Trailers were, are, and will always be an integral part of rodding. Trailers have evolved into an indispensable part of our rodding life. To the hands-on rodder a trailer becomes a useful tool that when used properly becomes a problem solver.
There are two "tools" many of us wish we owned before tinkering with our first hot rod-a pickup truck and a trailer. Both have their place in our sport even if it's behind the scenes.
We had the opportunity to put nearly 500 miles in two days on our JIMGLO Trailers' open Ti
Let's take a look at two fundamental types of trailers: open and enclosed. There's no better place to gain this information than JIMGLO Trailers, located in Willcox, Arizona. Owners Jim and Gloria Norris, along with their son Tim, have spent the past 23 years hand-building custom trailers. Looks and function follow form in these limited production units.
There are books written on the subject of trailers and towing but our objective isn't to be the be-all or end-all on trailering, but rather to gain some guidelines on a trailer suitable for our rodding needs. Additionally we will look at two critical trailer accessories: Mac's Custom Tie-Downs and Master Lock security components.
Here's the JIMGLO TiltBed with the bed up and ready to act as the ramp; aluminum wheels, a
Either an open or enclosed trailer will do the job but there are trade outs. Open trailers typically cost less and are more easily towed and stored, however the enclosed trailer, while costing more, offers added protection, a level of security, and don't forget it makes a great portable and/or long-term storage unit.
The open version (standard in black or white) couldn't be any easier to load. The JIMGLO Trailers TiltBed design releases with one lever and as the car pulls onto the bed it levels and locks into position. Standard bed length is 17 feet with optional lengths of 18-, 19-, 20-, and custom-length decks. Electric brakes are standard on all four wheels but you can get an optional disc brake package. Speaking of electrics, the electrical hook up is the industry standard seven-pin RV plug. This design eliminates the need for ramps and a JIMGLO trailer is built low to the ground with minimal ramp angles-two more pluses. The open trailer comes in three GVW ratings: 7,000, 10,000, and 12,000 pounds. These TiltBed trailers are also steel framed.
Note the rear of the storage box has an optional cargo light, handy for night or other low
How many times have we loaded a car onto a trailer only to find out that there isn't enough room between the car's door and the trailer's fender? Unless you have a 20-inch waist, getting out is a real pain. The JIMGLO TiltBed trailer has removable fenders allowing you to open the door and step out-like a normal 2XL hot rodder! These trailers also offer the widest width area between fenders.
Always an important consideration with any trailer is its towing characteristics. All of us with towing miles under our backside have at one time or another experienced that "uneasy" feeling as the trailer attempts to take charge. Jim designs a 5-foot tongue into all his trailers with even weight distribution, enabling stable towing characteristics. We had the opportunity to tow an empty JIMGLO TiltBed (open) trailer from San Diego to our offices, nearly 100 miles, and could barely tell the trailer was there. Next up we towed our project '31 roadster pickup from our offices in SoCal to Phoenix (375 miles) at highway speeds approaching 75-plus miles per hour (don't worry it was the posted speed limit) and, once again, the trailer was right where it belonged-behind our '06 Ford F-150 pickup following the straight and narrow.
Within the JIMGLO TiltBed trailer is the two-frame system; the bed frame and the chassis frame. Each frame is designed and operating in unison but separate from one another. It should be noted that you can load your trailer without it being attached to a tow vehicle; a unique and worthwhile feature.
This coupe is loaded and ready to be tied down.
The JIMGLO TiltBed trailers feature aluminum tread plate and trim; offering good looks and light weight. The lighter weight aluminum decking adds to the payload capacity, giving you the confidence to haul heavier street rods. All of the trailers' steel components are painted, visible surface or not. This thorough painting adds to the durability and mechanical longevity of a JIMGLO trailer.
This sequence shows the hot rod being loaded and how the bed serves two functions: initial
We could go on about any number of desirable characteristics of the JIMGLO trailers. There are three significant and industry-leading talking points; composite material for the box and the aircraft-grade aluminum frame. However, the third and possibly the single biggest plus according to the manufacturer (and the only trailer company to offer this) is the "easy exit" on the driver side, allowing no-hassle entrance and exit to and from the trailer. A real plus!
The patented design uses a "clean skin" via seamless single-piece sides, top, and floor. That means no rivets or joints, which makes for improved looks and enhanced strength. What does the use of the composite material mean to your towing experience? The trailer box is 25 percent lighter than conventional aluminum box trailers. The lighter weight will translate into easier towing characteristics, better fuel economy, and a great towing capacity.
And what about the aluminum frame? JIMGLO now offers all of their enclosed trailers with aluminum frames, which are made from rectangular tubing that measures 2 inches wide by 6 inches tall by 0.250 wall. (Higher rated GVW trailers use a 7-inch-tall aluminum rail.)
