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First came the cabin frame from Black’s Corners Motorsport to replace the original “roll bar” and screen on the Ranger TM. Turns out the stock cabin frame on early 2000’s Rangers wasn’t ROPS certified, so dealers had to install more robust frames for commercial use. Steve had three still in their original packages in his warehouse, so he sold me one for $250.

Then came a Kijiji purchase, a leftover metal roof ($150) from the dealer in North Bay. A centre-mounted mirror came from eBay for about $60.

As summer faded into fall I started to look for a windshield. The cheapie I picked is built from 3/16″ Lexan, ($256 from Extreme Metal Products). Then the exhaust fumes forced the dog to hang her head out into the slipstream, so the rear half of the enclosure was in order.

I had used spring clamps and red duct tape to hold the stern cover off our old sedan cruiser in place on Tony’s Ranger 500 last winter. This worked surprisingly well for ice fishing, so I ordered a pair of rear windows online at the lowest price I could find, $40 USD. The rather flimsy plastic in the new rear cover led me to suspect that it will likely break from impact during the winter, but if it does I’ll sew in a heavier vinyl panel from a boat canopy shop. The canvas portions and velcro straps should work well to hold a more durable rear panel.*  (See update below.)

The Ranger’s definitely more liveable now on dog-walks in rainy or cold weather.

A new battery from Ward’s Marina in Kingston ($165) gives the starter a lot more torque than before and should help in cold weather. The guys at the counter were surprised when I asked for parts for a TM. They had thought their red 2004 TM was the only one in the area. Used on the lot as a tow vehicle since new, theirs has 1300 hours on it with just normal maintenance.

“They’re bulletproof,” the owner commented.

*UPDATE:  7 November, 2014

I had to move the rear window down a couple of inches on the cabin frame in order to block exhaust fumes which were permeating the cabin from below the seat back.  The $40 rear window is a couple of inches too short-waisted to do its job properly.  When I get around to it I’ll screw on a 9″ strip of plywood or metal to fill the gap between the bottom of the cabin frame and the lower edge of the rear cover.  Then it should work fine.  With the device lowered to where it shows 3″ of air below the cabin roof the fumes are no longer a problem, though it’s not a viable long-term solution.  Next time I’d buy a more expensive model ($65.) which appears longer in the illustrations online.

UPDATE 7 December, 2014

It took a piece of 1/4″ plywood 59 7/8″ X 16″ to seal up the stern cover. The plywood sits on the frame and just under the black canvas of the stern cover. It does not interfere with the operation of the dump box. I drilled two oblong holes for the lower velcro straps of the stern cover to go through and over the plywood and still hold the roll bar in a death grip.

UPDATE 13 December, 2014

My friend Tom Stutzman handed me a roll of boat-cover-vinyl left over from the top on his pontoon boat. It looked to be about the right size and shape, so I clamped it into place to block air flow on the right side of the cabin. Next stage was to trim the small amount of excess vinyl and fasten it into place. The hex screws which hold body panels to the frame of the Ranger didn’t mind another layer of vinyl beneath their broad heads. The clamps stayed in place for now. Black duct tape presented a visual barrier for the spaniel who objected to losing her access route to the Ranger’s seat.

This may seem a bit extreme, but it’s a lot warmer in the cabin for the dog. As long as I don’t take the Ranger onto a lake, what’s the harm?

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Ranger 500 VS rock

March 30, 2013

A sizable boulder has obstructed access to my friend’s dock since we put the thing in 3 years ago. Today the boulder met the old Polaris Ranger 500 at the end of a tow rope.

No contest.

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I tow the Ranger on a 6X11 custom built trailer.  A winch pulls the front wheels up against a solid “headache bar” at the front and the bar and the side rails hold it in place.  That system had worked well for a year.  And then it didn’t…..

It was time to clean the chainsaw oil out of the back of the Ranger, so I loaded it onto its trailer and headed for the local car wash in Elgin. The road was a bit bumpy with frost heaves and all of the sudden the tandem trailer started to sway. I pulled off and checked the load, expecting a flat tire.

