Ask yourself, ‘What is the best thing I ever bought?’ Probably a house, car, meal, holiday or maybe an item of clothing. Or maybe that power tool you can’t do without, it’s adaptable and sorts out every job. Can it tell jokes and answer the door? Nope, thought not.
My bestest thing I ever bought can’t and doesn’t do any of the above. It’s practical, it doesn’t cost much to maintain, (see later) has been borrowed by most of my family and plenty of friends too and I’ve had it for nigh on 30 years.
So, what is it then, this thing that, I believe, has made my life so much easier that, I always wonder how I would’ve survived without it?
It’s a trailer…….Moving house? Yep, I can help. Got some rubbish for the tip? No problem. Load of wood for your burner……..I’ll have it. Bulk bags of aggregates? One at a time, please.
‘Croxyj, its Tony, caretaker at x school……….that computer trolley we’re having off your school? Well, Bob tells me you can deliver it and pick a load of wood up on the way back. Whatever he means.’
Rangemaster 1100 cooker bought of fleabay with a 400 mile round trip……..piece of cake.
How do you make a trailer that will outlive the builder/designer? Well here goes.
Frank, such a lovely, honest bloke, broke up caravans for the chassis, dumped the insides, sold off spare parts, stripped the aluminium and weighed it in at our yard. He would then buy, at 25p a length, all the bed irons we had. Bed irons? 2” by 2” angle iron normally 6’ or 4’ usually off beds………. We’d go out of our way to save them. He would save the ‘A’ frame, axle and out riggers of the chassis, cutting and welding the rest to the customers preference. Having seen one of Frank’s trailers I commissioned my own.
‘I want it 6’ by 4’, drop down tailgate.’
‘18inches, oh and a ladder rack.’ *extended front corner posts with a cross bar*
Some 4 weeks later Frank came up with, at that time, an absolute beauty of a trailer.
The ironwork was blue with tongue and groove flooring and sides, all smartly varnished and aluminium mudguards, it looked a treat, individual, unique.
How much? £160………… a snip. This was in 1991.
How much has it cost me since?
I’ve re-boarded it twice firstly with wood that would’ve gone in the woodburner and then leftover panel boards when we did our bathroom out.
The 6’ x 4’ aluminium sheet for the base I got from the ‘old fella’s’ yard before he shut down.
It’s been hammered right with terracotta metal paint I acquired from the waste chemical company I worked for and still have some left to do it again.
It’s needed a new hitch and jockey wheel £15 each.
I bent the chassis and had it re-formed and extra strengtheners put in the sides, £35.
The first set of replacement tyres cost me £30 each.
The lighting board has plastic lenses and are too easy to smash……..I’ve had to but two at around £15 each.
We used to go to the MiL’s house, in France, on holiday and the trailer would be £40 on the ferry. I proved I could fit 20 cases of beer in the bed of the trailer, saving £40 on what they would’ve cost over here…
In this lockdown, looking for something to do, I decided it was time to replace the tyres. They were cracking along the tread as well as the sides. But 15 years for a set of tyres, to me, is good going. Off I trot to my mate’s tyre firm and leave them with him whilst Mrs. C. and I went shopping. Came back………’Sorry Croxj, this wheel is knackered. Maybe you should contact the local caravan sales companies for a replacement.’
They were all shut.
My trailer has +40 year old wheels………………..you need the right ones to fit. I went on-line, found a company that provided wheels for all caravans. Huzzah, ordered the said wheel and……………2 hrs later got a phone call, ‘Sorry, but our suppliers are shut, but they’re hoping to open 2nd week of May.’ I wasn’t going anywhere so agreed I’d wait, they wouldn’t take payment until they could fulfil the order, sorted.
The last week of May I contacted the company as to the whereabouts of my wheel…………’I remember you…………, but, hang on,…… they’ve got them in, I’ll get them to send it direct.’ 48hrs later, one new rim, duly dropped off at tyre place, taken home, banged on the trailer…………to find the other rim has now died……………..back on-line order the second and ‘Add Comments’
‘Yes, that is correct, I really do need another’
2 new rims and 2 new tyres £160.
Total cost of maintenance over 30 years……………………………………..£285.
Here I am today, with my trailer, that I and my family can’t do without, with two spanking new wheels and tyres, loaded with scrap metal to sell……………………………life doesn’t get much better…..
………well that was the original tale until Project France Extraction swung into full gear.
Many of you may have noticed that the trailer isn’t exactly ‘street’ legal. I only go a couple of miles to the local Industrial Estate, where the Tip, Scrap Yard and Wickes are located and 5 miles to my mates for his joinery wood for my woodburner so, I’ve never been bothered to make it legal.
But we’re taking it to France to bring some of Mrs. C’s parent’s stuff back, including a sit-on mower that, *cough* we’re having.
This has entailed the further unexpected expense of mudguards, the hangers for them, a break-away cable and another lighting board.
Total cost for them……just shy of £75, making a grand total of £390………most of which has been forked out this last couple of months.
But it does look good……………
Your turn now, what’s your best buy ever?
© Croxj 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file