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Car Transporter Trailer Build 1


My next project is to make a trailer to carry the Firefox. I've had a look at various manufacturers' web sites and also visited a couple of local trailer suppliers. The going rate for a small, single-axle, braked car transporter with lights, rear prop stands, a winch and a spare wheel seems to be about £1200. To make my own using new, good quality components will cost about £900. I'll save a few hundred quid by doing it myself, but more importantly I can build the trailer to exactly fit my car and my garage. The plan is to keep the car on the trailer in the garage when not in use, especially during the winter months. If the trailer does get in the way, there are a couple of local farmers who will store trailers, boats and caravans for a small monthly fee.

As the Onyx is so light (less than 500KGs), I had considered building an unbraked trailer, but everybody I spoke to strongly recommended having brakes. Also, the maximum permitted gross weight of an unbraked trailer is 750 KG, or half the towing vehicle's kerb weight, whichever is the lowest. The company Astravan I'll be using as the towing vehicle weighs 1220KG, giving a maximum unbraked towing weight of 610KG. That won't be enough for the Onyx and trailer combined.

This trailer will be a "channel deck" construction, very similar to the kits made by Peak Trailers. The main channels will be made from folded 3mm mild steel and the ramps from 4mm mild steel. The rear cross-braces will be made from 60x60x6mm equal angle mild steel and the A-frame and front cross-brace will be made from 60x60x8mm equal angle mild steel. All the metalwork is being supplied ready cut by Resurgem Engineering. Paul at Resurgem was as helpful and patient as ever. He's made trailer components for customers before, so was able to recommend sizes and grades of steel.

All the running gear and accessories will come from Avon Trailer and Towbar Centre. They're not the nearest supplier to me, but Richard (one of the partners) was very knowledgeable and helpful, especially regarding the custom-built suspension axle I've ordered. They've got good stocks of all the bits and pieces I'll need and their prices are very competitive.


Trailer steel from Resurgem Engineering

With the help of my friend Greg and his employer's lorry, all the steel work was collected from Resurgem Engineering today. This will have to be stored for a week or two, as the main priority is to get the car back in one piece again.

 Steel channel to build a kit car transporter trailer.

A closer view of one of the channels. The internal dimensions are 250mm wide x 75mm high, with turn-outs of 22mm. Each channel weighs 32KG and the combined weight of the six pieces of angle is 63KG.


Trailer running gear from Avon Trailer and Towbar Centre

The running gear for the trailer was collected today - axle, wheels and tyres, coupling, jockey wheel, prop stands and the brake cables, rod and compensator.


One end of the axle. To keep the trailer bed as low as possible, I asked for the suspension arms to be set horizontally, instead of pointing down about 22 degrees, which is the norm. The axle certainly seems to be very sturdy and it weighs about 70KG.


How to build a car trailer

A productive day in the garage. The front and rear cross-members have been fitted, along with the draw bar. There will be another cross-member between the rear one and the axle. Next weekend's job is to reassemble these bits (the right way up) on the driveway, put the Firefox on top and somehow find the right position for the axle to give the correct nose weight. The target is 60KG.


The draw bar and coupling.

A view from the other end. The trailer is currently held together with a rather motley collection of fasteners. After painting, they will be replaced with new 12mm bolts, washers and nylocs.


As it rained for much of the day, I reassembled the trailer in the garage. The picture shows the Firefox on the trailer bed, with the front of the draw bar on an old set of bathroom scales. I used some round bar on top of wooden blocks for the pivots and moved them back and forth until the scales read nine and a half stone. To mimic the weight of the ramps and extra cross-brace, I placed rolls of roofing lead and some bricks borrowed from a builder friend (thanks Pete!) in the appropriate areas.


Car taken off, trailer dismantled, inverted and reassembled. Axle and extra cross-member bolted on. 


Trailer dismantled, inverted and reassembled again (I'm getting good at it), wheels, coupling, jockey wheel and prop stands fitted. The trailer fits through the garage door with just under 3 inches clearance each side. When the mudguards are fitted, there'll be about an inch and a half spare each side.


Not much time available in the garage this weekend. I collected the loading ramps from Resurgem and used them to drive the car onto the trailer for the first time. The nose weight with the car on board is 63KG.


Mudguards, reflectors and marker lights fitted.

The loading ramps and lighting board in place.



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