General Trailer recommendations

Alan Watkins

Lifetime Supporter
Finally going to buy a trailer for my GT40 (and for a few other more boring uses) mostly towing to and from tracks, and looking for some guidance from those who've been there....

I've looked at Pete Brock's delicious Aerovault trailer and as much as I admire it, I don't really care that much about fuel mileage and visual elegance, and am not sure I need to spend that much to solve my problem. Also I like to buy this kind of thing used (recycling, you know...) and that's going to be much harder with that unit.

Looked at and seriously considered a Serpent Express like Chuck has/had, but think I want something more secure and spacious for tires, tools chests, people, etc.

Most likely tow vehicle is a Lexus LX-570.

So I think I'm looking for your typical rectangular car trailer. So my basic questions are:

  1. What are the makes/models with a generally good durability record, and what are the ones to avoid? I gather there is a sub-industry that makes "two year trailers" and I don't want one of those. Inasmuch as I considered a $23,000 trailer from Brock I don't think I need to economize too much. And I'm alarmed by all the trailer stories I read of overheated bearings, blown tires, etc. I don't see why my trailer needs to be the weak link in reliability if I'm willing to spend the right amount.
  2. What features might I want internally that wouldn't be obvious to a novice? I know I want a battery and winch for (un)loading. And some system for tieing tall things to the walls and for tieing the car down. Yes, electric brakes and controller. What else?
Thanks in advance for any guidance and suggestions.
 
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If you are really just planning to use the trailer as a hauler, you can save money with a lower content. Plywood walls and floor, some D-rings and maybe a winch and some race ramps and you are done.

But if you are trying to race out of it, you will quickly find that things like a generator with a dedicated cabinet, 110V lights inside and out, roof-mounted heat/AC, lots of storage cabinets, a place to store tool boxes and spares, a tire rack, storage for a shade, secure storage for fuel cans, etc can add right up. Then maybe you need a viewing stand on top of the trailer so you can get a better, more private view of the action. And more storage, and a small air compressor, etc.

You should also consider the construction of the trailer, as it relates to weight. My aluminum trailer was about 1000 lbs lighter than the equivalent steel trailer, which meant it was easier and cheaper to tow- I could use my SUV and didn't need a pickup.

For the low-priced but reasonable value in the steel trailers, go Haulmark. They are ubiquitous, and easy to buy and sell. Visually, they will degrade in a couple of years as, for example, the rivets they use to attach the sides oxidize and start to create black streaks, the frames will begin to rust and the plywood interiors (assuming they have seen use) will begin to look a bit tatty.

For a longer commitment, consider an aluminum trailer from Featherlite or Aluminum Trailer Company (ATC). I had an ATC and loved every moment I used it. Never had a leak or problem with it, and 5 years later, sold it for almost what I had paid for it.



Setup at the track:



Interior shot:



Gratuitous shot of VW diesel power FTW:



Trailer tires mostly fail from age-related damage, especially from the sun. Make sure you have a real trailer tire, not a passenger tire, and plan to change them every three years, regardless of miles. Brakes and wheel bearing failures are almost always the result of poor or non-existent maintenance.

Finally the oft-debated issue: yes, length matters. Don't buy less than a 24' trailer if you can tow it, as that is the minimum size most racers (who are they target resale market) will consider. Be sure the total weight of the trailer, with load, is consistent with the rating on your Lexus, and consider a pad upgrade if you tow long distances or over hilly terrain. Also, be sure you know what your truck's rating is as far as tongue weight. You don't want to go down the road with your headlights searching for low-flying aircraft! Air suspension is a Very Good Thing for a tow vehicle.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide!


Finally going to buy a trailer for my GT40 (and for a few other more boring uses) mostly towing to and from tracks, and looking for some guidance from those who've been there....

I've looked at Pete Brock's delicious Aerovault trailer and as much as I admire it, I don't really care that much about fuel mileage and visual elegance, and am not sure I need to spend that much to solve my problem. Also I like to buy this kind of thing used (recycling, you know...) and that's going to be much harder with that unit.

Looked at and seriously considered a Serpent Express like Chuck has/had, but think I want something more secure and spacious for tires, tools chests, people, etc.

Most likely tow vehicle is a Lexus LX-570.

So I think I'm looking for your typical rectangular car trailer. So my basic questions are:

  1. What are the makes with a generally good durability record, and what are the ones to avoid? I gather there is a sub-industry that makes "two year trailers" and I don't want one of those. Inasmuch as I considered a $23,000 trailer from Brock I don't think I need to economize too much. And I'm alarmed by all the trailer stories I read of overheated bearings, blown tires, etc. I don't see why my trailer needs to be the weak link in reliability if I'm willing to spend the right amount.
  2. What features might I want internally that wouldn't be obvious to a novice? I know I want a battery and winch for (un)loading. And some system for tieing tall things to the walls and for tieing the car down. Yes, electric brakes and controller. What else?
Thanks in advance for any guidance and suggestions.
 

