Drivers warned to check horsebox floors
Customer concerns with horsebox floors
Following recent posts in many horse forums over the dangers of damaged horse area floors, we thought it may be helpful to offer some insight and some cost effective solutions to the problems faced. Most of the problems listed below come about either by cutting corners to save money at the build stage or just plain inexperience. Good, conscientious manufacturers will address all the problems below as part of the build process. Unfortunately manufacturing horseboxes to last costs considerably more money and very large cash savings can be had from cutting some of the following points. It is worth noting that these faults don’t usually manifest until well out of any warranty period!
One of the main problems converted bodies face is that they can have bearer spaces anywhere around 18” to 24” depending on the cargo they were made to carry. A good spacing for the horse area is more likely to be 12” to 14”. If you take the footprint of a hoof, it equates to a large amount of weight over a very small surface area, so bearer spacing is paramount. There are many examples on the road that compound this fault by covering the flooring with rubber mats or poured granulistic surfaces. The fault with these horsebox floors is usually caused by water or chemical disinfectants getting into the wood or around alloy joints and starting rot, even marine ply and alloy are affected by disinfectants. Another cause is inadequate drainage or no drainage at all. In a large amount of horseboxes we repair, the faults have been caused by poor drainage, it is not sufficient to just drill holes in the floor! There are two things that happen when this is done. The first is water, urine and disinfectants travel though the drain holes and along the underside of the sheets. This causes the sheets and bearers to rot from the underside. Secondly when the water drips away it lands on chassis components and causes faults and rot. This fault is the same with both with hardwood and alloy plank floors. When these conversions are originally built, one option is to double skin the floor with marine ply, however many conversions are heavy to start with and although safety for the horses comes first they still must be road legal weight wise! Rubber mats are heavy by nature and need removing to check the floor underneath, the surface needs waterproofing each year with some water resistant paint too. Aluminium can also be problematic and is no guarantee against rot. All aluminium suffers from a process called galvanic corrosion; this is caused by dissimilar metals and how this usually manifests is rot around screws and fixings. One of the main problems with all aluminium builds is rot around the ramp hinge area. Aluminium is just not strong enough to hinge a horsebox ramp so most of these builds swap to metal hinges and spring mountings. The corrosion starts where the mild steel touches the aluminium bearers and floor planks. Even where aluminium planks are fixed to the aluminium bearers the fixings are steel (dissimilar metal) so these are always the areas that rot first. This can be avoided to some degree by placing glue or a membrane between the two metals, more often than not this stage is missed out of a build due to speed and cost. If you are ordering a new horsebox and it has an aluminium floor it is well worth asking how the ramp is hinged and what method of separation is used between the mild steel and aluminium components.
It is not always possible to add double ply floors, so to keep the weight down we can strengthen the horse floor relatively cheaply by cutting out any damaged plywood and replacing it, then adding an aluminium sheet floor capable of taking any horses weight. For customers who are worried and just want some peace of mind, we can add an aluminium floor to any existing horsebox for £350 + vat. Usually one weeks’ notice is all we would need. Standard on all our horseboxes we fit drain tubes to take the water and waste below the chassis parts. If we undertake any floor repairs we usually do this as part of the whole job. In some cases the floor is completely rotten and the only option is to remove the old floor and replace it completely. This is the more expensive option and we would advise customers to seriously consider Coat-X Polyurea spray on protective coating to protect the new floor.
For advice on any of the above items and prices on some of the options we have available Please email Kevin direct or call 01772860150 or 07956222678.