Hangar works #16 – Rear-view camera on trailer

We continue improving our trailer!

2 m wide, 4,75 m long and 1,8 m tall: our tailor-made trailer!

As mentioned in the previous post, you always find aspects of your vehicle, in this case our trailer, that can be improved. Mainly by adding nice accessories.

When driving a trailer the size of ours, as wide and tall as the towing vehicle, the main concern for us is the visibility. The wing mirrors still give you perfect vision, as the trailer is 2 m wide, so not wider than our SUV. But the rear-view mirror is totally blind, so we can’t see anything happening behind the trailer. It’s not only an obvious problem when you’re reversing: being blind to whatever is behind you is uncomfortable while you’re driving too. At least for us.

I started investigating about rear-view cameras suitable for a trailer or caravan. You have many options on the market. But not so many when it comes to rear-view cameras for a trailer. The main obstacle is the image transmission. It has to be wireless, as there is no reasonable way to pass a wire from the trailer to the inside of the SUV. And there the choice is dramatically reduced.

After reading many reviews, I chose the brand Auto-Vox. The reviews in Amazon and in other webs like eBay and YouTube are very positive. Their systems are P2P digital direct communication, claiming it has a much clearer image and no interference problems with Bluetooth or any other WiFi signals.

I was originally thinking about the TD2 monitor and wireless camera set. The CS2 seems to be very similar too. But both have the WiFi transmitter quite close to the camera, connected to the camera with just 1,4 m cable. This means that the transmitter will stay quite far from the SUV dashboard where the receiving monitor will be placed. Can the cable between the camera and the transmitter be extended?

The simple wiring diagram from Auto Vox. Can the cable between the camera and the power box be extended?

I decided to write to Auto-Vox and ask if there is any possibility to have a longer cable between the camera and the transmitter. And I was nicely surprised as they replied very fast and clear.

First, they recommended to buy the W7 model, as it has a better WiFi reception thanks to the antenna on the monitor. And the monitor is a little bigger with 5”, instead of the 4,3” on the other two mentioned models. The W7 has a price of 120 €, which seemed very reasonable to me, for its quality and features.

The Auto Vox W7 monitor + WiFi rear-view camera.

And second, they told me that I can extend as much as I want the length between the camera and the transmitter using standard rear-view camera’s cable extensions. Having many choices in Amazon. They just warned me to choose a 4-wires cable, as some cameras use 5-wires cables.

Standard 4-wires rear-view camera extension cable.

So, I bought a couple of extension cables of 2,5 m each.

One for the trailer, that combined with the 1,4 m length of the camera cable, will take the transmitter to the front of the trailer, much closer to the towing car, enhancing the WiFi signal.

The second one for the interior of the F-Pace, to have a discrete route for the wire inside the car too, from the monitor to the 12V socket, avoiding annoying cables hanging in front of the dashboard.

I have a clear idea of how to install and wire the rear-view camera system. But I still have a major modification to do in our trailer! And this is to get a 12V power supply for the rear-view camera. And this happens to be a relatively complicated task. Continue reading to know why!

The trailer has a standard lighting system pre-wired by the kit’s manufacturer, ready to be connected to the Jaguar’s modern 13-pins connector. But physically, the trailer’s plug has only eight pins: from 1 to 8; so missing the 9 to 13.

The image of the right shows the empty spaces for the missing pins, marked with a red cross.

What are those five missing pins for? And why are they missing? The pins 9 and 13 are supposed to give permanent 12V from the car’s battery, with 30A capacity. And the 10 and 11 give the 12V too, but only when you ignite the car, with 15A capacity. Pin 12 is a spare, so with no specific use. Using these pins, you may power your fridge, TV, and many other appliances of your caravan. And here is the reason why the connector of our trailer has not these pins: because it’s not a caravan but a much simpler trailer with no appliances. However, it’s a shame that the connector has not the thirteen pins and allow you to connect them all. This cost-reduction philosophy of the lightning system’s manufacturer was not the best for us this time!

Standard color code and pin number chart for 13-pins connectors.

The 8-pins of the trailer’s lightning system are divided in two 4-wires cables, one for each side of the trailer.