The tires were fine, but the Ranger had unhooked itself and was on the verge of dropping off the back of the trailer. YIKES!

Chastened, I moved it back up into position, set the brake again, and checked the retaining strap. Turns out the cutout I had selected on the pan underneath the Ranger doesn’t allow the hook on the webbed strap to seat very well: there’s a beam welded to the upper surface of the plate about 1/4″ from the hole. I hadn’t noticed that, and had blindly hooked at the most convenient cutout. I certainly won’t do that again.

I re-hooked in a safer cutout and proceeded on to Elgin. When I got to the car wash the thing was loose again, though it had not come adrift this time. Why would this slick system go so wrong, so suddenly? Frost heaves on the road! The way I have the thing hooked, a bump which causes the front suspension to flex will temporarily loosen, and potentially unhook, the strap. Clearly I need to develop a more secure fastening system, and as well come up with an additional safety strap which I can monitor from the driver’s seat of the truck.

To get home I tied a stout rope to the bumper of the Ranger and to a cross bar on the A-frame of the trailer. If the rope got tight, I’d know I was in danger, but it would keep the UV from rolling off the back of the trailer until I could stop.

Once home I checked tire pressures. In mid-winter this is always embarrassing. Three of the trailer tires were low. All of the Ranger tires were below 5 p.s.i. as well. Much puffing later, the rig was ready for another cautious roll-out, but I’ll look for a snap system for that web strap which will hold securely without making a mess of the bottom of the Ranger.

1.  Young adults are night-owls.  Starting work at 7:30 p.m., gathering sap by headlights and boiling all night?  That seems normal for these guys.  They never seem to tire.  Neither do they seem aware of their host’s deep, neurotic need to watch a Senators’ game and find an early bed.  What’s more, they seem ever more enthusiastic about the project, constantly planning improvements.

2.  Nilex makes an outstanding filter for syrup.  Martin brought this scrap of fabric from a bolt of the stuff his father used to concentrate plankton in sea water.  It’s a closely-woven nylon fabric which is then pressed between two hot rollers to provide a predictable size of mesh.  Used with a dinner-napkin pre-filter, it made my cheesecloth-filtered product look laughable by comparison.  Yesterday Martin checked out a competitor’s product at the Kingston Market.  The bottles he examined were quite cloudy. The vendor told Martin that they were having trouble getting the sugar sand out of their product with their pressure-filter system, and filtering the syrup is a big problem.  I wonder if they have heard of Nilex.

3.  Boiling sap over an open fire takes a lot of fuel.  I’ve progressed from raiding the woodpile to collecting fallen ironwoods and cutting them into three-foot lengths.  They provide a hot fire and reach well back into the arch.  If a log extends too far, though, say into the end of the stove pipe, a miserable evening of smoky fire will ensue. Clay makes quite a good emergency mortar to seal up gaping holes in the “firebox”, but it doesn’t make a lot of difference if the pipe is blocked.

4.  North winds are unpleasant for sap boiling.  I think I see why a sugar shack would be a good investment.  It’s no fun at all stoking a fire while the smoke blows  back at you.

5.  Some sap isn’t very sweet.  Martin was astounded when he bottled the second batch.  Boiled from a full drum of sap, he decanted six litres of fine, thick syrup.  The previous batch produced seven litres, but we had boiled about two and a half drums of sap to get it.  The early sap hadn’t tasted sweet at the tree, and I guess it wasn’t.

6.  A gas barbecue isn’t much good for boiling syrup.  I passed a leisurely afternoon trying to finish a small batch.  The heat is all wrong for the job and when I dumped in some milk to purify the syrup, it wasn’t boiling hard enough to congeal the milk properly and I ended up with a very tasty, watery product with a great deal of sediment in the bottom of the bottles.  It tasted exquisite on waffles, on the other hand.  I insist that thinner syrup tastes better and soaks into pancakes with less waste than the full-strength stuff.

