Tiny Homes On Wheels: The Trailer, The Rock Upon Which It Stands.

The trailer is the foundation upon which a tiny home on wheels insulation.  The trailer is what distinguishes it from a regular house.  It is what allows it to bypass certain building codes.  Its strength decides how heavy your house can be.  The wheels make it mobile.  If you are building a tiny home on wheels from scratch you will definitely need to acquire one and gain some knowledge about them.

trailer for a tiny home

What do you do if you are a total novice like me to the subject of tiny house trailers?  You will start by doing some research first on the internet.  You will see what short documentaries you can find on the subject in videos.  I already did this action. I then narrowed the list down to some trailer brands and then choose the trailer I would pick for myself.

An Introduction On Tiny Home Trailers.

The first thing you are going to want to do is find trailers that are meant to support tiny houses.  I have composed a short list of trailer brands that can support a tiny house or, companies that specialize in making trailers for tiny houses that will sell them as a separate unit.  Along with them, I have added some information I have found on their manufacturers.

There are more trailer brands to be found than these for tiny houses from here and abroad.  I choose those that looked vastly different from one another.

American:

Gooseneck Trailer

Gooseneck trailers:  Gooseneck Tiny House Trailers offer a stable foundation for towing and higher weight carrying capacities. Optional 8ft x wide deck available on the Gooseneck hitch provides the capacity to use the deck as a loft that is only a few feet higher than the lower deck.  Gooseneck Trailers are most commonly ordered in triple axle 18k and 21GVWR

Iron Eagle: located at 21414 Sandy Blvd # Fairview, Oregan 97024-9603.  Also has dealers in Olympia Washington, California, Idaho and Nevada. Owned by Rod Mandzij. Many 4-5 Star reviews from  https://www.yelp.com/biz/iron-eagle-trailers-troutdaleWorks with PAD, Portland Alternative Dwellings. The website is at https://padtinyhouses.com/trailer-designed-for-your-tiny-house/ Some customers find the brand pricey.  Often imported into Canada for tiny house building despite having to pay many dues and fees at the border.

Stryker Trailers: Plant located in Piedmont, Alabama. In business for over 18 years.  The Website is located at http://strykertinyhousetrailers.com My computer and website state the site is not secure.  It is a young company.

New Zealand: 

Bay Engineering Solutions detachable trailers: Located at 363 Kaitemako rd, Welcome Bay, Tauranga, 3175 New Zealand.  I don’t know who would want detachable trailers.  The trailer is what allows tiny homes to bypass codes and zoning laws in North America.  Perhaps the situations is different in New Zealand.  I have to admit the trailer does look cool. The website is at http://bayengineering.co.nz/ 

 

Tiny House trailers: Trailers are designed by people who build tiny houses.  They are made with safety in mind. They come ready to be built on.  They are located in North Utah, Central Florida, and Southern Ontario. Their website is at https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-house-trailers

Reviews On These Tiny Home Trailers

Bay Engineering Solutions Detachable Trailor:

The trailers are very high quality and innovative.  The biggest feature with this trailer is that the house is completely detachable from the trailer.  The informational youtube video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jxd2Ohj-AY  The trailer gets build into two parts:

  1. The steel frame the house is built on to.  It is called the deck.  
  2. The skeleton trailer underneath.  This has a few big structures names of steel, excels and a drawbar, and this part is called the cheasee.

These two parts lock together very easily using a basic container lock system with a lock in each corner the house insulation in the same way a container gets attached to a shift. The pin goes up turns then locks back down into place. When you want to detach the house simply unlock the container locks in each corner, attach the lifting jacks on to the side brackets and slowly jack the house up by winding the handles. Then you can pull out the trailer right out from underneath.

No need to take the house down when you need to get a license. Just jack the house up and only take the trailer cheasee by itself. The house is being considered as a low on the trailer as opposed to being part of the vehicle. With non-detachable tiny homes, it is really harder to maintain the trailer. When it is set for too long in one spot the wheels and the breaks will actually seize up. With detachable trailers, you can easily access the cheasee for maintenance and you can pull it out for regular runs to make sure everything is working properly.

You could also remove the trailer cheasee and put it into storage and lock your tiny house down on some city permanent foundations. The trailer decks can be reversed so you can swap the drawback to either end of the house which, is handy when you are maneuvering the house into its spot.

Another fantastic fact of these trailers is the flat deck low profile design. Rather than having wheel guards, these trailers have low profile wheels that sit under the deck, meaning there is no need to account for wheel guard petrussions in you interior layout like most tiny homes have to.

