This guide is written for people whom are considering custom building their next rig. There are many things to consider during the planning process. In this article we will cover, step by step, the things that should be consider prior to starting the building process. When designing customer trailers, many race car teams do not consider all the options that they have.
The first step is to either get the specifications for your current tow vehicle or determine that you will need a new tow vehicle. There are four issues to consider when examining your tow vehicle.
Determine exactly what cargo you will need to take to the track with you. This can include your race car, engines, transmissions, tools, oil, fuel, cabinets and other miscellaneous parts. Determine if you will require a lounge area or a living quarters area. Draw a floor plan that will include the placement of all cargo and living quarters if needed. If you require more than one car consider a stacker trailer. Once you have determined the amount of floor space, decide on the type of trailer by the required footage. Bumper pulls are normally only built to a maximum of thirty-four feet, while goosenecks are built to a legal limit of fifty-three feet. The gooseneck trailer yields an effective floor space of eight feet less than the overall length. This is to say a fifty-three foot trailer would yield approximately forty-five feet of floor space.
Consider the height requirement. Most manufacturers build a six foot six inch interior. Consider increasing the height for both aesthetics and function. When adding a living quarters, the bed room area located in the gooseneck of trailers can be constraining and have an envelope like feeling if the height is not increased.
Goosenecks are generally easier to tow due to weight distribution.
The most important decision for your safety is determining axle number and size. Axles generally come in 3,500, 5,200, 6,000, and 7,000 pound ratings. Race car trailers generally will have either 2 or 3 axles. You can determine the gross vehicle weight rating by adding the total capacity of all the axles together. This is to say that a gross vehicle weight rating for a unit that has three 6,000 pound axles would be 18,000 pounds. When sizing the axles, keep in mind that the maximum gross vehicle weight rating for a non-commercial vehicle is 26,000 pounds. Going over this limit requires the driver to have a CDL license.
The next step in this process is to determine the empty weight. A general rule of thumb is 200 pounds per foot and add an additional 200 pounds per foot of living quarters space. This would mean that a unit that was forty-eight foot long with twelve feet of living quarters would weigh about 11,200 pounds dry. Now consider your cargo weight and size the axles appropriately.
Generally speaking their is a small room for a margin of error when calculating axles size due to tongue weight. This is due to the fact that not all the weight is resting in the axles. Some weight is slightly distributed on the tongue of the trailer. A good rule of thumb for tongue weight is ten percent of the total weight. This may be higher if there are living quarters in your car hauler. A good rule of thumb for tongue weight with living quarters is 20%. So in the example above the tongue weight of the forty-eight foot living quarters would be 2,240 pounds. Consult your trailer dealer for actual weights.
Triple axles are more difficult to maneuver than are tandem axles.
Generally speaking most manufacturers have very few problems with the base frame and will have very little difference in the materials used. When many manufacturers differ is on wall and floor construction.
Two areas to consider on walls construction:
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Three areas to consider on flooring:
Increasing the thickness of the exterior aluminum can enhance both the long term structural stability and looks. Most manufacturers offer .030 exterior aluminum thickness. There are some lesser brands that will offer .025 or .020. If budget allows increase the thickness to .040 or even .050. This will be a good investment if you wish to keep your purchase for a long period of time or are concerned with resale value. Thicker aluminum will flex less and thus look less wavy and the additional thickness strengths and increases wall rigidity. When choosing a color other than white, the exterior aluminum thickness can be very important, as a colored trailer will show the wavyness much more.
Manufacturers use three types of fastening systems to attach the exterior panels to the trailer walls:
This section will discuss two different areas, the garage area and the living quarters area.
The garage area, sometimes referred to as the cargo area, is located in the rear. It may encompass the entire length if their is not a living quarters conversion. There are many issues to consider when designing the garage area:
Consider storage for your tools and parts. Also consider work area. Most manufacturers provide cabinet packages that will offer additional discounts over buying cabinets ala carte. When adding cabinets do not forget to incorporate them in to your floor diagram as they will take up space. Often times a design will incorporate cabinets after the fact and then there will not be room for your primary cargo: THE RACE CAR.
Unless upgraded, most manufacturers provide a bare plywood floor. Do not leave the floor like this. Fuel, oil and other liquids will be absorbed by the floor thus warping and rotting it. Three types of flooring coverings are common:
When traveling, your race car and all large objects should be firmly secured to the floor and/or walls. Two types of systems are used to accomplish this:
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Although a recessed spare tire compartment seems like a great place to keep the trailers spare tire out of the way, consider when you would need the tire and the trouble of getting to it. Recessed spare tire compartments are a great idea for storage, so consider them for that.
Consider some of the following: winches, lighting, air conditioning, electrical power, and air lines. Most manufacturers can provide these upgrades.
There are many factors to consider about your dealer. These factors can greatly impact not only the price you pay but your experience and overall satisfaction of your purchase.
Size does matter. The larger the dealer the better the price, selection and inventory. This is true for a number of reasons:
Do business with dealers that have a history of providing race car trailers. The fact is that they have been there, seen that and have the t-shirt to prove it. The more experienced dealers will make suggestions and keep you from making mistakes. Avoid paying thousands for a product that you cannot use because if either got no advice or bad advice.
The best way to insure you are getting the best price is to look at dealers that offer nationwide delivery. Generally dealers that ship nationwide would be considered mega-dealers and can offer a better price and service because of their size. Make sure to get customer references in your area. Dealers that do business across the United States generally have better financing options then the local dealer also due to scope.
We at Millennium hope you found this article useful and informative. When you are ready to enjoy our consultative sales approach please contact Millennium. We have over 20 years of combined experience in the industry. We are once of the largest dealers of car trailers in the country. We sell over 300 race car trailers each year.