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How I turned an old horse trailer into a vintage mobile bar.

"This is the best idea!" "OMG, so clever!" "I've always wanted to do this!"

I can't tell you how often I hear this when people see my trailer. They just love it and who could blame them?! I love it, too! In fact, I spend as much time as possible in it.

I even hide from my children in it!

The point is that YES! It is so fun but it was a ton of work, sweat, frustration and money. However, I love research and I found as many DIY tips and best practices to help us start this project with the finish line in sight. Here are my TOP 7 tips to turn an old beat up horse trailer into a mobile bar.

  1. Budget: you honestly can’t build this business from nothing. Even if someone gifts you a trailer and the labor, the supplies to outfit it are still there. Even if that someone says they will pay for it…they are still spending money and you need to be aware of the expenses. It's just smart business. Besides, you'll have more control, buy-in and accountability for your success if you have some skin in the game.

  2. Where to find your trailer: I found tons of options on Facebook! Look in the marketplace but also ask around. There may be some old farmer with one, who isn't on social media but has friend you know. So put it out there!

  3. Picking the right investment: Just remember what style you are looking for. If you want a vintage look…girl, that is an OLD trailer. For me, the older it was the better. Here a couple things to consider when deciding on one.

    1. Major dents/body work that might need complete replacement of metal sheeting. Yeah, it can be done but can you do it or afford it? Some dents can add character or be forgiven, right?

    2. Rust can eat through metal. You must get rid of it. It could compromise the integrity of the trailer to the point of uselessness.

    3. Tires average about $100+ a pop. You need to know if they need to be replaced because that drops a whopping $400 into the red side of the ledger.

    4. Road-worthy was a big deal for me. I wanted to pull up, hitch and pull out. So you need to know if the trailer can be pulled off the property safely and taken home. Keep in mind how far you'll have to drive round trip to bring this trailer home. Also, get your vehicle tow-ready.

    5. Style is important but not a deal breaker for me. I wanted old so when I found a 1979 trailer that fit my budget and all the parameters…I started the negotiations.

  4. Making an offer: don't EVER start with their price. Always ask if there is room to negotiate. The worst they can say is "no". Once you have a fair price, pay in cash when you get there and ask for the title or bill of sale. You'll need it to register.

  5. Demo Day: Empty this bad boy out. Remove all the horse padding, chains, separators…that horsey stuff. This is where my husband came in real handy! He cut out all the metal pieces we wouldn't be using, including the windows. Double check the sturdiness of the floor, too. You can cover ugliness but not if you're falling through rotted mess.

  6. Grind, Prime, Paint: In that order! Get every ounce of rust off or it will continue to eat away at the metal. You can replace pieces of the wall with pretty wood slats or wall material but keep in mind the cost and effort to install it. We had 3 layers of paint that we needed to grind off.

  7. Trailer Design: Have a design in mind but understand that issues may come up that you need to (dare I say) pivot. Here are the basic design elements needed.

    1. Outdoor serving counters

    2. Indoor prep counters

    3. Service windows

    4. Back door completion

This should give you the finished empty trailer that you can begin adding your own personal touches to below.

  • Flooring

  • Lighting

  • Sinks

  • Storage

  • Décor

I hope this helped anyone interested in starting their own trailer. There are a ton of details that we had to overcome that I left out. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Remember…the easiest part is getting started, the hardest part is finishing.

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