7.  A 110,000 btu deep fryer does a great job finishing syrup.  Charlie quickly discovered that “the Binford Inferno” in fact has very precise controls.  With a sheet-metal wind screen, it has proven a fast and thrifty implement for the finishing of the syrup.

8.  A large maple syrup expresso latte is a great deal too much of everything.  With all of that tasting, tasting, tasting, my sweet tooth has gotten a real workout.  Waffles several times a day aren’t so bad, but I mustn’t try thinning over-strong coffee with maple syrup ever again.  It took several hours, two loads of ironwood cut and delivered, and two trailer-loads of planer shavings hauled away to burn off the sugar buzz.

9.  The Polaris Ranger has a way of making itself indispensable before anyone notices.  It carries the barrel to gather the sap.  It hauls the firewood.  It makes many trips back to the woodlot to check to see if the sap is running.  The headlights are doing far more work than they should.  Its relatively light weight and large tires float it over thawing turf into which a tractor would sink.  It wades through puddles very well.  It’s everywhere, and everyone needs it, most of the time.  We learned that it’s important to check if any hoses are attached before zooming off on the next errand.

10.  Syrup from the maples on Young’s Hill tastes wonderful.  Back when he was persuading me to take on the syrup project, Martin sent me a couple of research documents on the use of black walnut sap for syrup production in Kentucky.  In blind taste tests professionals unanimously rated regular table syrup superior to both the maple and walnut syrups produced by the crew.  Perhaps Kentucky syrup just doesn’t taste very good.  To illustrate my point I gave the boys a sample of some poor-quality maple syrup I found in my mother’s fridge. Their faces dropped. Then the grimmaces started. Descriptors such as “used motor oil” and “aftertaste of licorice” popped up.  Nobody took a second taste.  Not all syrup tastes good,  but the deep red ambrosia Charlie and Martin produce in a pan over an open fire in our yard is a delight to the senses.

The Ranger TM in Snow

December 19, 2008

Saturday, January 10, 2009: It was about zero F this morning, and the Polaris wouldn’t start. By noon it limped into motion on one cylinder, and eventually the other one cut in after a long warmup. It may be old plugs, but with 130 hours on it, it shouldn’t be. I’ll give it some new ones tomorrow and then try it.

To its credit, it did manage to start without a boost or a battery charge, but this isn’t good enough. I put the battery on the charger for the afternoon and then it lit up quite easily, so it may be a maintenance, rather than a design issue.

22 December I added an update at the end of this article.  The TM did much better today on a cold start when other engines on the farm had trouble.
I posted a further update on 29 December.
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YouTube is full of film clips of  Polaris Rangers in sand and mud, but I haven’t seen much about the cold weather operation of the machines.

This week during a cold snap the shift cable froze solid, imprisoning the TM in its tent/garage until heat from the idling engine eventually thawed it out.  Requests for information from ATV forums didn’t produce anything useful, quite possibly because all of the avatars of contributors have their machines surrounded by sand or mud, not snow.

The 2004 TM is still under factory warranty, so I called the dealer and explained that this intermittent failure of a cable could be a real safety issue for me if I’m out on a frozen lake in mid-winter, so he ordered a replacement cable.

The Subaru 653 twin didn’t start all that well on the cold morning, either, picking up on one cylinder and the choke, and only gradually getting #2 into the act.  I bought the machine as a demonstrator last fall with almost 100 hours on the engine (now 130), and I’ll bet it has never had a plug, though, so I’ll hold off on complaints about cold-weather starting until I have fresh spark in it.

This morning I took the TM for a drive to follow the tracks of the coyote who had scurried out of the barn as I approached.  I had a pleasant morning wandering around a hundred acres of fields and pine, spruce and walnut seedlings.  The coyote is clearly doing her job, foraging for mice almost exclusively around my young seedlings, so I guess her Christmas bonus is assured, and I’ll try to forgive her persistent use of the miscellaneous piles of shavings in my barn as her personal litter box.  What’s with that anyway?

