Trailer Project I



  At one time I had considered building a really neat tow car, something like a an Old Woody or maybe a fifties style Chevy Panel truck.  But after taking into consideration all of the factors involved (paint work, body shops, engine replacement, funding) we decided to do something different.

Thus the trailer idea was born.  Not being a big fan of tow cars, chains, hook-ups, dirt and what have you.  I decided it would be nice to be able to just get there, and unload a “clean car” and see what it was that I wanted or came there to see.

The most apparent drawback of pulling a toad is you cannot back it up (say a few feet and that is it) and you get into a tight spot, it presents problems.  Our toad is an HHR Chevy truck, it is small, economical, and you cannot see it back there, you do not know what it is doing.  It gets incredibly filthy and beat up being yanked down the road by the bus.

So entering into the trailer business I quickly found out that used trailers keep their value better than an automobile.  I had three of them, and discovered that they were worth more than I thought they were worth.  This gave us the basic entry level leverage to purchase a new one, at considerable savings, almost 50% less than new.

Now that is what I call incentive.

So Walla we are in the hunt for a trailer.

Used trailers are available, and the guy I bought mine from, offered me a good deal on trade in, so we opted to purchase a new trailer from Franks’ Trailers in Oklahoma City.

First problem I encountered was wiring, I did not have a harness in place for the trailer, the HHR was there, but nothing for the trailer.  So I wired in a new harness for the bus and left the HHR connection in place.  In the end, I completely “re-wired” the trailer to my way of thinking and operating, more on that later.

The biggest problem on this was relocating the emergency shut down (electric brake) box and wiring up the stop lights on the coach to the trailer.  It took awhile but eventually everything more or less fell into place and a double wiring harness was attached to the bus/trailer combination.

The trailer was delivered in black and silver coloring, it had to be painted Smoke Grey (which is an accent color on the coach) and several items needed to be changed in order for it to work.  A steel plate had to be fabricated and welded to the tongue in order to open the hood on the bus.  The electric lift had to be relocated farther back in order to make sufficient clearance for the hood on the bus.  This entailed welding a new 1/4″ steel plate to the tongue, body work, bondo and paint.

In the end, the trailer ended up with “five different” colors applied, inside and outside.  It is now Smoke Grey & Pewter, which is a close match up with the alum skin on the bus (not the primary color of the bus, Peterbilt Gun metal Gray) and matches up fairly well.  All in all, I figure about 6 to 8 gallons of paint, a whole bunch of butcher paper and a mountain of masking tape.

paintwork even included the inside of the wheel wells.

Forrest River built our trailer in Waco, Texas.  I cannot say a lot of good things about it, some of it was okay and some of it was not.  Found flaws in the wiring and the basic package uses sub-standard plywood (seconds, lot of imperfections in the material) and it was hard to work with.  It presented a challenge to form it into something presentable and personally, I would have gladly paid to have it constructed of something other than the cheapest material available.

I hung two spares on the walls, carrying two spares is the best way to travel with a trailer.  If you shell out a tire, you change it, you are back in business, but you have no spare.  With two, you can change them out, and hit the highway, assured that if something else was to happen, you still have a spare.  We spent three days in Moab, Utah for want of a tire once.  Now we travel with two spares.  The interior was basically bare plywood and black framing.  It was all painted and revamped, panels on the wall were fabricated in the shop and then placed over the art decco diamond plate, utility boxes made for all necessary items (five of those) associated with the trailer were also fabricated and painted in the shop.

Panels painted up and in shop before installation.

Diamond plate panels before cover panels. Note floor is still bare, halfway thru the project at this point.

At completion the inside of the trailer looked like this (below) it has stayed basically the same since then.  We have pulled it on several trips and it meets or exceeds my expectations for it.  All and all I am quite satisfied with it and think it was worth the investment of time and resources.

Panels in place, boxes installed and painted out.

Interior length is right at 20 feet.

Straps are usually inside the utility boxes, don’t know why I had them out in this photo.  The black pad looking things on the floor are non-skid for stairs, this is the location of the tow car wheels, it keeps it from jumping and slipping around.

Exterior shots and outside appearance photo’s can be seen at Trailer Project II on the main page or just click on the link.  If you desire close up views, click on any photo (twice for really close) and it will bring it in (you can see all my apparent flaws that way too!) for better viewing.

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