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24Chromium 01-23-2013 08:46 PM

My Trailer Diary
An Introduction
I started tracking in 1997, immediately after buying a brand-new e36 BMW M3. I will never forget seeing a Porsche Boxster pulling a small tire trailer into the paddock. It was a SouthSport model (long since out of production). It held a full set of tires along with a large diamond tread storage box for hauling your tools, jack and jack stands. Brilliant! Exactly what I needed, as I had just decided to take my track experience to the next level and try R-compound track tires. Luckily for me, I found the rear seat area of my M3 easily swallowed up a full set of tires.

When the e46 M3 was introduced in 2001, I had to be one of the first to have one. It was more powerful, but even better, it was larger. Just like the e36 before, I could easily fit the track tires in the rear seat area, as well as loads of tools and stuff in the trunk. I used that M3 to haul an amazing amount of stuff over the years. I began to affectionately refer to it as my "truck". Occasionally, I'd think about the convenience of having a small tire trailer. However, storage space at home has always been the major stumbling block. Despite the tire trailer being small, even if I were to tilt it up on end inside my garage, it wouldn't allow me enough space to park the car in there along with it. So my trailer desires lay dormant.

It wasn't until I bough my first Porsche, a 2010 GT3, that my need for a trailer was again front and center in my life. The GT3 had no rear seat area. What little space there was, was filled up with a roll bar and all it's diagonal tubing. I could put a single tire in the passenger seat. But where would the other 3 go? It wouldn't even support a roof rack. It was at this point that I began to really notice all my pals who had trailers. I had to enlist their help in getting my race tires to the track and back home again. While finding someone to schlep your tires to the track was usually not a problem, getting them home again proved to be a challenge more times than I care to recall. Inevitably, my sherpa's race car would break, or crash, or he'd just need to rush home early for some family or work emergency. Leaving me stranded with a set of tires and no way to haul them home.

I started thinking back to the simple tire trailer. However, the idea of cutting into the bodywork of the Porsche in order to add a tow hitch was unthinkable. And my storage space in the garage hadn't magically grown after all these years. A few of my racing friends had purchased open trailers about this time. I loved the idea of trailering the car along with tools and tires. However, my daily driver, the trusty e46 M3, was out of the question as a tow vehicle. I would need to buy a proper tow vehicle. After a lot of thought, I decided a Porsche Cayenne would make for a great replacement to the M3. However, I'd still need to store the trailer. And, despite the GT3 having claimed the garage as MVC (most valuable car), I couldn't stomach the idea of parking a brand new Cayenne outside. In my naiveté, I thought the better solution was to get an enclosed trailer! A mobile garage! I'll store the GT3 inside an enclosed trailer. Brilliant! I started to get serious about what I wanted to buy.

Choosing A Trailer
The choice of trailers was simple… TPD. I've spent 3 seasons hanging out in a friend's TPD. He's had 3 of them. By the time you read this, he'll likely be on his 4th or 5th! They are designed and produced locally, so it's not too difficult to find them in the paddock at any given event. Did I look at others? Yes. The price difference for apples to apples was pretty insignificant. The only tough decision was length. Everyone told me 24' was the sweet spot. I thought perhaps I could squeeze into a 22' or even a 20' model. I ended up choosing the 24' and never looked back. It fits all the gear I can envision hauling, it fits into a 10'x30'spot (common in RV lots and storage warehouses), and it is the most sought-after size, thus affording a higher resale value. Once the basic trailer size was established, then the real work began. Spec'ing all this stuff, the trailer and tow vehicle, is actually way more work than spec'ing the Porsche ever was!

Choosing A Tow Vehicle
A 24' enclosed - that's not a lightweight alloy, and/or a tiny box - is typically going to weigh as much as 10k pounds fully loaded. Only a heavy-duty box frame vehicle will do. Yes, I could pull it with a 1/2 ton pick-up, but in my online research and conversations with actual owners, I was told over and over again to get a 3/4 ton diesel pickup. Luckily, my pal, the serial trailer buyer, decided to go ever bigger for his next trailer (now a 44' gooseneck), so a new dually was needed to replace his GMC 2500 HD SLT. I promptly scooped up that deal.