The situation implies that we must change the trailer connector and put a new one, with all thirteen pins, and rewire the trailer lightning system into it. To do so, we buy a good quality 13-pins connector for 10 €. So, it’s not an expensive item.

The 13-pins connector is not an expensive item. Better spend few more Euros and get the best quality one!

And then a 13-wires cable (23 €) and a high resistance PVC junction box (14 €), IP66 with one inlet and three outlets, all with their corresponding cable gland, to rewire the trailer lightning system and add a third cable to bring the 12V to the trailer’s rear-view camera system.

The junction box and the 13-wires cable (not all shown in this picture).

After we receive all items, the works commence!

I start working on the 13-pins connector. Apparently, it’s a simple task. But the thirteen wires of the cable are relatively thin. In fact, all the cables of the trailer’s lightning system are very thin too. I can’t imagine using the thin cables corresponding to the 9-13 and the 10-11 to connect 30A and 15A appliances respectively. No way these thin cables can stand such a high amperage! However, I pretend to connect a rear-view camera, consuming ridiculous current, so this won’t be an issue this time.

Because the cables are very thin, I decide to use wire copper crimp connectors to make the task a little bit easier. The tools needed are very simple: cutter, pliers, small screwdriver…

Few simple tools are needed.

The result is really good thanks to these crimp connectors.

The new 13-pins connector.

Despite most of the cables have the appropriate color code as per standard international specifications, some do not. To avoid errors, I decide to put cable markers with the corresponding pin number on each one. And then I work on the junction box and do the same job, but connecting the cables to a standard terminal block.

The junction box with the wires and the terminal blocks.

As final modification, I had to slightly increase the diameter of the inlet cable gland hole in the junction box, to fit a larger cable gland, because the 13 wires cable is too large for the smaller cable gland that came with the box. An easy task with the Dremel.

Now the 13-pins cable set, made of the 13-pins connector, the 13-wires cable and the junction box are ready to be installed on the trailer’s tongue!

Time to go downstairs to the garage, and work on the trailer to install everything! I know it’s going to be long and complicated at some points. So, I ask my father to help me again. Two engineers, better than just one, will always work better and faster and solve any challenge wisely! This is why I talk as “we” again, because most of the following work was achieved with the excellent help of my father.

To fix the junction box, we use as a base a stainless-steel perforated plate, bended in U-shape and riveted to the right arm of the trailer’s tongue.

Detail of the junction box, fixed to the trailer’s tongue right hand-side arm.

We do all the necessary connections to the junction box, so the lightning system works again at its best.

And we take a third 2-wires cable, connected to the 10 and 11 pins, so to the 12V given with the ignition of the towing car. We decided to use this power supply for the camera, active while the car is running, so we have a permanent image of the back of the trailer while driving. Most of the people would connect the rear-view camera power supply to the reverse light circuit, so they get the image only while reversing. But we prefer to have the camera permanently active to see at all time what’s happening behind us, as a rear-view mirror. We believe is a more convenient configuration.

This is how we have run the cable from the junction box to the rear-view camera. The run of the cables is marked in red color for you to have a better understanding.

We get out of the junction box with the 2-wires cable and run it parallel with the right-hand side lightning cable, getting into the right arm of the trailer’s tongue.

The route from the junction box of the 12V power supply for the camera, marked with the red line.

Both cables run inside the right hand-side arm of the tongue until the tilting axle of the platform just in front of the front wheels’ axle. Then run to the side of the platform and come back towards the front until the front right corner of the platform. There the camera power cable runs alone up inside the square steel tube to the upper part of the structure.

View of the cable’s route, below the platform.

Here you can see a couple of details under the platform. The cables are fixed with tape and nylon straps to the inside edge of the platform, to make sure they don’t fall while driving and get damaged. To do this installation, crawling under the trailer and drilling down there was necessary. Not a very pleasant job, but worthy as the result is the wisest and cleanest installation.

Crawling under the platform was not the most pleasant task…
Detail of the spot where I drill, to accesss the inside of vertical square steel tube of the canvas structure.

After climbing up inside the square steel tube, then running horizontally inside this same tube, the 2-wires cables exits the tube to reach the connection box to the camera power device.