The previous generation JIMGLO enclosed trailer, such as a 10,000 GVW model, measuring overall at 22 feet with inside room of 6-feet 2 inches, weighs in at 4,150 pounds. Now the same trailer utilizing their newly designed and tested aluminum frame and composite box weighs in at 2,780 pounds. That's a 1,370-pound savings. The aluminum frame itself weighs approximately 1,250 pounds.
You can rest assured that's easily translated into better handling and braking characteristics, tire and brake wear, increased fuel economy, improved engine performance, and less wear on your tow vehicle's transmission. However, what may immediately jump to mind is that you now have effectively increased the weight of what you can tow. All are very important and worthwhile benefits.
Loaded with ample standard features, the JIMGLO enclosed trailer also offers accommodating options like a wireless remote that operates up to eight trailer functions, keyless entry, power-operated ramp door and tongue jack, and hidden winch.
Look closely, you are looking through this enclosed JIMGLO trailer. If you want you can ha
The standard enclosed trailer comes in an 18-foot length with a 6-feet, 2-inch inside height. (Optional lengths 20, 22, 24, 26, and custom lengths; optional heights are 6-feet 6 inches, 7 feet, 8 feet, and custom heights, and the trailers come in 10,000 and 12,000 GVW ratings.)
There are a myriad of accessories, axles and braking, doors, cabinets, colors, flooring, ramp door assist and/or extension, storage box, wheels/tires, winch, and numerous other options. You truly can customize your open or enclosed trailer to suit your towing and storage needs.
A trailer can only be an effective means to an end if used properly and a significant part of this equation is making sure your cargo is anchored-correctly. To get the low-down on the proper use of tie-downs we went to Colin McLemore of Mac's Custom Tie-Downs. To keep it simple, we asked McLemore for some tips on how to strap down our street rod for the long haul on the back of a trailer.
Here is a look inside the side opening trailer, maximizing ease of use.
The Federal Department of Transportation calls for securing a vehicle in all directions with a minimum of two tie-down points. When talking with Jeremy Smith of Mac's he tells us that they and most states agree there should be a four-point system; two front and two rear. That represents four separate rings on the trailer, and four separate straps.
A forward view shows off the sloping roof that minimizes frontal drag with little or no sa
Again according to Smith, Mac's always recommends that a car be pulled forward and back, with a slight bias toward the outside corners. This is done for several reasons. The inherent strength of a strap is in a straight line. Mac's straps are tested in a straight line and this is how they are rated. Pulling straight back with two straps that each have a safe working load rating of 3,335 pounds, making them ideal for our street rods.
If you cross your straps, that strength is hampered; also, if something goes wrong with one, the other will tend to pull the car to that side of the trailer.
In this view it becomes apparent the seamless composite adds to the good looks but the hid
A well-made axle strap will have a full-length, thick protective sleeve to prevent wear. But even the best protection will eventually wear out over burs and hard corners. If you can't route your straps away from these hazards, you can get some extra wear by raduising those corners and keeping everything clean and smooth.
Watch your routing for hazards like brake lines; you may not be able to crush it with the ratchet alone, but stomping on the brakes generates forces more than an order of magnitude greater.
Lay out your strap and open the ratchet to 180 degrees to release it. Pull the majority of the slack out of the assembly by pulling the end through the mandrel (slotted cylinder). The idea is to have less than seven rotations of the mandrel, thereby preventing an unmanageably large wad of webbing rolled up.
Once you car is loaded, the combination of opening side and removable fenders makes exitin
While you don't want too many rotations of the mandrel you can also get too few. You are looking for full two rotations of that mandrel. With any less, the strap can be very tight initially, but it's only a friction fit at that point and will loosen over time. At two rotations, the mechanical advantage becomes so great that the webbing cannot slip by itself, making a true lock that will not pay out with vibration. Almost all instances of loosening straps are traceable to too few wraps around the mandrel.
How to avoid one classic tie-down effort: the crossed straps. We must confess this is a mistake yours truly is guilty of and now very embarrassed. Smith pointed out why this isn't a recommended method for tying down your load. He told us, "Crossed straps are likely to wear on each other right where they cross, causing a shorter service life, and a potential failure point. If you lose one crossed strap, the natural tendency is for the other to pull the vehicle over to its side of the trailer."
There is an optional electric winch in a 36-inch storage box with a side door and flip-up
He also pointed out that most accidents are from the front or rear, meaning that you will most likely need the full strength rating in those directions. All Mac's straps are designed and tested for linear tension (pulling diagonally reduces the tension and that reduction is magnified as the angle becomes greater).
The theory does something like: If your straps pull forward and rearward, with slight bias out to the corners, the car is held suspended between four points. If you lose one strap, it should not move much at all, since the remaining straps are keeping it suspended.
