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  1. #1
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
    Location
    Alvin, TX
    Posts
    393

    Rocket Ground Support Trailer Build Thread

    Well, my collection of rocket "stuff" has out grown the bed of my pickup truck. In an attempt to gain more storage space, a nifty mission control area and a place for the wife and kids to get out of the Texas heat, I have opted to build out a rocket trailer. I am starting with a Wells Cargo 7' x 20' box trailer with loading ramp. I went with a 7' wide trailer so side visibility during hauling wouldn't be an issue. I chose the 20' length so I could completely assemble my rocket in the trailer on a nice large, flat surface. In addition to the rocket work space the 20' length gives me a bit extra for a rocket "lounge".

    FYI, you won't find a 7' x 20' on the Wells Cargo website, but they are more than happy to build one for you. If you are in the Texas area I highly recommend Guthrie trailers in Waco, TX, awesome customer service and a very good price.


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
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    Alvin, TX
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    393
    Here is what I am starting with, picture attached. The idea is to populate the trailer with some storage, benches, seating, AC and a generator.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
    Location
    Stafford VA
    Posts
    7,043
    I didn't see the front hitch area, is there room for propane bottles? I would suggest a propane powered generator like used in RVs. You can probably put it in a sealed box with exterior access. That way it will be quieter inside and it can be hard wired to outlets, the AC unit, and a battery charger to keep the 12VDC battery charged so its electric start will always work. A roof top RV AC unit and you are all set. You might want to go with all 12VDC lighting inside. That way you can get lights inside without having to fire up the generator. Of course, with the propane supply and 12VDC, you could add an RV refrigerator/freezer so the wife and kids can have a cold beverage in the Texas heat too. It also keeps the barley pop and steak cold for the after launch relaxation time.

    If you can find a good RV dealer in your area, they can supply a lot of the parts and advice on how to set it up.
    Handeman

    TRA #09903 L3 3/29/2015

    "If you don't use your head, you have to use your feet!" my Dad

    Tripoli Central Virginia #25 - BattlePark.org

  4. #4
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
    Location
    Alvin, TX
    Posts
    393
    Quote Originally Posted by Handeman View Post
    I didn't see the front hitch area, is there room for propane bottles? I would suggest a propane powered generator like used in RVs. You can probably put it in a sealed box with exterior access. That way it will be quieter inside and it can be hard wired to outlets, the AC unit, and a battery charger to keep the 12VDC battery charged so its electric start will always work. A roof top RV AC unit and you are all set. You might want to go with all 12VDC lighting inside. That way you can get lights inside without having to fire up the generator. Of course, with the propane supply and 12VDC, you could add an RV refrigerator/freezer so the wife and kids can have a cold beverage in the Texas heat too. It also keeps the barley pop and steak cold for the after launch relaxation time.

    If you can find a good RV dealer in your area, they can supply a lot of the parts and advice on how to set it up.
    I am interested in your preference for propane over gasoline, can you explain more?


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  5. #5
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
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    Stafford VA
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    The choice of propane over gasoline come from my idea of what a trailer should be. I've had a RV travel trailer for over 15 years. I can't imagine a trailer without a queen sized bed, furnace, hot water heater, refrigerator/freezer, and stove/oven. Other than the bed, all of those run off propane. AC still needs 120VAC @ 15A. It just makes sense to me to use the same fuel for all the appliances and a generator.

