How to Move a Cabin on a Flatbed Truck
Many people don't view a cabin as a mobile structure, but if your cabin doesn't use many utilities, it can be lifted from the ground and moved with a flatbed truck. If you've sold your property but want to keep your cabin, or you simply want to move your cabin to a different property, complete the following steps to properly transport your cabin. Make sure you have plenty of friends to help you.
Remove all items from the cabin that are not necessary for the cabin's structural integrity. This includes clothes, beds, mirrors or any other loose items. Leaving these items in the cabin increases the risk of damage to the cabin and your belongings. Pack these items into a storage space, where they can be kept until the cabin has been moved to its new location.
Contact the proper authorities to have utilities disabled if there are any gas lines, water lines or electric wires running into your cabin. Make sure all utility inputs are disconnected so that towing your cabin will not damage underground pipe work or aboveground electrical wiring.
Create cribbing piles using the 6x6 lumber in the basement underneath the log cabin. Cribbing piles should be placed at each main structural support of the cabin, or at least the four corners of the cabin and one in the middle of each long side of the cabin. If the log cabin does not have a basement, excavation will be needed to complete the following steps. Contact an excavation or earthwork service, as the work is too dangerous to be completed alone. Cribbing piles, a type of scaffolding used for the hydraulic jacks, are created by laying down two 6-by-6 lumber pieces parallel to each other at a distance of four feet. Two more pieces are placed on top in a Lincoln Log-style, creating a square. Continue this process until you are left with a rectangular pile reaching up to the bottom of your cabin, with enough space on top to fit a hydraulic jack through.
Thread a few more pieces of 6-by-6 lumber through each of the cribbing piles, about two or three boards below the top of the pile. This will create the platform that the hydraulic jacks will rest on. Place the hydraulic jacks on top of these platforms.
Go outside and place wooden stakes outside of each hydraulic jack placement. Mark off the stakes at 1-inch intervals with a Sharpie, beginning at ground level and continuing up to about 2 feet. This will be used to coordinate the cabin lift so that one side does not lift faster than another, which can cause severe structural damage. If the cabin is not on level ground, adjust the markings on the wooden stakes to account for this. The same inch markings need to be at the same height for the cabin lift to be executed properly.
Get several helpers to sit outside at the wooden stakes, and a few more downstairs to operate the hydraulic jacks. Initialize the jacks and slowly increase the air compression to provide the lift needed to break the cabin away from the ground. Coordinate your effort with those outside to make sure that all areas of the cabin are being lifted to the same height at the same time. If one area is lifting higher than others, reduce the compression coming from that hydraulic jack. Stop the lift once there is enough room to slide the steel I-beam underneath the cabin.
Slide the steel I-beam through the middle of the cabin, going through the long side of the cabin. Use your cordless drill and counter-sink bit to drill through the I-beam and create the holes that will be used to attach the axles. You will need to install at least three axles, depending on the cabin size.
Attach the axles to the I-beam by securing them with the hex bolts. Before threading the hex bolt through the hole, thread a washer over the hex bolt. Thread the hex bolt and washer through the hole, and then thread another washer over the hex bolt. Tighten it off with a nut, and use a socket wrench to secure.
Attach the wheel bearings and wheels to the ends of each axle. Drill another hole at the end of the I-beam for another hex bolt that will secure the trailer hitch. Make sure this hitch will be attached to the side that you want to tow from. Thread a washer over the hex bolt, then thread the hex bolt through the trailer hitch and I-beam. Thread another washer over the hex bolt, and secure the nut onto the hex bolt with a socket wrench.
Create a runway for the wheels if the axles are not long enough to reach outside of the cabin. Create the runway from 1-inch plywood, which should be cut to a width of four feet. Try to get the longest cuts of 1-inch plywood available; you will need the runway to reach from one end of the cabin to the other. Glue additional pieces of 4-foot long 6-by-6 lumber underneath the plywood as cross supports at intervals of 2 feet, and nail them into place.
Create runway supports for the plywood with 6-by-6 posts in a cement base. Combine the ready-mix concrete with water in the mixing buckets, creating about a foot of concrete paste in each bucket. Mix a bucket of concrete for every cross support you installed. While the mix is wet, get helpers to place the longer 6-by-6 sections into the concrete buckets and hold them straight up while the concrete sets. When the concrete has dried, secure the runway supports to the plywood cross supports with wood glue and nails. Nail diagonally upward from an inch below the tops of the 6-by-6 supports.
Back up your flatbed truck toward the I-beam's trailer hitch. Secure the I-beam's trailer hitch onto the flatbed truck's trailer. Have helpers stand beside the runway you created to make sure that the cabin rolls straight. Slowly begin to tow the cabin forward down the runway and don't turn until the cabin has completely cleared the runway. Continue to tow the cabin with your flatbed truck toward the desired destination.
Things You Will Need
- Pieces of 4-foot long 6-by-6- lumber (number will vary)
- Hydraulic jacks (at least six)
- Wooden stakes
- Sharpie marker
- Steel I-beam
- Cordless drill
- Counter-sink bit
- Axles (at least three)
- Hex bolts with nuts and washers (at least four)
- Socket wrench
- Wheel bearings (at least six)
- Wheels (at least six)
- Trailer hitch
- 4-foot wide cuts of 1-inch plywood (length will vary)
- Hammer and nails
- Wood glue
- Ready-mix concrete
- Buckets (number will vary)
- Longer pieces of 6-by-6 lumber (length will vary)
- Flatbed truck with hitch
- While lifting the cabin, listen for any loud sounds of wood cracking. Wood makes a lot of sound before it finally cracks, and keeping alert for any sounds of danger can help you rectify the problem before damage has occurred. If you will be using public roads to tow your cabin, contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles and ask for regulations about wide loads. If you want to tow your cabin down roads that normally contain a lot of traffic, contact your local police department and inquire about police escorts to travel ahead of your flatbed truck and restrict traffic during towing. A cabin can weigh up to a few tons, depending on size. Make sure your truck's towing capacity can support the weight of the cabin before attempting this process.
- Exercise extreme caution during this process. Simple mistakes can lead to fatalities if the cabin collapses.