I will be getting a FF2000 and am planning to trailer it on an open flatbed (at least initially; tow vehicle is currently a Honda Ridgeline). Are there recommended ways to protect it from rain during trailering (is this necessary?), and to enhance security when overnight parking at motels?
Generally, the car just gets dirty and rarely sees more abuse than it would see on the track. When I have had to do extended trips in winter monthes, I have wrapped the car in shrink wrap like you wrap a shipping skid with. It is a pain in the a$$ and I only did it going to the track in an effort to keep the clean before the race event.
If you jack up the car on both ends .... you can pass the 18' wide roll under the car and wrap it like you wrap exhaust pipe.
I once towed from Toronto to Atlanta for the March National through 2 ft of snow. A 10 min stop at a manual car wash in Georgia and the car was ready to go.
In terms of security .... just common sense stuff .... park it out in the open in well-lit area, preferably in front and near your room. I have never had a problem in over 25 years. I also remove the steering wheel.
There are usually much more desirable items in a hotel parking lot than old Formula cars! The better the trailer, more chance of problem .... as trailers are easy to move and hard to trace. Stolen race cars usually get dumped but the trailers rarely get recovered.
For rain protection when towing I have a cover in front of the air intake (which is above the driver's head). I back that up with a plug that fits the round opening in the back of the air intake. I tow with an open exhaust pipe that just happens to have an ID just a little smaller than a racket ball so I push the ball in nice and tight. To protect the dash from rain and prying eyes I modified a soft plastic bucket to cover the dash by sliding over the steering shaft and under the cowl area above the dash. A couple of the types of bungees with balls on the end (as used to secure tarps) keep the "bucket" in place. I use red for most of these parts to help remind me to remove them (the ball has been known to roll across the paddock ).
For rain protection when parked/paddocked and "security" from prying eyes I have a cheap blue tarp that is about 12 by 9 that covers everthing except the nose and the end of the tail. It is secured by the bungees with balls in key places and supplemented by a "bungee rope" under the body. This is also supplemented by a cheap long strap.
To discourage joy rides off the trailer I lock the ramps to the trailer and use a plastic coated security cable to "secure" the car to the trailer.
I slapped together a naugahyde cover last winter just in time for a record wet spring. I folded the edges over and sewed them to make a tunnel for stout bungees to go thru on each of the 4 sides. Not too difficult if you have a sewing machine and 1/2 a clue on how to thread it. The velcroed slots for the mirrors takes a little planning and patience. The naugahyde is stout enough that it doesn't flap much, but a piece of stiff vinyl bridges the open space between the steering wheel and roll hoop and provides backing to the cover. I can put it on in 3 minutes and it keeps the belts and electric stuff snug and dry.
This winter's project will be to have a full trailer sized tarp made up, custom fitted to the car and covering all 4 sides of the trailer. I'll let the rear wing stick out to keep the profile as low as possible and reduce the flapping factor. It will be a few hundred bucks by the time I buy trucker's tarp and pay my parachute rigger to cut it, fit it and reinforce it with his harness sewing machine.
Ted/FM # 13
Shoe String Racing
On a Wing & a Prayer
Thanks for all the suggestions. Ted, you should commercialize your creation! Is there already a commercial product out there? You'd think someone would have come up with a universal product of some sort.
I'm glad to see that there are others who trailer with a flatbed. Seems the loading and unloading will be much easier without the walls of an enclosed trailer, plus towing effort will be a lot less without the weight and aerodynamics of the box, as long as you have room in the tow vehicle for wheels, tools etc.
I agree with Problemchild on the security issues. I towed with an open trailer for 14 years and did not have a problem. At motels, I always tried to park as close to the office as possible, locked the trailer to the truck with some sort of chain or cable, and covered the car with either the ubiquitous blue plastic tarp or a cheap car cover. The tarp/cover just discourages casual theft and vandalism. Ted's solution for rain protection looks good - much better than cut-up plastic bags and duct tape! When rain was expected, I would just bag the steering wheel and instrument panel.
- Frank C
Keep in mind that we open trailer po' boys have different issues than the enclosed trailer "kings". I would agree that no one will want to steal our trailer just for the trailer as they would a nice enclosed trailer good for hauling their particular toys. And for the few who want your racecar, the easiest way to steal the car is to steal the whole trailer, for obvious reasons. And you can think up 100 different ways to combat that.
