Harborfreight Utility Trailer for Autocross

OK.  I finally got the 13"x8.5" Panasports that all the CSP hot shoes are running.  Of course, they came during the great engine swap of '04 , and subsequently got moved to the bottom of the pile for a little while.  Sadly, with the car in it's current lowered state where pulling into a gas station too quickly, or at a bad angle can result in some really scary scrapes, driving the 13's to an autocross is simply out of the question.

My buddy Tim, who also runs a black Miata, has what I considered the ultimate tire trailer. So, I figured I'd buy the same trailer, and shamelessly steal his design.

So, I order the Harborfreight utility trailer that is the standard trailer for just about anyone without a trunk or back seat that runs R compounds around here.

The trailer came in less than a week, in 2 boxes, and went together in 1 night during the week that I was waiting for engine parts. 

Then the fun begins.  Pennsylvania requires that kit trailers be inspected by a State certified mechanic in order to get a license plate.  I take my trailer to the guy that does my cars.  I load up the trailer into the pick up, and trundle it down to him.  He does his inspection, and tells me to come back for the paperwork.  He then calls me, and tells me he can't do it.  He needs proof of ownership to issue the sticker.  I need the sticker to get proof of ownership.  He can't help me.  I sigh, and start the odyssey.

I call a couple of local trailer guys.  Not being particularly interested in helping me register a trailer that they would rather have sold me, they tell me the same story.  They can't inspect without an owners card, and I can't get an owners card until it gets inspected.  One guy suggested buying a dead trailer with a title, and simply transferring the title to my name, and using that title for the new trailer.  Interesting idea, but my luck's that if I come to a complete stop at a red light at 3AM, and can't see a soul for miles, and run the light, I'll pass a cop parked behind the next building.  Nah. 

I call AAA.  They are just a notch above brain dead, and all I can get from them is the MCO (Manufacturers Certificate of Origin) says "kit" and we can't process the title without inspection.  OK, where can I get this inspection of which you speak?  We don't know.  You just have to have it inspected. Where, for God's sake?

I call the State DMV.  After pressing 1 for this, 2 for that, and 69 for something  altogether different , I get, "Well it has to be inspected, the mechanics should know they don't need an owners card in this instance."  I explain that no, the mechanics don't know any such thing, can you send me a letter to that effect?  No we can't, and after 10 minutes back and forth, I give up, defeated.

I'm really pissed. This is ridiculous.  All I want to do is get a title for a trailer I bought legitimately, and use it for a legitimate purpose, and all I am getting is a hard time.

I work with a woman whose husband is a state cop.  I figure he spends all his time looking for guys breaking the vehicle laws, he has to have an idea.  He does!  He gives the number of a mechanic that actually understands how this stuff works with the state.  I take the trailer to him, I have to get a certified weight slip from a mover down the road.  He looks at the trailer, signs my photos, signs the state forms, collects his $40, and I'm legal.  Couple a weeks later, I have a license plate and a title.  Woohoo!  Now I have a trailer that looks like this:

Which is really cool, but I don't want to get bogged down in strapping tires down every time I go autocrossing. So the next phase begins.

As I mentioned above, Tim had the ultimate tire trailer.  Two upright posts to anchor the tires to, and avoids the flat spots that have been reported by others using the tires as they go on the car method.  I look at Tim's.  It's a very elegant, simple design using 12" steel channel and some black iron pipe.  Except the guy that built his is not interested in doing one for me.  I have access to a machinist, and we swap favors, so I talk to him.  12" channel is tough to come by.  It's March, the season is starting, and I grow tired of not being able to get this damn thing moving.  I hit the web, and find a metals supply shop online.  Still no 12" channel, but they have 2x4 aluminum.  The 4" edge will get the tires to clear the fenders.  I sketch out a design, and give it to my machinist.  About a month later I get my rack back.  Not quite perfect, but close enough, and I am trading favors here.    

The rack itself.  The pipes are threaded at the top, to accept the flanges that hold the tries in place.  They are welded at the bottom to 1/4" steel plate.      1 1/2" black iron pipe flanges, with 2" PVC sleeves to protect the wheels. Tim's Trailer on the left.  

The tote was kind of pricey, but it was exactly the same width as the trailer, and keeps everything dry in the rain.  A major plus.  This was an upgrade from Tim's smaller aluminum tool box that has no extra room for all the stuff that comes out of the car and gets rained on all day.

The next problem was the hitch.  I use my car as my daily driver, and really didn't like the look of the regular hitch.  Delan makes a "hidden hitch" but the R package rear skirt needs to be either removed, or cut to make that work.  Back to the machinist.

I get an old style non receivered Miata hitch on Ebay.  We cut the hitch off, and weld a 1 1/4" receiver onto the bracket going vertically.

  We then bend the 1 1/4" square steel bar that makes up the hitch. So that it looks like the photo on the left.

Attached to the car, it looks like this: When the hitch is removed, it is completely invisible.

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