Before we get to it, I’ve added a new widget to my website, did you already see? “Jay’s 80s Mix Tape” with 113 of my fav 80s tunes to enjoy while reading! You can find the playlist and mini player on the right side a bit further down. My recommendations for this update are #68, #92, #93. Songs from “The Box”, a 80s synthpop band, pretty fitting isn’t it?! I’ll fit my foot in your arse!
First, something a bit unrelated. I’ve noticed last winter that a lot of snow was being kicked up on the rear pocket anchors and taillights. I had some rubber laying around – meh, you can’t feel shit with those! Do you mind? – laying around the garage so I made mudflaps:
I’ve also added a few eye bolts on the fenders and on the rear bulkhead to help secure the future tarp system.
To allow for proper width clearance for the box, I had to modify the corners of my side rail / pocket anchors system and add mounting areas for the roof supports:
The four corners are out of 1/4″ leftover aluminum from the original trailer frame build. Never throw that stuff away, you never know!
Oh, and before I forget, the main structural parts of the box system were made out of 2″ diameter 3/16″ thick aluminum square tubing, which is a bit overkill since heavy duty 53′ trailers use 1/8″ gauge. However, again, this was to ensure the thing will last me a long time. The overall height of the trailer was determined by my garage door’s clearance, which is 8 feet, so I gave myself a bit of leeway and settled on a 7′-10″ total figure.
I’ve cut the roof supports beams in a special way to be able to add a dimension of welding that was not butted:
That also pushes slightly outwards the top of the roof to help maximize width with the outside railing sections. It will also serve a very important purpose a bit later on…
Let’s not forget that this box system also needs a front bulkhead. Here’s part of it:
A nice sunset after some snow, awwww! What, you’re going to cry now? *Sniff, sniff…*
Next, the roof. I chose to assemble it entirely on the ground for ease. Similarly to the trailer frame, this starts out as a rectangular unit:
Then the crossmembers:
To try and make it lighter, only the outside tubes are 3/16″, the cross-members are 1/8″. Normally, the latter would be made out of channels and not tubes, but I got the cheapest stock that was available.
My spacing was determined by the aluminum sheeting roll dimensions I’ve had for ages as it would serve as my roof panels. 3′ width doesn’t marry itself equally with 16′ so I chose to space the first front set of cross-members closer together then go at 3′ equal spacing to the rear.
As it is the industry standard I riveted the panels on:
And so on all the way. I don’t recall the exact number of rivets that I used but it’s over 350 for the roof alone. The rivet spacing is higher than what is normally used on heavy duty applications but I figured this would be fine for me. Using only my trusty manual tool, let just say that my hand was very sore after that. I’ve also added sealant to ensure a leak-free roof but just in case water would find its way into the tubing I drilled some drain holes (on the sides so it wouldn’t drip on the car inside).
The only remaining thing for the roof was to weld in the slider tracks on the underside of the longerons. I didn’t want to insert the little nylon wheels before welding so I cut out a 2 inch portion on the rear of each track to allow later installation and any future replacement needs. The cut out sections were simply screwed back into place to complete the system.
Then came the time to install the roof itself. Since I had to lift it alone, due to my fiancée being sight impaired (and she has very weak arm strength), this is when having only the front support beams in place came into play:
Having a ceiling mounted rolling crane like my father’s-in-law’s garage sure would have helped a ton here. Anyhow, the roof being of light aluminum construction, I was able to lift the front and wedge it in-between the all important slats that I purposely left on top of the beams if you remember earlier. That allowed me to then lift the rear, have my fiancée put in the ladder on the trailer, and settle it down. This made adding the rear beams easier:
Note here that I did not use a squaring tool to align the roof or the support beams. Instead, I had simply put the trailer in a level position by lowering it on jack stands. That allowed the very quick use of a bubble gauge on both sides of the supports. I like it simple. What, no schmancy fancy triangulation? Them engineer types will be mad again! Hey, where were you? You haven’t opened your trap for a while! Your constant rambling made me fall asleep, dumbass!
