Dave and DJ Rotigel's 7 Steps to a Highly Efficient Trailer

Also see Creating a Mobile Home for the Galloway, the efforts of 2/26/00 when we put Dave's new 16 HP Galloway on dual axle trailer, and A Trailer for the 15 HP Screen Cooled IHC (December 2002).

1) I used 2" X 4" X 1/4" box steel for the frame.

2) I had the steel company cut everything to proper length for me.

3) I had the side pieces for the frame cut about 3' longer than the trailer would be in order to cut a "V" in them and bend them at the proper place so that the side and tongue support would be one piece.

4) I used 3" X 3" X 24" box for that part of the tongue that is welded in place on the trailer. That allowed for a 2 1/2" X 2 1/2" X 36" box to be slipped inside the 3X3 and "pinned" using two 5/8" pins. (The kind we use to slide the hitch into the receiver on a Reese Hitch.) What this does is allow me to take out the 2 1/2" X 2 1/2" piece with the hitch itself on it when I'm set up at a show. Two advantages: 1) I don't hit my shins on it and 2) the trailer/engine can't be stolen as easily.

5) Besides the front and back 2X4 steel box, I have 2 more 2X4 steel box cross pieces. These are spaced so that the bolts holding the engine on the trailer will go through them. They are also spaced so that the engine will be centered front to back on the trailer.

Decking: 2 x 8 oak make up a nice deck.

6) I like the torsion axles, and have them on my trailers. Once the trailer frame is all welded and ready to go, I secure the axle to the frame (in what I think will be the proper place for good balance) with "C" clamps. I then put the engine on and bolt it to the trailer. Next I adjust the axle (either to the front, or the back) until I have about 75 lb. on the end of the tongue. I then weld the axle to the frame.

7) The engine then is taken off, the trailer painted, and the engine put back on.


Goal is to have a nice trailer, for displaying that restored engine of yours. Obviously everyone will have their own personal likes and dislikes, but this information is just to help you think of some ideas you may want to include in your trailer design.

Stay away from mail order catalogs if you can avoid it. They are pricey, and you may find a better deal locally. Worth while checking with any local trailer building outfits to see if they have the axle/hub assembly.

It is nice to have the same bolt pattern on the trailer wheels as your tow vehicle. Makes things easier. (Also the time to check out if your car/truck jack will work on the trailer is before you leave home. Maybe as simple as welding a little pocket gusset on the trailer for the jack during construction).

Overall Size:

While I do not like backing up with a tandem trailer, a single axle trailer is not too difficult to back up once you have gotten the hang of it. For this reason the smaller the trailer the better. You'll also have to think about how you want to carry all the little things that go along with the engine (i.e. gas can, grease, hand towels, hand cleaner, or aluminum polish and wax for you maytag owners. Small, nicely done, box on the trailer can look attractive and is much safer place to carry that gallon gas can (than inside a closed vehicle).

Torsion axle vs. leaf springs?

Go with the Torsion Tube type axle. You'll get a lower trailer height, which helps with the handing.

Do you need trailer brakes?

Generally not! They are a pain to keep functioning, but if you plan on towing a LARGE engine in excess of 1000 pounds with a small sedan or truck, boy is it nice to have the option of a trailer brake. If the trailer starts to sway on you, just a little tap of the trailer brake control will help bring it right back into line.

If you are using a large (3/4 or 1 ton) truck, most likely you will not even notice the trailer back there!

Fender's & Trailer Lights?

Check with local regulations to see what is required. Personally I like LARGE LIGHTS on the trailer for those dark rainy nights.

Fenders have a bad habit of falling off. Still nice to keep the mud/gravel off a nicely restored engine. I prefer tail lights to be mounted up, by the fenders, as low slung ones under the trailer seem to get removed by ramps leading into the Motel 6 all to often.


Not a bad idea to add supports to the trailer to keep it from rocking when you run your engine. We chose these types of supports which allow for easy adjustments. The stantion simply slides through the piece of box steel with a hole drilled through it for a bolt to slide through.

Additional tie downs?

It is nice to have room to secure that extra ice cooler, awning, tent, etc. while traveling to a show. Maybe even a small removable carrier to be removed at the shows, and stashed inside your tent once you arrive.

Receipts/Insurance?: If you build your own trailer, keep in mind to keep all your receipts, as they maybe required when registering it for a license to prove ownership. Also not a bad idea to check with your insurance agent about insurance to the trailer and engine.

Additional Tips, Suggestions or Comments

Gary Epps' Trailer Suggestions
Jeff Allen's Trailer Suggestions
Luke's Trailer Page

If you believe you have a tip that should be added to this list please e-mail them to Dave Rotigel at rotigel@westol.com