    Like I said, my idea of a perfect rocket trailer would be a "toy hauler" RV trailer with a generator. I understand that you've bought the trailer already and it's not an RV. The question is, what else do you want in the trailer? It's all about the budget. If you want to put a propane frig/freezer in the trailer, then being able run the generator and other appliances off propane might be worth it. If all you will use the generator for is AC while at a launch, then a gasoline generator that you can use in other places might be the best bet.
    Handeman

    TRA #09903 L3 3/29/2015

    "If you don't use your head, you have to use your feet!" my Dad

    Tripoli Central Virginia #25 - BattlePark.org

  6. #6
    Join Date
    29th January 2009
    Location
    Fairview TX
    Posts
    131
    I have consider this many times. I can
    Last edited by jaz; 25th February 2015 at 03:44 AM.
    3 as of March 2011

    Motors flown for 2014
    1 h

  7. #7
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
    Location
    Alvin, TX
    Posts
    393
    Quote Originally Posted by Handeman View Post
    The choice of propane over gasoline come from my idea of what a trailer should be. I've had a RV travel trailer for over 15 years. I can't imagine a trailer without a queen sized bed, furnace, hot water heater, refrigerator/freezer, and stove/oven. Other than the bed, all of those run off propane. AC still needs 120VAC @ 15A. It just makes sense to me to use the same fuel for all the appliances and a generator.

    Like I said, my idea of a perfect rocket trailer would be a "toy hauler" RV trailer with a generator. I understand that you've bought the trailer already and it's not an RV. The question is, what else do you want in the trailer? It's all about the budget. If you want to put a propane frig/freezer in the trailer, then being able run the generator and other appliances off propane might be worth it. If all you will use the generator for is AC while at a launch, then a gasoline generator that you can use in other places might be the best bet.
    We plan to haul this trailer behind a pickup or behind a coach, so I really don't need to convert it in to an RV. As for power/fuel, I need to be able to run an AC and charge my 12V batteries, maybe even run a small fridge... The ability to run a margarita machine may not be a bad idea... Anyhow, I appreciate the info. One of my primary concerns with gasoline generators is the fuel tank and its placement. I will need to figure out the correct method and placement for gasoline storage, where as propane might be a bit easier. Thoughts?


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  8. #8
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
    Location
    Stafford VA
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    7,043
    The gasoline storage is a little less of an issue if you spend the extra $$$ and get a good approved safety can Link

    Propane can be safer overall, but some tunnels have restrictions on propane but not on gas. I'm not sure if that would be an issue in your area, but it can be a definite issue on the east coast.

    If the only thing you are going to run on propane is the generator, I would consider getting a gas one. Then again if you have a grill or stove, you can run them too. Check on-line for propane regulators and accessories. You can find all kinds of hoses, adapter, etc. that will let you run a lot of different things from a single tank.

    You do want to consider the generator noise levels. Honda generators are very expensive, but they are whisper quite too. If you can't stand the steady drone of the generator or don't want to build a sound box to put around it, the Honda's might be well worth the extra money.

    Our club as a 4000W generator a club member sold to us because he didn't like how loud is was. The generator was about $500. The member bought two of the 2000W Honda generators that list for $1,150 each to replace the one the club got. He cross connects them and powers his RV with them, or can use each separately for smaller loads. He feels the quite of the Honda's is well worth the extra price.
    Handeman

    TRA #09903 L3 3/29/2015

    "If you don't use your head, you have to use your feet!" my Dad

    Tripoli Central Virginia #25 - BattlePark.org

  9. #9
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    1,598
    Go SOLAR -- no noisy generator at launches, please
    Fred Azinger

  10. #10
    Join Date
    27th May 2011
    Posts
    141
    A couple of comments wrt to propane power gennies. Propane is a nice clean fuel for genies. No carburetor issues, gumming up, jets clogging. It is very good for intermittent use of the generator.

    That being said, propane provides a lower energy fuel source, your generator output twill be lower, so you need to make sure the genie will drive the loads you plan.

    Either with gas or propane, the biggest issue is usually the AC. I own the wonderful Honda Eu2000 - super quiet, very fuel efficient (I run on gas, not propane). It will not run my camper's small A/C, even at sea level. It would be worse at any elevation. Some folks have been able to get around the A/C issue by installing a soft start capacitor on their A/C. When testing an A/C and your generator, you need to let it run through several compressor cycles. Sometimes it will start initially, but won't continue to run the A/C on subsequent compressor cycling.