Alan Watkins

Lifetime Supporter
Will -- Thanks for the great reply. What length is the one you show? And where in the inside picture would the nose of the car be if it were loaded? (Just to give me a visual sense). And when you say "pad upgrade" you mean hi perf. brake pads? Sould I put on a brembo kit? :)

FWIW: Lexus specs --
Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. (lbs): 8500
Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. (lbs): 850

So with (say) a 4300 lb 24' haulmark + 2500 lb GT40 = 6800 lb and a WD hitch it appears I have a healthy margin for tools, etc.

(edited trailer weight)
 
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Will -- Thanks for the great reply. What length is the one you show? And where in the inside picture would the nose of the car be if it were loaded? (Just to give me a visual sense). And when you say "pad upgrade" you mean hi perf. brake pads? Sould I put on a brembo kit? :)

FWIW: Lexus specs --
Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. (lbs): 8500
Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. (lbs): 850

So with (say) a 3500 lb 24' haulmark + 2500 lb GT40 = 6000 lb and a WD hitch it appears I have a healthy margin for tools, etc.
Hi Allan,

My trailer was a 20 footer, which was all I could store/hide behind my house, and all I really needed for a relatively short (11') car.

The front bumper would be about a foot before the edge of the red toolbox on the right. One thing that too many people don't give enough thought to in advance is front/rear loading ratio. In other words, it's good to have a little extra length to move the car up or back to manage the tongue weight. Or, if you have a trailer to try before you buy, load all your stuff, and see where the car needs to be to located in order to get the distribution you want. Many racers need to back their car on the trailer solely for weight management. If this is important, know what your front and rear car weights are, and plan accordingly.

Yes, I meant brake pads. One thing I learned was that even really great brakes (and the Touareg shares the same calipers as some Ferraris) can be made to fade when you have a bit o' speed, a load and a lot of downhill ahead.

If you are going to carry that much weight, you might consider 5,000 lb. axles, instead of the normal 3500 lb ones. Just more of a safety factor.

Here's a pic of the Mad Cow doing some agricultural racin' down the mini-esses at VIR:

 

Alan Watkins

Lifetime Supporter
...My trailer was a 20 footer, which was all I could store/hide behind my house, and all I really needed for a relatively short (11') car. ....The front bumper would be about a foot before the edge of the red toolbox on the right.
So you have 9' "extra" which looks pretty comfortable in front of where the car would be. So between that and your comment about resale a 24' looks like the right thing to do (giving me about the same extra space with the 14' GT40).

And yes with a more realistic trailer weight of 4300 + 2500 = 6800 I'm awfully close to 7,000 so I'll need the 5,000 lb axles.
 
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Cliff Beer

Supporter
Alan, one thing I found helpful was to have a tow vehicle that contributed to the on-track situation a bit, meaning, when you're at the track for the weekend it's helpful to have a suburban to sleep in the back of (3rd row seat removed) while the race car is in the trailer because it happens to be raining cats and dogs. A diesel 2500 suburban is a helluva tow vehicle, and you can get an old one for just a few thousand bucks. The diesel engine runs forever. Sit down on the seat with greasy pants or hands? No problem. Spill your bottle of red wine as you're reaching for it in the dark? No problem. Accidentally sleep on top of an exploding tube of toothpaste? No problem. Throw an entire alfa engine and gearbox in the back covered in oil after a rod punches a hole through the block? No problem. Well, you get the idea.

My trailer was an aluminum ATC, and as Will said, they're a great trailer.
 
My personal favorite trailer is a flat open trailer with one axle.
I put my money in the toys not the trailer or tow unit.
On the left is my son sitting by my new RCR70 when we picked it up at Fran's behind my old Cummins powered 1 ton 4X4 1985 Suburban.
Fran must have been laughing when he saw that in his parking lot.
The other has to be the coolest way to haul a racing Cobra.
 

Attachments

Will -- Thanks for the great reply. What length is the one you show? And where in the inside picture would the nose of the car be if it were loaded? (Just to give me a visual sense). And when you say "pad upgrade" you mean hi perf. brake pads? Sould I put on a brembo kit? :)

FWIW: Lexus specs --
Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. (lbs): 8500
Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. (lbs): 850

So with (say) a 4300 lb 24' haulmark + 2500 lb GT40 = 6800 lb and a WD hitch it appears I have a healthy margin for tools, etc.

(edited trailer weight)
4300 lbs ? I knew that in US everything is bigger but !

THis my trailer weights 1500 lbs.


of course just for transporting the cars and some tools, but no comfort ( although i will sleep in it on the track)

TOM
 
Alan,
I had Apache Trailer in Fontana, CA custom build a 16 ft. trailer to my specs: tandem axles with 15 in. wheels, elec. brakes, color match my tow vehicle, custom height, plywood interior with lighting, storage racks, built-in dovetail, 3 access doors and rear ramp door. It took about 7 weeks.

I had them build it the same height as the cap on my F-150 to minimize wind buffeting and help with gas mileage. Its 58 in. inside height and you have bend over while inside, but for the time I spend in the trailer, it was worth it. I haul a Kirkham or a vintage Formula 2 car and spares with ease and it tows like a dream.

