Installing accessories in an aluminum trailer?

I’ve been wanting to install some organizers in my Shadow (all aluminum) trailer. I know I’d have to put screws into the ribs, but any advice on type or size of screw? Anything else I should know? I’m tired of dodging all the stuff on the dressing room floor!

A couple of questions --is the trailer double hulled? In other words, are the “ribs” visible inside the trailer or is there a “skin” of aluminum inside giving a smooth wall?

As to size and type of screw --stainless steel or zinc --I usually use zinc. You don’t need a lot of “bite.” I use 1/4 something that fits flat like a hanging organizer --and 1/2 for about everything else.

I’ve only worked on “double hulled” trailers --trailers that have an aluminum skin over the ribs. I always “tap” my screws even if they are “self tapping.” A hammer and a nail will do, just punch a little hole into the aluminum where you want the screw to be. Then use a good quality drill with a screw bit and slowly put in your screw. If you are worried about “going through” the skin to the outside, make sure you measure how much distance between the interior skin and the exterior -best way to do that is look at the door.

If you make a mistake or change your mind, a little white caulk will cover the screw hole.

I have put shelves and hanging organizers into four trailers (soon will be 5 Fwhen I finish out my new Merhow) --I hear the “Oh, I would never drill into my trailer!” all the time by people who use double stick tape, or adhesive, or command hooks — and their stuff starts falling off the walls when the temperature changes --the manufacturer drilled a lot of holes into the aluminum --it’s not that hard and unless you are using too long of a screw --you won’t punch through.

As to drilling into ribs --unless they are aluminum, you may have trouble --I’ve never tried drilling into steel. When I need to have something attached to the frame (steel), I take it to the trailer repair shop and have them do it --things like horse ties or blanket bars.


I can see the ribs. AFAIK, they are aluminum. About using adhesive–Shadow attaches the aluminum skin to the trailer using 3M adhesive (VHB I think.) I was nervous about drilling into my trailer too, that’s why I asked for advice.:wink: Thanks for your words of wisdom. By “1/4” and “1/2” are you describing the diameter of the screw? @Foxglove (I just realized I didn’t tag you so you didn’t reply! 2/1/21)

I bet my ribs aren’t spaced where they need to be and I’ll end up attaching wood so I can put organizers up. Possibly attaching tiedown points to keep drawers upright or to use twine to hang something like a shoe organizer.

Anyone else with tips?

It can be pricy, but attaching grid wall or peg board panels to the ribs allows a lot of flexibility. You can then add baskets, hooks or other accessories and easily rearrange as needed.


I second the grid wall. I’ll take some pics of my trailer tack room tomorrow, but I completely covered the entire inside with grid wall panels and have shelves, baskets and hooks that hold absolutely everything. It’s easy to rearrange as needed.

I’ll list below the places I’ve ordered grid wall panels and hooks/baskets/shelves from. Note that none of the materials are expensive, but the shipping costs a fortune.

Now THAT’S storage. I’m just trying to expand on the 6 hooks I have! Hmmm, baskets. :love-struck: ?

Is this an amazingly huge tack room or is this am optical illusion? It looks bigger than my entire trailer!!!

Or is this half height and up in a gooseneck?

Yeah it’s the peak of my gooseneck. But we did the same thing in my friend’s bumper pull tack room. And also in the nose of another friend’s bumper pull without tack room.

Have you considered rivets? I use them in my aluminum trailers for lighter accessories such as monitoring cameras.

For heavier things mounted to the square aluminum tubing (“ribs”) I prefer to drill and tap holes for fine pitch stainless steel bolts.

I avoid using self-tapping screws, due to vibration loosening and pull-out concerns.

And for really heavy things like a saddle rack or a spare tire, either welding or a bolt and nut with a backing plate is best.

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Bumping this topic up for more questions. Those who have installed grid wall in a dressing room, what did you use? I am thinking that some sort of metal strap that goes over a segment of the wire and has a screw hole on each end to fasten it securely to the trailer ribs. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out what these attachments are called. I know they are out there, I have seen them, but scrolling thru HD and Lowes on line is getting me know where. So some sort of flat mount kind of thing. Help please!!!

The grid wall systems have a nifty bracket you could mount the grids to. But if it sticks out in the dressing room, that is just a magnet for me to bend into it and poke out an eye.

U-brackets or pipe straps are two commonly used names.

Thank you! I knew this was a real thing! I don’t know if they will work for what I want to do, but that is exactly what I was thinking of.

Now if anyone has any better ideas for mounting a grid wall…

Try this place. They have 2 types of mounts for using grid walls in trailers. I have a grid system in my tack room, and bought my bridle hangers from them.

The grid panels (they sell them as “hoss panels”) are cheaper on Amazon, but they have accessories I could not find any other place. And precovid they had quick delivery. I haven’t ordered from them in about a year.

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I used these. I got them from one of the places I listed in my earlier message - can’t remember which. Search online for gridwall mounting brackets or gridwall mounting clips.

If the grid panel is mounted too close to a wall some of the accessories may not work. The standard grid wall mounting brackets, below, mount the panel a couple of inches away from a wall.

There are low profile brackets that are more suitable for a trailer space. I also used the low profile brackets for mounting a panel on a wall behind a door in my tack room.

If you have never used a grid panel, the upper brackets are mounted upright so the panel hangs on them. The lower brackets are mounted with the slots facing down, to prevent the panel from being bounced off the upper hangers, in the case of a rough ride in a trailer.

But, mounting a panel in contact with the square or rectangular tubing that supports the horse trailer skin should work as well, and give you about an inch between trailer skin and grid panel to use all the accessories like baskets and bridle hangers.

Length of the screw should be just enough to get a bite into the wall. So 1/4 to 1/2 would be the length. :slight_smile:

I have open-rib design, and the ribs are a channel. I use a large washer/bolt system to set up lots of baskets, best thing ever. Here are some pictures, descriptions:

technical name for those style washers is a “Fender Washer”

A fender washer, though similar in shape to a standard washer, differs in that the outside diameter is traditionally much larger in proportion to the center hole. … With this design, a fender washer can be placed under the head of a bolt or nut to help distribute forces applied when tightening.

So I pulled the trigger and bought a box of 3 panels from Amazon-$79.00 and prime shipping and all the accessories from
It worked out much cheaper to do it this way with the freight. I bought the mounting hardware CBG used and 2 baskets, a towel bar which will hopefully work to hang coolers and several clips. I will pick up some self tapping zinc screws at Lowes. Fingers crossed.
I may be back for more advice and possible remote hand holding.