Warning: mkdir(): No such file or directory in /var/www/vhosts/oneidatrail.com/httpdocs/app/plugins/photo-gallery/framework/BWGOptions.php on line 369
Tiny House: Trailer Archives - Oneida Trail

Tiny House Trailer Bolts: Welding Went Well

Calling All Local Welders

“Yea, how much would it cost to weld threaded rod to a trailer for a tiny house? Like sixteen pieces.”  Tiny house enthusiasm ensues. Confusing welding terms are shared. Various prices are quoted.

quotesTenacity for Learning or Stubborn Frugality

The price sounded like it would cost around $250. As a growing DIY guy, I’m more and more reluctant to hire help. I’d rather learn the skill–and overcome my reservations and fears about trying it. Welding the rod to the trailer was a prime example of this tenacity for learning (the nice spin on the behavior).  The decision was finalized after talking with two friends who have welded before. They confirmed my pa’s MIG welder should do the trick–or at least I should try it and see how strong the welds would be.

Enter the MIG Welding Unit

Pa purchased a 90 Amp Flux Wire Welder by Chicago Electric from Harbor Freight for $115 awhile back. It states that it’s not suited for aluminum or stainless steel. I forget what threaded rod we used–but I hope it wasn’t stainless now! They have a stronger unit that does stainless steel for $199.  These units don’t require gas–they eject heated-up metal as they make their arc, which is when you use electricity to heat metal to bond the two metals. Like all welders–these puppies need to be grounded and emit dangerous levels of electricity–all precautions should be taken.

See what this little guy can do!
See what this little guy can do!

Welding Preparations

You shouldn’t weld over paint–nasty smelling and it will compromise the welds, so after grinding down my beautiful paint job, I marked lines on each side of the threaded rod after making sure the rods were straight up and down and level.  I also precut all of the rods. As stated before, I had 6 inches of steel tube framing and 6 1/2 inches of subfloor with the sill plate. I added another two inches for a buffer and to have enough for the Simpson Strong Tie HTT5 to fit over. I rounded up and went with 15 inch pieces, so I would need 20 ft of threaded rod ($60-70 depending on grade and type).  *I cut off around 2-3 inches in the end, so I had too much.

Simpson Strong Tie HTT5
Simpson Strong Tie HTT5


  • Welder
  • Welding Gloves
  • Welding Mask (Automatic preferred) *Check batteries in it!
  • 10 Gauge Extension Cord. We used a 12 Gauge Extension Cord.
  • Stronger Welder Might Need 30+ Amp Plug. Our 20-amp did the deed.
  • Cheap Steel Brushes
  • Extra Welding Wire Spool. We used two spools.
  • Slag Chipping Hammer


  • Cut Pieces of Threaded Rod

Advice from Ollie

One of my friends with welding experience gave me the following tips and expectations and also led me through a welding practice session at his workshop:

  • With the MIG welder, you’ll be using Flux Core Wire. This is messy. Will create slag (black glassy layer stuff) which you’ll have to chip off or scrub with a wire brush. Use non-flammable clothing because this stuff with spray you a bit. *Followed advice and got sprayed quite a bit. I didn’t need hammer to chip off slag; the steel brushes were enough.

  • Your welder has lower amperage, so you won’t be able to fine tune its setting as well as other welders. You’ll probably need it on max. Adjust the wire feed to get a nice bacon sizzle that doesn’t shoot off too much slag. *Yes, it was on max, and the wire feed was around 8. This was high because we had a large gap to fill in.

  • Make sure to have a strong extension cord. *Got one.

  • I looked at your welder’s manual. It has 220% duty cycles, so after every 2 minutes of welding, you’ll have to let the welder cool for 8 minutes at its max power setting. *We rested it for about 5 minutes. Pa wasn’t patient.

  • You can use zinc primer for the welded area. *Didn’t use. But after cleaning the welds, I did quickly use rust converter as a primer (otherwise surface rust would occur overnight).

  • Use a mask for zinc vapor, or you’ll get metal fever. *Yikes–I wore my respirator; never got a crazy fever.

  • Take a sledge hammer and hit the rod after. If it holds, you should be fine. *We did this—hit the rod multiple times to really test it. They were holding very well! Yay! Also, I had to sledge some of the rods a bit when putting the 3/4 inch plywood over them.
Pa Starting Off the Welds
Pa Starting Off the Welds

Threaded Rod Placement

I didn’t have to weld along the height of the whole steel tubing (6 inches), but I thought it was a nice overkill idea.  My friend Ollie explained that the more space in-between the metals, the more you can inject metal into that in-between area, bonding the metals while creating a stronger weld. For this reason, I chose to run the welds along the entire tubing instead of a butt weld (just placing the rod on top of the trailer framing–little surface area between the metals ). I heard butt welds can be sometimes finicky and unreliable, too….probably depends on the welder. For me, I was going for maximum strength; however, placing the rod along the tubing shifted the holes in my sill plate–they wouldn’t be in the center of the plate anymore, but it would still work out, so “I made my bed to lie in.” One alternative option would be to drill a hole in the frame. Place rod into the hole–weld around the top of it. You also could add an additional hole and welding point through the bottom of frame.welding rod info

