I have a decent amount of very good tools and I’m grateful to own them. They have helped me out on so many different occasions during so many different projects. There have been, however, times when I wish I owned even more tools. While I love using the tools I do have, they oftentimes aren’t equipped for the jobs I find myself getting involved in. This trailer axle support beam attachment is one such project. For this one, I sure could have used a drill press. I’ve got an awesome Dewalt hammer drill that I use for larger projects, but hand-holding a drill while stepping on two square tubes to keep them steady on the ground isn’t exactly a fertile environment for straight drilling. I thought I was drilling straight, but…well, you’ll see in the photos below.
Don’t get me wrong though, the tube I added to this axle is going to make it about 100 times stronger. I just wish I did a nicer job with the drilling. I hate knowing that there are crooked holes in something I worked on.
To acquire the square tubing I would need for this project, Laura and I visited an incredible business in Skowhegan called Brown’s Welding and Steel. It’s a steel fabricator’s playground. It’s a dream come true. I remember using my father’s welder when I was a kid to make all sorts of things and boy, I sure could have used a place like this. And a little bit of money, but we won’t talk about that. From this establishment, I purchased what they refer to as a “drop.” That’s a piece of steel that’s left over from another project. They have a bunch of this stuff and it’s handy because it saves time and money because the business doesn’t need to make any cuts to specific lengths. I did that myself and saved $5 per cut. I happen to have a tool for that.
I bought a six and a half foot long piece of steel tubing that’s two inches by two inches and one quarter inch thick. That’s a 6.5′ x 2″ x 2″ x 1/4″. It’s some pretty thick walled tubing. Take a look.
Here’s a bit of knowledge for you. Did you know that the thicker the walls of the tubing, the more rounded the outside corners? Yes, they can square off the corners of thin walled tubing a lot more than they can with the thicker walled stuff. Since this is 1/4″ thick the corners are pretty rounded.
For the axle, I cut a piece from the entire tube that measured about two and a half feet. Then, I sat it next to the axle to see how it fit.
I’ll use the remaining four feet for the hitch bar, but that will come later on, after I fix this drilling issue.
By the way, this piece of steel weighed in at 33 pounds and it cost around $42, just in case you’re interested in how much steel weighs and costs.
Since the trailer axle has two plates that were welded on it, I sat this additional square tubing on top of the plates, which made it off-center a bit. I didn’t mind that because those plates at least gave the tubing something to rest upon.
Once I was sure everything was aligned, I used my clamps to make sure the pieces stayed secure.
After that, I marked the tubing. I planned on drilling four holes that sat in between the ridges of the plastic tub. Since some of the ridges were high and others were low, I thought it would be a good idea to place the bolt heads in the high ones so they didn’t touch anything and eventually wear the plastic away and form a hole.
And then my friends, I drilled. I began with small holes and went all the way up to half inch.
Things started off quite pleasantly, but turned ugly as I continued on. The smaller drill bits flew right through the steel. It wasn’t until the larger 1/2″ bit that I had to use some muscle to get the job done. If you aren’t aware, when drilling in steel, you need to use oil, a lot of pressure on the bit and a slow drilling speed. Did I follow this advice? No, and I wore out my 1/2″ bit in the process. I almost couldn’t finish the job because of that. My speed was too fast, which heated up and dulled the bit as a result. And I didn’t use any oil. This is why I say that I’d like a drill press. So I can slow down and focus when I work on these types of projects. Because I had to keep the pipes steady on one of the trailer tires while holding them with my foot, I just wanted to finish things up fast. I wasn’t thinking and suffered because of it. Remember, oil, pressure and a slow speed when drilling.
Oh well. The holes are there, but they sort of follow different directions. I began even on top, in a straight line, but as I drilled through four walls of two tubes, I got lost somewhere.
Anyway, my grade 8 bolts arrived today. I bought these for a lot less online than I would have in person at the hardware store. The local place wanted about three times as much. I bought 1/2″ bolts that are five inches long. I also got some washers and nuts. Strong stuff. Also, I was able to buy in bulk, so it was cheaper. I got 25 bolts, 50 washers and 50 nuts.
I was excited to slide the bolts into their new homes.
I haven’t tightened the nuts up yet, but I’ll do that in a few minutes. I am going to add some thread lock so they don’t come loose while I’m using the trailer. I also need to put the trailer back together so I can get back to work.
I’m not going to reinforce the hitch tube until I sharpen my drill bits and get a drill press. The presses are very inexpensive these days at Home Depot, so that won’t take long to buy. Until then, I’ll see you while I’m wheeling around on my trailer. Have a great day and thanks for reading!