This nets a roof that sits an even 6 feet off the trailer’s deck. Actual clearance under the roof is 5′-10″ (70 inches), which funnily is my actual body height – Not if I chop your head off! Enough with the head chopping! It makes you sound like you’re in some religion that’s in the news lately. Anyhow, I can walk inside with only a slight head slant, which is pretty accommodating! It is also much over Wabi~Sabi’s current height of 58-ish inches. This means I could haul any passenger car if need be.
After leveling was done, the support beams were both bolted in from the sides and welded all around. Afterwards, I could add further bracing by using yet again leftovers from the original trailer build:
As you can see, I’ve also made a peculiar looking lower section of the front bulkhead. I had no good reason to move the front chest or the winch system I worked so hard on so I went around it. I’ve also added this feature:
That allows me to retain the use of the frontal pocket anchors. The thick rubber flaps allows for a decent weather seal on the opening for both when in or not in use.
Rain was starting to fall hard outside so I rushed to finish the front bulkhead. You sissy, afraid of a little rain! OK, I admit that Wabi~Sabi’s rear radiator roof ducts are not 100% waterproof, there’s some very slight drippage inside in heavy rain. I also did not want the unfinished trailer to spend the night out in the downpour. Sigh, didn’t mama say things are not made out of chocolate? So, I hastily hooked up the trailer, loaded up the car, and stored everything back in:
The morning after, I unloaded the car and delivered the trailer to the tarp guy. You traitor! Outsourcing work! Poser! Failed DIY’er! Hey! I very seriously thought about making my own tarps out of my old winter car shelter’s but if my experience in trucking has taught me anything it’s that you can’t cheap out on tarps. They require specialized sowing machines and need to be made to last. Thankfully, we have such a commercial tarp specialist in our town, and not to mention one that my father’s had good dealings with in the past. So I took up on some credit, told him what I wanted, and chose a few “upgrades” for my tarp system. By the way, it helps if you mention that he can do the strict minimum hardware wise and that you’ll complete the work yourself. Helps get cheaper quotes!
Meanwhile, I figured that I should work on a way to install the trailer’s spare tire. We don’t need no friggin’ spare! I can always chop your head off and cram the hub in your mouth. It should roll nicely! Up until now, I didn’t want to install the spare on the side rail because I would find it cumbersome, so I simply hauled it in the pickup’s bed on the previous trips. Then came an idea to use the front bulkhead. Yes, yes, that’ll work too… I went in search of a scrap hub but couldn’t find one. The commercial mounting systems were too expensive to cannibalize too. Oh yeah, then I got the perfect solution that involved cutting more things! I scrounged into my bins and gathered these:
That’s a 3/8″ steel plate so that meant a lot of wasted cutting discs… OR – Mwwwhaaahaha! Cutting by fire, a rare treat, but oh so enjoyable! Yup, acetylene torch job! I like them goggles too! After a bit of “TLC” (Tough Love and Carelessness), this was created:
I didn’t spend much on it so making it perfect would have been a waste of time. If those studs look familiar, they are: they’re Wabi~Sabi’s original wheel studs before I swapped them for the longer ones! A bit of spray paint later:
I’ll let you guess where exactly that’ll be installed for now!
After a few days of separation, I got the call that the tarp system was ready. Luckily I was in town so I hastily went. It looked very nice, better than I expected, frankly. The tarp guy asked me what would be hauled in there so I showed him a picture of Wabi~Sabi. A rally car, he said. Heh, not bad for an old man! I must have done something right, I guess! Then he starts off explaining how he’s one of the organizers of a yearly antique car show in the region and that they’ve tried broadening their appeal to include other types of cars. He said they were tired of the usual muscle / drag cars and he offered me a spot for Wabi~Sabi for next May’s venue. Normally, I don’t do this. Not since 2007 anyhow. ZZZzzzzzzzzz…. However, after talking it over with my fiancée, we’ve figured that a antique car show would bring a more “mature” crowd, most likely leaving out hothead teenagers and the local Subaru community.