The route is not so simple. But it’s the proper way to do it

We put a grommet where the cable gets out of the square steel tube, to avoid its sheath to get damaged by the sharp edges of the hole we drilled.

Detail of the 12V power cable exit from the square steel tube.

Once we got there, we install a simple waterproof small junction box, to put inside the camera power box. This little box is very simple, and as it’s placed in the shade inside the trailer, under the waterproof canvas, it shouldn’t make any problem.

From this box we take out the very thin power cables that connect to the transmitter. As you can see in the next picture, the transmitter is placed under the square steel bar at the very front of the trailer, and also protected in the shade and from the rain under the canvas. This is the closest we can get to the towing vehicle, having the transmitter protected from the rain and UV rays that would damage it.

View of the small junction box with the camera’s power box inside, and the transmitter.

From there the task gets simpler. Just six more drills on the metal structure to pass through the square steel bars and get to the camera at the rear of the trailer, using one of the extensions cables we purchased. All cables are protected inside rectangular plastic conduits, secured to the steel structure using double sided tape and reinforced with some rivets.

Once we’re up there, the route is much simpler.

Here are a couple of pictures of the rear-view camera before putting the canvas back on the trailer. As you can see, it’s a typical small rear-view camera, stuck to the square bar with a 3M double sided tape and secured with a screw to the steel bar.

Detail of the back screw securing the camera.

We put a small plastic cover over it to protect it from direct rain, the sun, and the water flowing backwards from the top of the canvas while driving.

The camera and its little plastic hood.

It’s quite a good camera. It’s IP68, has 5 lenses, works with only 0,1 lux and the whole system is good to work from -20ºC to 65ºC (-4ºF to 149ºF). And it has a decent 110º vision angle.

As you can see, we put the camera on the top of the trailer, below the last square bar of the canvas structure. This is quite a high position, but the choice was to put it there or very low between the plates, just 50 cm above ground. This last option was really too low, and as we’re looking for a view similar to a rear-view mirror, the upper position was clearly the very best choice.

With the canvas on, we had to cut a small square hole for the camera and its little protection hood. The result is very discrete.

The camera is quite discrete with the canvas on.

We hope that the white strap won’t bother while driving. But if it does, a simple Velcro will fix it out of the camera vision angle.

If it gets into the vision of the camera, we’ll fix this strap with a Velcro.

The works on the trailer are finished! And we have connected the 13-pins connector to the Jaguar, and everything works! The lightning system of the trailer works fine, and the camera is powered as soon as we start the engine. We are very happy and proud of the job we’ve done. It took us one day and a half of crawling under the trailer platform, drilling steel, fighting with the cables to pass them through the inside of the trailer arm and the square steel bars, etc. But all ended properly, with the classic small injuries: some scratches here and there, a little cut with the cutter in a thumb, bump on the head when hit under the trailer…

Now it’s time to do the easiest job, which is hiding the extension cable for the monitor inside the F-Pace. I’m trying my best to hide the cable running from the 12V socket to the monitor, as I hate having annoying cables hanging around in front of the dashboard. I know… I’m a little maniac and a perfectionist. I admit it. But if I’ll drive the car for hundreds of kilometers towing the trailer, so with the rear-view monitor on the dashboard, I really don’t want to have these cables hanging around.

Let’s start from the 12V power socket. I chose to use one of the two available ones between at the rear console, between the rear seats.

We have two 12V sockets in the rear centre console.

When we’ll be towing the trailer, so using the rear-view camera, I will connect there the power connector of the monitor, as shown in the picture here below.

The cable is highlighted in red so you can see it better.

The extension cable is the one that will remain permanently installed and hidden inside the car. In this rear area it runs below the passenger carpet. I tried to find a better place, but as the seats of the car are electric, there is no room at all below them to pass the cable in a more discrete way. Obviously, when the monitor is not in use, its power source will not be there and the extension cable will be totally hidden below the small carpet, out of sight.

When the monitor will be connected, the cables in this back area can be partially hidden under the plastic molds of the central console, and just a little portion of the extension cable can be seen. If we have a passenger in the rear, I hope he won’t damage the cable with his shoes.

