Thursday, March 28, 2013

Promoting - Tow Vehicle Revisted

On the way home on Sunday I watched some tractor trailers as well as a couple pickups towing small trailers. I thought about my trailer and tow vehicle problem. It's something really occupying my mind when there's room in there next to the 2013 Series.

You probably know this but the current Bethel van, an older 15 passenger Dodge van, is nearing the end of its serviceable life. I started looking for a replacement but then thought that if I was buying a new vehicle I should think long term, not just next year.

This made me think of trailers

After some thought, a bunch of feedback, and some more research, I'm pretty set on the trailer idea. I figure it would be 2500 lbs or so, 14-18' long, 6'-7' wide, hopefully close to 6' high inside, maybe 4000 lbs fully loaded with race promotion stuff. I realized I wouldn't need as much gear as I have in the van because some of it would be replaced by the trailer itself. So, for example, I shouldn't need to bring two tents, nor a number of tables, etc. A lot of that stuff could sit in whatever future trailer and the one-off things, like maybe a snow blower, could sit in the tow vehicle.

For the tow vehicle it'll be either a cheap(er) pick up, like a Ford F250 type, or I'll trade in the Golf and get a used Touareg. If I got a pickup it'd sit outside and therefore be somewhat disposable like the van. Those are my two options at this point.

I decided against a big SUV, like an Expedition or Suburban, because it would be a pain to own it based on our house/driveway/garage situation. We wouldn't be able to park it in our garage so it would have to sit outside year round. As it is such a vehicle would be hard to keep in our driveway. If we did decide to garage it our storage bay is not close enough for regular access, and it would force us to keep the trailer outside.

The lack of easy access to the SUV means that we'd need to keep two smaller cars as we do now. The big SUV would replace the van as the "third vehicle", becoming the third vehicle in our array, not a replacement for the Golf or the Jetta Sportswagen.

On the other hand the Touareg, being just 8 inches longer than the Jetta Sportswagen (aka JSW), should fit in our very compact bay, and it should be able to tow 4000 lbs (it's rated at 7000+ lbs). Other than its sister SUV the Porsche Cayenne there are no vehicles I can find that are rated to tow 5000-7000 lbs and is in the same size range as the JSW. A few folks have questioned the size of our garage spot in the sense of "Are you sure it won't fit?"

It's small.

The bay is awfully short - there's about a foot behind the back of the car.
The intrusion from the right is the dining/office room.

I took the picture from the right side bay also, a longer bay but more narrow. On the right side we pull in the Golf, turn the wheel to the right so the tire hits the wall, and the only way to squeeze past the car to get to the stairs is to fold in the side view mirror. Another foot of width and we'd have to NASCAR our way in and out of the vehicle, climbing out of the window onto the hood to get to the steps.

Golf in the right side bay. The right front tire is hitting the wall.
I framed the picture so the left side of the frame is the dining/office wall.

Of course there's the whole idea of being more efficient when we drive around for day to day stuff. Although a full size SUV would be great for towing it wouldn't be great for day to day driving. On bad days we get 35-37 mpg in our two TDis, on the good days they're in the mid-40s, and on great days it's over 50 mpg. We wouldn't use the full size SUV to do long trips because even with a few bikes on the roof of a loaded down JSW we're in the low-mid 30 mpg range, much higher than the 12-15 mpg that we could expect from a large SUV.

To be honest the Touareg wouldn't be much better than a larger SUV. Even at the 25 mpg the diesel version would get with no rack on the roof we'd be getting worse mileage than the JSW with a couple bikes up top. Worse still we wouldn't be getting any benefit from the Touareg versus the JSW in terms of space - it's only inches larger inside, slightly wider, but wouldn't fit an exponential amount more stuff like a full size SUV.

So after all my debating internally I've decided that I should go with a semi-disposable pickup truck, one capable of pulling at least 4000 lbs of trailer. A full size F250-F350 type is rated at some insane 10,000+ lbs towing capacity so that would be fine. Although a crew cab would allow me to carry Junior in the back I think realistically saving money and getting the standard cab will work fine. If I have to run "bulky item errands" I'll have to do it when Junior is under someone else's watch.

Of course what happened on my next ride? This rig passed me.

Pretty much what I've been thinking about - 12-14' trailer, pickup pulling it.

Now to figure out a budget and see if I can do it sooner than later. Although the tow vehicle comes first  the trailer should follow shortly thereafter. I could probably get by without the trailer for a bit but for future race promotion plans the trailer is key.


Anonymous said...

Why don't rent a truck on the days you need it? Surely cheaper...

Aki said...

I tried renting when I lived closer to the race and had a car rental place a half mile away from the house. It worked but it was very difficult due to the long day on Sunday. The hard part isn't the packing/unpacking, it's doing it before/after working the day at the races.

Due to the distance to the venue I'd have to rent Sat-Sun-Mon each week for 6-7 weeks. Since I live 90 minutes away from the course (if there's no traffic), the Missus works Saturdays, and I have to look after Junior, it would be tricky to actually pick up a vehicle, pack it at a storage bay, get down to the venue, unpack (on race day), then pack up, unpack (Sunday/Monday) to return the vehicle Monday.

I also help out at other races and need to bring a given amount of stuff to other venues.

Finally my goal is to more than double the number of races I promote. I want to be self reliant in terms of moving stuff to/from a race venue, where ever that might be.

I suppose it might be cheaper to rent a cargo van and/or trailer at some level but the human cost would be too high for me to bear.