Back around 2014, my Jeep Grand Cherokee – which had been part of my life nearly 11 years to the date- began a slow downward spiral towards death.
Here’s a news flash, if you haven’t figured this already: I’m not made of money. Running out and buying a new vehicle was not an option. That’s part of the reason I had that Jeep for nearly 11 1/2 years! Of course, there were limitations to it. For starters, it was a V6 vehicle, and did not even have 4 wheel drive. I had been stuck in the winter on the hill to my barn more times than I can recall. The trailer hitch on it was used more for pulling me out of places by the tractor than used for me pulling anything with the Jeep!
So, as February 2015 rolled around and the Jeep was dying out almost every time I started it, I had 2 options – either keep chasing phantoms or submit to the fact that the Jeep was no longer a rock solid vehicle, and get something new. The Jeep’s slow demise was the result of a mouse infestation. They destroyed the car. I know exactly where they got in, but I have no idea how many of them there were. I found at least 3 nests in the car once I pulled it all apart before it was scrapped.
Anyway, I started car shopping knowing my Jeep was on it’s last leg (or wheel??). Having a vehicle that could haul was primo important for me, so I paid particular attention to towing capacity and weight ratings.
Towards the end of February, I found a new -to-me 2006 SUV to buy, and half of my hauling woes were resolved. The other half of my hauling needs was a horse trailer. The trailer we had for 10 years was just a little 2 horse. Clearly there was no way I could haul my driving horse and pony anywhere in a trailer that had no room for a cart!
So, my bright idea was to get a bigger horse trailer that I could fit the cart into. Once again, I’m not made of money. Buying a new trailer – or a super awesome aluminum trailer – was not an option.
So, it wasn’t much, but I found a old trailer within my budget, and the rehab began.
Meet the 1997 Featherlite Steel 16′ bumper pull stock trailer. I purchased it right at the end of June and my husband and I ganged up on it and started getting to work. Project Trailer Makeover had begun. July 3, 2015
18 years of weather really did a number on the hull.
Of course, I wanted something that could fit Luke’s cart, while still falling within the weight capacity of my car. I hoped a Featherlite would be a good choice for that, because the weight was right– after all — it is “featherlite” for a reason. But of course I also wanted something pretty, shiny, and attractive looking. I hoped I could make this trailer meet those “requirements” too.
So, with a complete makeover inside and out in mind, we got to work. I started with a power sander on the outside, and my husband started with a power saw to the inside.
The inside of the trailer measured 68″. Luke’s cart was 66″. There would be no room for error! The only problem was that the center gate sat on a frame that was 3″ wide on both sides, leaving me only 62″ of space to fit a 66″ cart through!!! Hence, the power grinder.
I needed the trailer to be something I could handle myself for all my future adventures with ponies & carts. I knew the dimensions would be tight, but I also knew the trailer should suit my needs for the next decade easily, or longer. I just needed a few modifications to the inside – which included making the crazy heavy center gate a whole lot lighter and the kickplate to latch it closed easier to manage.
18 years of rust made the kick plate far too difficult for me to deal with. My husband cut the center gate apart and notched the metal to allow room for the cart to clear, while I sanded away.
After completely sanding it and removing trim and anything else I didn’t want on the trailer – I actually found some of the original color! Holy cow, I never would have imagined it was so bright red! And clearly you can see the rust. No worries, we had a complete makeover plan in mind.
07-04-2015 After completely sanding and power washing the trailer on day 1, I masked it off and prepared it for painting while the work on the inside continued. While I painted, my husband installed a plywood sheet to replace the removed portion of the center gate – making the gate a few hundred pounds lighter! He also installed new bolts for the kickplate, so I could push the gate closed by hand instead of literally kicking it.
Picking colors was no easy task. I wanted something to match my car, and I also wanted to add a glitter coat to it, so it would shimmer and sparkle. I then decided, rather last minute, that painting the trailer just ONE color was too boring. My glittery trailer needed to be THREE colors, which made for triple the work (not to mention cost!) in picking out 3 colors that blended with each other and looked good with my car all while giving me the look I wanted. Well…….
Yea, the roof turned out pink. Nope! Not what I intended. This was a case of “well, it looked good on paper!” I was displeased with the colors once I saw them mixed, but I paid for the paint, so it was going on, like it or not.
Inside, you can see the plywood center gate. I also made a set of ramps for cart loading ease, and we did a test fit of the cart. It fit! Barely, as you can see- there truly is NO room to spare (well, OK, there was an inch of space on each side).
July 5, 2015
Roof painted (pink….), and the middle color is now on, along with the first coats of the bottom color. Yep… still pink.
The front isn’t any less pink.
July 7, 2015 In the first 3 days, we put in almost 26 hours of work onto the trailer. July 6, my husband went back and did another couple hours of continued painting of the bottom color. The color was starting to shape up and either I was just getting used to having a pink trailer, or it was starting to look a bit more like I had intended. I just kept telling myself once the clear coat & glitter go on, it would look nicer (and the glitter and eventual graphics would hide some of the pink!).
Still in need of continued paint, clear coat, glitter, and graphics, but maybe it is starting to come along.
Below; Final application of all colors and touch up complete. In addition, the handles on the back gate and side door were all painted black to add a little contrast. July 19, 2015:
2 weeks later, (partially due to weather and the number of coats of paint it took to get that red shaped up right), the clear coat (with glitter!!!) was ready to be applied.
07-25-2015 Paint finally completed, clear coat and glitter applied. For the first time in 3 weeks, the painter’s tape was finally removed. Some minor clean up to do here and there, and still have to apply graphics and do the wheels. It is coming along! Still have to pad the inside gate as well.
I have to admit, although the glitter was a calamity of failures during application that ultimately ended up taking up nearly 10 full hours of the day to finish, I am extremely happy with how it came out, and I really like how the glitter sparkles when the sunlight catches it. It doesn’t show up quite as well in cell phone shots, but it does look rather nice in person.
The work continued right on into August. We applied the graphics, and I am really happy with how they look, although not totally happy with how they actually went on. Oh well. It was definitely looking better and better every day.
The wheels got a makeover, too. I sanded them down to remove the rust as much as I could. I found they mostly had just surface rust and the powder coat paint was peeling off in large pieces. I painted them black with rust stop paint and put wheel covers on them.
Still have a couple more “doo dads” to put on the outside and replace some lights, and finish up with the center gate and give the interior a quick paint job, too, but essentially it’s done. The whole trailer is about 85% complete, and has been used now a couple times for showing with Luke. I am over all happy with how it turned out, and once complete, it will be for sale. I will be looking into getting another trailer to rehab in the near future to resell. It’s been fun!
Although this one was a lot of work, I learned a few ways to improve my work ease for the next one (like don’t use red!!!!), and may possibly try sandblasting a future project trailer for an even better paint job.
*the red paint was so thin it took 5 coats to produce full coverage. It was crazy! The pink went on in a single coat and a 2nd coat just for good measure.
There is still more work to come, so stay tuned for more photos!