New plastic sail panels and...
New plastic sail panels and fresh paint improve the appearance.
In the last two issues, we built a trailer to haul our race car. It was rather inexpensive at about $306 for everything but the wheels, axles, and tires. They came from under a mobile home at no cost other than crawling underneath to get them out. Even so, they are usually available cheap from mobile-home transporters. Since the trailer was originally built, I checked and the steel cost had risen to about $340. The steel and steel pricing came from Eagle National Steel LLC, Hutchens, Texas (www.eaglesteel.com).
One of the better things about mobile-home axles is that all the ones I've seen have a capacity of 6,000 pounds each. This gives the trailer an axle rating of 12,000 pounds--more than the weight of several race cars.
Our homemade hitch. This one...
Our homemade hitch. This one doesn't look exactly like what you see on the plans, but you get the idea how it works. Cut-down 3x3x1/4-inch steel angle makes a box to fit the hitch ball. I drilled a hole through the box in the area of the ball neck. A Chevy head bolt keeps everything in place.
The downside is that you will be using 14 1/2-inch mobile-home wheels. A 14-inch tire won't go on, and a 15-inch tire will blow off and hurt you. However, I never purchase a 14 1/2-inch tire. I go to a mobile-home transporter and get a good tire already mounted on a wheel, usually for less than $25. There is one other option. A wide-five race car wheel bolt pattern is the same as the mobile-home hub. Check this out closely because the hub may need a bit of grinding to clear the wheel. There is something else that needs to be addressed here. I've heard from readers that mobile-home axles are not legal in some states. This may or may not be a myth; check your own state regulations. Don't just get the opinion of someone who thinks heknows--go to the state department of motor vehicles. In the states where I have been able to check and get what I feel to be accurate information, there is no problem using mobile-home axles on a trailer such as this.
When selecting axles, there are usually plenty of them available with electric brakes. If you choose to use store-bought trailer axles of 3,500-pound capacity, with brakes, springs, and hubs for automotive wheels, expect to spend about $550. The original trailer I built in Parts 1 and 2 now has about 6,000 miles on it and no problems have shown up. Still, there are a few things I need to share as an update.
There is certainly nothing wrong with using a store-bought hitch. I have at times, however, seen stamped sheetmetal hitches with a load rating that is too low for use on race car trailers. These are inadequate. A ductile iron/welded steel type with a side-clasp style hookup is much better. Hammer Blow and Bull Dog are two names that come to mind. Never use a hitch ball smaller than 2 inches; 2 5/16 inches is better.
I have found this type hitch to be strong and cheap. They have served me well for many years. With one of these hitches, I have been able to lift the rear of a tow vehicle off the ground with a jack under the trailer.
For years I have made my own hitch to attach to the trailer. More specifically, I have built six trailers using this hitch. First, I build a short square tube of 1/4-inch-thick, 3-inch steel angle. The length of this box should be the same as the width of the channel forming the tongue of the trailer. Trim the legs of the angle as necessary so that the steel angle forms a tube that fits almost snug around the hitch ball. You should have 1/64-1/32 inch clearance.
A square is welded inside the tube to keep the ball from going too far inside. Now the tube fits the hitch ball, but nothing keeps it from coming off--yet. Drill a hole (7/16 inch) through the tube. Locate it so it's against the rear wall of the tube. Place it at a height where it will allow a high-strength bolt to pass through the area of the ball's neck. I use a Chevy head bolt for this. Use a nut or drill a hole for a hairpin to retain the bolt. With the tube/ball socket completed, weld it to the tongue of the trailer. Doublers on the outside of the tube, which are also welded to the tongue, add strength to the attachment.
The Superwinch S3500 plugs...
The Superwinch S3500 plugs into a spud welded to the trailer. When inserted all the way, a pin keeps it there. The Superwinch mounting plate was used here. This allows the winch to be used easily in other applications as well as being secured in a protected area. The S3500 is strong enough to pull a broken race car up on the trailer.
