In Part 1 I covered building the basic frame of a budget race cartrailer. It was fitted with 6,000-pound mobile-home axles. They areplentiful throughout most of the country, and some are even free if youwant to crawl under a mobile home to get them. Our trailer has runnersrather than a solid floor, which makes changing oil on your race careasy while it's loaded. The target was $300 for the basics. I went $6over budget on the steel, and I was given the mobile-home axles. Thismonth we'll finish the details and add some nice touches such as awinch. So let's finish it up.
Store-bought fenders can be...
Store-bought fenders can be purchased for $75-$100. These homebuiltfenders were made for about $12 from the same purling used for therunners and ramps. Remove a 5-inch piece from each side. This allows asmooth bend for the rear of the fender. After bending, weld in a patchand grind smooth.
Before rolling down the road, your trailer needsfenders. Arguing with the gorilla in the car behind you about a rockmark in his windshield is seldom any fun. You can buy a pair of fendersfor $75 to $100. However, I made mine from a section of leftoverpurling. My fenders cover behind and over the tires, but not in front.The front is the part of the fender that always seems to bend back intothe tire anyway. Cut the blanks 74 inches long. Notch out 51/2 inches bythe width of the flange in each side flange. This allows a smooth bend.Center these notches 16 inches from the rear of the blank. Afterbending, trim a piece of scrap to fit the curve and weld it in place.The Millermatic 185 wirefeed machine welds the thin parts just as itdoes the thicker ones--easily. Use a piece of 11/2-inch angle to cap offthe front. Double this and you have a nice pair of fenders. And the costis low--a little work and a little time. One-inch square tubing is usedfor mounting. This spaces the fender out from the frame properly.
Side panels on the tire rack...
Side panels on the tire rack are made of Coroplast, a cheap, durableitem from sign or plastic suppliers. A 4x8-foot sheet does both sidesfor about $10. This puts a finishing touch on your trailer. The panelsare a good place for sponsor names and car numbers.
Tire racks vary according to need. On this trailer, theside frames are built from 11-gauge, 11/2-inch square tubing. It wasgoing to be made from 1-inch material, but the steel company shippedmore 11/2-inch and less of the 1-inch. The crossbars are 1-inch square.The larger size for the sides makes it more stable for only a slightincrease in cost, and I recommend this configuration. The height of theside frames is 72 inches off the trailer surface. The front side tube isvertical. The rear downtube is angled back. The width at the top is 18inches while the spacing at the bottom is 32 inches. Bars across the topprovide a base for a deck. A length of purling was added across thisarea for the seat. This is a good place to watch the races. The taper ofthe sides lets you cut side covers from a single sheet of 4x8-footmaterial. On other projects, I have used Coroplast material for thispurpose. This is a plastic that appears not unlike corrugated cardboardwhen viewed from the edge. It is light, strong, and cheap. You can trimit to shape with a knife. Best of all, a 4x8-foot sheet is less than $10and can be purchased at plastic-supply and sign-supply shops. Attach itwith self-drilling, self-tapping screws. Be sure to use washers. Thispanel makes a good place to display sponsor names and car numbers. Thecrossbars for holding the tires are 28 inches below the top crossbars.This should allow you to put in any size you might need--except someSprint Car tires--so check your tires for fit. The mounts for theholding rod are welded in to match the tire sizes used. It is best toput a tire in the rack and check for position before welding.
Tightening the M&R Products...
Tightening the M&R Products tie-downs. These are attached with M&R'sD-rings at each corner of the trailer. This type of strap wraps aroundthe axle or A-frame to secure the car. Four straps should be used forsecurity. With only one strap on each end, a common practice, the carcan shift its weight on the trailer in an emergency maneuver. This givesrise to the phrase, "We have liftoff."
It might seem silly to tie it down, yet there have been morethan a few Street Stocks driven on the trailer, put in park, and towedhome. This is not a good practice. Virgil Brown at M&R Products is asource of constant education. In the past, I have tied a car down at thefront and rear, thinking that was OK. Brown pointed out that afour-point tie-down system should be employed. According to Brown, ifthe trailer jackknifes or is involved in some emergency maneuver, onerear corner of the car can rise up when only two points are used. Withthis weight shift, the trailer will dip and something bad will happen.With that information in mind, I selected four 6-foot axle tie-downsfrom the M&R catalog. The front two will go over the lower A-frames.Four D-rings are needed to attach these tie-downs. M&R also offers wheelbonnets, which are a good option, because they don't require reaching sofar under the car to attach.
At the end of the trailer are two loading ramps made from leftoverpurling. Each ramp is made as follows: Cut two pieces of purling at 33inches and weld them together like the trailer runners. On one end, welda piece of 2-inch angle. This one is attached with the point out,somewhat like a very dull axe. At the trailer end of the ramp, weld apiece of the same angle with the flange out and on top. Drill or torchtwo holes in this. Lay the ramp in place and drill corresponding holesin the channel, only larger. The slack is necessary due to the variabledown-angle of the ramp. Weld 1/2x11/2-inch bolts into the ramp holes.These are the hooks that keep the ramp in place. There is an alternativeway to mount the ramps. On this trailer, they swing out and stayattached to the trailer. First, drill the outer hole all the way throughboth flanges of the channel. Now a 7-inch piece of all-thread rod can beput through the ramp and the channel. Presto, the ramp is permanentlyattached to the trailer. Lift the ramp and swing it in. Swing it out andit drops in place. When both ramps are in, a short chain holds themtogether at the center. Notice in the photos there is a T-shaped bar atthe center rear of the trailer. This is a rest for the ramps whentucked.