Most of the footing was frozen grass under about four inches of powdery snow.  As a test I drove the TM at low speed as far as it would go into a field with a gradually thickening pack of snow and ice left over from an earlier storm.  With no load in the back the traction failed before it dragged bottom.  Fine.  I backed up, interested to see whether the thing would get itself out of a situation on the flat, or if with the differential locked it would skid off the the side and compound the problem.  I was quite pleased to find that in reverse it follows its track quite faithfully, and seems able to back out of whatever situation I create for it while driving forward — on the level.  It would be foolish to expect to back uphill to get unstuck with a 2WD machine.

All in all, the Ranger TM is quite a pleasant machine in cold weather.  So far I have only had one morning when it wouldn’t work, and this may be easy to fix.

A month ago the dealer offered me a used cab frame, windshield, cab enclosure and plastic roof, but I declined after considerable thought.  A small cab like this would frost up quickly from one or more persons’ breath on a cold morning.  There’s no defroster.  Further, if I towed the machine to a lake over sanded highways, I’d have to clean the windshield before starting out.  That would be rough on the plastic.  The doors would have to be removed for safety when traveling on the ice.  What’s more, I have a perfectly good 4X4 pickup which is most capable off-road.  Why would I create another, inferior copy of it?

The advantage of the Ranger is that I can look up and enjoy the tall trees when driving through my woodlot.  In buildings and around obstructions it’s the easy visibility and lack of fragility of the body which give it an advantage over the truck. A cab would reduce these benefits.

So instead of a cab I have opted for a snowmobile suit and helmet with full face shield and a scarf for the chin area under the helmet which freezes instantly without it.  Feet don’t seem to get all that cold, but very heavy mitts are a necessity, as well.

My first cold-weather run nearly froze me before I adapted to snowmobile attire.  That time I had some carburetor icing or governor issues:  at full speed the engine would bog down to medium revs for a while, then speed up again.  It continued to fire well throughout the slowdown, though.  Surprisingly, the problem has not recurred.  Perhaps there was moisture in the crankcase which frosted the carburetor, but once it had cleared the problem resolved itself.

I haven’t started my 1976 Ski Doo Alpine yet this winter, and we have had lots of snow.  That says something about the appeal of the Ranger TM.

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UPDATE  22 DECEMBER, 2008:  Today was so cold my Toyota groaned when starting, but the Polaris lit right up, and the shifter hasn’t whimpered since that one tantrum a week ago.  The snow was too deep for the TM, but I had work for it to do, so I cleared a trail back to the woods with my tractor and 5′ snowblower.  It was able to bull around enough in the deep snow to turn around at the ends of the road, though more weight in the bed might help.  Inexplicably, the left dog on the tailgate release stuck in the on position late this afternoon.  (Turns out the right cable had doubled inside the gate, jamming it to the left.  No biggie.)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the reason I needed the Ranger was that my faithful old Massey Harris 30 gas tractor wouldn’t start.  Those things always go, but it was too cold today or else it was feeling neglected because of all the attention the Ranger gets.

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UPDATE 29 DECEMBER, 2008:  Yesterday’s high temperatures and gale-force winds swept the snow away in our area, so I took the Ranger for a tour of the property to check for damage.  No doubt because of the improvement cut in the winter of 2006, the woodlot held up well to the onslaught.  Traveling on the trails was easy because the snow was all gone from beneath the maple crown.  Then I emerged onto the butternut plantation, which is sheltered from the wind on the eastern side of the woodlot.  The far side of the field sported a band of green, but the corn snow (crystalized from freeze/thaw cycles) lay a little deeper than I would have liked in the 150 yards separating me from an easy drive back to the house.  Do I back up and go around, or try to get through the deep snow?

