20′ Enclosed Race Trailer – Part 5 – D Rings

The first outing with the trailer went well, but I really wasn’t happy with the new D Rings. Or at least, with how they were secured to the trailer.

They have fairly large backing plates, but at the end of the day, they’re still just secured to plywood.

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Cinching the car with ratchet strap induced a visible bow in the floor, and didn’t exactly give me that warm-fuzzy feeling about its ability to hold the car in place. More drastic measures needed to be taken in the form of a pair of 12″ x 15″, 3/16″ thick steel plates to be welded to the frame of the trailer.

The first job was to cut off a handful of floor screws that were hanging right in the way, because of course they were (see photo above).

I had to grind a bunch of paint and surface rust off so I have something decent to weld to:

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Because I wouldn’t be able to get at much of that steel after welding, I hit the trailer frame and the tops of the backing plates with a coat of weld-thru primer:

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The next day, both the trailer and the welder got dragged up the hill. I’ve never had the occasion to use the 110v plug adapter for the welder, but it did just fine. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t blow the garage circuit breaker.

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It was a multi-step process of figuring out where they needed to be (the frame is made of Z channel, so 1 side I had to be right against the frame rail, and the other I had a couple inches of flat steel to play with. A buddy helped me get them more or less centered from above, then we popped a pair of transfer punch marks on the plate. Drilled those, took it back up and bolted it to the floor to confirm alignment, then back to the shop to drill the other 2 holes. Rinse and repeat. But once that was done, the floor supported the plates for welding, which made that part significantly simpler.

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The view from above, centering line definitely close enough.

Without a doubt these aren’t the prettiest welds I’ve ever made, but they’ll do the job.

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The finished product looks exactly the same from top-side, but I feel a LOT better tying a car to these now.

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And because nothing’s ever simple:
I had put down the rear ‘RV leveling’ jacks to stabilize the trailer as I unhitched it from the tow pig prior to welding. When I retracted them after we got done, 1 of them went up fine, while the other one just unthreaded the jack-screw, which shouldn’t be possible in normal operation. I the jack off the trailer and disassembled it in the shop and found that a roll pin that secures the inner washer (to prevent it from just unthreading) had sheared off. A quick trip to Ace got that sorted out for about $0.35 (and a lot of cussing)

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20′ Enclosed Race Trailer – Part 3 – Electrics & Winch

As previously discussed, the shore power connection wasn’t exactly high quality. Someone removed the 30 Amp plug and replaced it with a 15 Amp plug that didn’t actually fit in the housing. Since it was on the driver’s side, going down the road every time I looked in the mirror, that thing was flapping at me.

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Since everything had to come off the wall for paint, including the electrical panel, the was a fairly straight forward fix. A new 30A shore power connector was fitted, along with an adapter for use with normal 20A service.

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With that fixed, it was a simple matter of relocating the wiring in a way that was tidier, and positioned in a better place (the plugs were too high on the wall originally, and the E Track too low, so they switched positions). I removed the plug along the front wall, as it seemed superflous. I may re-add that later, but I already have plenty of 120v plugs in the trailer now.

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With the 120v service sorted it, it was time to move to the 12v side of things. My main 12v goals are:
-A winch to load the car
-An electrical jack
-A battery to power all that (and eventually some interior lights)
-A solar panel to keep the battery charged

The main component here is the battery and battery box. A tongue tool box from HF was mounted at the front of the trailer.

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I didn’t realize when I bought it that it was narrower than the outer frame rails, but I figured it was cheap, and it was big enough to do what I needed, so while it might look weird, there’s no real reason to replace it at this point.

I was a little concerned with the front mount bolts chafing the wiring harness from the truck:

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I found that I didn’t have any wire loom big enough to wrap around all those cables, but I DID have loom big enough to fit around the bolt. Stupid? Stupid like a fox!

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The battery box was mounted around the center frame rail:

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I didn’t have much horizontal real-estate to mount the solar panel to, but when parked at home, the panel faces nearly due west, and is in full sun in the afternoon.

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I was a bit concerned it wouldn’t work well like that (since all directions are to mount it horizontally), but it appears to be putting out plenty of juice:

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The battery never sees that much power, thankfully, as the solar panel runs through a 12v charge controller to prevent over charging the battery.

I drilled a few holes through the frame with big rubber grommets for the 12v wires to pass from the battery to inside the trailer under the floor, with marine cable pass-throughs to keep the weather and bugs out.

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I mounted the winch using a Bulldog winch mount. The front 2 bolts are through the frame, the rear 2 are bolted through a 6 x 8″, 3/8″ thick spreader plate.

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The winch wiring runs to the solenoid / wireless control box, and then to a 12v fuse block to provide service for lights and other sundries, then to the battery via a 150A circuit breaker.

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It’s definitely not a professional job (because I’m definitely not a professional), but it’s about probably the tidiest I could do without shortening the winch power cables. That’ll probably happen eventually, but I want to wait for a few months and make sure nothing crops up as a reason to move something drastically.

The electrics are *DONE*. FINALLY. Between drilling holes for grommets through the frame, making cables and figuring out where I want everything mounted, and cleaning up the 120v wiring, it took all my free time for about 3 days.

Oh! Wait…I’m sick or walking all the way to the shop for fresh tool batteries. I’ve got an idea!

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Yeah that’ll work. I think that lives there now.

