Saturday, March 09, 2013

Promoting - Trailer Registration

After all that thought about vans and stuff I had an epiphany - what about an enclosed trailer for registration? Instead of using one for the finish line we could use the trailer for registration.

The other day, after dropping off Junior at his half-day of day care, I peeked at their small school bus. The windows were up high because the floor is up high. From a racer-registering-for-a-race point of view it'd be less than comfortable to reach up for a number. There'd be additional reach on the registration staff's point of view if there was a desk up there. Overall I had the impression that it would be awkward to do registration out the side of a van/bus/etc.

Trailers have much lower floors, perhaps a foot or so off the ground. There wouldn't be a big difference between having registration tables on a trailer versus on the floor. It should be better ergonomically speaking from both the registrant and the registerer.

A long time ago I priced large enclosed trailers for the Z. I considered "garaging" the Z over winter in a trailer because we didn't have a third garage bay. With an enclosed trailer I'd have a portable garage. heck I could move the car around if I had to move it. I could park the trailer in a number of different place (like, for example, where I over-winter the van), and, if I had to, I could transport other vehicles in said trailer.

Large trailers like that are large, expensive, and heavy. I think I would have needed an 8'x25' trailer to store the Z, maybe 8'x30'. This would be the limit of a normal hitch type trailer. I'd also need a vehicle with a 6000 lbs tow capacity, give or take.

For registration and race promotion purposes I would need a smaller trailer. I figure 6'x12' would be pretty good - 12' is two of our folding tables in length. 6' is narrow but with dedicated 18" deep tables I think it would be manageable. 7'x16' (or something like that) would be nicer but I want to be able to drive the thing around. I also need to check our storage bay to make sure a trailer would fit - the bay is plenty long but I'm not sure if a 7' wide trailer would fit through the doors.

The kicker is that I saw a slew of trailers for sale at $2500 (6'x12') - $7000 (9'6"x32' 5th wheel with awning, doors, etc). These are pretty big enclosed trailers relatively speaking and a heck of a lot less expensive than a Sprinter van, for example. Trailers also have much less "stuff" in them (drivetrain, fuel tanks, etc) so they lend themselves to customization better. Finally I figure a trailer will last a lot longer than a proper vehicle, and I can drag it around only when I need it. Driving an enormous Sprinter would be like driving an RV to go grocery shopping.

Concession trailer, 7'x12' or 7'x14'. $6k new.
You can stand in something like this. Note how low the floor is to the ground.

Standard cargo trailer, 7'x16', $5k for something like this.
Although big it's not very tall - we'd be hunched over inside.

My dream trailer would be one with a transfer switch so I could plug in the generator from the outside and then have some reasonable amount of electricity inside - plugs, UPSs, etc. With such a set up it would be feasible to have heat and air conditioning, a microwave, and maybe some other amenities.

Of course I'd need to be able to haul that trailer from place to place, and that would take a truck. A 5th wheel trailer would require a pick up, a regular hitch type would require any larger type vehicle. I'd have to look at pickup trucks or SUVs that are based on larger pickups, like the Suburban or an Excursion.

Even if a smaller size truck (like the F150s I've seen for sale, many of which are sister vehicles to Explorers, versus the F350s which are sister vehicles to Excursions) could pull such a trailer I've been told, with graphic evidence (said person's truck, trailer, and car on the trailer after a wreck), that it's best to have way too much towing capacity than to barely squeeze by.

Either way I'd be able to use a vehicle smaller than a Sprinter. It'd be either a normal pick up truck or a full size SUV (for a hitch trailer), both of which wouldn't be absurd to drive regularly. If there were at least two rows of seats it would be a carpool-able vehicle for traveling to races and such, and if there were three rows then it's really a good people hauler.

The snow on the ground has also made me think about a plow. It's one thing to hope that the roads are plowed at Bethel, it's another to be able to go out and do something about it. A tow vehicle for such a trailer would make a perfect plow vehicle too, especially since virtually all the full size SUVs I've seen have been 4 wheel drive. Clearing any late week snow fall would be easier if I had something like a Suburban or a crew cab pickup with a plow up front.

First, though, I have to put on a race. So I'll leave this be for now.


Anonymous said...

In NJ, Tom Mains has the exact setup you suggest in your post. He uses a pickup to haul a custom built trailer. It is a large concession trailer that he had custom built. I'm sure that you could go with stock and then customize it a bit yourself. It has a generator that mounts on the triangle to the hitch in front of the box. The inside has tables, tents, laptops for registration, bleachers, ect.. It is by far the best and most efficient setup I have ever seen for registration and administering a race.

Aki said...

That's interesting, I didn't know about Tom Mains and his set up. I guess I don't head down to NJ enough. Trailers are incredibly inexpensive compared to actual vehicles and it seems that customizing wouldn't be a problem.

I'll have to let these trailer thoughts simmer. It seems like it's the way to go though.

I should go measure our storage bay to see what would fit inside. Length isn't a concern but width is.

Steve Kang said...

I'm not sure if Tom is the guy who runs Branchbrook Spring Series in NJ, but I saw a sweet trailer setup there on Saturday.
I asked about it and it's got a full awning along one side, the ability to put a full arch over a finish line, and more.
I've got a pic, I'll post and send link shortly.

Steve Kang said...

Here are pics of the trailer at Branchbrook.
Check out pics 64, 158, 159,

Aki said...

That trailer is huge! But yes, that's basically what I was thinking of. Perfect, thanks for the pictures.