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Author Topic:   Aluminum I-Beam Trailer with Bent Frame
captbobb posted 09-30-2008 09:43 PM ET (US)   Profile for captbobb   Send Email to captbobb  
In advance thank you for your [advice]. I [may purchase] a 23 ft Whaler that has a problem with its I-beam aluminum trailer. A tree fell and hit the trailer bending the I-beam. I am guessing that one of the I-beams that took a direct hit has a two-inch dip resulting in an off-center center beam. My guess is to disassemble the trailer and re-work with heat and leverage. Has a trailer like this been repaired?

Please advise as I need to move quickly on the boat.

Capt Bobb
17 Ft sport
Boston/Cape Cod

HAPPYJIM posted 09-30-2008 09:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
I bent a trailer about 15 years ago. I took the whole trailer to a auto body shop with a frame straighting machine. It took them about 30 minutes to fix it at around $100. I'm still using the trailer with no problems.
fishgutz posted 09-30-2008 09:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for fishgutz  Send Email to fishgutz     
I would NOT heat it. A frame straightener is the way to go. Carry CASH.
A2J15Sport posted 09-30-2008 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for A2J15Sport  Send Email to A2J15Sport     
Ditto on NO HEAT!

Bend it "cold" with a frame machine.

Heat will definetely weaken it.

contender posted 09-30-2008 11:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
I would go to car frame auto body see if they can straighten it. The two guys are correct no heat
ryanwhaler posted 09-30-2008 11:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Yeah... its technically againts the law to use heat on a frame in a body shop, or at least thats what i was told a few years ago when I worked in one
tedious posted 10-01-2008 08:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for tedious    
If the bent I-beam is aluminum, forget about straightening it. It will need to be replaced. Or you could cut out the bent section and weld in a new piece with significant reinforcing, but that would probably be even more expensive. I'd say you're better off looking at getting a replacement trailer, new or used.


Plotman posted 10-01-2008 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
If you cut out the offending section and a new piece is welded in by someone who knows what he is doing, and the alloy is the proper type, it will be as strong as the original.

Option one is a frame shop. Option 2 is a good welder. Option 3 is replace that section of aluminum I-Beam. Will be way cheaper than a whole new trailer.

Stevebaz posted 10-01-2008 05:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Stevebaz  Send Email to Stevebaz     
If it were my trailer I would straighten the tweeked beams and then plate the sides of the beams with material the same thickness as the web on both sides if the I beam. I would plate at least 6 times the width of the beam split past the repair area. Use a certified heilarc welder.
If your weld is suspect and you get in an accident because of a failed repair you will wish you bought a new trailer.
This is what I would do I do not recomend you do anything except get a new trailer or get it repaired by a well inshured facility accepting liability for their repair. If you get this trailer repaired make sure the axle is still square to the hitch.
tedious posted 10-01-2008 06:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for tedious    
In my experience, aluminum does not straighten, it just breaks. And welding on it would need someone who really knows their stuff, otherwise the aluminum loses all it's strength in the heat-affected zone. Better to replace the beam. It would be a different story if it were steel.


Jefecinco posted 10-01-2008 06:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Professional welders know how to correctly weld aluminum with no loss of strength at the welds. Take the trailer to a professional welder. Act on the welder's advice.

If it was my trailer I would repair it by cutting out the offending portion of the I beam and welding in a replacement section. To be on the conservative side I would weld a reinforcing plate about six inches long and the width of the flat surface of the beam above and below the welds on the flat parts. This would require four reinforcing plates.

If you are concerned about liability issues use an AWS certified welder.


wayne baker posted 10-01-2008 07:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for wayne baker  Send Email to wayne baker     
I had a bent I beam trailer. I was rear ended turning off the road. The impact drove one of the I beams down several inches just at the point where it bends going back to the hitch. I straightened it in the back yard. I used two screw in house trailer tie downs to chain the trailer down, one on each end of the bent beam. Then I used a hydraulic jack to jack the beam up. You will have to go a good bit higher than level for it to spring back to straight. I jacked it up a little higher on each attempt until it returned to a straight position. Not much to it at all.
tedious posted 10-01-2008 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for tedious    
I agree that a proper welding job would do the trick - but from a quick look at the used trailer prices around here, that might be more cost effective, once time and trouble are factored in. Makes me think twice about getting an aluminum trailer, for sure - with steel, you could just bang it back into shape.


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