The Goose Neck Trailer:

Information on this trailer was found at youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o3MQyuRvz8 .  It was chosen by a man who is building a tiny house on his own.  His Goose Neck Trailer is 32 feet long with an additional platform.  The Gooseneck stops right up front of the trailer. It has an 8 inch C channel and is very stout. It has 2 huge supports.  The trailer manufacturer used tubing channel.  It has a triple Axle. It took 2 months to build the trailer.  Ingal iron was used on the outside of the trailer. A house weighing up to 2100 pounds can be built on this trailer.

The latest Iron Eagle

at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=They added a flange to the front and the rear.  The company owner says the trailer is designed from the ground up to be a foundation for tiny homes.  It has a recess 4 cavity.  The width has been maximized.  There is a fender flashing up in the rear to keep the weather out.  The entire frame is made of tube B. It is very lightweight.

One change they made was to increase the dimensions from 5 inches to 6.  6 inches actually provides more options for how you want the framing to sit in there. Another option that is new that has been requested a lot is that the bottom pan flashing be gaged to galvanizing steel.  It is completely sealed. 

They made a few changes to the side extensions and outer flanges.  

They pre-drilled holes which allow you to attach the grinjoyce to the side of the frame.  

  1. They pre-drilled the bottom plate mounting holes about every 30 to 36 inches.
  2. They added a flange to the front and the rear.

The trailer has fender flashing.  Its purpose is to prevent weather and rain from entering your home.  A frequent request they have had from builders was a need for a narrower frame.  So they did that.  The effect that can have is how much you can build outside your framing.  A big concern when constructing a tiny house is weight.  An option they have are leveling jacks.  They are installed on each corner of the trailer to level the house.  

The Clients’ Reaction To The new Iron Eagle Trailer.

The reviewer is a former client who is looking over an improved Iron Eagle trailer and comparing it to the one he bought. He really liked the sunken floor cavity of the older and newer model.  It allowed him and his girlfriend to drop in a fully insulated floor structure down beneath the height of the deck as opposed to building it on top of the deck which would be using up some the maximum height they have to work with.  Since if they wanted to take their tiny house on the road the height limitations are 13 and 1/2 feet.

The last 3 inches of the width extension at the back are these little metal flanges.  They are , 16th inches steel.  The wall framing sits partially on top of them.  That provided them with many options with how to secure the house framing to the trailer.  There was nothing new on the newer trailer to be improved in that department.

They did not have to line their framing up with anything on the trailer to make that work.  They just designed the framing the way it made more sense for the structure and then they were able , to drill through and complete that securing all the framing to make it solid.  In the older model trailer they bought, they had to drill the holes themselves, unlike the newer model.

They have been asked a few times about the strength of the flange but it is important to keep in mind it is only the last three inches that are thin.  The rest of the six inch is solid structural framing.

Due to the fact, the width extensions are fairly wide at 10 inches there have been some questions over the implications of having the last bit of flooring over the metal.  To address that you need to look at the different ways you could anchor your floor framing into the cavity.

They passed electric wiring and plumbing through the flange to get into the wall cavity because it was sitting right over the top and they avoided having an extra penetration on the exterior, like through the siding.  The width extensions are fairly, 10 inches.  There have been some questions about the implications of having the last bit of your flooring on top of the metal.

To address that They needed to look at the different ways to anchor the floor framing into the cavity.  With the 6 inches extra depth you can potentially mount the framing so the top is flushed with the deck of the trailer and just have the flooring right over the top of the metal frame.  

For insulation purposes add some rigid foam between the trailer metal and wood floor.  

The Styker Trailor:

The next reviewer is a buyer and states the Styker trailer is specially made for tiny houses yet it not exactly the same as other trailers who claim the same, like the Iron Eagle.  The video is at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn3qb6goCFg The man is excited about the purchase he has made because he got a 28-foot long trailer by Styker.  He thinks it is the perfect trailer for him to build his tiny house on.

There is no deck.  The trailer is acting as a subfloor.   There is 2 by 6 exterior framing and 2 by 4 cross members in the center. In this way, you are getting the flooring down as much as possible. You have16 inches on center. You are allowed only 13 and a half inches in height.  Many tiny house trailers have 2 by 4 on top of the decking or framing.  The cavities in between the framing of the Styker is good for insolation.  It already has a piece of sheet metal already melded at the bottom of the trailer. That sheet metal will prevent water from coming up and keep animals out.

The Styker company does custom widths.  To reach your exact width they build little pieces of framing on the sides of the trailer.

This trailer already has half-inch threaded rods standards size build on it.  It serves its purpose when you put your house framing down.  When you put your wall from your soul plate, you have these rods to put a washer and a nut on and lock that framing down.  It is a solid bomber connection with these solid rods.

The Styker has 3 axels that support 7000 pounds each giving the trailer a 2100 pounds capacity.  The most you can get drop axels drops the height of the trailer decking by a few more inches.  Possibly 4 inches.

