Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trailer Tongue and Chess on a Windy Day

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Today was an unusual day. For one thing, it was incredibly windy. For another, we spent most of the first half of the day in the car. Parked.

If you've been following us, you know we purchased a 37-year-old fiberglass trailer last summer, then dragged it 9,611 miles through 17 western states, all in the name of fun. Oh...yes...and history, geography, education on the road, too. It was a long maiden voyage, but I got a really good opportunity to discover all the little things that just bugged the heck out of me about this home away from Home. My chief complaint? It came with no spare tire (a fact I quickly remedied) and therefore no PLACE for a spare.

With the back of the van laden with our ice chest, guitars and map boxes, the roof stacked with firewood, and no rack for a spare on the trailer, I hefted that rubber mass in and out of the door daily. Sure, we used it as a step, but the step up really isn't that big. A step isn't usually necessary, or even very helpful in some spots.

During the latter part of the trip, the spare ended upon the roof of the van. At least I didn't have to keep messing with it.

TODAY, we finally wrapped up the redesign of the trailer tongue to accommodate the spare AND the 12-volt (aka car) battery which currently resides in a cupboard under the sink. After I'd done all the measuring and fitting, the girls and I dragged the trailer to our neighborhood welder of note and set about tinkering with the design.

I thought we'd sit outside and do our bookwork (mostly math today) then play chess on the tables at the neighboring BBQ place. Alas, it was a chill wind that blew. So, we found shelter in the van where the girls proceeded to do their homework, and I? I fell asleep to the sound of the wind blowing through the windows I'd left slightly ajar.

When I awoke from a lovely nap, the girls were playing chess in the far back seat, which had been folded to make room for supplies a few days ago. They had quite a playroom setup back there. I returned to my book until they'd wrapped up their second game of chess. (They'd begun with checkers.) Then we headed outside to brave the wind, order lunch at Tom's Take-Out (a great, locally owned burger joint offering burgers, sandwiches of varying descriptions, and a bit of Mexican-American food all with light-hearted comedy and not a lick of serious talk), and practice our balancing skills along the parking lot curb line. By the time we wrapped up our lunch, with a few consulting breaks, the trailer was ready to hit the road again, this time with spare tire and battery box safely stowed ON the trailer, rather than in, on, around and generally in the way of our van.

Though I wasn't needed for the grinding, cutting and welding, I'm glad we hung out. First of all, it made for a pretty darned relaxing day. Nowhere to be. All day to get there. Chess. A nap. Giggling girls. Second, whenever there was some change to the design, the welding clan waved me over to make sure I'd like their changes.

On our way home we swung by the library where the girls snapped up a few books to enjoy in the comfort of our own home. They were quick to their comfy reading spots, while I unloaded the tongue, prepped it, primed it, painted it, cleaned up and reloaded.

Now "all" I need to do is reroute the trailer wiring to the new battery location, which is great because the existing wires sit on the floor of cabinets where boxes slide across them and pull them up from their spots. And install the back porch light.

Oh, and then there's the matter of that leaf spring that may be broken, or at least tweaked.

This trailer's sounding like a lot of work, you may say. Considering the source and age, not really. And with the exception of the welding (due to lack of skill on my part), the trailer's needs are very basic. The mechanics are as simple as you'd expect from a trailer that is nearly as old as I am.

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  1. Looks Great... and the wiring will be a snap for you, I'm sure. Didn't the original process involve quite a bit of wiring, too? You should be about a pro by now. :)

  2. My trailer has the spot for the tire and battery just like you made. But I haven't got the battery hooked up. How does it stay charged? I should know but I don't.:)

  3. The wiring I did when I got the trailer merely involved rerouting the existing wires (and extending some so they'd better reach their intended targets). But the originals are on the FLOOR, so if you drag out boxes, etc, from cupboards and bins, they drag ACROSS the wires! (GOOD PLANNING....NOT!) I plan to take THIS opportunity to rewire the whole thing, moving the wires up and out of the way so we don't have to worry about tangling with them. It'll be a whole new world for me. I'm not a big electricity guru...though Dad is! ;)

  4. I charge the battery with an external charger that I bought at the car parts store. It's a trickle charger (10 amps/2 amps - both settings) that has auto-off (float) to maintain the battery without overcharging it. The battery holds a charge pretty well, so I don't even leave the charger on it when we store it for a coupla months. (I charged it in December, then again this week - it was still pretty charged up.)

    I plan to run a charging line from the van, though, so it charges every time we drive if we're hooked up. :)


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