What I learned About Church Trailers

Our first 16′ Trailer

Planting a church and never being able to acquire our own building meant that I had been the keeper of the church trailer in my driveway for the last sixteen years. It also meant that I worked with volunteers to move trailer to school, unload trailer, setup school, packup trailer, and return trailer to my driveway around 800 times. If you were one of my volunteers, thank you so much for getting up early to make church possible and/or staying after church to help pack everything up – you were a blessing to me and everyone that experienced your behind the scenes labor.

As a church plant we bought our first trailer in 2005 after someone donated a Jeep Cherokee that we were able to trade for the white 16′ Pace trailer. I built shelves into the sides to store all our bins. The ceiling wasn’t high enough to fit rolling carts. We added big graphics to both sides and it was great trailer for hauling, helping and advertising until it rusted out.

The 16″ Gray Trailer with high ceilings

We replaced the white trailer with the gray trailer that had higher ceilings so we could use Portable Church Industries carts to move our stuff in and out the school more effectively. The white trailer had a torsion axels and the gray one has spring axles. I would buy the torsion axles if I had to buy a trailer because I think it drives better but that’s debatable: click here for one take on that debate

Used carts from Portable Church Industries

We were able to buy seven used carts from another church. We filled the carts with all our church supplies and put a sign on each cart so volunteers would know where to take them: Nursery, Childrens Church, Welcome/Hospitality table, Stage Microphone/Music stands, etc. When we had the carts filled up and organized I went to the local farm coop to use their truck scale to weigh the total weight of the trailer (5600lbs) and to figure out where to place the carts to keep the trailer tongue weight below 500 lbs. Then I numbered the carts and made a diagram where each cart was to be place in the trailer. We built a permanent counter top height shelf in the very from of the trailer and kept six of the carts over the trailer axles. We kept the carts from moving around by installing e-track on trailer wall and using a 2×8 across the front and the back. If people were going to load or unload the trailer when it wasn’t hooked up to a truck we placed jack stands under the frame by the back door just to make sure there was no way the front of the trailer could tip up in the air and hurt anyone.

I learned that graphics on the trailer are best seen when they are up high and also on the back door. We were able to use donated 3M self stick reflective vinyl lettering on the gray trailer that made it “light up” like a highway sign at night. Both trailers looked great in the yearly parades.

Here in Minnesota there were some Sundays it would have been impossible to get the trailer down the snowy and icy streets without four wheel drive. Sunday morning temperatures have been as cold as -30f. The best way to get the snow off the roof is to climb upon a ladder and push the snow off with a soft bristled shop broom. To keep it clean wash it at a semi-truck car wash or use a power washer if you have one. I had a hard time finding a way to keep salt and dirt off the trailer during the cold winter. Obviously, if you take care of your trailer it will last longer.

Pulling a trailer around is hard on your truck. I replaced rear springs and shocks plus brakes faster than if I wasn’t moving the trailer around every week. It’s been over 100f during the summer and the trailer tires would make an indent in my tar driveway. When it’s time to replace the tires I found I could buy trailer tires online with free shipping already mounted on white steel rims for close to the same price as buying the tires and getting them mounted at the local shop or dealership.

I guess another painful thing about being the keeper of the trailer is that even though I was very careful, all three trucks had to have transmissions rebuilt. I’m not sure what caused the Dodge Ram transmission to fail, the Tahoe broke when I was backing the trailer up a hill and the Avalanche transmission failed after a longer trip.

Now as this chapter of my life in Belle Plaine comes to a close there is an empty space in my driveway and life. Sorry, I don’t have a trailer anymore to help you move or to easily move my big snowblower around. I hope the next pastor of River Rock Church has a great building to meet in and they won’t even need the trailer anymore. But I am thankful the Lord blessed us with trailers to move stuff and with trucks to pull them.