Welding and All Threaded Rods

One of the biggest challenges I have faced so far in this project is how to attach the all threaded rod to the trailer. This would not be such a big deal if I could have put the all threaded rods in a place where they actually touch to the side of the trailer. Unfortunately, the plans that I am building to just don’t line up well with a trailer I bought. At only 82 inches wide, my trailer is just a little bit too narrow with respect to the 88 inch floor in the plans. If I were to put the all threaded rod against the side of the trailer and run it up to the floor, the hurricane ties would end up inside the walls of my house, which wouldn’t be very functional (not to mention not very attractive). I have been putting off getting these rods welded to the trailer for weeks because I knew this was going to be a challenge. However, the next step in the project is to raise the walls and I can’t do that until the all threaded rods are attached, so this was a problem I finally had to face.

In order to tackle the problem, I first had to do some prep work. I had to finish drilling holes in the floor so I would know exactly where the all threaded rods would end up. I also needed to cut the all threaded rod to the right length. Finally, I needed to drill some holes in some steps attached to my trailer that were right in the way of where the all threaded rod needed to go.

I cut the all threaded rod to the right length with my reciprocating saw which was much easier than a hacksaw. I had to be extremely careful about the length. If I welded the wrong size rod onto the trailer, there would be no way to fix it. The rod had to be long enough to get the hurricane tie and a nut on the top but not so long that I couldn’t put a socket over the top of the nut (the socket and an extender will be necessary to tighten some of the harder to reach nuts). The total length was 14 inches for the front and side walls and 15 ½ inches for the rods that go through the rear wall (the rods for the rear wall need to be a little bit longer because the bottom plate on the rear wall is 1½ inches thicker because it uses two 2 x 4’s instead of one).

  • Rod Length (front & side walls): 5” weld + 4.25” floor + 1.5” bottom plate + 1.5” tie down + 1.75” deep socket (with nut inside) = 14” (4.75” showing above the floor)
  • Rod Length (rear wall): 5” weld + 4.25” floor + 3” bottom plate + 1.5” tie down + 1.75” deep socket (with nut inside) = 15.5” (6.25” showing above the floor)
Clamp the Rod

Clamp the Rod

Cut

Cut

Done!

Done!

My trailer came with diamond plates steps on either side of the wheel well that are right where the all threaded rod needed to go. If I had it to do over again, I would make sure they did not attach steps to the sides of my trailer. For the purpose of building a tiny house, these steps only get in the way. Rather than removing the plates, I decided to drill holes to accommodate the rods. This was an interesting project in itself and required me to purchase some special drill bits (a long 3/16″ bit and a fat 5/8″ bit, both for metal).

The photo sequence below shows the process:

Mark Rod Location

Mark Rod Location

Drop Center Punch Through Hole in Floor

Drop Center Punch Through Hole in Floor

Hammer punch

Hammer the Punch

Drill 3/8" Pilot Hole From Top

Drill 3/16″ Pilot Hole From Top

Drill Final 5/8" Hole From Bottom

Drill Final 5/8″ Hole From Bottom

Final Hole

Final Hole

Mock Up of Final Rod with Hurricane Tie

Mock Up of Final Rod with Hurricane Tie

Once the trailer was prepped, I had two welders come over to take a look and give me their ideas. Each one seemed very good at what they did and offered a different perspectives and ideas. I was grateful that both of them more willing to come to my house instead of making me borrow a truck bring my trailer to them.

The first person I met with was Paul from SteelWerx. He was extremely friendly and appeared to be an expert welder. He looked at what I needed to do and said that it would be no problem. It would just take a little bit of time. He couldn’t tell me exactly how much, but thought it would be 4-8 hours at $90.00 per hour. It seemed like a lot of money and I was especially hesitant because there would be no way to know exactly how much it would cost until the project was done. It could be $400 or $800. However, Paul got excellent reviews on yelp and seemed to specialize in handling unusual and challenging welding projects. Paul had a shop about 2.5 miles from my house. I would have to bring the trailer to him to have the work done.

The second person I met with was Skip from Dynamic Welders. Skip seemed a little bit more tentative about my project and pointed out the challenges involved. He suggested that I might want to explore way to mechanically bolt the rods to my trailer instead of welding on extra material to bridge the distance between the sides of the trailer and the rods. He suggested that I buy some steel bar stock, cut it up and drill holes in it for the all threaded rod. The rods would run through the holes in the bar stock and the bar stock would run underneath the trailer attaching to something else to hold everything in its place. Once I had everything mechanically attached, skip could come back and spot weld everything together. He thought the spot welding might cost about $250. He would be able to do the welding on site so I would not have to move my trailer.

I thought about which way to go for only 10 minutes before deciding go with Paul at SteelWerx. Paul was going to be a little bit more expensive. However, I realized that while I was pretty sure I could figure out a way cut and drill a bunch of metal plates to mechanically attach the rods to the trailer, it was not going to be easy. Even obtaining the tools I needed to do that would be a little bit of a challenge. In the end, I chose Paul because this seems like a perfect opportunity to spend a little bit of money and just make the problem go away.

I’m very happy with the final result. Paul and his crew did an excellent job welding the all threaded rod to the trailer. They also did it quickly. I was able to borrow my neighbor’s truck and bring the trailer over in the afternoon on Friday. Paul got to work on it immediately and finished it early on Saturday morning. The final price tag was $600 which I consider money well spent. If the all threaded rod could have been welded directly to the side of the trailer without any spacers, maybe the welding could have been done for $200 or so.  However, given what I gave Paul to work with, I think the final product was was a deal.

The photos below show the final result.

Paul was creative and used a different solution for each rod.  The rides on the front of the trailer (for the rear wall) were almost touching the trailer.  Paul simply screwed along nut on to the ride to bridge the distance, welding the rod to the nut and the nut to the trailer.

Rear Wall (Front of Trailer)

Rear Wall (Front of Trailer)

The rods on either side of the wheel wells were slightly further away from the trailer.  In this case, Paul cut a small piece of metal stock to bridge the distance.

Right of Wheel Well

Right of Wheel Well

Left of Wheel Well

Left of Wheel Well

The rods for the front wall (at the back side of the trailer) were the most challenging.  These were inside the trailer frame by at least a couple of inches.  They also needed to be welded underneath the floor.  In this case, Paul simply used a piece of C channel to bridge the distance.  I think that was a super solution.

Front Wall (Back of Trailer, Undernieth)

Front Wall (Back of Trailer, Underneith)

Paul at Steel Werx is just as much an artist as a welder.  His shop is full of all kinds of
really neat sculptures.  Check out this cut out Paul made that casts a shadow of a young Michael Jackson:

Awesome Metal Art Created by Paul

Awesome Metal Art Created by Paul

And obviously, Paul is a Star Wars fan as well. I knew there was a reason I liked him!

The Steel Werx Sign

The Steel Werx Sign

Paul and I with the Completed Trailer

Paul and I with the Completed Trailer

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