Homemade trailer

By Ray Ford

How one cottager built a trailer all from recycled parts

Homemade trailer

Photo by Nell Holtom

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Ken Ballard’s gleaming silver trailer pays tribute to two great icons of the petroleum age: the Airstream trailer and the oil tank. The homemade job “has that streamlined look, but when I put it together back in the ’70s, we never worried about that,” he says. “Gasoline was 39 cents a gallon.”

Yeah, and a Blue box was a 2-4 of Labatt’s. But even in that disposable decade, Ballard was a dedicated recycler. He scrounged the axle, springs, and 15″ wheels from a junkyard Dodge, and welded a frame from 3″ angle iron he had lying around his construction company’s shop. The tongue was fashioned from a reinforced 2″ pipe. Finally, Ballard needed a box or deck, but what to use?

Inspiration came when he spotted an old, 900-litre furnace oil tank at the junkyard. After corralling another surplus tank from a friend, he had them steam-cleaned to remove fumes, then cut the tanks and welded them together, adding a tailgate, lights, and fenders, and slapped on a coat of aluminum paint.

The final touch was a piece of plastic waterline, painted, bent into an arch, and bolted to the front of the trailer. “When you’re looking out the rear window of the car, you can’t see the trailer, so I put that on to help me aim,” Ballard says.

Whether it’s hauling an ATV to Ballard’s Madawaska hunt camp, or firewood to a friend’s Sturgeon Lake cottage, the trailer “creates a lot of conversation at stops,” he says. “People always want to know, ‘What is that?’”
















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Ray Ford