(Mis)Adventures in Trailers and Parts Jeeps

I don’t own a car trailer. I had arranged to borrow a trailer from a friend, but he wasn’t able to get back to me with the address where I could pick the trailer up before I had to leave work. Fortunately, I work directly across the street from a U-Haul store. A quick $70 later (including insurance and tax), and I had a car trailer rental lined up. I had to help the U-Haul employee lift the immensely heavy trailer tongue onto my Dodge Ram 1500’s trailer hitch. How heavy? A quick Google search told me a U-Haul car trailer weighs 2,210 pounds. The tongue has to be 500 pounds alone. Keep these facts in mind.

I headed to the long-defunct Jeep and off-road shop to pick up my donor Jeep Cherokee S. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out my previous update: https://aspiringcarguy.com/2021/08/31/1970-jeep-wagoneer-project-update-the-engine-has-left-the-vehicle/ It was missing a wheel, so I searched the grounds and found a six-lug Grand Wagoneer wheel and tire laying in the weeds and put it on the Cherokee. Of course, the tire was severely dry rotten and deflated immediately. A flat tire rolls easier than a brake drum, I guessed. I hooked the log chain I brought to the end of the U-Haul trailer and the trailer hitch on the Cherokee, put my Dodge into 4WD low, and pulled the rear end of the Jeep around. Then, I discovered not only were all the tires flat, the front brakes were completely seized and the rear brakes were nearly stuck as well. Undeterred, I got out my come-alongs. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I didn’t know how to release the cable from the come-alongs. I spent thirty minutes fidgeting with them to no avail, then gave up and found a YouTube video to teach me.

Get the insurance. Trust me.

I put the chain onto the rear leaf spring mount of the Cherokee and looked for a solid object to attach a now-free come-along to. I found a tree in the property line, wrapped the come-along cable around it, stretched out the cable and the chain, and… it didn’t reach. I then tried wrapping the come-along cable around the frame of a derelict International Scout, but I was unable to get enough tension on the cable before it reeled all the way in. The man in charge of the sale helped me realize it was time to throw in the towel, so that’s what I decided. Just as I headed out, a tow truck driver arrived to pick up some other junk cars. I joked to the man running the sale, “I wonder how much he would charge to tow it to my house.” He asked the tow truck driver that question. It turned out not to be as bad as I thought, but I had already paid for the trailer. The truck driver asked me which vehicle I wanted, so I showed him.

There isn’t much left here, but I need that roof.

He told me, “I can load it for you.” Soaked in sweat, angry, frustrated, and exhausted, I stared blankly at him for a moment. “You can?” I questioned, “With that rollback? Right now?” It turned out he could, and for a much smaller sum of money than a tow, he agreed to do exactly that. He winched the front end of the Cherokee onto the flatbed and left the rear wheels hanging on what I call the “repo bar” at the back of the wrecker. Then, he dropped the rear wheels onto my trailer, and used the hydraulic flatbed to shove the Jeep the rest of the way onto the trailer. We secured the load, and I headed home with another problem. How the heck am I going to get this thing off the trailer?

Got rust? Or moss?

I don’t have a lot of friends with vehicles that can pull a vehicle with seized brakes off a trailer at 10:00PM on a Tuesday night. However, my mom does have a Jeep Wrangler with a 10,000 pound winch. I called her and sheepishly asked for a favor. She wasn’t exactly excited to drive out to my house at this hour, but did what any good mom does and came to my rescue anyway. Granted, telling her my Plan B was to chain the Cherokee to a tree and drive the trailer out from under it probably scared her into helping.

A nice 2000 Jeep Wrangler with a 10,000-pound Smittybilt winch pulled the pile off the trailer.

With that, I towed the empty trailer back to U-Haul, dropped it off, and went home happily to get some sleep. Right? WRONG. I towed the empty trailer back to U-Haul, flipped their “easy release” lock on the tongue, and turned the crank to lower the built-in jack to the ground. Easy enough, except the crank snapped off before the jack moved an inch. Thank God I got the insurance. Keep in mind that the instructions printed on the trailer said you could just lift the tongue right off the hitch. I tried this, and was unable to even budge the overweight brute. Fortunately, I still had my floor jack in the truck, so I was able to lift the tongue off the trailer hitch. Then, I had to figure out how to get my floor jack out from under the trailer. No amount of kicking or trying to lift the tongue like a Scot in the Highland Games worked for me. I remembered I also had a plastic bucket in my truck, so I jacked the tongue back up, put the bucket under it, and lowered the jack. Miraculously, the trailer didn’t completely flatten the bucket. It bent into a U shape, but held at least long enough for me to retrieve my jack. Finally, my ordeal was over. Who has a car trailer for sale?

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