I hit the snow at about 3/4 throttle, acceleration limited by some ice on the trail.  The Subaru engine sounded as though it was working for once, as I kept the revs up and let the locked differential chew its way through about a foot of soft, heavy snow.  It seems the way to get through deep snow with the two wheel-drive Ranger is to keep the rev’s up and let it paw away, because as it passed the point where I thought it would lose momentum and stick (necessitating a rescue with my truck), it just kept going at about jogging speed.  It carried on through snow that was quite a bit deeper and harder than I expected, and we gratefully reached the grass on the sunny side of the field.  What impressed me was the lack of axle-bouncing of the sort I get in my Toyota when spinning in deep snow.  The TM’s axle stays in place well while spinning.

Family members accuse me of deliberately trying to get stuck with my toy.  But how can you trust a machine if you don’t know its limits?

The Trailer Project

October 29, 2008

Tomorrow’s task is the erection of one of those chintzy little 10 by 10′ portable garages bought mail-order from Winnipeg.  The new Polaris Ranger’s demands must be met, or else I’ll gimp around all winter with icy back and bottom, and my tools will rust from dips in the soggy leaf-container on behind.

A more significant problem rests with the Ranger’s outlandish dimensions:  it won’t fit any trailer I own, so I can’t even take it back to the dealer should it need service.  Not to worry, I’ve been yearning for a new highway trailer for some years now.

I found a good 6X10 utility trailer at a farm implements dealer, but I didn’t like the price.  As well, when I inquired at the Ontario License Bureau I learned that: “Only livestock trailers are exempt from provincial sales tax,” regardless of my tree-farm status.  I was not about to add another 8% to the already-exorbitant rate.  Steel prices are high, eh?

Then I found on Kijiji a set of axles, springs, wheels and tires off a large boat trailer.  The owner had replaced the running gear with a heavier set to use for a steel dive boat he owns.  The kit looked like an interesting way to start a winter project, so I drove to Kingston and picked up the axles.

I decided to find a welder to make this project happen.  Peter Meyers was willing.   His loader picked the axles out of  my utility trailer and I headed off to the nearest metal yard for some scrap 2″ pipe to extend the axles from 5 to almost 7′.

Through a series of email conversations with pals,  I developed the following set of objectives for the trailer:

1.  transport the Polaris Ranger;
2.  have a versatile bed surface available to transport pieces of machinery, as needed;
3.  have a stake trailer available to transport logs and lumber to mill and/or market;
4.  have the capacity to transport 1 cubic cord of firewood on the highway, as needed.

The occasional 3-ton capacity and the greater smoothness of towing are why I’m interested in a tandem, rather than using just one of the axles.  Yet I want to stay with a smaller-is-better principle in its building, as I see little point in hauling around a lot of extra height, width and weight.  Removable sides improve the trailer’s potential versatility, but extract a penalty in convenience; i.e: the drive-on-and-forget ease of a golf cart in a 5X8 box with ramp.

The other conundrum has to do with the trailer’s potential length.  A ten-footer would carry the Polaris in better balance than a twelve or fourteen, but a longer bed would work better for lumber and logs.  Without a back gate a few feet of overhang wouldn’t be such a big deal, though.  My son suggested that his sports car is 13.5 feet long.  How could he know that?

The other thing is that the Polaris likely won’t venture away from the farm much.  The trailer’s far more likely to haul lumber and  machinery for use on the farm.

A system of  stakes seems indicated by the wish list above.  Regadles s of how it looks, I want a tall stake on the right rear to provide a fulcrum for swinging heavy planks onto and off the trailer.  I have found that a similar wooden stake on the lumber trailer is invaluable in making the transfer from trailer to pile.  I pull, lift one end, pivot and drop, never lifting more than half of the weight.

Maybe a flat bed with cleats on the sides would work.  I could use heavy ratchet tie-downs like what the lumber yards use, substituting chains for the really heavy stuff.

Another priority will be to keep the bed of the trailer as low as is practical, given the nature of the axles and tires. A 21″ height would be a reasonable target.  I think a pair of ramps will do for access to this trailer.  I’d keep the 5X8 for utility loads such as lawn mowers, golf carts and leaves.

