I chose to forego my autumn gravel testing to spend the little project money I have left to fix the issues that came up while hauling Wabi~Sabi last winter. What was the reason for making me work in the cold again? GRRRR… Sigh, we’re off to a good start aren’t we? You remember how Wabi~Sabi became all salted and rusty after just two trips to the test track last winter? Lookin’ puuuurty I’d say! And how some people drove erratically around us to stare or snap pic of the car at highway speeds? I’m getting sick of all the question marks here… Anyway, it shall be no more! Na mas!! Plus jamais!!!
I’ve had multiple ideas on how to fix the problem. Many of which relied on my long trucking career. You need therapy to fix that rambling problem man! Coming from a guy that likes to chop things in half for fun? Sheeesh! *I’ll get you one of these days…* So yeah, here they are;
#1 – The Dry Box
- Probably the most common hauler out there.
- The best way to keep things dry.
- Would require to forego all my flat-deck amenities (side pocket anchors, rear ramps, etc).
- Would add a fair amount of weight.
- Would need the purchase of a lot of materials that might blow my budget.
- My poor back wouldn’t like being cramped in there!
The last one was the final deal breaker. I have back problems for as long as I remember. The idea of being cramped in there to get in/out and tie down the car was a horrific vision to say the least. I’ve thought of adding more doors/access panels at various locations to make my life easier but that would have required a ludicrous amount of planning and fabrication. Take me out, coach!
#2- The Custom Box
I’ve stumbled into this while doing an image search. Basically, it’s a fiberglass box custom fitted to the car that’s being hauled. This one also sports some hydraulics to lift the cover.
- Looks nifty and sleek.
- Good aerodynamics.
- I could have kept my flat-deck design intact.
- Would have required a LOT of fiberglass work, especially since I don’t have/use molds.
- Hydraulics are very expensive and require maintenance. They are also unreliable in freezing temperatures.
- The custom fit would mean that only Wabi~Sabi (or a smaller car) could fit under it.
- Would have made any future mods to the car (like a double stack wing) a real friggin’ pain since I’d have to mod the cover as well.
Of course, I’ve thought of doing a larger, more generic box, but that seemed like a lot of fiberglass hanging in the wind. I could have also forego hydraulics for manual operation with rods and props. In all honesty, I almost went with this idea but decided that it wasn’t versatile enough.
Time to “think big”! After all, I have much experience hauling with multiple types of equipment in trucking. The principles can be downscaled easily enough.
#3 – The “Rack & Tarp”
- It’s one of the cheapest ways to cover cargo while retaining full flat-deck amenities.
- Very modular, non-permanent system.
- Having to constantly install/remove the wood panels and racks is a bitch.
- Rolling the tarp over can be a pain, especially in windy days.
- Did I say back-breaking work? No thanks!
#4 – The “Rollaway” Tarp
I remember when these systems came around. They were labelled as “the lazy trucker’s flat-deck”. Of course, this was just jealousy by the other truckers that still had to climb over their loads to install the tarp and that needed to slide them on the ground to remove them (which requires folding and rolling up of the tarp afterwards, similar to a parachute). Back-breaking and time consuming work!
- Retains all the advantages of a flat-deck design.
- Very quick to cover/uncover the load.
- Fairly straightforward system.
- Can be removed to convert back to a full flat-deck system.
- Can be easily damaged.
- Requires regular maintenance for smooth operation.
- Requires the fabrication of a specialized tarp (expensive).
- Requires a deck over wheels design.
The last one was the reason this wouldn’t work on my application. This system requires tracks to be riveted/bolted on the entire side rails for the roller wheels. Since my trailer has a gap in the side rails due to the presence of the axles & fenders, I would have to make 2 separate systems; one that rolls to the front, one that rolls to the rear, and find a way for the two tarps to connect in the middle. While that might have worked, the protrusion of the folded rear tarp would make loading/unloading the car very difficult without it rubbing against the car and possibly tearing it.
#5 – The Sliding Tarp
This I haven’t actually worked with since it is very rare on North America semi-trailers but is it very common in Europe and the rest of the world.
- Retains nearly all flat-deck loading “liberties” and amenities.
- Very simple system.
- Very little maintenance needed.
- Cost-effective solution to dry hauling on a flat-deck design.
- Requires a hard top and four corners support.
- Requires a custom tarp system to be made.
- Permanent solution.
Of course, you will have guessed by now that the last one is the solution I’ve went with! Geez, aren’t you predictable? All the yapping for nothing. Ya should have simply said “I chose a solution to my problem, here it is, it’s my hauler, so STFU!” True, I sometimes get lost in my thought process. Anyhow, stand by for the full build update later today!