With our trailer looking worse for wear, the team decided it was time for a refresh and took to the task of re-cladding the tired frame. The first day began with emptying the trailer of its contents such as speakers/lights/wiring/tools, followed by removing the old cladding which was made up of metal sheets and wooden panels. Once down to a skeleton the true condition of the trailer was revealed. While the amount of surface rust was more than expected our enthusiasm was unwavering and we spent the rest of the day using angle grinders and paint stripper discs to prep the metal for rust converter.
The second day went ahead as planned with the rust converter and Cold Galv going on without any hiccups. The rest of the painting, except for the doors, was finished the following day leaving us happy with the result.
With the majority of painting now done, the next few days were filled with cutting out rotting floor panels and wiring while waiting for the cladding to arrive, this time was also used to finish painting the doors.
Early next week the cladding arrived and as soon as the weekend came we began cutting it to shape and applying. With not much experience of cladding trailers the first hour or two provided us with a few teething issues as we figured out the best tools and processes to approach the task. The process we chose was to cut the cladding with a jigsaw and then use adhesive/sealant along with rivets, a task which required a lot of hands to line up the panels flush. It was a good decision, the team flew through it and by the weekends close the trailer was fully clad.
We had noticed that as the previous trailer aged and was exposed to rain, water sat in the plywood which then rotted and accelerated the oxidation of the metal. A benefit of using this new composite cladding is that it removes the need for the plywood layer between the sheet of aluminium and the steel trailer frame, it also results in the trailer being much lighter.
With the new cladding applied we found ourselves at a standstill until the next weekend came around and we could begin applying flashings. We used our free time completing the small jobs such as the trailer’s interior appliances, electrical wiring and other hardware/tools such as the workbench and bench vices.
Applying the flashing was yet another learning curve for the team with a few peculiar angles needing to be cut. The application itself, from start to finish, only took 3 days and was completed by using double sided foam tape and sealant. This made for easy application and a watertight seal, which is important to have if we want the trailer to withstand the teams’ heavy use over the next few years.
Other improvements we made to the trailer were drip rails above both the side door and the rear door to prevent water dripping inside the trailer. The brackets and fittings for the rear door bar were treated with a coat of Cold Galv and black paint, both for aesthetic appeal and rust protection.
The last few touches needed included applying sealant to fill any gaps between the flashing and obtain an updated WOF and registration.
With a large number of hours invested in the rebuild we finally got to see the finished product which was completed just in time to be used for the driver selection trials. Although the rebuild was a messy and labour intensive job, the team were totally committed and no matter how big, small or dirty the jobs were everyone working on the project showed great enthusiasm. The trailer is looking near new and we are really proud of the end product. The hours put in were definitely worth it and this trailer and its history will continue being part of the UoA FSAE team for more years to come.
If you're interested in seeing more check out our gallery of the process.