Peter Meyers warned about potential trouble with the Ministry of Transport if we build the trailer too big.  I don’t want to get into the annual-inspections routine or have to install brakes.  The price list at the metal place woke me up.  1 1/2 by 3″, 1/8″ wall square tubing costs 3.60 per foot.  Similar 2″ square tubing costs 3.24 per foot.  2 1/2″ angle iron, 3/16″ wall, costs 2.82 per foot.  This tends to shorten a trailer rather quickly.  Let’s see:  5 1/2′ by 9 1/2′ will do it…

Notwithstanding my son’s hint that his Porsche is 13 1/2′ long, I think I’ll trim as much “weight” as I can from the trailer at the planning stage.

That’s about it, so far.

UPDATE:  November 3, 2008

This evening I discovered that there are no books on the subject of utility trailer construction in the Ontario Library System.  The best the research librarian in Smiths Falls could do was a Haynes trailer manual in the collection of the Toronto Public Library, but it’s missing.   Maybe I should write a book about this project.

Peter and I settled upon 3 by 1 1/2 square tubing for the frame, and he likes the idea of continuing the frame sides on to form an “A” tongue.  That will mean hauling 18′ steel home.  This isn’t much of a problem:  one of the many trailers at the farm is a tri-axle narrow flat bed 17′ long.

UPDATE:  November 8, 2008

At a junk yard I ran across three, three by four inch beams, 17′ long and 1/8″ in wall thickness.  I couldn’t resist, so I brought them to Peter for use as the main structual members of the frame.  Another foray into the used market proved fruitless, so I bought the remaining material (mainly 1/8X2X2 square tube) at Heaslip’s in Smiths Falls.  Or so I thought.  When I delivered the steel, Peter had been thinking about the tongue and decided that it needs to mount as a V beneath the bed, rather than an extension of it, so I need to pick up an additional 16′ of 3 X 1 1/2″, 1/8th wall.  Oh well,  over-runs happen.  On the other hand Peter cut and lengthened the axles very neatly, then straightened the bent one to where I couldn’t find any evidence of damage.  The guy’s great at straightening steel.

The axles are a bit over 3/16″ steel, so I guess the vendor’s claim that they are rated at 3500 pounds isn’t too crazy even if they are only 1 15/16″ in diameter.  The springs are 5 leaf, now moved to beneath the axles to lower the trailer bed.

This may turn into a pretty good trailer.

UPDATE:  Nov. 11th, 2008

The basic frame is now complete at 11′ 9″ by 6′.  The outer frame is made of 3 X 4″ expanded tube, 1/8″ thick, with stringers on two foot centres of 2 X 2.  The “A frame” tongue is on the same level as the top of the bed, made of 1 1/2 X 3 expanded tube, with similar reinforcement underneath to take the weight back to the outer edges of the frame.  Peter will next turn the frame over onto the suspension and weld on the large tandem fenders.  I think I’ll use 1 1/4″ basswood planks for the floor and bolt the planks to pieces of angle Peter welded on to the front and back cross members for the purpose.  That way I won’t have to drill into the main structure to fasten the wood, and the hollow steel should stay dryer without holes in it.  The basswood will be strong for ten years and then deteriorate, so I’ll replace the bed at some point before that.  Clear basswood’s abundant in the woodlot and surprisingly tough stuff, as long as it isn’t trapped with moisture in a cavity. With the lighter wood I can easily keep the trailer under 1000 pounds.

The 6′ tandem fenders I bought at Princess Auto wouldn’t fit the trailer.  The existing frame for the fenders had come with the axles, and it was clear that we needed 5’6″ units to fit the space.  An Internet search revealed that a trailer store in Stittsville had two in stock, so I gratefully drove in to pick them up.  The new fenders also had a teardrop, a rounded lump of sheet metal to occupy some of the empty space between the tops of the tires and provide reinforcement for the flat surface above it.