However, to protect against the pranksters/joyriders who might want to roll the car off the trailer for some late nite fun, I chain my car to the trailer if it will be so exposed for any length of time. The heavy duty chain goes thru the floor and around a joist. I put it under the right rear in a location that I can reach in to loop the chain over the frame and lock it. I picked a location that I can reach in to lock with some difficulty, but which would be very difficult to get a cutting device into. Chances are the pranksters wouldn't see the chain (wrapped in pipe insulation) until the car didn't move very far anyway.
Ted/FM # 13
Shoe String Racing
On a Wing & a Prayer
remove the rear wing element to avoid unnecessary stress
Yeah, I've heard that too. However, at highway speeds under 65, I would think the greater stress is not from the aero forces, but from the bouncing shock that any car in any trailer would "feel." Just towing the car any distance on today's pothole-riddled roads subjects it to far more stress than bouncing over a few curbs on track.
There was an old thread a year or 2 ago about supporting your car in/on the trailer just to mitigate some of that. Hmmmmmm, pretty sure Darryl Benner had a lot to say about that. Take it away, Darryl.
Ted/FM # 13
Shoe String Racing
On a Wing & a Prayer
My 2 cents about tying down a car is that you should not bind it down super tight as most small open trailers are prone to flex and bouncing. What that does is transfer all that motion to the car. I would use the "Tire basket" type of over the tire strap & ratchet tydowns. Sure that lets the cars suspension work up and down but I don't think you will wear out the shocks/rod ends on shorter hauls. If you do make long distance tows you can jack up the car a few inches BEFORE attaching the tire baskets and place some dense Foam Rubber blocks under the floor pan. I do this as it compresses slightly and absorbs most of the ride motions but lets the chassis move so the stress of bumps does NOT flex the chassis. Just one old racers way to do it. "Your milage may vary" Darrell
If the open trailer has a vertical shield in the front and a solid floor, the car will arrive in much better condition than not. The 'stuff' comming off the back of the tow vehicle, especially in the rain makes the biggest mess.
Cover it with a tarp at the motel. But, beware, a flapping tarp at 70 mph will remove paint from the car.
One thing about an open trailer, you get a lot more attention on the road.
Thanks again for the tips. On the subject of strapping down the car, I've never understood why it should be better for the shocks to tie down by the wheels versus by the chassis. Seems there would be less wear if you limit chassis movement (in this situation only rebound beyond the static position; compression should not be limited), while by the wheels the car would be bouncing around much more with the undamped trailer. Just seems counter-intuitive.
Think of it as if you were thinking of a car without springs/shocks. The stress has to go somewhere, so it rattles the chassis and shakes the **** out of it if you tie the chassis, because the suspension can't work (especially on an open, unsprung trailer). I tie the wheels down and let the car's suspension do its thing. If the trailer has springs, it's not as important, but it still helps absorb the loads to tie the car by the wheels, and not snug it down tight on the chassis.
I towed down to Savannah last december, with my open trailer and my Lola. I have some thoughts to share. if you want to read them...
A loose cover or tarp flapping in the wind does more damage to stuff than you would imagine. Bungee cord the crap out of it, duct tape doesn't work, or leave the car bare.
A formula car covered in a tarp, covered in 3" of snow, looks really very festive at 6 AM when you look out the window of the motel. Glistening in the moon light, etc...
It's impossible to keep anything that can rust from rusting if you trailer through 1,000 miles of snow and salt covered roads on your way to that race in the sunny south. I finally admitted defeat on getting my calipers to look good again and they are out getting replated.
Even all of the brand new gold cad plated bolts that I assembled the car with are now terminally dirty and corroded. many of the brand new rod ends now look like original 1977 issue.
I use straps over the tires, check them often, but they are never lose.
The best way to steal a car that's on a trailer appears to be to steal whatever the trailer is hooked up to first, then deal with the trailer and the car at the thieves leisure. So i don't worry about it except for parking where I can look at the truck and trailer from my window.
I won't do it again, but I will use the open trailer for getting to nearby events in the summer time as a last resort. Mind you, some of the best times I ever had in racing were towing a car (a mini, as it happens) on an open trailer, behind a VW Jetta, a Dodge Acclaim, a Jeep YJ, all over the place. Had a great time, cheap and absolutely cheerful!