Wooden Trailer Needs Rebuilding? Give It A Go

Take care of your farm equipment and it will help take care of your farm. My wooden trailer has served faithfully for years, but it's time for a rebuild.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson

Several years back, I spent hundreds of words here on HobbyFarms.com expounding on the benefits of wooden trailers and wagons. I highlighted several advantages offered by wood—it’s easy to modify, it’s not as slippery as metal when wet, it’s relatively quiet when hauling tools down a gravel road or bumpy field, etc.

But the main benefit I focused on his how easily wooden trailers and wagons can be repaired. You can rebuild wooden decks and sides from scratch if needed … which is good, because I’m afraid my trusty red wagon is due for a nearly complete overall.

A Reliable Tool

Technically, my red wagon is a two-wheeled trailer, not a wagon. But semantics aside, it’s one of the most heavily used pieces of equipment on my farm.

It was old and a bit beat up when I put it to work, and between me and its previous owner I can’t imagine how many miles it’s traveled. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, I use it almost endlessly to carry tree branches to brush piles, haul water to the trees in my orchard, transport dirt and compost, gather hay bales off fields, move tools and supplies, and more.

Usage Wear & Tear

But my red wagon is showing its age. Hauling water hasn’t been its favorite project. A small leak in a hose adapter on my 35-gallon leg tank (which I should really fix) means that the plywood decking gets wet in places, and over time the decking has gotten a little soft in one spot.

Not a big deal since it’s a small trailer and I don’t walk around inside. But it’s reaching the point where I’ll need to install new decking sooner rather than later.

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The sides of the wagon are the bigger issue. The original lumber has lost so much paint that my red wagon is barely recognizable as “red” anymore. Along the way, the lumber has slowly deteriorated, and now large loads of branches and hay bales crack the wood as they lean one way or the other on bumpy ground.

My attempts to reinforce the sides with scraps of lumber worked for a while, but now it’s not enough. The original sides no longer hold screws or nails securely.

I rebuilt one side of the red wagon a number of years back, and it’s held up well. But the other two sides are on their last legs.

Circling back, that’s the advantage of a wooden trailer. If I were using a metal trailer that had rusted to the point where the sides and deck were failing, I’d be out of luck as far as DIY repairs are concerned—I’m no welding or metalworking expert.

But I can handle woodworking no sweat.

So that’s an upcoming project on my agenda: rebuild my trusty red wagon from the frame up. I’ll have to purchase new plywood for the decking, but I have a stash of lumber that will be perfect for the sides. I also have a hefty bucket of red paint left over from painting a barn that will make my red wagon red again.

It can be hard to set aside time for projects like this (the red wagon still works pretty well, despite its issues), but making the effort to take care of equipment is important. Take care of your equipment, and it will help you take good care of your farm. My red wooden trailer has served faithfully for many years, and it’s definitely earned a rebuild.

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