I visited the fine folks at Freeway Trailer Sales in Milton, WA. Collin Scioli assisted me with the questions I had and I walked away with more information than I anticipated. Collin is a great resource and I will be returning to ask him more questions as the project progresses.
I looked at the three styles of trailer that would be appropriate to start with for my Passive Bunkhouse project. A flatbed that was within the fenders of the trailer, one that was above the wheels, and a flatbed fifth wheel. Each has its pros and cons.
The flatbed with the fender is lower to the ground and would afford me the ability to have more height for my trailer. This also gives me a better center of gravity for travelling with. The negative of this is having to work around the wheel wells and being limited to a 8’ width instead of 8.5” for the deck.
The flatbed above the wheels would have one smooth surface to build on without having to work around the wheels, but I would lose about 2 feet in height that I could use inside the trailer. The center of gravity would also be taller with this configuration and that could make the handling of the trailer in motion more difficult.
The final style was designed for a fifth wheel. The gooseneck configuration moves the trailer weight center of gravity so that you can actually tow a larger load. The design of the trailer would have to work on more than one level with this design and that could be awkward if you can’t easily climb around inside.
My instinct was to go with the flatbed that would require working around the wheel wells so that I could gain additional space inside the trailer. I also wouldn’t have to climb so high to gain access to the trailer and my old knees think that is a great idea.
Now for the extra bonus info that Collin was able to share with me: 2 local High Schools have made projects using trailers and would be additional resources for my project. Lincoln High School in Tacoma built a tiny house on a trailer, and I have sent their instructor a note asking for lessons learned on that project. The NorthShore School district SEDLabs (Sustainable Engineering and Design) built a trailer to promote Sustainable Education which we are trying to do with these projects as well. You can visit their website at: http://sedlabs.org/mobile-lab/ Additionally Western University in Bellingham is exploring ways to make wall structures out of recycled plastic bottles that litter Haiti after their earthquake. I have contacted the instructor about the possibility of that material also being a cladding for the trailer. I’ll post an update when I hear from her. That would be something to look into since the weight would be significantly less. You can read about the plastic bottle project here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/01/23/2363121/wwu-students-working-to-help-haitians.html
I am always open to hearing about someone’s sustainable project and looking for ways to incorporate new ideas or technologies into what I am doing. If you know of a project or have an idea that you would like to share I would love to hear it! Just post a comment to the blog posting and I will get it.
Up Next – What does Washington State Require for being able to license a home built recreational vehicle.