The rear route of the cable.

From the back, the route to the front of the dashboard happens to be very easy. The extension cable is hidden below the molds of the driver’s door side. The cable there is fully protected by the hard-plastic molds, so no risk of being damaged while getting in and out of the car.

Up to the dashboard, the route is perfect. The cable is hidden and fully protected.

Once on the upper part, left side of the dashboard, the route is easy again. I couldn’t insert the cable between the dashboard and the side pillar without forcing it too much, so I prefer to leave it there, a little bit pinched between the two pieces so it doesn’t move.

And as once at the windshield, the cable drops behind the dashboard, I put a simple black lanyard for an easier recovery when needed.

I put a little black lanyard to the cable connector, to pick it easier from behind the dashboard.

Unless you have a true detective eye, the only noticeable thing on the dashboard is the small black lanyard.

Once the monitor is connected, the cable is hidden between the dashboard and the windshield.

When everything is in place, and the monitor connected, the whole installation is very discrete. It’s really hard to notice the extension cable in the few zones where it’s visible.

The 5” monitor is placed just over the dashboard, fixed to the windshield via a suction cup. The soft part of the suction cup is really sticky. I don’t know which material is it, but it really gets like glued to the glass and looks like very reliable and like it won’t move at all even in the longest journeys.

The position is low enough, so the monitor does not interfere with the normal vision ahead of the car. In fact, for a driver my size, it only hides a small part of the bonnet, but not the road.

Good location for the monitor. The driver sees it and it doesn’t hide any section of your view on the road.

When the trailer is connected, and the engine is running, the 12V power installation we’ve done on the trailer immediately switches on the camera transmitter. The signal is strong enough to connect with the monitor on the dashboard. The connection doesn’t seem to hesitate or be weak in any way but totally the opposite. So, good news. It seems that this Auto Vox W7 is a really good product and works perfectly with our trailer + SUV configuration.

The image quality is good enought to see clearly what’s happening behind us.

And being honest, the image quality is good, not as good as our standard rear-view camera on the F-Pace, but at least we have a clear image of everything happening behind our trailer now.

Hangar works #15 – LED lights inside the trailer

We are very happy with our new trailer. We specifically designed this platform to carry our 3-Wheeler and considering that it must be parked inside our garage. If you’re curious about our trailer, our post “Fighters and bombers #2 – The trailer”, in the Fighters and bombers section contains all the details.

Our nice looking trailer with its green canvas on.

But as it always happens, there are aspects that can be improved and useful accessories that can be added.

The first example are the LED lamps we installed inside. The inside of the trailer is very dark, because the canvas is made of a green PVC fabric, totally waterproof. And consequently, doesn’t allow a single ray of light to get inside.

With the canvas on, and the side door closed, the inside is very dark.

This problem was easily solved, fixing six LED lights inside. They are simple lamps, designed to illuminate closets, small rooms or the boot of the car. They are powered with four AAA batteries and have a motion sensor that switches them on every time we get in and out the trailer. They also have the classic switch selector, so you can switch them on permanently if you’re staying inside the trailer for whatever reason, or turn them off, as a classic lamp, instead of using the motion sensor. We got them in Amazon for 15 € the pair.

They have a couple of magnets, so they stick to the steel structure of the canvas. But the magnets are not powerful enough to avoid them falling if you take a road bump. So, we have secured them with a couple of Velcro straps, and now they stay safely in place.

The six lamps marked with the red circles.

The lamps are powerful enough to allow you seeing the inside. We consider them a safety accessorize more than a luxury one. Simple, easy and practical; the perfect combination.

The six LED lamps do a pretty nice job.

A useful accessorize and so easy to install! It really makes a difference!

Fighters and bombers #4 – The Range Rover

  • Model – Range Rover Vogue SE
  • Year of manufacture – 1988
  • Engine – V8, 3.5 l EFI petrol – 163 bhp / 279 Nm
  • 4-Speed ZF automatic gearbox
  • Performance : 0-100 km/h in 12 s
  • Top speed : 170 km/h

The story of this “bomber” is a nice one! How did we ended up owning a 1988 Range Rover? Well, this car was purchased by a family of friends in 1988. By then, a Range Rover Vogue SE with the V8 3.5 l EFI petrol engine and the 4-Speed automatic ZF gearbox was the summit of the 4×4.

