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I think I've found the trailer. Sure, it looks a little rough in the pictures, but the prices is right ($750). It needs some work, though. I plan to:

  • Sandblast and repaint the trailer
  • Replace both leaf springs
  • Re-wire the brakes (or replace if necessary)
  • Upgrade to a hydraulic jack system

I never would have had the confidence to buy a trailer that needed this much work, but thanks to a thoughtful consultation by Andrew Odom of Tinyrevolution.us, I feel confident moving forward with this trailer.  

Andrew is a trove of tiny-house related knowledge, and he was so clear in his emails that I'm going to republish some of the things he said here, becasue I think there's a lack of detailed trailer knowledge on the major tiny-house websites.

If the trailer is 7000lb GVWR then your tiny house cannot exceed that weight limit technically. However, you also have to think about the tongue weight. I would be willing to bet that the tongue weight is about 1900 – 2100 pounds on this trailer. The tongue weight will help control your sway when being pulled as well as the amount of weight put on the most sensitive part of the weld; the tongue. 

To find axle weight you would need to look underneath of the axle. It is there somewhere on a sticker. 

I personally haven't heard of Northern Bay trailers but your pictures show a decent, welded steel, I-Beam, utility trailer. You would have to lose the ramping at the back, for sure.

The tires have good tread on them still. The 5-lugs seem okay although you need to ask if anyone of them are stripped or if they all come off. 

As for the breaks, it truly depends on how mechanical you are. Some trailers only have electric breaks on one axle. The wiring system is a 7-wire RV system and can be replaced fairly easily. If you were talking about the breaks and not just the break wires I would advise you have a mechanic do it. However, if you are just talking about wires…well, it is about as difficult as replacing a motherboard and PC chip except you have no soldering to do. Does that make sense?

The hitch looks fine. The only advancement is if you decide to replace the jack out with a hydraulic system. Remember, once you commit to building you need to stabilize the trailer. You can use scissor jacks or pneumatic jacks or even cinderblocks. But you need to have it level before you do the first thing.

If I do purchase this trailer, I will have to figure out how to get it from Brattleboro, VT up to Morrisville, which is about 150 miles. I doubt I can legally transport it without working brake lights, but that may be the only option. I certainly don't want to have to do the work down there. 

There are many advantages to buying this trailer- namely price. Andrew estimated that if I do the work myself (sandblasting and brake wiring), my total investment would be around $1000.  Brand new trailers go for $2500-$4000, and I'd love to apply the savings to getting new windows and a skylight or two. 

Of course, the disadvantages are clear: I don't actually know what work the trailer will need. It could need more than Andrew and I were able to see. In that case, I may not end up saving money over a new one. 

Also, sandblasting and repainting is very time consuming. Andrew said it took him and his wife 2 weeks to do theirs. So, this is either something I'll have to do before I start building, or risk pushing the construction start date out by two weeks.  The trailer absolutely has to be in restored condition. This is the foundation of my future house we're talking about!

Final consideration is that the guy who's selling it does not have the title. It's currently registered in VT, and he's offered to provide a bill of sale. I need to confirm with the DMV that a bill of sale will be adequate to register this thing.  If I can't register it, then it's really only suitable as farm equipment. And I plan to take this thing on the road. 

Here are the pictures. Any other trailer experts out there? Tell me what you think!

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