Blocking up the trailer

Today we blocked up the trailer, ending my ill-fated experiment of building a tiny house with the weight on the wheels and keeping level by winding the leveling jacks down an equal amount of turns over the course of the build to prevent overloading them.

This strategy didn’t cause any problems per se it just ended up being kind of a pain in the ass. I still maintain that this is smarter than blocking the trailer up at the corners with the wheels off the ground. That stresses a trailer exactly opposite of how it’s designed, and the small amount of flex in the trailer frame places tremendous stress on the house when the weight is transferred back to the axles during a move.

In a conversation with Rob, the owner of Iron Eagle trailers, he agreed that the best way to support a tiny house is to block it up 25% of the way from either end of the trailer and to share the load partially with the wheels. Our trailer is only 20 feet long so we felt comfortable blocking a little closer to the ends.

Derin Williams from Shelter Wise recommended using 18 inch diameter heavy round pier blocks as a foundation, and they are perfect for this application. After digging down to bare earth and leveling carefully these large blocks offer a wide stable surface that is a lot more trustworthy than a standard pier block.

Square chunks of 4 x 10 are relatively easy to cut for blocking, and once the trailer is perfectly leveled using a laser level or a transit (not a string level or a standard level!) all one has to do is measure the remaining space between the top of the blocking and the bottom of the trailer and custom cut blocks to fit. As the house is built the blocking will take the weight, and letting a some air out of the tires balances the weight between the blocking and the axles.

Once the floor/deck is built it’s a smart idea to recheck level before raising the walls. If you are sloppy with your leveling you WILL regret it for the rest of the build.

Also anytime you’re jacking up something heavy you should have back up blocking in case it fails and be in a position where you can get out of the way quickly if a jack starts to kick out.


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