    It doesn't sound like you would want to, but you can parallel 2 Honda E2u2000's and have lots of quiet power.

    There is an active yahoo groups for the Honda Eu2000, very helpful folks there.

    Don
    Don Carson
    NAR #11069
    NARHAMS

  11. #11
    Join Date
    14th January 2013
    Location
    Menifee, California
    Posts
    863
    Quote Originally Posted by FredA View Post
    Go SOLAR -- no noisy generator at launches, please
    AC powered by solar? That would be a very large array and dependent on weather (sunshine).
    Lance
    NAR # 95771
    L1 2/9/13
    ROC Club Member

  12. #12
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
    Location
    Alvin, TX
    Posts
    393
    Quote Originally Posted by FredA View Post
    Go SOLAR -- no noisy generator at launches, please
    Not enough power. The generator I am looking at runs at about 60dB.


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  13. #13
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
    Location
    Alvin, TX
    Posts
    393
    Quote Originally Posted by fulldec View Post
    A couple of comments wrt to propane power gennies. Propane is a nice clean fuel for genies. No carburetor issues, gumming up, jets clogging. It is very good for intermittent use of the generator.

    That being said, propane provides a lower energy fuel source, your generator output twill be lower, so you need to make sure the genie will drive the loads you plan.

    Either with gas or propane, the biggest issue is usually the AC. I own the wonderful Honda Eu2000 - super quiet, very fuel efficient (I run on gas, not propane). It will not run my camper's small A/C, even at sea level. It would be worse at any elevation. Some folks have been able to get around the A/C issue by installing a soft start capacitor on their A/C. When testing an A/C and your generator, you need to let it run through several compressor cycles. Sometimes it will start initially, but won't continue to run the A/C on subsequent compressor cycling.

    It doesn't sound like you would want to, but you can parallel 2 Honda E2u2000's and have lots of quiet power.

    There is an active yahoo groups for the Honda Eu2000, very helpful folks there.

    Don
    Yep, I hear you on this. I am specifically looking at pairing a standard 15,000 BTU roof mount with an Onan QG 4000.


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  14. #14
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
    Location
    Alvin, TX
    Posts
    393
    Quote Originally Posted by Handeman View Post
    The gasoline storage is a little less of an issue if you spend the extra $$$ and get a good approved safety can Link

    Propane can be safer overall, but some tunnels have restrictions on propane but not on gas. I'm not sure if that would be an issue in your area, but it can be a definite issue on the east coast.

    If the only thing you are going to run on propane is the generator, I would consider getting a gas one. Then again if you have a grill or stove, you can run them too. Check on-line for propane regulators and accessories. You can find all kinds of hoses, adapter, etc. that will let you run a lot of different things from a single tank.

    You do want to consider the generator noise levels. Honda generators are very expensive, but they are whisper quite too. If you can't stand the steady drone of the generator or don't want to build a sound box to put around it, the Honda's might be well worth the extra money.

    Our club as a 4000W generator a club member sold to us because he didn't like how loud is was. The generator was about $500. The member bought two of the 2000W Honda generators that list for $1,150 each to replace the one the club got. He cross connects them and powers his RV with them, or can use each separately for smaller loads. He feels the quite of the Honda's is well worth the extra price.
    I was referring to the fact that the Onan QG 4000 does not have an integrated fuel tank. I will need to install a fuel tank and plumb the fuel handling system to the generator.


