Since going into business for myself in November of 2015 I have been working out of my truck. I did as much as possible to organize my toolbox, and have efficient space saving tools (such as my Multi-purpose slab). I did the best I could with just a truck, but it seemed like everyday I would have to make multiple trips to and from my shop.
Sometimes it took two trips to simply get the tools I needed to the jobsite. The rest of the time were the inevitable trips back home to get the one tool forgotten. In the trades time is money; the faster and more efficient you can be the more money you can make. Speed and efficiency also benefit the customer. Being highly organized means the job is completed faster, and a contractor can charge a lower price because he makes up the difference in time saved for more jobs. Furthermore, I was limited in that I was “stuck” only bidding jobs within my small town.
I knew I wanted an enclosed cargo trailer. I’ve known I wanted a trailer since before self-employment was thrust upon me (A true blessing in disguise). My modular shop cabinets, which I build over a year ago, were built in anticipation that I would eventually go into business for myself and have a cargo trailer workshop. I’m determined never to go in debt for my business, and I am proud to say I found the exact trailer I wanted and was able to pay cash for it. Dave Ramsey would be proud.
The trailer I wanted and I bought is a 12ft long by 6ft wide cargo trailer with a V-nose, tandem axles, and a ramp door. My trailer is a 2014 Cargo Mate. I found it used on Craigslist for a fair price and the previous owner took very good care of it. I hadn’t heard of Cargo Mate before this, but the build quality seems higher than many of the other trailers I looked at.
I detail the reasons why I wanted a trailer spec’d this way in the YouTube video below. 6ft by 12ft seemed to me to be big enough to actually be able to work out of, yet small enough to pull with my F-150. I have the smaller 4.6 V8 in my truck so it cant pull as much as my Expedition with the larger 5.4 V8. The 5.4 doesn’t care that there is a trailer behind it, but the 4.6 definitely notices. The V-Nose is primarily for aerodynamics but gives additional storage options. My Father, Father-in-law, and an uncle all recommended that I only consider getting a trailer with tandem axles. Their reasons were as follows: Safer (four wheels vs two in a blow out), Pulls better (tracks better, rides over bumps smoother), Easier to load (It’s not a teeter-totter), and carries twice the weight. The weight of the loaded trailer is going to be whatever it needs to be. Having tandem axles means I can load out the trailer how I need/want to and still be far under the maximum payload. Based on my estimates I am going to be slightly over the limit of a single axle, leaving plenty of payload for materials. The ramp door is a convenience and a back saver. I can easily roll my tools up the ramp instead of lifting 70+ pound tools several times a day. I’m glad I listened to the advice of others and got this option.
Turning this trailer into my rolling workshop is a lot of work, planning, and thinking through how I want to work in the future. It’s also a lot of fun! I’m enjoying the design, trail and error of making this trailer uniquely mine. I am certainly taking inspiration from other contractors, most notably Ron Paulk’s Awesome Rolling Tool Box.
My rolling workshop is continuously evolving. Since I’ve never worked out of a cargo trailer before, I couldn’t simply build it out from the beginning. Here’s a Mark Twain quote “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” My trailer build happens in spurts. I work out of the trailer and fix what doesn’t work for me. Below are Trailer Builds 1.2 and 1.3
Trailer build 1.4 should be along shortly. I’m doing my best to document every improvement as I go.