I do not like wasting time and motion.
It’s infuriating to see carpenters and tradesmen spinning their wheels and burning money with trucks and trailers that are a mess. It’s bad for profitability. It’s bad for marketing. It’s bad for customer’s faith in your abilities.
It’s bad. (If you just want to see photos of the trailer, click through the slideshow).
What’s good is a theme that has served me well: Get organized and stay that way. Make it a priority. That said, we all have different specialties and customers and parking situations, but the overall view here is to get a handle on entropy—a natural tendency to become disorganized.
For where I work, a truck and trailer setup is best, and I’ve dialed mine to do maximum work for me—and by maximum, I mean: It doesn’t just save time and money but it earns it.
I’ve gotten jobs from customers noticing this trailer and how tuned in it is. OK, let’s get into it.
My trailer is a tandem axle 7 x 14-foot V-nose with an additional 6 inches of interior height. It has one side-entry door and a fold-down rear door with bar locks. I have added 1-inch insulating foam to the ceiling and covered that with ¼-inch lauan plywood for a nice finish. The interior walls are 3/8-inch sanded plywood from the factory.
I have custom built shelves and compartments for each of my tools. Drawers, bins, peg hooks, and shelving for all of my consumables as well as a work bench in the V-nose portion of the trailer. This beats the tar out of rummaging through piles and boxes and sifting through shelves all hunched over in a van or on-site gang box.
The entire trailer is wired for 120-volt electrical outlets and lights, which can be energized by plugging in to the male plug mounted on the tongue. One connection and all of my corded tools and battery chargers are energized. I’ve also installed a 12-volt DC system that has LED lights available when I don’t have house power and need to retrieve something from the trailer. The 12-volt system is charged via a 100-watt, roof-mounted solar panel. The panel is controlled with a charge-controller that will also charge cellphones.
The 12-volt system also feeds a thermostatically controlled vent fan mounted on the ceiling to keep air circulating during the warmer months (I’m in Georgia; it gets warm) as well as powering a GPS tracking system. An additional trickle charger is attached to the on-board battery to help maintain the 12-volt deep-cycle battery.
The air system is plumbed in and connects to my compressor with multiple quick connects for ease of use without having to set up a tank. I have a built-in storage area for a limited supply of wood and my portable workbench.
The exterior is a bright yellow for high visibility and has my company branding and website contact information.
It’s the nexus of every job I do. I know where everything is and I waste zero time setting things up. And if your work trailer is neat, you’re telling everybody who drives by and sees it that you’ll be neat inside their homes. It’s a powerful, money-making message.
This article originally appeared in Tools of the Trade.