At the tongue, of the trailer is a standard breakaway and a line that connects to the truck. If the line were to break away it would activate the breaks on the trailer itself.  It has a standard 7 pin connection to activate the breaks and lights and a super duty jack stand.  There is a metal handle to crank.  At the bottom of the jack stand is a gadget that saves you manual cranking.  When ready to go back down you pull another gadget out.  Push the plate around to get it to where you want.

For the latching pull the chain back, push the button in, pull the chain forward and it will lock.  Pull it down again and it is unlocked.  It is a solid locking mechanism.  

The man looked at other trailers.  They were not the right design for his tiny house.  Instead of having a framing member on the side to block out your custom width they just had a flanch with nothing underneath.  He did not like it.  It created a thermal bridge.  The temperature from the outside would hit the flange, transfer through the steel into the subfloor, into the finished floor, into the house.  With the cavity he has now to work with he can put some insulation in.  He can put up to 3 and 12 inches of insolation on his trailer but only an inch of insolation on a trailer with the flanch.  Everything you put on top of the flanch raises your floor.

tiny home builders

Youtube video information is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eICcgiXoW2k&t=11s  Starting at the tongue of the trailer you have many features here you would expect to see on a standard heavy duty equipment trailer.  These features include a standard 2 and 5 16th inch cup for your hitch.  A heavy duty jack that can easily raise and lower the front of the trailer.

There are heavy duty chains which attach to a vehicle’s trailer hitch assembly.  It provides a second level of defense in the event your trailer becomes detached from the hitch.  There is a breakaway cable in the event the hitch and the chain fail. 

If the trailer is still able to separate from the vehicle this breakaway cable will get engaged which will automatically engage the electric breaks on the trailer.  The electric breaks will stop it from rolling.  Finally, there is a seven-pin connector.  It provides power to the electric breaks as well as the lights.

The framing is constructed, with exception to the side flanch, of a heavy duty square steel tubing.  This heavy duty square steel tubing is some of the strongest material you can use on a trailer.  It is stronger than angle iron and sea channel.  This trailer shines in its deck design.  When you are building a tiny house, you want the house to be connected to the metal parts of the trailer.  

They replaced the wood decking of a regular trailer with two steel beans which run along its length.  Now when you install subfloor joyce perpendicular to the trailer, you have four connection points for each one of them.  You got two on each sides of the flanches, then two in the middle of the trailer.  These are great connection points where you can connect your house directly to the metal of the trailer.

These metal beams not only provide a great place for you to connect your house to the trailer, but they also provide much-needed support.  A lot of the subfloor that you see with tiny homes are constructed with 2 by 4s and they can get away with using that smaller piece of lumber you might find in a normal home because you got this metal support.  Without those beams, however, you could not get away with that.

The length to that ledge is just too great for a 2 by 4.  If you did not have the 2 beams you would use a larger piece of lumber and the problem with that is because of the height restrictions of the house you are actually taking away from interior space.  By having these beams you can use cheaper lumber and you get more room.

The axles are using tandem 5200 axles.  Those combine to give the trailer a capacity of 10 000 pounds.  Each axle is also equipped with its own electric breaks.  It ensures you can stop your tiny house when you need to.  The fender is mostly made up of straight edges except for the curve surrounding the tire.  There are some that have a much bigger curve which matches the curve of the wheel.

The advantage to just having this small curve is that when we go to put our sheeting up and our siding we are not going to have to cut to many pieces of the curve.  More than likely we will just have to cut a single piece.  If it is a big curve you are going to have to cut a bunch of them and it is much more work.  

There are a few features that some tiny house trailers have that they don’t have.  The first is the bolts that are pre-welded onto the trailer.  It may sound like a great idea but in their experience, it ends up being more of a hassle than what it is worth.  The bolts may not be at the right location so you may have to adjust your plans to make sure a joyce lines up with it so you can attach it.  That joyce may not fall at a great place for you.  It may be where you need to drop a drain line for a toilet or for some other drain. 

Also, it is coming up on your work surface and you cannot slide anything around.  You start to bump into them, so you have to lift things up and over them.  Finally, you have to line up your wood, mark where the bolts are, then take the wood back off, pre-drill the hole and slide it back over.  When you are working with a single piece of wood that may not be that difficult but if you got a sub-floor framing that can be a pain.  

Another feature that is not included is having the scissor jack pre-welded onto the corners of your house.  There are a couple of reasons for that.