Beautiful 4×4 beast

Ana Maria came to Madrid in 1998 to do a master’s degree. Coming from Guatemala, she was used to drive large 4×4 cars, American style, so when she was offered by these friends to buy their Range Rover in 2001 she thought it was a nice opportunity. It was never used off-road, and as Madrid is such a dry area the car was neat with zero rust. It was in excellent conditions. And driving such a huge 4×4 in the busy city of Madrid – huge for us, remember this is Europe – was comfortable for her.

Few years later we got married, and the Range Rover stayed with us until today. For years, we didn’t use it on a daily basis, but it was always there in the garage, ready to roar every time we needed it.

It was in 2018 that we decided to do something. We couldn’t keep this big car in the garage and just let it get older without some special care. As these classic Range Rovers are more and more appreciated, we took the big decision to restore it. And it was a full restoration. New leather upholstery, body, engine, etc. Look how it shines today!

The interior was totally renewed with excellent Nappa leather.
The wood is a real massive piece!
During the restoration we paid special attention to all details.

This “bomber” is now looking pristine again and runs smoother than ever.

Shining like new! Who would say it has now 32 years?

We love it, and we believe it’s a great value vintage car. However, as we don’t use it that much anymore, we decided to put it for sale. Anyone interested? Don’t hesitate to contact us and ask!

Fighters and bombers #3 – The Jaguar F-Pace

  • Model – Jaguar F-Pace S
  • Year of manufacture – 2016
  • Engine – V6, 3.0 l biturbo diesel – 300 bhp / 700 Nm
  • 8-Speed automatic gearbox
  • Performance : 0-100 km/h in 6,4 s
  • Top speed : 241 km/h

Since June 2016, our day-to-day car is the Jaguar F-Pace. We changed from the classic sedan (the Jaguar XJ) to the SUV concept looking for practicability.

We looked for a car with a large boot, 4×4 if possible, and that could be equipped with a towing ball.

Coming from a Jaguar XJ, and being extremely satisfied with the brand, we thought of the F-Pace as a natural successor for the XJ.

So, the brand-new F-Pace was our choice. In Dark Sapphire Blue and Brogue leather interior with satin Burl Ash wood trim.

We heavily equipped this machine, with 22” rims, sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, memory pack, adaptive cruise control, blind spot assist, high-speed emergency braking, 360º surround cameras, park assist, head-up display and all the possible gadgets on the list. The result is a super-fast “bomber” excellent for long distance journeys. And its incredible torque and power makes it an excellent partner for towing the trailer with the 3-Wheeler in it.

Since June 2016 that the F-Pace “bomber” was delivered, until the day we’re writing these lines (August 2020) we never had a single problem with this car. Still extremely satisfied with Jaguar!

Fighters and bombers #2 – The trailer

The Morgan 3-Wheeler is a fantastic vehicle. It’s light, fun, fast, and designed to enjoy driving. However, as we have already pointed out in other posts, it has some particularities to consider if you plan to travel with it.

Limitations such as the luggage space are solved by the 3-Wheeler travelers in one way or another. You also must consider that you are driving an open vehicle, so, like on a motorbike, you’re exposed to the weather conditions. Sun, rain, wind, kamikaze insects smashing your forehead, etc. Having an intercom to talk to your partner is also important. And depending on the distances you will drive, the fuel range is to be studied with care too, to avoid finding yourself in the middle of a desertic road with an empty tank.

The truth is that you can travel as far as you want in your 3-Wheeler, once you assume the above-mentioned characteristics, and plan your trip accordingly.

Then, why buying a trailer for the 3-Wheeler? Ana Maria and I discussed about it and, despite it was an important cost, we decided to buy one for two big reasons.

