Harbor Freight Trailers
by Chuck Leinweber

I recently bought a trailer from Harbor Freight, and I thought I should review it since a lot of boat builders need a trailer for their projects when they are a bit too heavy to cartop but are not quite big enough to justify a custom job.

The model I got is the #90154 which I paid $260 for. I feel this was a bargain price, but HF now has this same trailer on sale for $199. There is a bit of confusion, though, as the capacity seems to change. Click the link above and you will be told that the "Heavy Duty" trailer has a capacity of 1175 pounds, however the tag (see photo below) that came on the unit I got says it is 1440. Different trailer? Check the item numbers. I was under the impression that I was getting the 1175 model.

The point is that this is a very robust trailer. I was impressed with how much it had improved since I bought a similar 'made in China' unit about fifteen years ago. Nothing was tinny or flimsy this time. The steel was all heavy with good paint or galvanizing, and the nuts were of the nylon locking type. I got the version with 12" rims, but there are a number of different models to choose from. Just go to Harbor Freight and search for "trailer".

Here is my trailer. It took me about two or three hours to assemble it from the pile of parts. I will use it for my Ladybug but to do so, I will have to extend the tongue and add bolsters and perhaps some rollers. It will also need a winch and post to mount that on, and a jack or wheel to keep it level. My inclination is to use a fold down wheel like in the illustration below:

I saw one of these used at our last messabout, and I was impressed with it. The boat was a John's Sharpie from CLC and the trailer could be run all over the place after it was disconnected from the towing vehicle and the wheel was folded down. The boat was even launched and retrieved by simply rolling the thing down the beach to the water. Of course it was a light boat, but it wasn't that light.

This unit is advertised as "folding" and I suppose it does fold (see arrow in photo above), but I won't use that function as I will keep a boat on it. If you need a utility trailer that will carry your boat too, this would be a good choice. It does fold up in a clever manner with casters to move it around in the upright position. The footprint is about 2' x 5' and it's about five feet high. There are bolts that hold it in the open configuration, so there is no danger of inadvertent folding.

Trailers are a pain, not to mention expensive, but this little number should last a long time (the last one I bought is still going) and at the current $199 (shipping is free!) won't break the bank. You could do a lot worse than invest in one of these little trailers.

Chuck Leinweber

The article above was written some time in 2004. In March, 2011, we received the following:


I read what you wrote on Duckworks about your folding utility trailer.  You said that you weren’t sure about the weight capacity of the trailer, so I thought you probably didn’t know how they rate them?  If you look on your tires you will see where they rate the tire on the amount of weight that they can carry safely.  Usually the maximum weight capacity of a trailer will be the load rating of the tire multiplied by two, less 100 to 200 lbs. for a two tire trailer.  If I’m not mistaken, the 4.80-12 tires are rated at 780 lbs. max capacity @ 60 psi.  You said that the trailer was marked as having a rating of 1450 lbs. max capacity, but you thought you bought one that was rated at 1175 lbs. max capacity.  So:

  • 780x2=1560
  • 1560-110=1450

Now don’t take this as a for sure thing, because I am not positive on it.  I do know that it is the tires that are considered when they rate trailers for weight; I’m just not exactly sure how they do it.  I’ve looked at a number of trailers and used the formula I’ve given on all of them and everyone has lived up to my formula.  I have the same trailer as you but I replaced the 12 inch tires with 13 inch tires, which have over twice the load capacity of the 12 inch tires.  I carry over 2000 lbs. on it and have never had any problems, so I’m either very lucky or my formula is pretty correct.  :o)  Just thought you might find this interesting.  Let me know if you find out if I’m right or wrong.