The trailer was originally a car carrier; the boxes, rack, and stake sides have been added. Note the double doors on the front of the trailer—they open directly into the bed.
The rack dips down at the sides to allow for loading by forklift. Look closely and you’ll see the end of a pipe sticking out from between the tires; it’s a step that allows shorter folks to reach the rack or top shelf of the sidebox.
The stake sides were 4 feet tall in the original version of the trailer but were cut down to fit this design. The roller on the rear crossbar of the rack makes for easier loading and unloading by hand.
Removing the stake sides makes for easier loading and unloading. This drywall was forklifted on from the rear and is about as much weight as Jenkins will put on this part of the trailer—anymore and there will not be enough tongue weight (which can lead to sway).
Daniel R. Jenkins is a builder/remodeler in Thousand Oaks, California, and 20-plus years ago he bought and customized a trailer because it allowed him to carry larger loads of material and debris than he could haul in his van. He took a flatbed car carrier and turned it into a stake bed trailer by putting removable fences on all four sides. Later he added underbed storage boxes at the back and along either side. With this setup he could carry tools below and extension ladders, staging, and long material such as molding and pipe on top. The trailer could also be used to haul debris but Jenkins now uses a dump trailer for that.
The trailer has been “remodeled” several times over the years. At one point it had garage-style doors on either side and a shingled roof on top. It was basically a mobile shop. That didn’t work out so in 1998 Jenkins stripped the trailer back to a flatbed and turned it into what you see now.
In its current configuration the bed is 8’6” wide by 13’ long and has 24 inch deep upper boxes that extend 8 feet back along either side. There’s space enough on the platform area behind the boxes to carry 4x8 material crosswise. The stake sides surrounding the platform can be removed for easy loading and unloading—by hand or with a forklift. The space between the side boxes is more than 4 feet wide so it’s possible to stack 4x12 material on the flat down the center of the bed. There are double doors at the front of the trailer so the bed can be accessed from either end.
But there’s more to this trailer than the boxes and bed; there is also a forklift friendly rack, with sides that dip in the middle to accommodate forks. The cross bars can be removed so tall items can be carried and the rearmost crossbar is equipped with a roller to make the rack easy to load and unload by hand. According to Jenkins the rack will hold 6,000 pounds, though he has never carried that much. The trailer weighs 3,000 pounds empty and his 1/2-ton truck can tow 11,000 pounds—so that gives him 8,000 pounds to work with.
It’s not uncommon to see trucks with boxes and equipment at the front of the bed and an open platform on back, but it’s an unusual design for a trailer.
When asked about the cost of the trailer Jenkins said, “In 1998 I calculated I had about $12,000 into the trailer, today I would guess it would cost around $30,000. If I had it to do all over again, I would start with a dump trailer as the base, so that only the boxes and outer rails, and of course with them the lumber rack would remained stationary. That would be a trailer that did it all. The only reason to start with an existing trailer is there is no inspection to put it on the road, saving many thousands.”
According to Jenkins, the trailer provides the carrying capacity of a larger truck without the expense of operating one. He can disconnect the trailer at the jobsite and then go to the lumberyard or to other jobs with only his pickup. Using the trailer is cheaper and more convenient than driving a heavier truck and allows the flexibility to haul a variety of tools and material.