How to build a trailer and put a new ATV on it

How to build a trailer and put a new ATV on it

So the theme over the past year is ‘running out of time’, basically growing up poor and having to struggle to obtain the toys you want allows a person to develop a good set of skills such as scavenging, repairing, modifying, and related to this, the ability to use a good variety of tools. The problem with this is when you’re finally at a point where you can just buy the things you want brand new, you’re still stuck with this overwhelming sense of ‘why pay all that money when I can just buy something broken at near-scrap value and rebuild it myself?’

Well up until now thats basically how my toys have been acquired, from the cars I struggled to keep on the road so I could get to work, to my pieced-together computer at home, which for the longest time was a discarded laptop with a smashed screen plugged into an old 4:3 LCD monitor, but I digress. Running a business full time means I don’t have time to be maintaining all the things I own. I can’t afford any downtime anymore waiting for things to be repaired or replaced. This is why the Volvo was put aside as a project car, the Honda was sent off to the scrap yard, and a new Acura parked in the driveway. The same now goes for my ATV project.

The idea was, I want an ATV to be able to go riding with my friends who already have ATVs. A new one is over 10 grand, but there are many, many busted old ones floating around. If I buy one for cheap, fix it up, sell it for a small profit, buy a slightly better one, fix it up, sell it for a slightly larger profit, and repeat a few times, I will eventually have one I’d be happy to keep. If you have a lot of time and patience, this will result in a decent ATV at a little over 1/10th the wallet cost, but will take probably a year or two of weekends in the garage. It was going well, I sold my first ATV for 3x what I put into it, and bought a Kawasaki 300 with a shattered front diff.

When I bought the Big Bear the engine was seized and it had no brakes.
When I sold the Big Bear it was running like new! I also gave it a winch and some paint.
The Kawasaki (Prairie 300) needed work on the carb, electrical, brakes, diffs, exhaust, and frame. Also there was a nest full of dead mice in the air box and belt cover.

Before I continue fixing up ATVs, I need a way to move them around. None of my vehicles have a hitch to pull a trailer, but I can put a Curt kit on my Acura for just a couple hundred bucks. 6 bolts and a plug-and-play lighting connector later and my MDX has a fully functional hitch. Well, mostly. Without a transmission intercooler my tow rating will be limited to 3500lbs, if I install the intercooler I could get as high as 5000lbs, but I figure the trailer will be under 1000, and most ATVs are under 1000, so it should be fine. I can always add it later if I need to.

Just performing a prostate exam on my MDX Tech SHAWD, what’re ya lookin at my gut fer?

Now I just need a trailer and my ATV hustle business just got smoother! Except have you seen the price of trailers lately? A small obnoxious-looking utility trailer is near $1000, never mind one with a fold-down ramp.. At the end of the day its just a steel frame with a wood floor and some lights bolted to the side.. I was a welder for years I could make one myself! … hmm …

So I picked up an old trailer frame+axle for $40, did some measuring and ordered $300 worth of steel. Wanting to keep the trailer as light as possible (partly because under a certain weight allows for lifetime registration without inspection, and partly because I need to be able to move it around by hand) I started with 2×2 angle to support the floor and ramp, and 1″ square for the walls. I accidentally bought the wrong plywood for the floor, but there’s enough steel support that the thinner floor wont matter. Some cutting, welding, bleeding, cursing, and many beers later, it was complete.

Cutting and Welding
Painting. Tremclad is god.
Weight test, using the heaviest bike I could find (friends 1000XMR). Note the half-assed fenders.

You may have noticed the generator bolted to the front of the trailer. Short boring story, a neighbor of mine occasionally brings me things to fix. He brought be the generator and I told him it needs a new regulator, but he didn’t really need it so he told me if I can fix it I can have it. $20 later I have a working generator and nowhere to put it, so I bolted it to the trailer. I also installed an ignition key, so random dipshits cant start it up if they find it parked somewhere.

Okay so now I have an MDX and I built myself a trailer. Time to get back to the ATV! This Kawasaki doesn’t have the features nor engine size I’m looking for, so it will be fixed up to sell. The same old list of parts needed to be rebuilt such as the brakes, carb, and most of the wiring harnesses, but the front diff is trash. It’s smashed to bits and seized pretty good, so forget rebuilding that. A replacement diff will cost double what I bought the bike for, so I decided its best to convert the thing to rear wheel drive. Removing the front propshaft was simple enough, except it kind of holds a seal and bearing into the main gearbox, so I had to make a sort of replacement seal to hold it together. And of course the front wheels are held on by the CV axles, which I can’t keep without a diff, so I took an angle grinder to the CV joints and just kept the parts that hold the wheel hubs together. I eventually sold it to one of my employees for 4x what I put into it, only to buy it back 6 months later for a bit less, because he needed the money and rarely rode it. Maybe eventually I’ll fix the 4WD and give it to my father-in-law for use on his farm. I don’t need or want it anymore because:

2021 Can-am Outlander 570 DPS

The ATV project is done with, it died of a spare time deficiency. I ordered this brand new Outlander and after about a month it arrived. The dealer wanted an additional 800 DOLLARS to add a 2500lb winch, and thats not including installation. Screw that, I got a 4500lb winch with a synthetic rope on special at Canadian Tire for $250 and installed it myself. Also got a set of mud tires (mud lite xl) because it comes with really basic trail tires that will be of zero use to me.

ITP Mudlite XL tires (left) vs stock Wolf Trail tires (right)

So now that I’m all set up to stop buying shitty bikes and wasting time fixing them, it’s time to start getting into the juicy stuff. I noticed my friends XMR says his name on screen when he starts it up, and mine doesn’t. So I did some googling and found out that you can connect the ATV to a computer and program a ‘welcome message’, whatever text you want to pop up when the bike starts up, but the connection is super proprietary and the software is expensive and very hard to pirate, so I may need to find another way.

After a bit more google-fu and poking around my ATV with some basic electronics gear I came up with some interesting information.. the ATV uses a single CAN bus for everything, the proprietary connection is a run-of-the-mill USB to CANbus adapter, serialized and locked to the software (B.U.D.S.) license. In order to do this legit, I would need the adapter, software, and a license that matches the adapter and the VIN of the ATV. But I wonder, do I even need the software? All I want to do is change the startup message, and I already know how to sniff CAN bus traffic, what if I hide a CAN bus logger in the bike and bring it to the dealer for some simple programming…

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