The first one is that we would like to do some trips with the Morgan that imply exceptionally long road distances. If we want to join our friends for the Jungfrau Treffen in Switzerland, or Le Mans in France, Isle Of Man in the UK, or any other 3-Wheeler event celebrated abroad, we’re talking about many hundreds of kilometers – probably much more than a thousand – from our home base in Madrid. Driving these very long distances, just the two of us in the tiny 3-Wheeler, to join the rest of the gang, can be physical and mentally quite demanding. But if you cover part of this distance sitting comfortably in our SUV, towing the 3-Wheeler in the trailer, and use the 3-Wheeler only the key days, the trip will result globally much more comfortable and feasible.

The second reason is getting the Morgan safely parked inside the protection of the trailer. Because we live in an urbanization with three large apartments’ buildings, and our garage is used by many others. It’s not like we live with vandals in a terrible ghetto, but we are hundreds of people, and statistically you can have few “badge stealing baboons”, or worse. So, keeping the Morgan inside a closed trailer out of sight of these few primates is the best option to avoid displeasures.

With the decision taken, it is time to decide which kind of trailer we want. And this is not a simple task! If you’re planning to tow a trailer with a Morgan 3-Wheeler on it, you have to consider this is no ordinary car. It’s compact, and light. But still weights over 585 kg if you have the Euro4 version. You’ll easily pass the 600 kg with a full fuel tank. If you consider that a good quality trailer, with the characteristics we asked for, weights 725 kg, the sum is way over a ton. A two- axles trailer is, in our opinion, a must.

The 3-Wheeler dimensions (5-Speeder)

So, what’s concerning about the Morgan 3-Wheeler that you can’t simply buy a standard trailer?

First matter: the three wheels

It has three wheels! Oh yes… three wheels. So what? Well, if you check on the Internet, most of the standard trailers for vehicles available have only two narrow ramps for the vehicle to get on the platform! Without a central third ramp, the 3-Wheeler could not be loaded.

So, your trailer needs three ramps. Or, as we chose, a large rear ramp as wide as the trailer. We believe this is the best solution, because a single large ramp that can tilt will act as a door and protection for the back of the trailer.

View of the rear ramp / door.

The second matter: the balance point

The balance point of the 3-Wheeler is very much at the front than in a normal car. The huge S&S V-Twin 2 liters engine is far at the front of the car, followed by the Centa drive, clutch and gearbox just behind it. All this in front of the seats. Behind the seats you only have the bevel box, rear arm and wheel, and the fuel tank, covered with a really light ash wood frame and aluminum body, which do not counterbalance the weight at the front. So, where exactly is the balance point of the 3-Wheeler?

We asked Morgan Motor Company, but unfortunately had no reply. So, it was again our dear colleagues of the Talk Morgan forum who helped us to sort it out. This forum is an inexhaustible source of information, coming from incredibly experienced people. Thanks to them, we can say now that we know exactly where this balance point is!

Oh.. yeah… We know it now!

The location of the balance point on the trailer is absolutely critical. If it’s behind the axles, it can cause the trailer to stray uncontrollably and cause an accident. The following video is a good example of how the weight must be distributed on a trailer.

For this reason, the first thing we consider is to have the Morgan loaded looking forward on the platform. So, the balance point is closer to the tow ball. If we do it the other way round, so loading the 3-Wheeler backwards, and consequently having most of the weight at the end of the trailer, we would need to compensate this by moving backwards the axles. Like it happens when you’re towing a motorboat. It’s feasible, but the axles of your trailer will be far away from your towing ball, and this implies that maneuvering the trailer would be more complicated. The bigger the distance between your trailer axles and the tow ball is, the more space you’ll need while turning; and while reversing, the trailer would be much less reactive. Having the Morgan looking forward is the best technical decision.

Towing the 3-Wheeler looking forward is the best technical option.

Related to the balance point, is the tongue weight on the tow ball. If there is too much weight on the tow ball, the towing car will suffer and behave in an inappropriate way. Too much tongue weight will affect the rear axle and suspensions, the braking, and the steering of the towing car. To avoid excessive tongue weight, we need to place the axles of the trailer in the correct position, so the balance point is between the axles.