I asked Peter to rig up out of scrap some sort of “headache bar” for the front to which I can fasten a simple winch for pulling and holding cargo.  He’ll also put stake pockets along the sides and front for tie-downs, or in case I decide to build a low picket fence around the perimeter for hauling firewood.  I’ll wait and see what I need as a ramp.  I do have a couple of planks with aluminum ends from another trailer, so I’ll try them first.

UPDATE: 19 November, 2008

I’ve scrubbed most of the red paint off my hands, but I’d have to describe outdoor painting in late November as a chancy activity at best.  The compressor would barely start because the oil was so cold, and when I poured thinned Tremclad into the sprayer I realized that this was unlikely to work.  I sprayed around a couple of corners with diminishing success until I gave up and used a roller.  That worked pretty well as soon as I gave up any aspiration to do more than prevent rust.  The trailer’s a rough piece of equipment, not a show piece, so it was more important to have the metal protected so that I could use it over the winter than to have a gemlike paint job.

The basswood boards went on after two coats of Cuprinol and I worked the rest of a gallon of paint into them, as well.  The trailer is now very red.

Next I’ll wire it, then fasten the boards on.  It may take a few days for the paint to dry, though, as it hasn’t gotten above freezing for a while around here.

The overall quality of the construction on the trailer seems to be very high.   Peter Myers did a great job on it.

UPDATE:  December 6th, 2008

The wiring was an interesting challenge on a cold November day.  Because the trailer is over 80″ wide, Ontario regulations require a set of clearance lights at the back.  Everyone looks at them and speculates about how long they will last, exposed as they are to banks and loading docks.  I put the wires inside a conduit so that I should in the future be able to fish a new harness from front to back without crawling around on the ground.  The rest of the wiring went well.  Clearance lights went onto the ends of the headache bar.

Then when I connected the rig to the truck, nothing but the left signal light worked.

On a hunch I tested the lights with a 12v battery.  Everything worked perfectly.  The truck was the villain.  I replaced the back pigtail and then all but the right hand signal worked fine.  For some reason my Tacoma won’t fire the right-hand signal on the trailer, though all other lights on truck and trailer work perfectly.  So far in a year of ownership, this is the only glitch that has defeated me on the truck.

The Ranger loaded onto the trailer without difficulty, and so we then had to devise an efficient method of holding the machine in place. When the dealer loaned me his  6 X 12 utility trailer to bring the Ranger home, he simply winched the machine up against the front rail  with a heavy strap and left it.  The front tires pulled against the railing provided all of the restraint the rig needed for a highway haul.

With a flatbed I figured I’d better do more, so I winched it against the headache bar with a ratchet strap and then attached two more smaller straps from stake pockets at the sides to the trailer hitch at the back of the Ranger.

This proved less effective than a single, strong attachment point at the front, so I added a commercial-grade strap tightener (the kind you use a separate bar to tighten) and installed 7/8″ basswood sideboards to wooden stakes to enclose the bed.  This also lined and strenghtened the fenders.

I’m still using four-foot 2X6 basswood planks with aluminum ends as a ramp.  For now I store them in the bed of the truck when hauling.

The system is still evolving, but one strap with a heavy hook runs from the strap-tightener to an appropriate hole in the undercarriage of the Ranger.  The front tires tighten up nicely against the headache bar and so far nothing has  moved during a couple of tows over moderately bumpy roads.

The tandem trailer works very well, with a smoother ride for the Ranger than I expected.  That does not mean that the rig is easy to tow.  For my four cylinder pickup the one-ton weight is not a problem, but the sail area on the Ranger is quite considerable, especially with the mesh insert which links the roll bar to the passenger compartment.  As I wrote before, the beast towed much better with the mesh removed, but now I have the license and the slow moving vehicle sign mounted up there as well, no doubt robbing even more power through wind resistance.  I’ll be o.k. in fourth gear for local jaunts.  If I need to go far, I’ll remove the mesh grill and use fifth gear on the highway.