  1. He prefers to use jack stands instead of scissor jacks.  He jacks up the house and puts a jack underneath it.  He thinks they are more attractive than scissor jacks.  
  2. Jack stand can be tuck away a little bit.  They are also stronger.
  3. Another reason is if your trailer when you start out is in an uneven location when you start to extend those jack stands welded onto your trailer there going to be extended out at an uneven angle.  So when you start to extend those out and push, you are actually pushing the trailer in an uneven direction.  You can push to one side but as you try to level it out, you are going to start bending it a little bit.  The benefit of having them pre-installed is that you don’t have to get them out of your car and bring them over to your house.  The benefit is very small. The cost, the unattractiveness, not being in the right location, and perhaps you parked your trailer somewhere where there is a rock you want to avoid.  You are unable to do it.  
  4. Benefits don’t out weight the negatives.  

These trailers don’t cost more than a standard equipment trailer.

Which Is The Best Tiny House Trailer?

Which of the above tiny house trailer would you pick for yourself?  I would choose the Iron Eagle.  The benders stop rain and other weather effects from entering a tiny home on wheels.  I did think of choosing the Sykter because of its insolation capacity but then I remembered what Tiny home builders stated about trailers that came with pre-installed threaded rods.  They are more of a bother than a benefit.  Assuming this fact is true, I choose Iron Eagle trailers.

I would not choose Bay Engineering Solution Trailer because I don’t see that having a detachable tiny home in North America serves much purpose.  The wholes are there so the tiny house can bypass some zone and code regulations.  Taking them off is not a good idea.  Leaving the house constantly on the trailer may stress it out along with the wheels and cost money to fix, but storing part of a trailer also cost money.

I did not choose tiny home builders trailer because I don’t like the hollow square patterns on it that were created from the runner beams and the cross members. The Iron Eagle also had those but benders that keep the weather outside a tiny house won for me. 

The Sykter had a bottom platform to work with but I don’t know if the ion rods would be easy to work.   This trailer comes in second for me.

The Goose Neck was interestingly huge and had a risen deck to work with, but its squares were also hollow.  Still, if I get to understand the building process better, I may change my mind about what trailer I would want.

What To Expect When You Import A Trailer.

This section is mostly meant for Canadians as they are the ones who are more likely to import a trailer.  Still, an American might want a trailer from New Zealand.  You never know.  You are going to have to make a bunch of phone calls to a few different places. 

A couple living on Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada imported an Iron Eagle trailer from Portland, Oregan.  There were some things they had to do to get the trailer into Canada.  Here is the youtube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj1JRprHj0g that reports their experience.

  • Call both Canada and U.S. Customs.
  • The R.M.V. the register of imported vehicles.
  • Washington State licensing, local insurance places and I.C.P.C.

Then they had to    

  • pick up a binder of insurance from an insurance broker that has a temporary permit on it.
  • get a temporary permit for British Colombia.
  • get a Washington State permit.

At the American-Canadian border they paid GST and acquired an RIV form. They then had to take the ferry home.

Once they were home           

  • they paid an R.I.V. fee online.
  • Needed a new permit to go from their property to Canadian Tire to have their tires examined.
  • They had to pay tire tax.
  • They registered the trailer and had to pay P.S.T.
  • New permit to get back to the property.
  • A storage insurance policy for a year against theft and Vandalism. 

Tiny  Home Trailers Come With Different Options.

Many trailers have been manufactured with tiny houses in mind.  I could not list all the companies that build them.  Instead, I chose to present a few trailer models that were obviously different from one another.  To find more tiny house trailers use the search words ‘Tiny House Trailers” in a search engine.

Maxhaul 70014 Powder Coat Black Trailer Spare Tire Carrier  can be purchased at Amazon.ca  

The picture was taken from Yahoo images.  The Yahoo videos used in this article were not of my creation.  Some of the written content was taken from Yahoo video dialogue.

Marina Tidbury

Marina one

marina@tinyhomesonwheelsfornorthamericans.com  h

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4 thoughts on “Tiny Homes On Wheels: The Trailer, The Rock Upon Which It Stands.”

  1. I love the idea of tiny homes and actually it sounds very great to have and for those couples who loves outdoors adventure and always being at home tiny homes is the solution and  a great one  I really hope this kind of ideas would be introduced into my home country it would solve alot more issues that goes on housing so for me tiny homes is the real winner.

  2. Dear Marina,

    Thanks for the very informative post. I am reaching retirement age and plan to tour the north American in my early stage of retirement in a mobile home. The tiny home trailer can be the choice.

    You provide three trailer brands and I like the Gooseneck trailer. Since it will be a home for me and wife for one to two years, we need to have TV, Kitchen, and all daily utilities. Are all these included in the trailer or we need to ask separate supplier for these?

    It is exciting to tour around country in a mobile home.

    Regards

    Anthony

  3. Hi Marina,

    What a fantastic post! This is so chock full of useful information about tiny home trailers and their types.

    It tells  how good you are at describing the stuff your at and your analysis about each one of them. By the way, I would pick Iron Eagle too. 

    I must admit I find it insightful to read your blogging. Keep up the good work.

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