Starting the Season Anew

Well, we’ve been delinquent in blog updating, but not in racing updates.  I’ll let Em fill you in on the racing side of the equation, but I’m well overdue in telling you about all the updates I did over the winter to the trailer, and the car.

Last winter was all about the car.  I rewired it from front to back, built a new dashboard, replumbed everything, updated nearly everything there was to update.  And it paid off.  We had a great season last year, finishing 8th in the PNSCA and in the top third in the division.

But the trailer was still in need of a lot of work.  While it generally worked for what we were doing, it surely was not a “looker” on the inside.  Storage was unorganized, things didn’t close quite right, and there was enough leftover stuff from the previous owners to fill every nook and cranny.  The Home Depot particle board cabinets were far heavier than they needed to be, a situation not helped at all with the Pacific Northwest’s constantly wet climate.  Maybe in dry SoCal particle board is OK, but where we lived, there had to be a couple hundred pounds of moisture in those cabinets.

So in early March, the trailer was gutted.  Down to the bare walls.  My good friend and PNSCA president Ed Hauter helped with the tough work, and we cleaned out everything, talking almost 800 lbs. of cabinets and junk to the dump.  The walls got three coats of fresh white paint, the side rails were removed and painted, the 120v electrical was completely checked and rewired as necessary, and preparation was made for new cabinets.

After much research, I ended up going with custom made CTech cabinets, some of the nicest out there.  The new cabinets are not only beautiful, they are light.  Even on the pallets, they weighed less than half the particle board cabinets, with almost twice the storage space.  And they work like a dream.  They have fully roller drawers and self-latching everything.  If it’s closed, it’s latched.  What a dream!

With more than a little help from friends and family, the new cabinets were installed.  Then went in new lighting inside and out, a new pit radio, new speakers outside, and a new air conditioner for those hot summer days.  I even put up new decorative trim to hide the electrical, replacing the dented and tired metal with elegantly curved hi strength plastic.  All fresh and white, and beautifully equipped, the trailer was gorgeous, now both inside and out.

Then I loaded all the gear in, each in its own bin, all carefully labeled.  It looks great, with a place for everything and everything in its place.  I was feeling pretty good.  Until, I finally (after a month of work) took it back to the storage place.  On the drive back, I noticed that the marker lights didn’t work.  Hmmm…

Then Em reminded me that they had failed at the end of last season, and I neglected to fix them.  Great…  When I had the trailer completely apart, with all the wiring just sitting there so I could diagnose and fix it, I forgot to fix the trailer lighting.  So I brought it back, tore it apart, and completely rewired the rest of the lights from the back, all around the top, replacing every light with new LED lights, and running new wires for it all.  Finally, at the very end of the job I found it, a wire pinched between the new cabinets and the wall, shorting out everything.

Frustrating, yes, but at least it was now fixed, and it looks great.  The lights work, the cabinets look great, and we were ready to race.  Until I came to load the car…  I had redesigned the layout to allow the car to go in backward, so there would be plenty of room for a golf cart, the quad, whatever at the back.  I even got new ramps and bumpers to make the door work even smoother.  This all, however, created a million problems.

Number one was that the car scraped the floor going in.  So badly one time that it ripped a huge pizza slice shaped tear in my beautiful new floor (see last year’s trailer update).  To get it in and out, I had to jack the front up, and that’s almost impossible to do with one person.  Even when I did get it in, with the help of the winch, I neglected to realize that putting the engine in front of the trailer wheels would make the trailer very (very, very) tongue-heavy.  The truck handled terribly, almost dangerously, even with the fancy air bags in the truck.

It was back the the drawing board.  At Boise we loaded the car in front first (like always) and it went in and out like a dream.  And it rebalanced the trailer.  That was decided.  But with the new cabinets, the car couldn’t go in as far, so there was no room for the quad.  Ugh.  To quote an old SNL sketch with Roseanne Rosannadanna, “if it’s not one thing, it’s another”.  We loaded the quad in the back of the pickup, and bought a used scooter from Em’s boyfriend to use as pit transportation.  It fits behind the car perfectly, and we hated the old, nasty quad.  But of course, the scooter needs repair and tuneups…  I’ll update you on that at a later time.

Despite all the setbacks, we have a wonderful new trailer, it works wonderfully for our needs, and it looks downright professional.  Maybe it won’t make the car work any better, but we sure like it more, and that can’t hurt.