for the previous styles.  First the "hoops" run front to rear instead of side to side.  Then the connectors are at the top running side to side becoming the cross bars which your roof top tent is attached to.

Here is an example of one I made for a customer's modified 4'x6' angle iron utility trailer.

[Image: 33864963523_709f3860bf_c.jpg]

[Image: 34690322821_78a0db7082_c.jpg]

[Image: 39328802550_eaf4e2e2ab_b.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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Posts: 5,511
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#8
Buying Steel Tubing

Most steel tubing comes in 20' lengths, sometimes 24'.  When purchasing steel at a steel yard / supplier, normally the cost per foot will be less if you purchase a full "stick".  Check the full "stick" price verses getting just how much you need.  In some cases, getting some extra, end up being less expensive.  

For 4' x 6' utility trailers, you can do Medium Height Cross Bars with one 20' length of 1.5" square tubing.  If you make the cross bars 63" wide, which is slightly narrower than the fenders, the upright would end up being 28" tall, leaving an inch or so after cuts.  

[Image: 44109727334_88114f623b_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Scott

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Posts: 5,511
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#9
Replacement Springs now officially available

As discussed, the 4’x6’ Carry-On utility trailers do have a drawback, a 1700 pound plus load capacity. This is notably higher than needed for camping trailers. It makes for a stiff riding trailer because you aren’t carrying enough weight to properly compress the springs.

These springs are a direct bolt-in replacement for lowering your load capacity to better match to the needs of Compact Camping and Multi-Sport trailers.

They are available in a 3 and 2 leaf version:
3-leaf has a 1250 pound load capacity
2-leaf has a 900 pound load capacity

They may fit other model angle iron utility trailers besides the Carry-on 4'x6'. To confirm if they will fit your trailer, check the distance between the center of the hanger bolt and center of the rear spring strap. Distance needs to be 22 3/4" -1/8”/+1/4”

If your 4 x 6 Utility Trailer is bouncing down the road, get a pair of Softer Riding Replacement Springs

[Image: 46234155104_8547de32f7_c.jpg]
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

 
 
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