Maiden voyage for the trailer

Well, the hitch and chains are in place and secured.   The wiring is OK, held in place by some electrical tape while I figure out the best way to route the wires and locate the plugs.   I decided that a trip to the grocery store was as good a reason as any to take the plunge.   So, after checking the running lights, turn signals, and brake lights, off I went.

Interestingly, it was unremarkable which I suppose is the best possible outcome.   I had placed the spare tire up in front to give the trailer some tongue weight, having read some horror stories about improperly loaded trailers causing accidents.   The trailer tracked perfectly, and I made some sharp turns through town to see how it would handle them and to see how much additional space I needed to keep the trailer wheels off the curbs.   Not a lot, but being aware that the trailer is there undoubtedly caused me to allow a little more space during turns, just to be sure.

I was easily able to get all the groceries in the trailer, and probably used a third of the available space.   The chains were rubbing on the pavement, so when I got home I removed a link from each one.   They might still be a little long, so I will check clearances during sharp turns and might remove another link from each side.   I don’t want to go too far and have to buy new lengths of chain.

I still need to route the wires and tie them in place to locate the plugs in a good location.   Once this is done, the trailer is ready for a trip.

What a surprise, there’s a trip beginning next Monday.

Wrapping up the trailer bits

The kind that you pull behind the Goldwing, not the kind you live in.   C’mon, keep up. 🙂   The previous owner put in a swivel for the tongue, which is a good thing, but the additional length made the safety chains too short.   I measured the existing chains and added 8 inches to arrive at the length I thought would work.   Off to the hardware store to get some chain and connecting links to simplify the hookup.   Removed the swivel and the old chains, put the new ones in place and made sure the length was correct and reassembled everything.

The remaining task is to route the wiring and socket for the trailer lights.   You don’t want an excessive length of wire, but there needs to be enough so that the wiring allows the full range of without stretching.

Once this is done, ready for the maiden voyage.

Time for another trailer…

After our trip to Colorado, and the fun of shipping clothes to the hotel, I began to consider a trailer to pull behind the Goldwing.   We   could take clothes with us, raingear, jacket liners, and pick up groceries.   When it’s really hot and you’d like to take your jacket off, you need a place to put it. Holding it on your lap doesn’t work for a long ride and if the saddlebags and trunk are full you’re out of luck. Enter the trailer. You have room for the jacket and your helmets when you stop for a meal. I’ve never had a helmet stolen, but that doesn’t mean I will not have one stolen in the future. That would be a real problem on a long trip. Locking your jackets, gloves, and helmets in the trailer is a real plus. Once you get to your destination, lock the trailer around a light pole or take it in the garage and you’re ready for day-rides.

Another big plus it that you can assemble a good tool kit to take with you. The motorcycle tool kit is woefully inadequate for anything except a starting point to build a decent tool kit. The truth is that a decent tool kit doesn’t necessarily take up a lot of space, and putting it together with good quality tools means that it will give you a chance to make a repair on the road. Not that I expect to need many roadside repairs – that’s the reason the trailer will be pulled behind a Goldwing.

Now to find one. There are a number of models available, in a huge range of prices. You can take a Harbor Freight frame and put a cartop carrier on it and voila – a trailer. You can spend upwards on $8,000 and buy a Tailwind. I’ve read a lot about this and I think the Aluma trailer made in Iowa would be the best bang for the buck. New, the Aluma trailers are around $1600 and they have a five-year warranty. Most trailers hold their value quite well, so there isn’t always a big savings by buying a used trailer. Usually, the savings from buying used comes from the accessories the previous owner has added, and sometimes you can get a better price at the end of the season.

UPDATE October 17, 2008: I found and made a deal for an Aluma trailer, but the problem is that it’s in Virginia and I’m not.   I could take the truck out there and get it, but I’m going to see if there’s another way.   Maybe I can arrange shipping, or maybe someone else is heading west and could get it part way to Illinois.   Time to do some checking around.

UPDATE October 27, 2008: A gentleman named Jason on the GL1800 forums responded to my question and would be willing to bring the trailer from Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky.   That’s a lot closer than going all the way to Virginia, so I accepted his kind offer.   It’s a really nice feeling to know that there are people willing to help someone they’ve not met – it kind of restores your faith in humanity.   Now to finalize all the arrangements.

UPDATE October 31, 2008: I met Jason and his brother in Louisville and brought the trailer home in my pickup.   It’s still amazing to me that buying a trailer sight unseen from someone I’ve never met, having someone else I’ve never met take a day of their time to help transport it, and have everything go perfectly.   My faith in humanity is restored.   Now, I need to help someone else just because I can.   Maybe this is a trend we can all follow   – and we’d all be the better for it.

Humble thanks, guys.

Time for a trailer…

Not to live in, mind you. A trailer to transport motorcycles is the kind I’m talking about here. I’m pretty comfortable wrenching on bikes, but sometimes you don’t have the super-duper-expensive special tool that you will need only once. And to be honest, sometimes you don’t have the knowledge to do a job properly or you can do it but adjustments will take several attempts and an expert mechanic can do the job to spec the first time.

In that case, you need a way to transport a bike without riding it. Yes, you can strap a bike into the back of a pickup, but mine has a cap and the bike won’t fit without taking the cap off. Then you have the problem of loading a bike into the bed that is three feet or more off the ground. Not fun and more than a little nerve-wracking.

I had seen ads for a Kendon trailer. They make models for one or two bikes, the two bike model made the most sense to me. The big advantage of this particular trailer model is that IT FOLDS UP. You fold it up and then you can STAND IT UP vertically in the garage. There are casters under it so you can roll it out of the way. It doesn’t have to sit outside with a tarp over it, killing the grass, and making a nice shelter for all kinds of critters. It stands up in front of my truck in the garage, out of the weather and clean. It has a small ramp to make loading/unloading easier. The tongue is short to make it short enough to stand up in normal garages, but that makes it difficult to back up. The trailer pulls very well and I’ve had only one bike on it at a time, so if it was going to weave I would have seen it. This is a really-good-to-have accessory and when you need a trailer there really isn’t any substitute.

I bought some tie-downs, 2 sets of 4 straps with neoprene covers for the rachets. I got them from PowerTye and the price was better directly from them.