Continued in Part 4

20′ Enclosed Race Trailer – Part 2 – Jack & Paint

As hinted at in the prior post, the manual jack the trailer came with broke immediately upon arrival home. Thankfully it lived long enough to get the trailer off the ball, but not much further.

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There was a secondary issue, which was with the trailer being longer, I can’t back the Armada as far down the hill, so the ball is effectively higher off the asphalt. Due to that, I had to stack about 8″ of lumber under the jack’s foot to get it high enough off the ball.

Thankfully, they make a “drop leg” jack which has a telescoping foot that can drop down further, essentially increasing the total height the jack can. Shopping around, it turns out that an electric jack with a drop leg was almost the same price as a manual jack of similar spec, so going manual at that point seemed silly. Electric it is!

Here is the new jack. It has a few extra inches of lift over the manual jack right off the bat, and with the drop leg it’s not even close.

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Got it installed on the trailer and did a quick test with a battery. It’s now connected to the hot 12v coming out of the trailer plug, which is convenient. Once the battery for the winch and lights gets installed, it will pull power from there as well so it will be able to run without the truck attached.
You can see here the issue with the hitch ball height.

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With that sorted, it was time to prep for paint. EVERYTHING had to come off the wall. The florescent fixtures, the wiring & outlets, the shore power panel, E-Track, all of it.
It was covered in the usual dust and grime you’d expect from a trailer that’s had a race car living in it, so next, I hosed the hole thing out.
Before:

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After:

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I found that the original shore power plug had been replaced with…whatever this is… so that’s going to get replaced while I have everything apart:

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Next up was paint prep. I taped off as much as possible and put some sheeting down to protect the floor.

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After a gallon and a half of primer…

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…And a gallon of paint, the results are pretty fantastic. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good for a car hauler.

Hey look, a kart fits!

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It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s pretty darn good. A heck of an improvement, and hey, it’s kid approved!

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Continued in Part 3

20′ Enclosed Race Trailer – Part 1

Sometimes the right deal comes along at the right time and you kinda just have to go for it.

With the kids getting to karting age, we’ve added a Kart to the fleet, and very quickly realized we’d be able to take either the race car, or the kart to the track, but not both. A buddy of mine had gotten a new trailer, and his came up for sale at a price I couldn’t say no to, and here we are.

The AC and canopy made it an easy sell to the family, which’ll mean we’ll be able to camp out in it too. It’s big enough to haul the entire fleet, as it were, small enough to still fit in our driveway, and not TOO much weight for the Armada to pull.

The trailer is, essentially, a great blank canvas at this point. A plain 20′ box with an 11,000 BTU AC on the roof.

We’re upgrading from a 16′ ‘home built’ from an RV frame open trailer:

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And we’ve now replaced that with a 20′ Haulmark Race Hauler trailer:

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The interior has a few electrical outlets, and a couple of fluorescent fixtures, and some e-track, but is otherwise a great starting point to start modding.

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The plans in approximate order

1. An electric tongue jack to replace the too-short jack who’s handle broke immediately upon arriving home. I had to stack about 8″ of lumber under the jack to get it off the ball on my hill (more on that later), and that just ain’t gonna cut it. Since I need to replace the jack anyway, and the price for jacks with enough lift is nearly the same, going electric is a no-brainer.
2. Paint the walls white. The plain wood is just dark and dreary. Just like with a garage or workshop, white walls help enhance any lighting that you do have.
3. WD hitch for the tow pig. It pulled it ok on the trip home from buying it, but it’ll need a WD hitch in order to pull this thing loaded.
4. E-Track, just, everywhere.
5. Electric winch, which will require welding a plate under the trailer floor to support it, and adding a tongue box to keep the battery.
6. Solar charger for the battery.
7. Tire rack / workbench.
8. LED lighting in the interior.

Should be a fun adventure, because what I REALLY needed at this point was another massive project, obviously!

Continued in Part 2

Trailer Fuel Jug Carrier

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and now that The Dragon nears, I really need to get to it because there aren’t any fuel stops on the Hill. Having fuel on hand is going to be a must.

I bought a VP Fuel Jug many moons ago for keeping the race car topped up. Now it needs a home on the trailer.

The first challenge would be getting the trailer into the workshop. The shop is at the bottom of a steep hill, that also has a slight rise as you enter the shop to keep water out. The trailer bottoms out not far from the base of that rise. I ended up using a pair of wheel dollies under the rear frame rail of the trailer so that it would ride them up the rise into the shop. That was definitely an interesting experiment that I still can’t believe worked as well as it did.  At least now working on the trailer will be a good deal easier.

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Since I plan, still, to add a winch to the trailer, I wanted to keep whatever I made below the frame & deck level so that with the fuel jug removed, a winch cable could be played out.

I had some 1″ box tubing kicking around the shop, and that seemed like the perfect took for the job. The 2″ wide tongue member makes a good base for the jug to rest on.

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A quick test-fit to help determine where the ratchet strap tie points need to go:

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I used a pair of chain links cut a little longer than in half for the tie downs. D-rings on swivels on the side of the tubing would be moderately better. If it bugs me on my first outing with it (this weekend), the chain links will get lopped off and replaced.

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EDIT: I’ve already cut off my chain-link tie downs as there wasn’t enough room between the tie-downs and the fuel jug to get the hooks out effectively. I swung by Home Depot Racing Supply and picked up a set of D-ring tie downs, and cut the ‘legs’ off so that the D-rings would swing through the vertical axis instead of the horizontal, and will swing out of the way so the hooks can far more easily be removed.

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