|The MGA With An Attitude
Luggage trailers for small cars and towing information - TH-101
CHIPMONK LIL CHIP - 22 Cubic Foot Fiberglass Box
At 09:45 PM 11/13/01 -0700, Larry Hoy wrote:
>OK guys and gals, I'm surprised Barney hasn't stepped in here yet.
>Barney must be the "king" of trailer towing. I would guess he has
>more trailer towing miles on his MGA than anyone else.
>Barney, ya out there?
Yeah, I be here (most of the time). And Larry's right about me trailering with the MGA. Since I restored the car (the first time) I have put 180,000+ miles on this car (since restoration) and 96,000+ miles on this trailer.
This one is just a bit larger than most motorcycle trailers and happily carries suitcases, tools, parts, case of oil, ice chest and camping gear for a month (or two). Alternately it carries a full set of race tires, air tank, helmet, and camping gear for a weekend. It has 22 cubic feet of space and is low enough to see over the top with the dash mirror. The box is fiberglass construction with toggle latches on the hinged lift up cover, and rugged enough to take a side impact with a guard rail and a rollover with only a few cracks and scratches (don't ask). It also has tie down rails on top, which can be very usefull on rare occasion, like bringing home an extra set of race tires. Empty weight was listed as 150 pounds, but I have never bothered to weigh it. It seems very light and is easy to move around with one hand when empty, and not difficult to move by hand even when loaded. Rated load capacity is 1080 pounds GVW, or about 930 pounds of cargo. I seldom ever have it loaded to more than about 550 pounds gross. Except for a some reduction in accelleration and a few more feet of stopping distance (and a little extra fuel consumption), you would hardly know your towing it with a LBC. It is a welcome and very mild mannered companion on a long trip.
Of course the bad new is that you can't buy one new, and used ones are scarcer than Twin Cam engines. The manufacturer of any of these things is fondly known as "Fly By Night Trailer Company", and will probably be in the business for only a couple or years. Most production starts with someone making one for themself, then trying to produce and sell them to recoupe the tooling cost and maybe make a little extra cash. The end comes rather quickly when they discover that there is a very limited market, and the maker's liability insurance is prohibitively expensive.
I bought this one in the spring of '89 in preparation for a six week road trip. I was searching for two months for something appropriate and coming up dry. I had collected four trailer ad brochures from motorcycle shops, tried to call all of the companies, and they were all out of the trailer business before I called. I checked with several rental agencies, but the smallest trailers in the rental fleets were too large for my use. While I was asking one rental agency for the name of their trailer supplier, I happened to spot this trailer at the side of the building. On inquiry the manager said, "Oh we don't rent those. You would have to buy that one." .... Oh? .... For $650 (plus a few accessories and tax, title and license) it was mine, all mine! They also made one nearly identical but 8" taller for increased volume, typically pictured attached to the back of a mini van. The manufacturer's name was Chipmonk Trailer Company, the taller model is the "Chipmonk", and the smaller one I have is the "Lil Chip". And there was an open flat bed model with expanded sheet steel floor, a little wider and longer (no fiberglass), suitable for hauling a large snowmobile or such. I don't recall the model name of the flat one, maybe "Road Kill"?
Less than a year later a friend was wanting one, but by that time this source had also gone out of business. A few years ago I happened to see another one identical to mine, also being used to haul autocross tires. The owner of that one said he bought it used for $300 (a very fortunate fellow).
The Coleman tag-along trailer (no longer produced, and I don't recall the exact model name) was a little wider and longer, shallower in inside height, a little larger volume, but I don't know if a full size ice chest would fit into the vertical space. The box on that one was a moulded plastic clam shell with the cover being nearly half of the total height of the box, and mostly flat on top. The box is not strong enough to handle much of anything on top. The good news is, I think there were more of these made, so you may have a reasonable chance of finding a used one. By comparison to mine, this model has the appearance of being rather large for towing behind a LBC, but it may actually be a tad lighter when empty.