The Trailer

The Trailer

This year I decided to start our second son, Matt in the sport of quarter midget racing. I already had a second car and engine that was ready to roll. The only problem was how to get two cars to the track on race day. The obvious solution is to get a trailer. The only problem is that I didn’t have the $2500-$3000 for a used trailer, and I did not have a spot to park a big trailer at the house. For a while I thought about taking the cars to the track in two trips, but that would not be practical and I did not have garage space to house a second car out of the weather.

Quarter Midgets are roughly 6.5′ long by 3.5′ wide. The typical trailer has a floor that is 6′ wide. This means that cars need to be put in end-to-end and a 2-car trailer is 6’x14′ or 6’x16′. The overall length is 19′ to 21′. This provides a very nice place to hang out on race day, but would not fit into my driveway or budget. At last year’s Keystone invitational I saw a homemade trailer that looked like it would fill my needs. The trailer was a converted pop-up camper where the camper body was stripped off and a 8’x8′ box built in its place. The key part about using a pop-up trailer for the starting point was the small wheels that allow the 8’x8′ platform to go over the wheels instead of inside the wheels. I spoke with the owner a bit and he said the trailer worked great for him. His one issue was a lack of water tightness. I could see that there was a seam that ran the length of the roof and the doors lacked weather striping. I could see how he easily fit all of his race parts and tools in with the cars. The overall length of the trailer was about 13′, which was much more compatible with my parking options.

I had a bit of good luck when a friend of mine told me he had an old pop-up camper that he could sell me. The trailer was a 1973 Coleman that he purchased years ago and used it to haul his family on many trips. He had rebuilt the soft parts and painted it once and generally kept it in good shape for many family vacations. When his family matured he modified it to haul 4-wheelers on trips by removing the top and making a floor out of oak boards. The trailer last saw service hauling mulch. About the only thing left on the trailer was the frame and axle, which was all I really needed. (I sure wish I had a picture of the old camper resting in the weeds, 1/2 full of mulch.)

The Plan

The plan was simple. Strip the remnants of the camper body off the frame and build a box to hold two cars. The devil is in the details. The first step was to make a measured drawing of the trailer frame taking care to note the length and width of the frame and the height of the fenders. It turns out the frame was 9′ long by 7′ wide and the fenders sits 8″ above the top of the frame. At this point I had something to base the final design on.

Once I had the foundation I started to figure on how to build a suitable box on the frame. The first step was to raise the level of the deck above the top of the fenders. I decided to build the structure out of wood, something similar to a floor of a house. This would all get built out of pressure treated lumber since it would be exposed to the weather. The top part would be 2×4 studs and rafters, which would get an aluminum skin. The skin would provide substantial strength to the wood frame, except to twisting.

There will be two doors, one in front to access some storage space and tie down the cars and one in back to get the cars in and out. The back door fits tight to the frame to help support the wood frame when it is twisted. The rafters would be let into the studs and stiffened with a metal «ell» brace to provide additional support.

Preperations

The first step was to strip the old trailer down to the frame. A long evening was spent with a air grinder, Sawzall, hammer, drill and other implements of destruction stripping off the remnants of the camper and pop-up mechanism. I salvaged the lights, fenders and oak floor boards. Once the frame was stripped I sent it off to the sand blaster to remove 29 years of rust and dirt. They did a great job cleaning the frame (and cleaning the insulation from the wiring harness, which was tucked deep in the frame.)

Click on any of the images below to get an expanded view.

Sandblasted frame sitting up on blocks ready for work to begin.

Once the frame was sitting on blocks in the back yard the work began in earnest. God must be a racer, since he favored me with 3 days of sunny, 60° days in late January. I took full advantage of the weather and spent the days with a brush full of Rustoleum putting on a coat of primer and 2 coats of gloss black on the frame. I also pulled the stabilizer jacks off the frame and bent them straight again so they would work like new. I figured I would need them to prevent the trailer from tipping up when the trailer was not attached to the truck.

Painted frame sitting on stabilizers

Three days of hard work paid off. Every surface of the old frame had 3 coats of Rustoleum and I was able to run the wires in the frame. The stabilizers work like new. In the end, the frame came out great.


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