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  15. #15
    Join Date
    14th January 2013
    Location
    Menifee, California
    Posts
    863
    There are many generators on the market that are quiet. You may want to size your A/C small and just knock the heat down as opposed to really cool the trailer. Second thing you will have to deal with will be compartmentalizing the trailer for the "living" area that will be cooled. If you are going in and out of trailer by opening the back to get your rockets in and out for launches all the cooled air will go away and you will need to re-cool all the air. Most trailers I have seen are not made to "live" in except the Toyhaulers and they aren't that good when it comes to insulation.
    Lance
    NAR # 95771
    L1 2/9/13
    ROC Club Member

  16. #16
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
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    Alvin, TX
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    393
    Insulation is done, time for some ceiling panels.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  17. #17
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    26th January 2013
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    Alvin, TX
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    Ceiling panels are in along with some recessed LED lighting, next comes the wall paint.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  18. #18
    Join Date
    13th October 2014
    Location
    SouthEastern, WA
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    5,707
    I used to work in the equipment rental business and we had MultiQuip WhisperWatt generators from 6Kw to 60Kw, that standing right next to them running at full load you might be tempted the try start it up...happened once and the guy about had a heart attack when the starter gear clashed with the flywheel, should of seen the look on his face. There are a lot of very quiet generators out there you just have to make sure that they don't need to run at full load to provide the juice you need or they can be noisier.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    14th January 2013
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    Menifee, California
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    863
    Looking good. Sooo jealous.
    Lance
    NAR # 95771
    L1 2/9/13
    ROC Club Member

  20. #20
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
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    Alvin, TX
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    393
    Installed a 15,000 BTU AC unit on the rocket trailer today. It was surprisingly simple to install. It's a Coleman Mach 15 and it works great, we will see how it fairs in a Texas summer month.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #21
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
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    Stafford VA
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    bunks, a microwave and frig/freezer is next!
    Handeman

    TRA #09903 L3 3/29/2015

    "If you don't use your head, you have to use your feet!" my Dad

    Tripoli Central Virginia #25 - BattlePark.org

  22. #22
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
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    Alvin, TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Handeman View Post
    bunks, a microwave and frig/freezer is next!
    My wife has taken over that portion of the project. Apparently there will be a fair sized reclining couch, LCD TV, microwave, frig/freezer along with a small kitchen counter and of course this all matches the color scheme she has worked out. I love my wife....


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  23. #23
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
    Location
    Alvin, TX
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    Well the rocket shack got a bit more TLC this weekend. We finally decided on a generator and purchased it. In addition we installed cable trays in the upper corners.

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  24. #24
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
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    Wired up a few of the lights and mounted one of the work tables.

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  25. #25
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
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    The shack has a few additions: flooring, 12ft flip down rocket work table, work table lighting and a few speakers.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  26. #26
    Join Date
    15th December 2011
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    Too far from the event horizon.
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    Very nice!


    Later!

    --Coop
    "For although the nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men." --HP Lovecraft

    Custom crafted recovery: http://paramedichutes.com

  27. #27
    Join Date
    1st February 2012
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    Texas
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    2,219
    Quote Originally Posted by Random Flying Object View Post
    Wired up a few of the lights and mounted one of the work tables.

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    Ummmm! Corona!
    http://www.macklinmissileworks.com/

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  28. #28
    Join Date
    26th January 2013
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    Alvin, TX
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    Added a few more goodies to the trailer. Installed some radio and telemetry equipment along with a cabinet.

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  29. #29
    Join Date
    8th August 2015
    Location
    Southwest, USA
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    158
    SWEET! Looking good and the whole idea is awesome. Keep the progress pics and info coming!
    Born Again Rocketeer

    NAR #100110 SR

    Call Sign: AI6MA

    Fleet
    : Estes - Alpha, Alpha III, Magnum Load, Short Round

    2015
    Flights: 17
    Lost: 0
    Total Impulse: ~76 N-sec

    2016
    Flights: 0
    Lost: 0
    Total Impulse: 0 N-sec

  30. #30
    Join Date
    8th August 2015
    Location
    Southwest, USA
    Posts
    158
    On a side note; what are you pulling it with?

    Born Again Rocketeer

    NAR #100110 SR

    Call Sign: AI6MA

    Fleet
    : Estes - Alpha, Alpha III, Magnum Load, Short Round

    2015
    Flights: 17
    Lost: 0
    Total Impulse: ~76 N-sec

    2016
    Flights: 0
    Lost: 0
    Total Impulse: 0 N-sec

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