The latter was important since Wabi~Sabi has recently induced much rage and dissension in a local Québec Subaru online forum. Basically, it was a clash about how I’ve destroyed a perfectly good STi to turn it into an atrocity versus that I have the right to do what I want with my property. I was informed of it by another member who remembered the car from a journal I briefly had on there in 2012. It was very ugly, some even saying I should be banned from any and all Subaru related community events in the province. There was very little good comments other than it was my car and I had the right to.
I had no choice but to intervene personally to diffuse the situation. I explained how I started to DIY to realize my dreams, how the car was a tribute to Group B, and that I had built the car for only myself. I admitted the fact that I could have sold the car, bought a wreck, and start off there, but I’m just too attached to my cars to part ways like that. Anyhow, it seemed to have worked but sadly this has put me in a very awkward situation with the community (of which admittedly I want little part in). So I’m not sure about attending any public outing with the car. However, the antique show venue may be different since 99% of people won’t know what the car is anyway. So I might attend… or not. My decision is not final yet.
Wake up you! *SMACK!* GGGRRRRR! I was dreaming you were being tortured in the most atrocious ways! Let’s continue on with the trailer, shall we! Fiiiiiiine!
When I picked it up:
Yes, I chose red tarps! The color of bloooooood, yes! The upgrades I chose were the side straps (rather than bungee cords) to ensure proper tension, a rear zipper system, and also the “pocket” you see in the rear roll-up tarp. It’s a standard in the trucking industry for such tarp systems and I wanted it too. This “pocket” serves as a vent for any pressurized air that might form inside the trailer. It also prevents the side tarps from bulging outwards at highway speeds. In short, it’s more efficient on the fuel economy.
Believe it or not, there was still quite a bit of work left to do to the trailer! Sigh… Are we done yet?! I just told you NO!
Remember the spare tire mount?
There it is! Securely bolted to the front bulkhead. It’s reversed you idiot! That’s because I wanted the tire as close as possible to the bulkhead to lessen the stress on the mount tube. Sure, I’ll have to remove the spare to check the tire pressure but I can only see thing as a good thing since I’ll be able to inspect the mount and remove any rust from the studs as well.
I’ve also added rubber weatherstrips to seal around the winch’s casing. Again, recycling made this addition free of charge: I simply used Wabi~Sabi’s no longer used trunk weatherstrip!
You also spotted the Recce sign, ‘eh? DUH! Remember where that used to be? It was hanging from the inside of my garage door when it was open. However, since I will be storing the trailer inside the garage with Wabi~Sabi in it, the sign would hang too low and scrape on the trailer’s roof every time. It was too nice a sign to waste like that. I found it fitting to install it inside the trailer.
Next, I figured it would be nice to have a way to secure the side tarps when they are fully retracted. Simple eye bolts and dollar store bungee cords did the trick:
Before I forget, my friend David tried to convince me to have “Recce RallySport” printed on the sides of the tarps. I decided against it, not because it wasn’t in my budget, but because I want anonymity when on the road. It would make the trailer look commercial, which might attract the unwanted attention of the various vehicle safety enforcement (i.e.: DOT, etc). Them *&%*&%$! Not that they would find any infraction but it’s just a bother when it happens. Furthermore, besides you guys reading this, no one will know what’s actually being hauled inside. There’s no more reason why people would drive erratically around us except if they’re actually gawking at the trailer itself… or if they’re drunk!
Speaking of which… being anonymous is fun but in a certain aspect you want to be as conspicuous as possible! Why? Most people are BAD drivers. For them, driving is not something really serious or important. It’s a menial chore that makes them not concentrate like they should. Be it texting, talking on the phone, screaming at the kids, or whatever. Why the hell are you talking about soccer moms? You’ll get it soon! So yeah, making your vehicle highly visible is good for safety. I’m talking about lights and reflectors. Sure, some go overboard with this (rolling X-Mas trees) which may do the opposite and create a distraction instead, but if you do it right it just might save you from an accident (especially at night).
