In about 2005, my father bought himself a commercial 8 feet aluminum utility trailer to haul various stuff and help in doing yard-work:
I was only in the infancy of my DIY’ing at this point and never considered I could ever build one myself. Then, a few years later, my father wanted the option to convert his trailer into a tarped cargo box. This was to be my first adventure in welding aluminum and let’s say that I was only a beginner at welding period at that point in time. I had devised a simple box frame out of square tubing that would allow a 6 feet clearance when walking inside. The trailer already had 6 stake pockets that would make fitting the box frame easily. Then my dad went to the local tarp guy and had a box tarp made to cover everything. I only could find this picture (in the background):
It suited my father for a few years. Then a few structural problems for the box frame appeared due to poor penetration in my original welding job. At that point in time, I had way more experience thanks to my Wabi~Sabi project so it was easy fixes.
More recently, my father was complaining of poor gas mileage and excessive drag due to the height of the box. Also, the top of the trailer being always pounded by the sun made the tarp dry off and get brittle. He had a few patches made. Until then, since the box frame was removable, he found himself in need of removing it more often to allow all around access (such as when loading firewood). It was versatile but a chore to perform and my father isn’t getting younger.
By then, I had already fabricated my own car hauler and the sliding tarp conversion. My father’s tarp met the end of its life and needed to be completely redone and my he was about to pay for a second one when I had a flash of inspiration. I had leftover materials from my own conversion… The slider tracks were 24 feet long… I used 16 feet on my trailer… meaning I have two 8 feet tracks left… his trailer is 8 feet! Lookie here, I have some slider wheels left too… aluminum sheeting for the top, yup I have just enough of that too… rivets, check… AND I can use the tubing that I have to remove from the old box system to modify it for the new one! I made the proposition to my father and since he liked my trailer so much he didn’t hesitate to place the order.
I am super busy with both Wabi~Sabi and the Gruppe B projects, not to mention other things, so I didn’t take any pictures. Go-Go-Go this must be done quick! Upon chopping tubing off the old frame, I was a bit disgusted at my former welding job; penetration was poor, welds looked very so-so, and overall it could have been much better. No matter, this can all be fixed now! Grind-grind-grind, weld-weld-weld. Oh yeah, now this is sexy!
My father wanted to retain the ability to remove the frame even though he would now be able to access the trailer all-around by sliding and/or rolling up the tarps. So I bolted it through the stake pockets instead of welding. I also performed an improvement upon my own trailer by putting the little removable section of the track in the front instead of the back. This allows quicker removal of the side tarps if need of repairs. On my trailer, I’d have to pry all the hooks open to remove the tarp. That can be remedied though and I shall do so if the need presents itself. Anyway, the work completed my father picked up his trailer and sent it to the tarp guy. Here’s the result:
Looks like mine, ‘eh? Yup, dad wanted it so and I was more than happy to oblige. Being able to open all sides will allow my father full access, plus gives the option to open all tarps (including both front and rear tarps) to get better gas mileage on the highway when the trailer is empty. As per mine, it sports a pocket vent in the rear tarp to reduce the parachute effect (it looks creased in the picture because the rear tarp was freshly unrolled). If you’re also astute, you will have noticed that this system sports another improvement upon my own. I had noticed that some rain was able to get inside my trailer when parked in a strong rainstorm and also very slightly when on the highway. It was not enough to bother me but we had the idea to have the tarp guy add “skirts” to cover the tiny exposed slit on top.
Let’s just say that my father is happy with his very versatile trailer and so am I. Now, the bad part. When my father went to have the tarp made, the guy admitted that he took inspiration from my own trailer and gave the idea to a few other people. Over the past year, he’s gotten 6 orders to convert trailers like this. In short, he profited from my design. It does bother me a bit but then again anyone that sees my trailer (in person or on the internet) can do the same. Also, I admittedly was also inspired by other (albeit not quite identical) setups. What really pisses me off (and my father), is that he charged him almost the same amount as my own trailer to make the tarps (while it being half the size). I mean, dude, we gave you the idea, you said so yourself that it created work for you, how about a discount? Geeeeeez!
Typical Quebecer greed… Anyhow, no time to cry about it, I have projects that need be worked on baaaaad! Imma get back to it then!