That excess webbing you have pulled through makes a mess of things, and flaps in the wind on an open trailer. Use a strap wrap to keep the assembly clean and tidy, extend the life of the strap and prevent damage from flapping webbing. Then when you are finished towing, wrap the straps up well, using the same wrap to keep the strap in a solid roll when not in use. It takes a moment more to do, but it will extend the life of your straps.
And for the ultimate in trailer jacks how about an electric jack?
In the pre-planning stages here is another tip from Mac's. Put the car on the trailer before you need to leave, and tie it down. The most common accidents are front and rear impacts, so it makes sense to prepare for those specifically. If you can see something that needs adjusting, now's the time.
We have all heard the expression: "If it is too good to be true then it isn't!" the same applies to securing your street rod to your trailer: If it doesn't look like it will work, it probably won't.
The ultra-bright LED taillights make your brake lights seen in brilliant daylight as well
Now for the important piece of information. Your work hasn't stopped just because you believe you have done everything correctly in tying down your street rod. Your work has just begun. Before starting any trip your tow rig should already be checked and serviced and that means full of fuel. However, if you need to begin your trip by stopping at a gas station that is a good time to go over and check your trailer hookups and tie-downs. Ideally give yourself upwards of 100 miles and then stop and check again. If all is good at this point, odds are you are set for your trip. Remember every time you stop give your trailer and tie-down efforts a once over. You can never be too careful when towing.
The optional toolbox for the TiltBed trailer is also home for the optional electric winch.
OK, we have selected the proper trailer, our cargo is tied-down correctly, next up is some form of security. For this segment we went to Master Lock, all of us have at some time in our life come across a Master Lock locking device. I grew up and my dad always had a key-operated master lock on our garage and side gate to our house. (Dad never did give me a key!)
There are three immediate locking points on any trailer that involve security and safety (doors withstanding): the trailer coupler, receiver, and the coupler latch locks.
When the trailer isn't connected to the tow vehicle you have the trailer coupler lock to hinder, if not prevent, someone from attaching their vehicle to your trailer and leaving. The Master Lock Universal Trailer Coupler lock has an adjustable hitch ball that fits inside all tongue-type trailer couplers, and locks in place to prevent anyone from hitching the trailer to their vehicle. Unlike standard coupler locks, its adjustable size is designed to fit the widest array of trailers in use, including 1-7/8-, 2-, and 2-5/16-inch sized couplers.
Another handy option for the enclosed trailer is the electric opening and closing ramp doo
The next two are both for security and safety purposes and should be mandatory for anyone towing. There's the receiver hitch locking pin, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to pull the pin on the receiver; and, the coupler latch lock to prevent the latch from coming loose during operation; it also offers added security when the trailer is parked as the coupler latch cannot easily be lifted for use.
Master Lock offers a same-key locking system for the trailer coupler, receiver, and coupler latch locks. One key does it all; the kit also includes a convenient carrying case.
Cabinets comes in either aluminum or stainless and both come with stainless tops.
There is one last very cool accessory that Master Lock has and that is the Plug'n Go Back-Up Camera. It is held in place by a strong magnet and locks via a receiver lock. The 3-1/2-inch screen can be placed anywhere on the dash and plugs conveniently into the vehicle's lighter or accessory plug. The system is specifically designed to make hitch alignment and monitoring of what's being towed easier and safer. Now that's cool. I found it particularly reassuring while driving; you could check on your hitch and trailer while at speed-very reassuring.
Well, there you have it. As we said earlier this isn't the definitive article on towing, wasn't supposed to be, but it does give you some "food for thought" on open and enclosed trailers; securing your car to your trailer; and trailer security. Armed with this information you should now be able to make some good long-term decisions on the very important art of towing.
Brakes, you want brakes?! How about four-wheel disc brakes in either electric over hydraul
Fenders come in the standard painted steel or optional polished aluminum.
The Mac's Custom Tie-Downs Pro Pack comes in a number of configurations and lengths; check
A padded axle strap is ideal for use in limited space applications allowing the tie-down t
A padded axle strap used in tandem with a fleece sleeve protector is ideal to run through
All JIMGLO box trailers are based on an all-aluminum 6-inch frame on 10,000 GVW and a 7-in
Remember you are looking for two full rotations around the mandrel; too few rotations and
The ratchet should be anchored shut itself with strap bands; these Velcro-equipped straps
Although it looks good-it isn't. Crossed straps are a common mistake. All tie-down straps
The Master Lock receiver hitch locking pin is another ideal method of security as it locks
We couldn't pass by this accessory-Master Lock's interchangeable tow ball mounting pin. Yo
Master Lock's Plug'n Go back-up camera is an ideal accessory for individuals attempting to
The way we see it; if you can't see that these methods of tying down your street rod shoul