You might do as I did and have a small 2 ft. access door installed in the front, then I mounted a Harbor Freight winch including remote on the tongue and load and unload the car while standing behind it. This eliminates the hassle of climbing in and out of the vehicle through a side access door, especially with the 40.

Brock builds a very good product, but if you're like me (cheap) you can have one one of these custom built for cosiderably less. My only regret was doing a 16 ft. instead of 18 ft. Call Jacob at (909) 355-6833. PM me for more info and pics.


Allen Nicholas
 

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Alan Watkins

Lifetime Supporter
4300 lbs ? I knew that in US everything is bigger but !
I was a little surprised at having to edit that number upwards three times, because I kept finding different Haulmark 24 ft trailers. The last number is for an "Edge" model that is specifically called out for race car use. Don't yet know what that means, exactly, but it will carry a 5,700 lb payload (would almost accomodate its own tow vehicle!).
 

Julian

Lifetime Supporter
I upgraded trailer last year and the single biggest thing I miss that my old Haulmark 32' had which the new trailer doesn't was a 48" side escape door. It opened and allowed the car door to open fully past the trailer side.

It was handy for easy exit out of all cars but absolutely a must for a GT40 as you cannot open the door far enough to enter or exit the car, that plus fixed windows makes it hard to adjust the steering even while winching in.

I miss that side escape door so much I'm thinking of getting the new trailer modified to install one.
 
I was a little surprised at having to edit that number upwards three times, because I kept finding different Haulmark 24 ft trailers. The last number is for an "Edge" model that is specifically called out for race car use. Don't yet know what that means, exactly, but it will carry a 5,700 lb payload (would almost accomodate its own tow vehicle!).
The Edge series is an upgrade from the regular trailers and typically includes more of the kind of things a racer would want (as opposed to a landscaper, who might be interested in the same length trailer). I saw them all the time at the track.

The idea of an escape door as mentioned above is a good one for the 40.
 

Tim Kay

Lifetime Supporter
....I miss that side escape door so much I'm thinking of getting the new trailer modified to install one.
Julian,

As said in another thread years ago, "finally an excuse why we have kids". Let your youngster "drive" the car in the trailer as you winch them in. Just make sure you throw in a bag lunch for the trip. Upside is you now have a captive participant to unload her. The downside in my case would be getting my sons incessant flatulent smell out so I could stand to drive it.
 

DaveM

Supporter
One thing you might want to consider is how you will load an SPF. I load mine backwards because I trust the strength of the rear frame to winch the car in more than using the front tubing. I don't carry a lot of extra stuff in the front of the trailer (18' Haulmark), so I don't think the weight distribution is bad with the engine basically over the front axle. Use E track on the walls to fasten items. You can even strap a rolling toolbox to them if you don't want to go with fixed cabinets. As noted above Haulmark is a very durable trailer (had mine for 14 years), but the cosmetics do suffer after a few years. Ideally a side escape door to allow opening GT40 doors would be nice, but you won't get that on a used trailer.
 

DaveM

Supporter
For my rollable toolbox I used a horizontal strip of E track about 2 ft. long. Used self drilling screws to fasten into the vertical frame rails of the trailer. A heavy duty ratchet tie down holds the tool box firmly to the wall. Have had this installation for 12 years and thousands of miles with no loosening. You could probably use E track vertically as well, but I'm not sure how you could screw both sides of the track to a frame rail. Possibly toggle bolts, but fastening to just the plywood doesn't seem sound.
 
I used horizontal e-track and straps to hold the box.

Works great, but remember to either get a box that has locks on the drawers to prevent them from opening in transit without the latch being pulled, or use a metal strap down all of the fronts to do the same thing.

Don't ask how I know this...
 

Cliff Beer

Supporter
Julian,

As said in another thread years ago, "finally an excuse why we have kids". Let your youngster "drive" the car in the trailer as you winch them in. Just make sure you throw in a bag lunch for the trip. Upside is you now have a captive participant to unload her. The downside in my case would be getting my sons incessant flatulent smell out so I could stand to drive it.
Tim, maybe you should try putting something different in the lunch bag then. Just sayin'.....
 

Alan Watkins

Lifetime Supporter
...Don't buy less than a 24' trailer if you can tow it, as that is the minimum size most racers (who are they target resale market) will consider.
Just had an interesting conversation with the local (east of San Diego) Haulmark dealer. He says don't buy anything longer than 22' for resale becasue 24' is too long (legally) for a full-size RV, and that those guys are the biggest market for resale. Also, that full-size RV resale consideration calls for an extended tongue. I wonder if this is a SoCal thing.

Given that, maybe I'll just assume I'm keeping it forever. I stood in a 24' and visualized my 14' car at the back. That 10' open floor space in front sure looks huge. OTOH, a 20' trailer leaves only 6' which seems too small. So resale aside I'm thinking 22' looks like the goldilocks "just right" size.... ??

Also learned that the "Edge" model was just "unbundled" so all the racer stuff (power, cabinets, etc.) is extra cost now. Overall cost is about the same though, just a lower entry price.
 
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