AUTOCROSS TRAILER FOR YOUR MIATA
1906-G Oceanside Blvd. #102
Oceanside, CA 92054-4423
voice & fax
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Okay, I admit it, I love autocrossing and I love my Miata!
I hate having to drive to events on my autocross tires, and I hate having to put my air tank, floor jack, and other paraphernalia into my Miata. I knew there had to be a better solution.
I started seeing Miatas and cars of similar size show up at events pulling what I was to learn is called a utility trailer. Since I was so addicted to autocrossing, I figured I had to get even more serious about the sport. The trailer seemed to be the best solution for me.
I had at first also considered two other solutions. The first was a device called a "Bumper Buddy." This device attaches into a receiver-type trailer hitch and is somewhat like a shelf extending horizontally from the back of your vehicle. Regrettably this device requires either a Class II or III hitch, but upon further investigation I found that no one makes one that size for the Miata.
The second is a much more elegant solution, but totally out of my league -- getting a tow vehicle and either an enclosed or open trailer to put my Miata and the rest of my equipment into it.
So it had to be a utility trailer.
Please be warned that Mazda does not recommend towing a trailer in their manual. But after talking to a number of drivers who have towed small trailers with their Miatas, some of them at remarkably high (read dangerous) speeds, I was convinced that this was a workable solution.
Using the Internet, I was able to find the suppliers and the part numbers for the equipment I wanted to buy.
The first item was the utility trailer itself. I liked the one built by Nuway, but I regrettably couldnt find anyone to sell me one. When I contacted the company that builds them, Martin Industries, they suggested I check out my local Wal-Mart and K-Mart. None of their stores had the trailer in my area here in Southern California. By the time I got another suggestion from them to try Home Depot, I had found an extremely similar trailer from Harbor Freight Tools on the Internet.
The Harbor Freight Tools calls theirs a mini-utility trailer. It is 3-1/3 feet wide and 4 long, made from heavy duty steel with a baked red enamel finish. I comes complete with highway approved tail, turn, and side running lights, two 4.80 x 8" wheels, a couple assembly with safety chains, and a 1-7/8" (Class I) ball hitch receiver. The load capacity of this trailer is 1000 pounds and the trailer weighs about 125 pounds.
When I ordered this trailer over the Internet with my credit card, the price was $159.99 plus tax, but with free shipping. I expected UPS to deliver a huge package to my door, but it was sent parcel post in two packages. When I last checked, the price had increased to $169.99.
Opening the packages I found all of the parts in what could be best described as Erector Set. I loved those things as a kid, so I figured I could easily assemble the trailer. The instructions for this Taiwanese made trailer state that it will take approximately four hours to assemble, including the electrical wiring. I found this estimate was bang on.
Simple hand tools are all you need to put this thing together. I assembled the entire thing on my front lawn since I wasnt sure I had enough space to get it through my side yard from the backyard -- I thought that was pretty intelligent -- although I found out later it passes through the side yard perfectly.
My neighbors were relatively impressed with my construction capabilities, since I am a computer nerd by profession, but the assembly instructions were straightforward and very easy to follow.
When the trailer is fully assembled, it is basically a frame with no floor. But this is what I wanted, since I would be fitting my four racing tires on the back of the trailer, and a tool/storage box to the front. I then cut two pieces of wood to fit into the front section of the trailer unto which I would bolt the Pro Tuff Box by Contico I purchased from Wal-Mart for $45.
I also attached a 37" piece of 2" PVC pipe to the inside rear of the trailer with nylon ties in order to prevent the edge of the trailer biting into my soft racing tires. The pipe cost me $3.70.
Next I needed to find a trailer hitch for the Miata. My Internet research came through again when I discovered DaLan Hitch Inc. They directed me to a local trailer supply company where I purchased the hitch and a 1-7/8" ball for about $150.
DaLans receiver hitch is built especially for a Miata and is attached under the rear bumper to the exact same place where the rear tie-downs were. The idea is to simply remove the two bolts on each side which hold the tie-down, and attach the trailer hitch into its place. Sounds easy, and I was able to remove the tie-downs, as well as put the trailer hitch into place, and put the bolts through the hitch into the Miata frame, but I was unable to attach the nuts to the bolts.
I realized that this would be an essential part of the process, but after about an hour of trying to attempt this, I gave up. I have to credit DaLan with making it as easy as they could by spot welding 1/8" bars to the nuts so that they could be maneuvered into the tiny area to attach to the bolts. But my tolerance for failure is too short, so I hired a company which normally attaches hitches to do mine.
I also had them connect the electrical connection, supplied with the trailer, to the electrical system of the Miata. I also started to do this myself, but since the Miatas turn signal lights are separate from the normal taillights, I was baffled on how to make the connection. The folks that did the work informed me that a converter was needed. I spent $100 to have them attach the trailer hitch and electrical connector.
I also purchased four identically keyed Master padlocks, two to keep the lid securely shut on the Tuff Box even though it came with lock, which I felt it wasnt secure enough. The Tuff Box is pre-equipped to accommodate the padlocks. I used the other two padlocks to secure a my racing wheels and tires to the frame of the trailer using a plastic coated cable normally used to prevent bicycle theft. I also used an Bungee cord to keep the tires together on the trailer. Price for the locks, cable and Bungee cord about $25.
The last thing I need to do was get the trailer registered. It came with the proper paperwork and VIN tag to start the proceedings. As you can image, I spent a couple of hours at the California Department of Motor Vehicles for this process. They also nicked me for $50 for their fees, ouch!
I keep my racing tires and wheels on the trailer all the time, and keep my helmet (in a helmet bag), my air tank, floor jack, assorted tools and parts, as well as my folding chair in the tool box all the time. This truly speeds up the amount of time it takes me to get ready for an event -- another added benefit -- since I dont have to go looking for my stuff. I also just purchased an EZ-Up Sports Dome, a wall-less tent-like sun roof, which fits perfectly between the tires and the tool box when held down with another Bungee cord. I paid $100 for the shade.
I have now hauled the trailer to several events and it tows beautifully. It is small enough that it fits right behind the Miata without obstructing the rear view. The trailer doesnt sway and tracks perfectly. I am also the envy of other autocrossers, and Ive been told that I not only have a "cute" car, but also a "cute" trailer. Cute. Hey, I may not be the fastest guy on the track, but Im stylin!
note that I do not manufacture nor sell this trailer,
I have only given you information on building your own.
|MANUFACTURERS MENTIONED IN ARTICLE|
|Harbor Freight Tools
3491 Mission Oaks Blvd.
Camarillo, CA 93010-3169
trailer product number: 2727-2VFA
|Da'Lan Hitch Inc.
68 Walker Rd.
Shirley, MA 01464
receiver hitch product number:
for 1990-97 Miata: 247262
for 1999-2000 Miata: 247314
|Contico Manufacturing Company
305 Rock Industrial Park Drive
Bridgeton, Missouri 63044
Tuff Box product number: 3725
A Division of Martin Industries
P.O. Box 128
Florence, Alabama 35631
trailer product number: NW13601GH