Today, most of the four wheeled cars have their balance point really centered. The manufacturers try to position the balance point so the front and rear axles stand each one 50% of the car’s weight. A consequence of this tendency is that the standard trailers offered as vehicle platform have their axle(s) centered in the middle length of the platform. And this is not good if you’re planning to tow a 3-Wheeler! If your axles are in the middle of the platform, and load it looking forward, you’ll have excessive tongue weight on your towing ball. And if you load it looking backwards, you’ll have your trailer swaying uncontrollably.

Considering all the matters mentioned above, we decided to design a specific trailer for the Morgan 3-Wheeler, according to the simple drawing here below.

Knowing that the car’s balance point is well ahead, the ideal position of the axles should be such that the balance point is between them, a little ahead of the center line that separates both axles. With this design, our trailer has a perfect balance. With the 3-Wheeler loaded on it, we can retract the jockey wheel, and the trailer stays perfectly flat. In fact, it’s like a standard trailer, but with the axles moved forward. Not a big challenge for a trailer manufacturer. So, we have a perfect tongue weight and a hyper stable trailer!

Third matter: the dimensions

Another important design characteristic of the trailer is how compact it is. The platform is 3 500 mm long, and, more important, just 2 000 mm wide. Considering that the 3-Weeler is 1 738 mm wide and 3 260 mm long, it is real challenge to build a suitable trailer so compact. We can’t make mistakes and find out that the 3-Wheeler doesn’t fit in once the trailer is manufactured!

About the width – For us it is mandatory that the trailer is not wider than 2 000 mm. We want to park it in our garage, where the parking places are 4,9 x 2,7 m. And our SUV is almost 2 000 mm wide, and we don’t want to tow a trailer wider than the car. The only solution to have a 2 000 mm wide platform and the trailer not being wider than this, is to put the wheels below the platform. But if you use regular size wheels, the platform will be too high. The solution is to use special axles with low diameter wheels: 195/55/10 to be more precise. This size of wheel is not very common, but if your trailer manufacturer is an experienced one, he should be able to offer them. The 10inch rim is the key to success here.

About the length – A 3 500 mm length platform is sufficient for the 3-Wheeler. But obviously the trailer must be longer, as the tongue needs to have a minimum length. The trailer final design has a total length of 4 750 mm, with 3 500 mm of platform. Which is a very reasonable length! And it fits within the garage place.

The trailer fits in perfectly!
Perfect length. The trailer stays inside the limits of the garage place.

Fourth matter: the loading and unloading

As we put the wheels below the platform, and despite the wheels are special small diameter ones, the platform is relatively high, at 600 mm above ground. We could have designed the trailer with a lower platform, but then the wheels would be external to the platform, increasing the width by no less than 400 mm! So, the trailer would have be of 2 400 mm width, which is really a lot, and much wider than a regular SUV with the annoying consequences for driving.

The problem is that the breakover and departure angles of the 3-Wheeler are not particularly good because the car is very low. The approach angle is totally the opposite: the best possible as the front wheels are the very front of the vehicle. So, the 3-Wheeler has simply no front overhang, and the rear one despite being short has the mentioned disadvantage of being extremely low. Then, if we just drop the back door / ramp, the angles of this ramp with the floor and with the platform could be such that the 3-Wheeler would rub its rear end and its belly while being loaded and unloaded from the trailer.

How can we solve this problem? With a tilting platform. Again, if your trailer’s manufacturer is a good one, this will not be a challenge at all. You can see in the following pictures how the platform tilts and makes a smooth loading ramp for the Morgan.

Best solution is a tilting platform.
Here you can see the trailer with the platform flat, and the angles of the rear ramp.
When the platform is tilted, it’s perfectly aligned with the ramp / rear door. So the angles are minimum and the 3-Wheeler doesn’t rub anywhere.

If necessary, the platform can be fully tilted, so the back of the trailer rests on the ground and supports the weight of the Morgan when it gets in and out. However, this is not really necessary if the trailer is hooked to a towing ball (so to the towing car) or, as in our case, to a towing ball screwed to the garage wall. With the trailer fixed to the wall’s towing ball, the whole doesn’t move or tries to tilt at all when we get in and out with the Morgan.