Ugly but Strong Welds

Pa started off welding the first side of the trailer. He owned the welder and had a little experience.  He’d weld a small bead at the top and bottom while I held the rod in place. Then, he’d start filling in the entire length (my overkill request). His initial welds were pretty ugly tumors; sorry Pa. This was because we didn’t have a high enough setting on the wire feed for the large gaps we had to fill in. Also, Pa didn’t really get the welding gun in close enough for that nice consistent bacon sizzle. We’ll place the blame on his glasses. Regardless of looks, we banged on them with a lot of force with the sledge hammer–they weren’t budging or going anywhere! Success!

Tumor Welds
Tumor Welds
Tumor Style Welding Contiunes
Perfect Tumor Welding..
Wow. Our welds are ugly.
Wow. Pa won’t be getting any beauty points.

Round 2: Just Me and the MIG

We didn’t finish all of the welds on day one because it started to rain. On day two, it was just me. Before I got started, I noticed that surface rust already started to form on the bare metal areas. I should have applied a metal primer or the rust converter as a primer ASAP yesterday. Lesson learned.

Rust Already.
Rust Already.

After cleaning off the rust and putting on the rust converter, my welding debut commenced.  I read through the welder’s manual, and I made sure I followed all of the safety steps. Definitely make sure to ground the welder with the clamp. We would use the previous bare metal bolt to do this (a painted surface could weaken the ground connection).  I held the rod myself and got some beads on it. I found that if I got the needle closer and slowly weaved left to right, I could get some less ugly welds. I felt a little giddy during the process! I didn’t have to hire a welder and picked up a new skill. I hope to weld some furniture legs in the future (you can always grind down those ugly welds!). Don’t forget to prime and paint the new bolts! Here were some of my less ugly welds:

Not as ugly welds.
Not too shabby.
A Welding Machine

The reins are ours,


Reflections, Hindsight, and Alterations:

  • It’s really helpful to reach out and see if you have any friends who can weld.
  • If you don’t want to invest in the welder or can’t find one to borrow, cut the threaded rod with an angle grinder with a metal cut-off blade. Having the rods prepared will cut down the cost of having a welder come over.
  • After placing the steel hold-downs over the rods, I ran into some issues. Because the rod wasn’t in the center of my sill plate, some hold-downs would stick out slightly beyond the thickness of the wall. I could either grind down the hold-downs or just carve the back of my pine siding to make it work.
  • One rod was in the middle of our door! I put a nut on the bolt and shaved the rest of the rod off. I was able to carve a piece out of the bottom of the door frame to fit it over the nutted bolt, allowing me to utilize that bolt to help me at least hold the subfloor to the trailer at that point.
  • Between a lot of welding overkill along the 6″ steel tubing and cutting off 2-3 inches at the top– I wasted a lot of threaded rod. Shit. Should have just welded 3-4 inches along the frame and trusted my measurements to and above the sill plate. Don’t forget to add the Simpson Steel Hold-down built-in washer and height of the nut. I’d add an inch of wiggle room beyond that get more.


Categories: Building, Uncategorized

Tiny House Trailer Restoration

Power Tools...Stay Clear!
Power Tools…Stay Clear!

Metal Fan

Bringing our trailer back to life was my first experience battling metal. Turns out battling and playing metal are two very different skill sets. Overall, it was a pretty exhilarating and tiring venture.

The Process

Cascading spark-fireworks fly while Chris gets nailed with breaking shuriken-like metal cut-off discs. Not painless.

Materials List:

  • 10 Metal Cut-Off discs
  • 5 Metal Grinding Discs
  • 1 Gallon of Metal Paint, Brushes & Rollers


  • Angle Grinder
  • Steel Cup Brush
  • Safety Glasses, Heavy Gloves, Mask, Latex Gloves for Painting

 Game Plan:

  • Use steel brush cup to grind off all surface rust
  • Cut off and grind unnecessary components
  • Use a rust converter/primer
  • Paint 2-3 layers of strong oil paint to seal

Got your Grain of Salt? Read on.

Remember, this was done by a guy who has no idea what he’s really doing—be encouraged and afraid. Disclaimer aside, the wood was past its prime and starting to detach already; luckily taking it off was simple with a drill and crowbar.

Decking Removed: Surface Rust
Decking Removed: Surface Rust

In an ideal world, I’d rent and use a sand blaster to get off all the surface rust. After some quick research, I got some quotes for around 300-500 dollars, so we decided against it. That left me with the ol’ time consuming way: 4 ½” angle grinder with a steel cup. Why is it always the ol’ time consuming way with me? I wore heavy gloves and mask for the dust—I always err on the side of caution with safety. It’s a good thing because those steel threads detached, stabbing me during this step.