That’s why I chose to relocate the reflectors that were blocked off by the tarps and add some lights on the roof:
If, by luck, just one of these attracts the attention of someone and he/she sees that you’re pulling a trailer and prevents an accident, all the better! For me especially since this trailer is home-built from top to bottom. I can’t just accept insurance money and buy another one pronto, ya know! That being said, it was quite a time consuming job but I’m happy of the result. Thank gawd for fish tape is all I can say!
As you saw, I’ve added angle pieces at the rear corners. This holds the zipper portions of the tarp in place when everything is open too. It was the perfect spot to add reflector tape as well. I can’t do it for the front though due to how the tarp is mounted. Not seen in the pic, I’ve also added a protective angle bar for the top front. It’s something normally done in heavy duty trailers to help reduce damage if you ever drive under a low clearance bridge. I had the leftovers so why not use them?
So yeah, you’ve read in the last post how important it was for me to be able to retain the openness / total access feature of the flat-deck design, so here’s the trailer with all the tarps retracted:
The rear tarp is easily rolled up when I use the ramps as a ladder step! The side tarps slide rather easily, although I did have to crimp the hooks so that the tarp doesn’t pop out of them. I also had to crimp the tracks a little bit as I suspect that they got a bit heat deformed by the welding. No biggie, all is smooth now. That particular day was also a good test since there was 35~45 mph wind gusts. It’s a bit tricky to hold the tarp when removing the straps but it is feasible. Of course, I’ll have my fiancée to help me when we go to the track which makes this a non-issue.
All that was left to do was to load up the car!
It was fun. I could work as freely as before. Putting a knee or both down on a pad, saving my back some serious bending. I couldn’t be happier! Hard work repaid in full.
If you’re wondering how it looks inside with the tarps closed, here is:
There’s a decent gap. Besides, the tarps don’t flap around more than about one inch and at maximum two inches inward when rolling at full cross-wind. I know this because I’ve road tested it, of course!
It went very well. It’s not noisy. No wind sounds. No flapping sounds. Obviously, the tall square nose drags in the wind. It was expected. Then why didn’t you do a “V” nose or something, you moron?! I’ve thought of it but it would have made my chest obsolete. So what? You could have added compartments in the V-nose! True that, however, with the budget I had allowed myself this was a complexity I didn’t want to plan for. Furthermore, I didn’t quite know what the tarp guy would need to secure his system. The flat nose was the safer bet. As far as MPGs go, to match what I did before the box at 65 mph, I have to go at about 55 mph. For now this is fine by me. It’ll prevent me from driving too spiritedly when hauling Wabi~Sabi. I used to pass cars by the dozen on snow last winter.
However, I do have a few ideas in mind that would help in the aero department. “Nose cones” used to be very popular in the late 80s and 90s on dry box semi-trailers since there was not much high roof sleeper tractors in those days. You rarely see them on newer trailers. The old ones that have them rot behind shops and plants as storage units. I’ll be keeping an eye out for one and maybe I’ll be able to get it for free if I remove it myself. Even if the width doesn’t quite match, they are made out of fiberglass, so…. Hell yeah, die grinder time!!! I could also fab my own if all else fails.
Other options include a bed cap for the pickup truck but I don’t like much those since you have to crawl your way inside. Taller units such as SpaceKaps could work but they are expensive even on the used market. Anyhow, nothing is out of the cards but for now the trailer will do just fine as is!
Some final pics:
Now that everything is ready all I need is for a good snowstorm to come! Meanwhile, I’ll be saving funds. I’d really want at least 5 track days to happen this winter. Rooting out any weakness and issues in my setup before even thinking of going more serious with the car. Wish me luck! Luck is for losers!
Oh, and stay tuned for updated hauler specs… Yeah, whatever!