Here is a detail of the front part of the trailer, with the tongue hooked to the wall’s towing ball, the jockey wheel (red handle), the hand brake, the manual winch (blue device) and tilting system (green devide).

Detailed view of the tongue of the trailer with its accessories.

Also, in this same picture you may notice a couple of safety devices included in our trailer. One is mandatory, due to the weight of the load: the overrun brake. It actuates on both axles. The other one is the ball coupling with anti-sway damping. Safety first!

Fifth matter: the hood

We looked at the different choices to convert the platform into a closed trailer. One option is to have a full molded polyester hood. It’s solid and the wind will flow smoother on it than on a classic canvas. This kind of polyester hood is normally fixed at the front to the platform, and then tilts so its rear end opens enough to allow the car loading. As in the next picture.

Polyester rigid hood.

But as you can also see in the above picture, this kind of hood needs a lot of height to be fully open. Unfortunately, our garage is limited to 2,25 m height. So, a rigid hood is not an option for us. We looked at other rigid options, with back doors for example. But the solution was not totally satisfactory for our need. After some exchange of ideas, we decide to go for a classic steel tubes structure with a canvas over it.

Another requirement for us was to limit the height of the trailer to minimize its impact on aerodynamics while being towed. So, the trailer with the structure should not be higher than 1 800 mm. As the platform is at 600 mm height, this let us 1 200 mm height inside the trailer. This is high enough for the 3-Wheeler and leaves the total trailer height below the 1 800 mm limit we decided.

We finally came out with the following design drawing.

Trailer’s hood design.

Here you have some pictures of how the structure looks like, so with the trailer without the canvas on.

Before installing the canvas.
On this side you can appreciate the sliding door structure.

We’re happy to say that the 1 200 mm inside height is perfect! I am 1,82 m tall, and I can drive the 3-Wheeler inside the trailer without hitting my forehead with the structure. So good enough! But what happens when the driver is inside the trailer, and needs to get in or out the Morgan? This can be really uncomfortable! To solve this problem, we designed a sliding door on the trailer’s pilot side. This is a part of the steel structure that slides forward, and a driver’s side hood door with zippers is provided covering the side and half the width of the roof so that the driver can enter and exit the vehicle by standing up. The driver’s area starts at about 1 300 mm from the nose of the 3-Wheeler and is about 1 100 mm long, so we completed the design drawing with this other one for the trailer’s manufacturer.

Perfect door / opening location.

This is how it looks like. The result is excellent!

With the canvas closed.
With the canvas open and the sliding door too.
The access top the pilot side of the 3-Wheeler is perfect.

Here are different pictures of the view you have when you’re loading the 3-Wheeler into the trailer.

Ready to get in!
And inside!

To help the maneuver we have installed six LED lamps inside. They’re powered with standard AAA batteries and have a motion sensor, so they switch on when you’re in.

We put six LED lights with motion sensor inside.

We can finally have our 3-Wheeler parked inside the trailer, totally protected against dirt and the famous “badge stealing baboons”! Plus having it hooked to the towing ball screwed to the concrete wall, and with the coupling lock, it’s impossible to move it.

Fixed and secured!

As a résumé, the main characteristics of the trailer are as follows:

Materials:

  • Chassis, structure, and canvas frame: hot dipped galvanized steel
  • Floor and back ramp / door: flat hole plated

Dimensions:

  • Platform length 3 500 mm
  • Platform width 2 000 mm
  • Platform height from ground 600 mm
  • Back door ramp / door 2 000 mm x 1 100 mm
  • Total trailer length 4 750 mm
  • Canvas structure height / height inside the trailer 1 200 mm
  • Total trailer height with canvas 1 800 mm

Axles:

  • Two 900 kg axles with 195/55/10” special wheels
  • Wheels below platform
  • Hand brake on both axles
  • Overrun brake on both axles

Others:

  • Safety coupling
  • Safety lock for coupling
  • Anti-sway damping device
  • Safety cable
  • Semi-automatic jockey wheel
  • 13-pin electric connector
  • LED lights
  • Adjustable wheel stops
  • Manual cable winch
  • Manual platform tilting device
  • Tools box with key lock

If anyone wants more information about the design and manufacture of our trailer, feel free to ask!