Yesterday I sold ye olde rusty ass trailer to a a friend of mine. Purchasing a new trailer will complete the great car exchange of 2017, but I’ll probably hold off until later in the summer before getting one.
The picture doesn’t really display how rusty the trailer is, but it has been a useful tool that stuck around far longer than I thought it would. It was originally custom built by Complete Trailer in Colorado for an SCCA raceer who used it to haul around his Spec Racer Ford. This would be the reason why it had a locking front storage box, (formerly, until it was too rusty) a tirerack on top the box and only one axle. It was designed to haul a 900lb racecar. Weighing in at only around 1000lbs, the 3500lbs left just enough GVWR capacity and just enough deck space to fit a Spec Miata or a 1st gen integra and some of the equipment one takes to the track for a race weekend.
Eventually the original owner took to playing with Spec Miatas, and a friend of mine in New Mexico bought the man’s used Spec Miata. He got the trailer too, because it was being sold as a package deal with the racecar. Since he already had a nice, and new, trailer that had enough axles, I got free use of this trailer in exchange for storing it. It looked much worse when I first encountered it. I initially offered $200 for it, and he wanted $600. After about a year of using it in exchange for storage, we finally agreed to split the difference and I bought it for $400 in 2004.
Once it was mine, I set about to making it presentable and a little less risky to use. The fenders were nearly falling off due to rust, so the first order was to make them solid again. Some angle iron brackets solved the problem and were the first thing I ever welded. They might be the ugliest welds I’ve ever seen, but they held. To test them, a I had a friend of mine who weighed about 250lbs stand on the fenders and take a small hop. They held.
Up next was the wiring. When I bought it, there were only two rear facing combination tail/brake/turn signals on the back of the fenders that didn’t reliably work (nor was the lighting legally sufficient) . I replaced those on the back of the fenders with new lights, added a second set of tail/brake/turn lights at the back of the trailer, added the red clearance light to the center rear of the trailer, put some red side markers on the rear corners, some orange side markers on the front corners and a second set of orange side markers on the front side of the fenders. Being me, I even added the technically required reflectors at the corners. I ripped out the disintegrated remains of the original wiring and started again from scratch. With new wiring soldered at every connection and fully wrapped and loomed, I had a trailer with ample lighting that actually worked.
I then took a wire wheel to some of the really bad rust spots and hit the trailer with a couple of coats of self etching primer and white enamel spary paint. Repacking the wheel bearing with some synthetic grease and a fresh set of trailer tires on it made it a presentable and surprisingly handy little trailer. Considering that the trailer was usually being run at or slightly over its GVWR, I made the choice to always run load range D 10-ply tires on it. It may not have had enough axles, but it did have enough capacity in the tires. I even did the almost unthinkable in New Mexico and had it titled in my name and displayed a license with a permanent registration sticker.
In exchange for storage, the race shop used it for as their shop trailer for many years when I wasn’t using it during the week. Their 52 foot car hauler was nice, but overkill for when they only needed to move a single car. It did once haul Volvo 240 across town after it decieded to blow its tranny cooler lines. It was quite a sight, and probably the biggest thing to ever be put on the trailer. I later on used it for a couple of intown moves, and it even facilitated the movement of a 6'x12' river raft made from plywood decking and 42 empty beer kegs for the 2012ish raft the rio event.
Once I decided to go racing again, I knew I would need to replace the trailer. I originally bought it as short-term solution, but I hung onto it because it turned to work far better than it should have. However, it was just too rusty to make me want to mess with it any further, and it would never be worth the investment to add another axle to it. One of the neat things about it was that the deck was only 72" wide, which was just wide enough for an old honda or spec miata, yet narrow enough to aerodynamically tuck in (with the exception of the fenders) behind a 1/2 truck or 1/2 truck based SUV.
For its replacement, I’ll probably have a trailer builder up in Albuquerque make me a car hauler with a 16 foot deck (with a 2" dovetail for easier loading), but have it made to the narrower 74" common utility trailer width instead of the usual 84" deck width found on car haulers. I’ll probably also have them leave the center of deck open to save some weight, and I’d like to have rubber torsion axles again.
...and hey, I sold it $500, which is $100 more than I paid for it and I got a over a decade of use out of it. I would not have paid that much for it now, but I pointed out repeatedly to my friend just how rusty the trailer was.