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How to question....building a roof on a cattle trailer

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  • How to question....building a roof on a cattle trailer

    My new project is to refurb our old cattle trailer. Gonna put in a new floor, replace some rusted out side panels and weld some strengthening supports in.

    I have a few questions and was wondering if anybody has experience putting a roof on a trailer?

    I am thinking about puting some square tubing slightly bent at 24 inches apart. They would run from side to side. Then I want to put a skin on top. And I was thinking about riveting the skin to the supports.

    For the roof skin should I use aluminum or steel???

    What thickness would be good??

    The front of the trailer is round so how does one form the skin to accomodate a slight arch on the roof down to a round fromt of the trailer?? Hope this makes sense

    Any ideas, suggestions, experience would be appreciated.


  • #2
    Oh and what is the best way to get a small arch/bend in thin wall 1.5 inch square tubing? I do not have a roller for square tube.

    Thanks again,


    • #3
      Diller, If there was any way possible I would try to save the top front section of the roof. It looks like it would be tough to duplicate witjout special equipment. I re-worked mine a couple of years ago. I used 1/8 X 2 flat stock instead of tubing. It worked pretty good, just tack as you go. I used 5/4 boards forn the floor with 1/2 " treated plywood on top of that. Then I installed cleats on the plywood but a perforated mat would have been better, (more expensive but easier to clean). You know the first thing a cow is gonna do to your pretty work as soon as she gets in the trailer. The top on mine is light gauge steel ; not sure of the gauge but thin,maybe 16 gauge. Not much help, but thats how I did it.


      • #4
        Hey Tug,
        Thanks for the reply. I would save the front portion of the roof but there is no roof on the trailer and I am wanting to build one. I was going to use square tubing for the supports to put the roof skin on but your idea about using flat stock has got me thinking.

        Thanks and yes, I know what the cattle will do when I get done with the refurb. They will put their markings all over the new floor and paint.

        Part of the deal!!!

        Thanks again,


        • #5
          You might be able to find what you are looking for here.
          MigMaster 250- Smooth arc with a good touch of softness to it. Good weld puddle wetout. Light spatter producer.
          Ironman 230 - Soft arc with a touch of agressiveness to it. Very good weld puddle wet out. Light spatter producer.

          PM 180C

          HH 125 EZ - impressive little fluxcore only unit


          • #6
            Hi--I built a stock trailer years ago in high school ag. shop class. You can purchase pre made "bows" in 5ft. or 6ft. widths with corresponding pre made nose cones to fit. We used 20 ga. sheet steel riveted to these bows pulled down tight with straps and come alongs. Check with trailer manufacturers or agriculture equip. dealers for sources.


            • #7
              Thanks Bret and Dan!

              I think I will buy the roof bows and cone and go from there. Any Idea on the spacing of the bows? Is there a standard?

              The trailer is 60" wide and 14 feet long.

              This is fun stuff!! Catching up on all the stuff I missed by not taking AG. My 14 year old son is in AG and can do so much more than I could at that age.

              Thanks so much!!!!



              • #8
                I recently rebuilt a 30 foot cattle trailer and I am in the process of building a 16 foot two horse trailer.You will want the the bows to be heavy pipe or heavy wall tubing. A lot of the trailer strength is in the bows.I rented an electric Green Lee conduit bender from the local rental shop. Once I had my pattern fitted to the trailer I bent all of the bows for the trailer in about 30 minutes. Try to get a half day rentaI. I spaced the bows at 24 inches.Weld all the way around the runners to the bows.It will help with the strength and rust portection. It is worth the exrta effort if you are keeping the trailer The top pipe runners I spaced at 16 inches. The spacing will depend on the width of your trailer. You want to make sure the cows or bulls can not get there head through the opening. If they can they will. Double up on the bows at the back of the trailer. It will help keep the door frame straight. Build the gate and door extra heavy. Allow extra clearance on the sliding door so it will move easly even when bent. It will be bent. Big cattle tend to be rough on the doors when they get upset. It is real pain to have to work with a bent, sticking sliding door when trying to load.This is the one place you want to try to over build.On the floor use heavy treated lumber with a 1/4 space for some drainage. Staple heavy cattle panel wire to the floor to help the cattle keep their footing.

                Good luck with the cattle,
                Last edited by Gary Brady; 04-05-2005, 12:39 AM.
                Gary Brady


                • #9
                  Armadillo--I doubled the rear bow and welded together. Then I spaced the remaining bows,working forward, 2' on center up to where the nose cone was located. Then, I ran individual square tubing pieces up the center and up each side between the bows to make a grid-like structure----Heck for stout. This ,by the way, is a 5'x16' trailer.I then gusseted the rear doubled bows to their attachment point.Then, starting at the back, start laying down and strapping down the 4' wide 20 ga. sheet metal top and either rivet or even mig weld (watch for heat distortion).Work forward, overlapping sheets approx. 1",and leave a little long in front so nose cone will overlap. My trailer was finished in 1982 and I use it still on a weekly basis. Build it stout, keep clean after use, keep painted and it will last a long time.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the advise!!! I am sourcing some steel and will be on it this weekend!


                    • #11
                      Great link Dan. I was checking out the roof bows and some say "camber" What does that mean?
                      self taught amature, SIP 115V flux welder (retired) Now using a Clarke EN180 220V machine


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by V10man
                        Great link Dan. I was checking out the roof bows and some say "camber" What does that mean?
                        I think camber is the arch in center of the bow. Camber is good it keeps the rain from standing on the roof.
                        It's only a mistake if you don't learn from it!!!!! Wrenchbender
                        Miller 250 Buzz
                        Miller Trail Blazer 301
                        Meco Weld master
                        Very old smith smoke axe
                        Hobart 400 DC portable
                        Hobart porta feed 17 and a lot O' udder stuff


                        • #13
                          If you check with a local Semi Trailer Repair shop they use Aluminum roofing. It comes on a 2000# roll about 104" wide, kinda like carpet. They sell it by the running foot and cut what you need. If you are putting it on steel framing you need to put tape on the steel to prevent electrolisis.


                          • #14
                            Finally got started. Here are a couple of pics. Lots of rusted through areas to be replaced.
                            Here we are pulling the old floor out.

                            Here is picture of the decayed sides.

                            Cut out a 5.5 inch strip around the bottom and welded new steel in it's place.

                            It is an old rust bucket, but we will breathe a little life into it.
                            Sorry for the big pics!

                            Will post more as it progresses.



                            • #15
                              Man that looks too familar. While I had mine stripped to that point. I brushed on a coat of naval jelly. Let that dry, scuffed it lightly and shot on some rustoleum. Might not have helped much but makes you feel a little better before covering it all up again.