Now that we have been hitched, let's tie one on. More to the point, let's tie one race car on the trailer properly. In Part 2 we covered race car tie-downs on the trailer. The car should be tied with four straps, at least two of them being ratchet types. Virgil Brown of M&R explained that with only two tie-downs, one front and one rear, a car can shift its weight during an emergency maneuver. This occurrence can be severe enough to cause lasting damage to the roof of the tow vehicle as well as to the race car. So, four tie-downs are the order of the day.
But if you are young and dumb--as I once was--and only use two tie-downs, never use a come-along as a tie-down. Use it to get the car in place on the trailer if necessary. Then use a ratchet tie-down and a chain. The come-along is designed to pull a load. It's not designed for impact strength of the type felt during road jarring. I have seen the center spool collapse on these things. When that happens, a lot of things get loose.
I'm older and some say smarter now. I do understand my race car might be worth the cost of four ratchet tie-downs. The original M&R tie-downs have seen a lot of sun and weather. These new tie-downs make me feel better. The old ones will be used to strap down tool boxes, tires, and so on.
Speaking of tie-downs, the question becomes where and how they should be attached to the trailer. Initially I had placed M&R's D-rings at the front and rear of the trailer. They were arranged to pull the car parallel to the trailer. At the rear, my folding ramps sit on top of the tie-downs. This is not desirable. So, additional D-rings have been welded to the side of the trailer. This splayed out the attachments from the car, which I think is preferable to a straight back pull. Atthe front, I also welded additional D-rings to the trailer to splay out the attachments.
Welding the M&R D-rings on...
Welding the M&R D-rings on the sides of the trailer gets the straps out from under the ramps. This mounting also splays out the straps for more secure fastening of the car. New M&R ratchet straps have replaced the older, weathered ones. D-rings weremounted in a similar fashion and welded at the front of the trailer.
Our Superwinch S3500 has performed quite well for us. It has pulled more than one bent race car up on the trailer. I used the Superwinch mounting plate to make a plug-in attachment to the trailer. Easy on easy off--making secure storage no-brainer.
I really like the high-mounted lights on the tire rack. They never get knocked off there. To satisfy legal requirements, I have added lights to the rear fenders. Also, there are now reflector strips at the rear of the trailer.
I really like this trailer. With at least 400 pounds of tongue weight, it tows well. Modifieds need to be forward, while Street Stocks with more forward weight can be shifted to the rear a bit. There is one change I wish I'd made but never have. The fold-over ramps could have been 4 feet long instead of 3. I was cheap and didn't want to buy another length of purling. At times this would have made loading a low race car easier. All things considered, though, if I needed another open trailer, I would build another just like it. Contact Sleepy at sleepy.gomez @primedia.com.
I still like the original...
I still like the original high positioning of the lights. They are highly visible and they don't get torn off. However, there is a case to be made for lights to be mounted rearward. So, to appease the constabulary, I have used flush-mounted lights on the rear fenders. They are mounted high on the fender to protect them as much as possible. When drilling through the fender this way, use a template for accuracy, along with a short drill bit.
This long bolt with swing-out...
This long bolt with swing-out ramps is necessary to allow the ramp to be picked up and swung in. The bolt floats with the ramp.
1/4 x 4 x 4-in steel angle:
1 piece @ 78 in
2 pieces @ 16 ft
1/4 x 2 x 4-in steel channel:
1 piece @ 70 in
2 pieces @ 85 in
10-gauge x 1 1/2-in x 1 1/2-in square steel tubing:
6 pieces @ 77 1/2 in
2 pieces @ 72 in
2 pieces @ 71 1/2 in
4 pieces @ 78 in
2 pieces @ 12 in
1/8 x 2 x 2-in steel angle:
4 pieces @ 16 in
0.065 x 8 x 2 1/2-in purling:
4 pieces @ 16 ft
2 pieces @ 72 in
4 pieces @ 44 in
1 piece @ 78 in