Angle Grinder with Steel Brush Cup
Angle Grinder with Steel Cup Brush

After steel brush grinding a third of it, I got fed up and called the guy who sold me the Rust Converter, and I asked him if this step was really necessary. He said yes. I got back to work—rattling my skeletal frame like a baby toy.

Steel Brushed: Not very Differet!
Steel Brushed: Not very Different!

The next step was chemistry…so you wouldn’t understand. I kid. Maybe you would; I wouldn’t.  I looked for a somewhat eco-option, so even though POR15 Rust Preventative and paint was recommended on online, I went with Rust Converter from The Rust Store. “Rust Converter, a water-based primer, contains two active ingredients: Tannic acid and an organic polymer.” It isn’t harmless, but it looks a lot less processed and toxic. I applied two coats as recommended. I got a gallon and used about 3/5ths of it. Looked a lot better with it! *You may want to use Bull Frog Rust Remover or Rust Release Supergel before the rust converter, but I thought my grinding work was enough prep.

Rust Converted: Better.
Rust Converted/Primed: Better.

Rust Spots Still Slightly Visible
Rust Spots Still Slightly Visible

Before painting the trailer, it was time to do some cutting, the scary spark stuff. Using metal cut-off discs and grinders, I cut off the lip on the inside wheel well, mending plates in the front, and metal hangers in the back near the rear lights. I also grinded down and cut the screws that previously held the wooden bed down.

Confession: I don’t know why the blades warped and broke so quickly but they did; I must have been using the wrong adapter with the angle grinder (*Confirmed with Pa). The discs would snap and shoot out and I got hit twice in the arm pretty miserably, haha. Something needed adjusting, and I didn’t figure it out totally. The ¼” steel was tough to cut through; so I did start to use the thicker blades and even the grinder disc once to get through the entire thing.

Iron Maiden Guides My Blade
Iron Maiden Guides My Blade

The D-rings were 2” below the top of the frame, so I left them on the trailer. I know a lot of people cut off all the unneeded trailer parts, but I think I can use these to secure things to my trailer (potential Solman Solar generator) or even use them to brace the trailer to the ground if I lived in a really windy area. Hope leaving them doesn’t end up biting me in the butt….like a metal cut-off disc…I also used silicone for some holes left over from the screws as well as threaded road to fill in two large holes. Some of the steel tube framing is hollow and open, so I don’t know if this is necessary for all trailers for the metal to adjust or if it’s going to lead to future rust issues. Feedback and thoughts would be appreciated! With everything cut, grinded, plugged, and primed, I went with the only metal paint I found in the area: rust-oleum. I read mixed reviews on it, but I had faith in the preparation job, so I hoped the positive reviews were right! Although not eco-friendly, the paint was very sticky and made the trailer look spanking new! I put two coats on. After the winter, I’m happy to report the paint is still holding and looking great. Satisfying result!

Painted Trailer: Looking Spanking New!
Painted Trailer: Looking Spanking New!

Paint Close Up
Paint Close Up

Painted Wheel wells
Painted Wheel wells

The reins are ours,


Reflections, Hindsight, and Alterations

  • Before the framing lumber got delivered I had a little time so I put a quick third coat on this spring even though the paint was holding up well.
  • Had to grind off the paint for the wheel’s threaded rods, so I could attach the wheels and nuts this spring—a little extra work.
  • I wonder if I should have tried to grind off the rust with a grinding disc instead of a steel cup brush. It would have exposed more of the metal and taken more of the rust away. If people do that–I’d get the rust converter/primer on ASAP because it re-rusts quickly when exposed to the elements.


  • The Rust Store: http://www.theruststore.com/
Categories: Building

Leveling Tiny House: Level Trailer by Unlevelheaded Man

Cinder Block Style
Cinder Block Style

Level Up

Instead of buying scissor jacks, we opted to go the cheap route by borrowing cinder blocks from dad and a 10-ton bottle jack to adjust every side slowly.  Time consuming but cheaper, and it will have the benefit of being very sturdy during construction. I used blocks in the four corners and two pillars in the middle. Use plywood or boards if ground is a little uneven or if you’re building on the grass.

Used Wood Pieces with Cinder Blocks
Used Wood Pieces with Cinder Blocks

The trailer is currently within 1/16 inch of being level. Should do the trick. Grateful the trailer is pretty level to begin with. Kai, from 2Cycle2gether.com, had a off-level trailer. He ended up sistering the steel framing with wood joists and raising the wood where needed.  Check out his solution here.

Reflections, Hindsight, and Alterations

  • Ebay has a set of four scissor jacks for $100 total after shipping (good deal).  Would have been nice to buy the scissor jacks but also it was an unnecessary purchase—something I’m getting better and better at avoiding.
  • Underneath the blocks the trailer remains “unaltered.” I’ll have to refinish those places after the house is built and paint them, too–that would have been another advantage of the scissor jacks–exposing all the metal for refurbishing.
Categories: Building