How To Build A Fridge Trailer
When we needed extra storage space for our ice sculptures over the busy Christmas period we looked at quite a few options.
We could of course buy a new fridge freezer but being a small business where often planning for such events requires an absolute need rather than a ‘would be nice to have’ moment we discounted this option as soon as we found out how much they cost. Since we were only going to use the fridge freezer over the December period, it was going to take a few years before we got the investment back.
We could hire a fridge unit capable of freezing our ice and adding below zero storage in the outside yard- the advantages is that it wouldn’t take up any fridge space within our unit and we wouldn’t need to take any time in actually dealing with the disruption of adding an extra walk in storage fridge. Another advantage is that a fridge trailer won’t require any maintenance costs on top or have any teething troubles bedding in. It was indeed the solution we chose, it was quick, easy and all we had to do was to find space for the fridge trailer in the yard. At the end of the contract rental period some guy in a truck would tip up and just tow it away leaving us with a clear yard once more.
Of course the same thing happened the year after where we needed another fridge trailer, so yes there came the point where the investment in a new fridge became worth the investment. After all we were spending around £1000 +vat for the hire of the fridge trailer for the month and that money could be used as an investment rather than using it as a temporary fix to a long term problem. It was time to move on.
But what to do?
The fridge trailer was handy, it froze our ice down to a lower degree than our carving freezer which was better for transportation if we weren’t using a freezer transport van.
We didn’t have the space within the unit to increase the size of the freezer so it needed to be an outside solution. We didn’t have planning permission under the lease to place things in the yard so we were back to the idea of a trailer. Buy one? Build one?
We knew NOTHING about fridge trailers.
It’s amazing what you can find out when you need to.
We had a freezer engineers and we had youtube- although the latter yeilded very little information- it was a black hole of nothingness when searching how to build a fridge trailer on YouTube.
Still we carried on.
I loved the idea of getting stucck in and building something myself along with learning something new so the option to build our first fridge trailer began to take form.
It turned out that every couple of years Sainsburys’ sold off their excess used fridge delivery van stock at auction. Buying the whole van wasn’t something we were interested in but something interesteing happened here. Van traders would indeed buy the vans but had no use for the fridge boxes on the back.The fridge boxes would be removed and a tipper unit would be placed there instead- this made the vans much more usable for the builders market. Fridge box vans are ungainly on the road and fuel inefficient as compared to a regular fridge van which allowed us to snap up the unused fridge boxes at very little cost.
Next to add a fridge unit. Having chatted to our fridge engineer it seemed that there was quite a simple solution known as a monoblock unit. These fridge units come as a one piece fit and forget with all of the wires neatly available for lights and rear door heater- it’s just a case of cutting a hole using the provided template and then bolting it right onto the insulating box.The internal condenser sits on the inside and the compressor is left on the outside.
We then crafted a security box with vents as an external cover which meant that the fridge section was now working and complete.
Finally we needed a chassis . The weight of the box with fridge unit compressor was estimated at around 850Kg and although we could get a single axle chassis to hold the weight, it was known that fully loaded this could easily double once we’d stuffed the fridge trailer full of ice sculpture. Ironically we chose a twin axle chassis from a caravan as our charriot of choice using wind down legs attached at each corner. The first chassis we used was actually a chopped down version but the later trailers we made used standard length with longer drawbars and these are much easier to tow and more stable on a motorway.
Overall for the price using brand new fridge compressors over powerful for the size of the box along with second hand chassis and fridge bow we feel we’ve achieved a reasonable compromise. We wouldn’t have achieved a better insulator by buying a new box, it wouldn’t tow any better using a new chassis and overall we’re really happy with the result.