Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
4/26/19 10:23 a.m.

Over the past few months, I have begun to cobble together a race trailer from an amalgamation of parts (a wrecked 20' Featherlite box, Craigslist axles, etc.).  Here she is in all her glory:

She came well equipped:

  • 20' crunched box and frame featuring a smashed side door and rotting wood ramp.
  • Interior is finished with fluorescent light fixtures (110V AC) and breaker box tied to external RV generator plug.
  • 3500# craigslist torsion axles.
  • 4  junk/free tires that kind of hold air.
  • Paint that's kind of there.
  • Electrics that would make Lucas look reliable.
  • Harbor Freight 3000lb. winch that needs a new cable.

As it stands, I have next to nothing into making this thing into a "roller".  However, it still needs some things to even be road worthy (tires/wheels, new brakes, complete re-wire).  I could effectively replace every component and come out much cheaper than a new trailer.  As a bonus, I can do things in stages depending upon my needs.

Current plan is to get it roadworthy, inspected, and titled.  The question, however, is this:

If given carte blanche to spec the (20') trailer of your dreams, what would you do?

This will be primarily used for hauling derelict cars around, ChampCar races, etc.  Looking for suggestions/lessons learned in order to make this workable.  Specific questions are the following:

  • Is it worth upgrading to 16" wheels (if possible)?  Goodyear has new Made in USA tires that are supposedly better than the old Marathons.
  • Are all electric drums the same?  I need all four replaced, should I consider trying to find some 12" drums instead of the 10" normally equipped?
  • Needs all new exterior signal lighting, transitioning to LEDs.  No provisions for backup lights, can LED cubes serve double duty for backup and night loading/unloading.
  • Ditch the 5000#-rated D-Rings for E-Track?
  • Cheap 12v interior lighting for times that I don't want to break out a generator?
  • Recessed flood lights on left side for times I need more light AND a generator?
  • Side door is FUBAR.  Ditch the RV lock and go to a conventional door bar and lock for better security?
  • How the hell do I anchor a rolling tool cart/chest so it doesn't fall on my car while on the freeway?
  • Roof fans/vents: Mandatory upgrade or easy target for hail?

I do understand that it would be cheaper/easier to fix things minimally, but where is the fun in that?  I could effectively have a decent trailer for challenge money.


68TR250 Reader
4/26/19 10:50 a.m.

'Is it worth upgrading to 16" wheels (if possible)?  Goodyear has new Made in USA tires that are supposedly better than the old Marathons.'

On my trailer It came with 14" tires.  Good because it is easier to load - easier on the winch.

On our fire trucks we put lights on both sides and the rear.  I am a firm believer in the more the better.  If you are going to do one side, do the right side where your door is.  Or do sides and rear which answers also the back up light question.  The LED cube lights we have on the back of our tanker make a world of difference when backing up dark roads to a fire scene.  The last time I was driving it at night my turn around spot was about 600 feet away from where the engines were.  

'Cheap 12v interior lighting for times that I don't want to break out a generator?'  Yes, or put in solar and put the charging cell outside?

Yes on the generator as the budget allows

Get cheap roof vents and if you can find powered vents even better.  Your sweat glans will thank you.  Get friendly with your local school district.  IF they are going to scrap a bus snag the roof vent before it goes.  OT check out the scrap yard where they scrap them.

All I got for now.



pirate HalfDork
4/26/19 11:15 a.m.

If you are going to spend any time at all in the trailer at races for shade or rain a powered vent fan would be great. Fan-Tastic Fans move over 900 CFM and are reversible. They make a low profile hood that goes over the unit so they can be used even if it is raining. 

If you wire in lighting use LED bulbs to keep amps low. If you are going to rely on solar pretty much 100 Watts is minimum with lighting, fan and charging battery/batteries. 

codrus GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/26/19 7:29 p.m.

The advantage to the RV lock is that you can unlock/open the door from the inside.  If you plan to sleep in the trailer at events, I would not go with a system where someone with a bad idea of what's funny can use a padlock to lock you in.

Exterior flood lighting is useful if you plan to be doing stuff outside your trailer at night.  I don't have any on mine and I've never missed it, but them I'm doing track days where I'm packed up by 5:30, not races where I'm wrenching on the car all night to prep it for the next day.

A roller canopy on the side can be nice for making shade.

Consider screw jacks on the rear bumper so that you can load/unload a car when it's not hooked up to a tow vehicle without tipping the trailer back.

You haven't mentioned a tire rack?

For rolling toolchest, I have e-track on the wall with a ratchet strap around the chest.

For other useful stuff, go look through what they have for sale at https://www.pitpal.com  Their stuff is expensive, but it'll give you ideas for stuff you might want to build DIY.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
4/26/19 8:32 p.m.

We used led stip lights for low amp draw 12v lighting.  Get the waterproof version. Its much more durable. 

Led cube lights can do double duty. Just use a 3 way toggle: 1 way is backup, other way is task.

We used giant led light bars from ebay for flood lighting. The 52 incher rivals the sun. 

This was all done in a box truck used for plumbing, but is definately applicable for a enclosed trailer. 

