The Rebirth Of A Trailer

Story And Photos By Cliff Steele
Published: Fall 2013

He bought his current trailer 33 years ago, but never gave its appearance much thought ... until now.

The Improvements

After years of replacing filament light bulbs and repairing frayed wires along the side of dark highways, I decided to install the best possible lighting and matching waterproof custom harness on the market. I went with an LED trailer-lighting kit from Grote. The Ultima kit harness is custom crafted and designed to be waterproof, not just water resistant.

Our trailer has four-sided box beams so it took a little fishing to route the new harness. I also added a set of their rear-facing, high-intensity five-inch white LEDs that brilliantly light the ramp or dark storage lot for those nighttime backings of the rig.

Photo of installing a new electric winch
Photo of author with his new electric winch and remote
A new electric winch with remote makes it more functional.

The original electric retrieving winch had not served me well lately. Grinding gears, metal shavings, and motor smoke told me one of these days would be its last. Researching heavy-duty retrieving winches, one company caught my interest — Dutton-Lainson, which started making products in 1886! One model, SA 12015 DC, has a neat remote-control feature and enough power to retrieve 30,000 pounds up a five-percent grade, single line! In other words, this winch can pull BIG stumps! You could say it really "pulled" this restoration project together. It was easy to mount using the 1/4-inch-thick mounting plate. The 10-foot remote controller can be unplugged and stored to prevent loss or theft. Also included is an emergency crank that really works as intended.

To power the winch and the backup LEDs, I added a battery and holder to the trailer, which I had welded up and mounted directly onto the trailer tongue. This resulted in a shorter cable run to the winch, giving it more power. The winch now can draw a full 70 amps while retrieving our heavy boat.

Final Touches

To finish the look, I added a coat of flat varnish to the faux-teak trailer step board. I also bought a set of metal hub trim rings for the wheel rims that can be found at most auto-supply stores, and added a vinyl cover for the spare tire to protect it from the sun. I won't be around when my restored trailer starts to show some wear. It's comforting to know that someday a pocket cruiser in the year 2038 will still be enjoying my DIY project.End of story marker

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