Swing-out ramps are a nice...
Swing-out ramps are a nice touch. They can't belost or forgotten. Made of purling like the runners, they are light (23pounds) and strong. Use a 11/2-inch angle on each end as shown. Photo Ashows the ramps extended for loading.
In Photo B, I lift and swing...
In Photo B, I lift and swing theramp.
Photo C shows the ramps tucked...
Photo C shows the ramps tucked in place. They are attached to eachother with a chain that keeps them in place.
Diamond plate looks nice but...
Diamond plate looks nice but doesn't offer much traction. This is theanti-slip finish used on the trailer. Set the welder to a high heat,medium feed. Rake the welder over the surface slowly. Many small weldbeads will stick, and you'll have a surface safe to walk on when wet andalso to load the car.
A GOOD WINCH FOR A LONG PULL
The new Superwinch S3500....
The new Superwinch S3500. Not wanting to have the Superwinch pilfered,a receiver hitch mounting kit was employed. A piece of 11/2-inch squaretubing welded to the trailer makes installation and removal aplug-in affair. The optional 30-foot lead on the controller switchallows solo loading.
Due to the money I saved on thetrailer, I could afford one item I couldn't live without: a winch. Yes,this is an extra, but too many times damage is done to either thetrailer or the car when a wrecker driver has to hurry to get the carloaded. Tiny clutches don't like trailer loading, either.
I selected aSuperwinch Model S3500. It is not the largest winch the company makes,but it isn't the smallest, either. If your winch is too small, it cangive you a false sense of security. It can load the car when all fourtires are round and black. When one wheel points somewhere other thanthe direction of travel, you need a real winch.
According to Scott Davisof Superwinch, each layer of cable on the winch spool decreases thepower by 10 percent. Use only as much cable as you need. Cut off andsave the rest to replace a worn and frayed cable later. A nice touch isthe 30-foot cable on the control switch. I can winch the car on andsteer it at the same time, all by myself.
My new trailer will have tospend many of its nights outside. Since the Superwinch could besurreptitiously removed in the dark, thought was given to protecting it.A tube matching that of a trailer hitch receiver mount was welded to thetrailer, and a Superwinch receiver mount kit was employed. The winchbolts to a plate attached to a tube. This, in turn, slides into areceiver-type trailer hitch. This type of mount will fit receiver hitchmountings on many vehicles. Removing a pin allows easy detachment of theSuperwinch, so it can be stored inside and even used elsewhere.
As stated in Part 1, I prefer high, forward-mountedlights. They are mounted near the top of the tire rack. A simple lightkit from the local auto supply store does the job. But there is morewiring to be done. The electric brakes need a wire, as does the winch.
To operate the electric trailer brakes, it is necessary to buy acontroller. The hand-operated style will be cheaper. One that hooks intothe tow vehicle's hydraulic brakes is automatic and convenient, but moreexpensive. The choice of how much to spend is up to you.
I welded in abattery box at the front of the trailer. Since a wire must be run forthe brakes, you might as well run two. One of these will attach to thepositive battery post of the tow vehicle. It will then attach to thepositive post of the trailer battery. This way the trailer battery willalways be charged.
The winch, of course, runs off the trailer batteryeven if the trailer is not attached to a vehicle. This battery can runthe winch or be a spare for the race car. The battery box was fabricatedfrom a 10-inch piece of purling and some 11/2-inch angle. It was weldedtoward the front and low enough to not stick up above the trailerrunners.
Tongue weight is important...
Tongue weight is important for the enjoy- ment of pulling atrailer. This type of trailer needs a minimum of 400 pounds at thetongue. More is better. Use all you can stand without overloading therear of the tow vehicle. Bathroom scales work for this. Use two of themwith a 2x4 across. This will give you 600 pounds of scale capacity. Besure to level the trailer, and then move the car until the correctweight is reached. It is a good idea to weld in an angle-iron stop sothe car is always in the same place.
Having finished every part of this project with theMillermatic 185, I am impressed. In view of the price of this unit beingonly slightly more than my old 110-volt unit, and given the aggravationsof a small welder, the 185 should be part of every racer's garage.
TheMillermatic cable with the welding gun is long enough to reach to theother side of the trailer while building it, which means no more movingthe welder from side to side when working on a bulky project.Millermatic recently replaced the 185 with the Millermatic 210, a200-amp model. The price is about the same, but the performance is evenbetter.
Virgil Brown's sage advice to tie the car down at all fourcorners was great. I have used M&R Products belts and nets in our racecars for years and have been very pleased with the service. TheSuperwinch is just that. Its portability makes it useable in many waysand places. It is a first-class piece. When loading your trailer, makesure the car is placed so the tongue weight is at least 400 or morepounds. More is better if it doesn't make your headlights aim foroncoming eyeballs.
Two bathroom scales can be used for weighing thetongue. Lay a 2x4 board across them to spread the load, and then add thetwo together.
Our wonderful trailer--which...
Our wonderful trailer--which cost $306 for steel and employs freemobile-home axles--is ready to see the racetrack. The money saved onaxles paid for the Superwinch I always wanted.
It is never a bad idea to weld an identification numbersomewhere out of sight on a trailer. This practice has aided in thereturn of a "borrowed" trailer. Good luck with your project. I hope thishelps save a few dollars that you can spend on your race car. Keep aneye out for updated information as well as plans for the trailer in Part3 of this series. Contact Sleepy at sleepy.gomez @primedia.com