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/26/19 8:48 p.m.

I want to learn more. Did you repair the box by replacing panels?

93gsxturbo SuperDork
4/27/19 12:52 p.m.

My dream setup for that would be as follows:

  • Leave the outside looking decroded (less of a target for thieves) or paint it up with some cool vintage looking paint job or color.  White is boring.
  • Insulate it and re-sheet the inside.  Bright colors for better lighting
  • Mod the roof to add an RV A/C unit.  Sometimes the supports and wiring are in place and you just need to cut the hole.  If not, no worries, its already being resheeted.  
  • Get an awning for the door side, add an RV door
  • Build a shallow workbench/cook station in the front with a few outlets, lights, and cabinets.  Depth doesn't have to be much, don't need a sink.  Just a countertop with cabinets above and below.  Get a used 2 burner hot plate at your favorite used goods outlet for when you have 120.
  • Get one or two Challenger Bed Doors (since you have the length) and install them opposite the man door.
  • Scrounge around for a ladder and roof rack.  Install lightweight decking on the roof so you can sit up there during events or use it for additional storage.
  • Get a Dometic Extenda-Room for the rear door
  • Get a few large solar panels and use those plus drive time to keep some deep cycle batteries topped off.  I hate generators, hate the noise.  Can permanently mount the solar on your new roof rack.
  • Get an ARB or Dometic or similar 12V/120V cooler style fridge and mount it on a drawer slide where it slides to the outside of the trailer.  Now you have an outside fridge and freezer that never needs ice, runs off shore power so it can be loaded up the night before, and slides to the outside where you will want to spend most of your time anyway.  Use the area opposite the fridge under the cabinet to store deep cycle batteries and run your electrical.
  • Several different LED lighting on separate switches.
    • Outside, all four sides, on separate switches so you only use what you need
    • Inside Bright for working
    • Inside Dim for chillin or power consumption
  • Good size 120V inverter, can run that with the deep cycles to do most of your 120V needs.  
  • Nitrogen tank if you need compressed air, but battery power if at all possible.  If you just need compressed air for tires, a small 12V compressor and air tank would be my preference to a loud 120V compressor rattling away, plus no need for a generator
  • Lista cabinets anchored to the walls for tool storage.  Since you are already resheeting, you can add a reinforced wall to secure the cabinets to at this time.  
Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
4/28/19 12:28 a.m.

I wrote out a longer reply last night, but for some reason it didn't take...

Great ideas in here guys.  Today, I had my first pull to get the thing weighed.  It was interesting for a few reasons:

  • My towing experience prior to this was a boat and a 12' trailer.
  • No electric brakes.
  • Brand new truck as of September (2018 Silverado Z71 5.3).

The thing weighs 3700# in it's present state.  Truck pulled fine, all things considered.  I will be adding OEM Tow Mirrors and the Intellihaul 4-Camera system (Front, Trailer, Side Mirrors), so everything will be sorted from a towing perspective.

Upon assessing the interior with my dad and best friend, we've decided to pull the current 110v system out and re-configure things a bit.  Going to get rid of the (likely broken) flourescent light fixtures in favor of LEDs and adding a vent to start.  I will be removing the curent cheap hooks, non-folding tire rack, etc. and re-painting the walls.  Fortunately, my sister just bought a new condo so I have a few gallons of miscellenaous greys/whites which should work well for this.

The wall E-Track is a GREAT idea, so that's a definite must.

The roof racking, solar panel, etc. thing is interesting.  Definitely something to ponder.  I'll definitely be doing the ARB refrigerator (or a HUGE cooler), as I've been itching to buy one anyway.

I do have an inverter already, I forget how big it is but it's pretty decent sized.

Batteries are an interesting thing.  Not sure how to handle this.  Right now, there's a simple Group 65 sitting in a marine box and hooked to the 3000# winch.  Obviously that has to go, but I'm unsure as to how much battery I need and where to put it (tongue, floor trap door, etc.).

I don't really anticipate needing air as I am transitioning to electric tools in most instances.  A small pancake compressor or similar should be enough to do tires.

Exterior flood/work/reverse lighting and rear jacks are definitely on the shortlist, as well as a powered vent or two.  Per everyone's suggestion, I'll be keeping the RV door and also adding a bar lock for added security.

Forgot to snap interior pictures today, but I will update the thread tomorrow.  This thread will be moving pretty fast in the weeks ahead as I will likely be picking up a proper race car next week.  I have a temporary place to store it, but I need to get the Z06 sold and the trailer fixed so the new car can get down here and I can get the safety equipment updated.

93gsxturbo SuperDork
4/28/19 6:42 a.m.

If you are shopping ARB or Dometic fridges, become an REI member and buy one the next time they run 20% - probably not till Thanksgiving or so at this point if you can hold out that long.

Otherwise set up camelcamelcamel alerts on Amazon for one, they do drop in price occasionally.  I just got an ARB Elements using the REI 20% off and it ended up at $1150 picked up, far and away the cheapest way I found to get one.  If you sign up for an REI credit card you will also get 5% off and a $100 gift card at the same time.  

Our Preferred Partners