We’re Moving (Pianos!?)

No, not the site. It’s not been updat­ed but just because I’ve been extra busy (and/or lazy). Rather, our fam­i­ly is mov­ing to a new home.

Piano on the go!

As part of the effort, I decid­ed I should just bite the bul­let and pur­chase a small trail­er. We need to put a lot of items into stor­age for this move, but there was no way we could do it all in a day (thus, mak­ing trail­er rentals extra pricey). So I pur­chased a 4’x8’ fold­ing trail­er, which col­laps­es down (up?) to so it can be stored off to the side of a garage. Prob­a­bly the most pop­u­lar trail­er in the “small fold­ing” cat­e­go­ry is the one at Har­bor Freight. Well, there at least out of stock any­where with­in 100s of miles of me (so I assume very pop­u­lar). So I pur­chased the very sim­i­lar but slight­ly more expen­sive mod­el from North­ern Tool, brand­ed as an Iron­ton trail­er. I’m pret­ty sure it’s most­ly the same as the Har­bor Freight, but I did note a few struc­tur­al dif­fer­ences in the two. Oth­er­wise, this is the black one where the one from HF is red.

The trail­er comes in three box­es, each of which weights in at around 75 lbs. Suf­fice it say, despite being a “light duty” trail­er, this thing is assured­ly made of sol­id steel. The frame is about 1/4″ mate­r­i­al, most­ly chan­nel shapes. It required some larg­er met­ric sock­ets than I had, so I be pre­pared for that as well (It’s a prod­uct made in Chi­na, which should sur­prise no one at this price, so of course it’s all met­ric). I broke down the box­es to give myself a work sur­face for assem­bly. The frame assem­bly itself is rel­a­tive­ly straight-for­ward. The instruc­tions, while not great, are rel­a­tive­ly well writ­ten and illus­trat­ed. I did­n’t find myself putting any parts in back­wards or any­thing as a result.

I had to pur­chase a sheet of 3/4 ply­wood for the deck­ing sur­face, along with the asso­ci­at­ed hard­ware. I’ll be garage stor­ing this trail­er (and by the nature of it being open, only using it in gen­er­al­ly good weath­er, too!). So I just bought some stan­dard pine ply­wood and zinc hard­ware. Still, with the cur­rent price of lum­ber, that set me back about $100. I did have the big-box store cut the ply­wood into two 4’x4’ squares. This is to facil­i­tate the fold­ing action, but also makes it eas­i­er to get home if, well, you don’t have a trail­er. I mea­sured out the holes for the deck­ing as accu­rate­ly as pos­si­ble and then just start­ed bolt­ing the car­riage bolts into place. I want­ed the bolt heads to have a low pro­file; but did­n’t real­ly have any of my tools handy to coun­ter­sink large bolt heads. So car­riage bolts worked well. Hon­est­ly, they’re usu­al­ly my pref­er­ence for bolt­ing lum­ber, any­way. For holes I did­n’t get quite aligned, I just used the frame holes as sort of a drill guide and slot­ted the holes out a bit. The steel is much hard­er than the wood, of course, so this works to eas­i­ly get the mis-aligned holes corrected.

The wiring was pret­ty sim­ple, though I was a bit dis­ap­point­ed that the trail­er kit did­n’t include a con­nec­tion har­ness. It’s a $5 part, at most, and pret­ty stan­dard I think. The last bit of assem­bly I did was to drill for and bolt on four D‑ring style anchor points on the sides of the trail­er. Prob­a­bly anoth­er $20 for the anchors and hard­ware, but pret­ty essen­tial for my planned usage of the trail­er. Anoth­er issue was the cast­ers; or rather attach­ing them. Most of the bolts are nylon lock­ing which is fine in most cas­es. But I could­n’t think of a way to attach the cast­ers with this nut type. So I just bought some more met­ric nuts with split/lock wash­ers. These I were able to tight­en up with the impact dri­ver with­out the cast­er bear­ing just spin­ning in place.

D ring anchor drilled and bolt­ed on

And with that, the trail­er was ready to roll! My broth­ers came over to help me with the first real use of load­ing it up. We took some fur­ni­ture off to the stor­age unit. The real test came next: mov­ing my wife’s upright piano! We all had our own guess­es on how much this thing weighs, but I think we sort of set­tled on around 400 lbs. Now, there is no ramp on this trail­er. So even I backed it up to the curb edge, we still had to lift that piano over a foot off of the dol­ly and on to the deck. We had to call over our friend Adam to lend a hand! But the five of us (Angela was­n’t going to let us move her piano with­out her direct super­vi­sion and assis­tance), we man­aged to do so. We did rough up some of the fin­ish on a low­er pan­el when get­ting it off the trail­er, but it still played great. Stayed in tune, even! And I’d say with a 400 lb piano and five adults on the deck, we were def­i­nite­ly putting the load capac­i­ty of the trail­er to the test.

Fold­ed up and rolled into the cor­ner of the garage

Ulti­mate­ly, this trail­er is going to get used to move sheet goods and lum­ber home from the hard­ware or big box store for projects in our new house. It takes me about 10 min­utes to get it out, bolt­ed secure in the “trail­er” mode, and hitched up. And that’s a lot faster than try­ing to get sheet goods cut down & then loaded into my SUV (even when that is pos­si­ble). So, I’d plan on anoth­er $150 or so in wood, hard­ware, and wiring on top of the price of this trail­er (and that does­n’t include any pick­et rails, which I may make lat­er) if you’re con­sid­er­ing this or the Har­bor Freight option. Oth­er­wise, it’s a great invest­ment and a sol­id trailer.

Categorized as diy Tagged

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.

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