I never, ever imagined that I would own a pickup truck. The prior owner actually said the same before buying this one. He ended up daily driving it for 4 years. I think he loved that truck more than his Porsches. I'm not going to hold my breath to see if I suffer the same fate. Time will tell.

multi21 01-23-2013 08:55 PM

Originally Posted by 24Chromium;10167363 [B
The prior owner actually said the same before buying this one. He ended up daily driving it for 4 years[/B]. I think he loved that truck more than his Porsches.

Is his name "Mooty"? :)

24Chromium 01-23-2013 09:04 PM

Given my constraints (living in a condo complex), my original intention was to store outdoors. I was expecting to be able to store the car inside the trailer. This way, I could free up my garage, and drive to the storage lot whenever I needed to work on the car. Just unload, put the car up on jack stands and proceed to do routine maintenance like brakes, fluids, etc. Boy was I wrong about that. Every lot I called said "no" to any work on the car, or even pulling it out. I'd have to tow the trailer off their lot to do what I wanted. So that was out.

After coming to the realization that I'd need to store the car at home in order to do maintenance, the location of the storage lot became an important criteria. Now, loading up and unloading become a highly choreographed logistics dance for every race weekend. I wanted to find something nearby so that I could walk, ride a bike, or take public transit to/from the storage lot (I live alone and can't count on a friend to help me).

Of course, parking a rig this size is no small feat. I've only towed once, recently when a friend loaned me his open trailer for the weekend. I'd heard of storage lots offering valet service, so I started looking around for that service. I found it offered at an indoor lot. A good bit pricier than an outdoor lot, but you'll have to factor in all the wear and deterioration from sun, rain and dirt; as well as the potential for vandalism and theft that you'll likely have to face storing it outdoors. In the end, service, protection and proximity made it an easy choice to store it indoors.

24Chromium 01-23-2013 09:24 PM

The Fun Begins
I often hear fellow track addicts say our hobby leads to a slippery slope. Once you start, you can't stop. High performance street tires lead to dedicated R-compound track tires. Which in turn lead to racing slicks. And so on and so forth, in the pursuit of ever more speed and lower lap times. And in my case, that's certainly true, especially for my trailer! I'm a mechanical engineer in my day job. I use 3D CAD (computer aided design) in my job, so I actually modeled my trailer in every detail. It's a great way to visual what stuff fits, how it fits, and how much clearance you have around things. I went thru a fair number of iterations, starting with the 20' in order to end up at 24'. Then I iterated even more to optimize the layout, and options to suit my needs. Here were my initial criteria:

- comfortably fit the car with plenty of clearance for tie-down straps

- ability to drive the car in/out (although, I plan to winch it)

- built-in tool box for tools, spares, fasteners, etc.

- workbench

- space to hold 2 full sets of spare wheels

- A/C lighting to brighten the interior (mainly to make it comfy between sessions)

I placed a deposit in December of 2012, with an anticipated delivery date of April 2013. Which gave me far too much idle time to do more research and iterate even more! Naturally, the options list just continued to grow. I got lots of great advice from my fellow track rats. There seemed to be 2 schools of thought on spec'ing a trailer. 1 - buy it with little or no options. Then use it a while to try and figure out what you'd like to add. 2 - go big. Get the kitchen sink. This was my approach, as I was able to model up everything in CAD and visualize how it would work and evaluate the overall package. The other advice I got - loud and clear from many - was to add air conditioning and an awning. My favorite track has covered paddock stalls, so I've been very spoiled not having to work on the car in the hot sun. The AC was more of a luxury, as my pal never had it in any of his trailers, since the TPD is very well insulated.

I'll post up some screen shots of my CAD model. Once the trailer is actually in production, I'll post up photos of the progress.

Eric S 01-24-2013 12:18 AM

Can't wait to hear what you've come up with. Can't be happier than buying my 24' TPD used but very clean. Still working on organizing things as it's a constant shuffle.

Now to get out and USE it more, last couple of years were pretty much a bust in time available and working out issues with the car.

Enough excuses, excited to see your new rig and CAD drawings.


24Chromium 01-24-2013 12:57 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Here are some screen shots, showing the trailer loaded up with gear:

Attachment 697809

Attachment 697806

Attachment 697807

Attachment 697808

These views show the tire rack across the hood of the car. This rack is made from 2 shoring beams that mount onto E-track on the walls. This method of transporting tires is likely to be my least favorite option. I still plan to buy the shoring beams, but I'll likely use them for hanging a hammock.

Did you spot the JackPoint Jackstands?

stujelly 01-24-2013 01:14 AM

This is bad a$$, I love the way you planned this all out.

You have way too much time on your hands, or just as obsessive about trailers as I am.

CRex 01-24-2013 01:48 AM

O.M.G. I love your obsession to detail. I guess this is where the planar vectors of the 997.2RS went...

ptom914 01-24-2013 03:08 AM

You might want to check the positioning of your car on the cad drawings. I have the same trailer and I'm placing the center of gravity of the car between the double axle of the trailer. I have yet to check my tongue weight but it's been trailering fine.

24Chromium 01-24-2013 12:31 PM

Originally Posted by ptom914 (Post 10168166)
You might want to check the positioning of your car on the cad drawings. I have the same trailer and I'm placing the center of gravity of the car between the double axle of the trailer. I have yet to check my tongue weight but it's been trailering fine.

Are you simply pulling the car in further towards the nose of the trailer? Or, are you backing the car into the trailer?

I surveyed a handful of 24' owners about how/where they position the car inside. Only one put the car in backwards. I guess I'll find out soon enough as to how well my layout works, but I'm taking comfort in knowing I'm not the first to do it. I cribbed the D-ring locations from another 24' TPD trailer owner.

One other factor that may be different between us is that I'm buying the Reese Strait-Line sway control & weight distribution hitch.

I have noticed that the triple axle is very popular on the 24' TPDs. I thought it was overkill for this size of trailer.

KaiB 01-24-2013 12:35 PM

I think you'll find that you car will have to come forward quite a bit.

Plavan 01-24-2013 01:57 PM

My .02cents
Rear tire (front side) of the GT3 will be closer to the middle of the rear trailer tire portion. Windshield will be closer to the tire rack. The cart of parts will have to be moved sideways, or removed. Nitrogen tank could be moved up front near the door for more weight up front.
Been towing a race car for 15+ years. Plus I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. :)

ptom914 01-24-2013 01:58 PM

I'm loading the car nose first with the car much more forward than your drawing. The center of gravity for my 993 is just forward of the rear jack point, and that's close to the center of my dual rear axle. It'll be easy to adjust the tongue weight by moving the car a foot forward or backward.

I went with the Pro Pride hitch, a Hesley variant. It's more difficult to hitch, but it's so easy to back up. It essentially pivots on the rear axle, so it like a fifth wheel.

Astroman 01-24-2013 02:33 PM

Originally Posted by ptom914 (Post 10168166)
You might want to check the positioning of your car on the cad drawings.

Originally Posted by KaiB (Post 10168932)
I think you'll find that you car will have to come forward quite a bit.

+3. Your tongue weight will be negative 500 lbs with a 911 positioned the way you have it diagrammed.

24Chromium 01-24-2013 02:42 PM

Originally Posted by Astroman (Post 10169276)
+3. Your tongue weight will be negative 500 lbs with a 911 positioned the way you have it diagrammed.

Appreciate all the feedback. Keep it coming.

I think you need also keep in mind, that I'll have a large 6 drawer steel tool box at the front, a generator, a winch, 2 sets of tires and my crash cart loaded with 4 (very heavy) JackPoint Jackstands.

I'll be sure to have the tongue weight checked when I take delivery. The good news is, I spec'd a 24', so I have options as far as loading & positioning (most) everything.

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