Somebody smarter than me said wisdom comes from experience and experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it. That certainly was the case for our racing team when we lost three trailer tires while towing to a NASA race weekend. This isn’t a story about how you should keep your trailer tires out of the sun, check the air pressure before a long road trip and ensure your tires don’t have cracked sidewalls. Instead this is a story to help you change those old tires when they blow out –because they are definitely going to blow out.

Trailer tires like to die. In this photo we got lucky and stopped on some hard-pack gravel. In a later tire failure, we found ourselves on a soft dirt shoulder, which wouldn’t support our jack to get the trailer off the ground so we could change the tire. A big problem.

Difficult problems often have the simplest solutions. We ran into some recent difficult problems during a tire failure when our heavy car trailer didn’t want to be lifted off the ground by our jack. It wasn’t the jack’s fault, or the heavy over-loaded trailer’s fault. The problem was the ground. The soft soil just swallowed our jack into the dirt resulting in a situation where we couldn’t get our wheel off to swap on a spare. Yes, we had a spare. We are dumb enough to use old trailer tires, but we aren’t dumb enough not to have spare trailer tires.

Got wood? We didn’t. Now we do. Our solution to this difficult problem was having a piece of wood to stuff under the jack.

The solution we came up with to solve our difficult problem was to use a piece of wood under the jack to support it. Unfortunately, on Interstate 5 in Central California, we had a jack, an impact gun, the correct socket, a spare tire … but no wood. That was when I decided we needed our own jack board.

A quick trip to the local hardware store scored us some wood. Instead of just using the wood as is, we decided to trim it down for the perfect size for the jack. Remember, measure twice, because you can only cut it too short once.

I knew if I threw a random piece of wood into our trailer, to use for future jack support problems, somebody on the team would think it was garbage and throw it out. I needed to make this piece of wood fancy. If it was fancy, then people would know it was an important component for the team and leave it in the trailer. I made a few measurements and then headed to the table saw.

This table saw will create a disabled person in about 10 milliseconds. Be extremely careful when using a table saw. These extremely handy, yet evil machines will cut your fingers off without a care in the world.

The next step was to use the DNN Motorsports table saw and cut our piece of wood down to a reasonable size that would travel well. This was the most dangerous part of our afternoon project. Table saws have no conscience, and will quickly make you a one-handed racecar driver if you are not careful. I ensured we knocked out this step prior to enjoying any of our favorite Double Nickel Nine IPA beers from Tactical Ops Brewing. Trust me, 10.9% ABV beers and table saws are not a good combination.

Using just the right diameter socket and a ruler was a simple way to draw out a handle shape to be cut out of the wood.

I said we were going to make this thing fancy. Using a socket and a ruler, I outlined a “handy” handle for our jack board. The next step would require a few more tools. To cut in the middle of the piece of wood I would first need to drill a hole large enough for my jigsaw to begin cutting. Then I would be able to use the jigsaw to trim the handle out.

Step one: Drill a hole. Step two: Use the jigsaw to cut out the handle. Step three: Stand back and look at your glorious work.

Jigsaw work on a tight radius can be a little tricky, the key is patience. Don’t rush the saw. Allow the blade to cut through the material and then slowly rotate the saw to follow your path lines. The end result will be the perfect hole to use as a handle for the jack board. The next step in our project to make our board fancy was to get rid of the right angle corners.

Step one: Trace a curve. Step two: Use the jigsaw to cut the curve. Step three: All power tools are done being used on this project! It’s beer 30!

I like to have stuff around that doesn’t hurt me. Getting rid of sharp right angles is always a good plan for occupational safety issues. For our jack board, I found a can of spray paint that had just the right radius for a curve I wanted for the corners of the board. I set the can of spray paint down, traced the radius and then used the jigsaw to quickly trim off the sharp edges on all four corners of the board.

Sanding is boring monotonous work that nobody likes to do, but it must be done. Because if you don’t do it, splinters will surely follow.

To finalize our fancy jack board it was time to sand. All of the jigsaw work left some pretty rough edges on the board and I wanted to avoid anyone on the team getting a splinter. For sanding work, I like the sanding blocks you can find in hardware stores (foam covered with different grit sand paper). They are a few cents more but work very quickly.

To ensure nobody mistook this board as garbage in the race trailer I threw on the Krider Racing logo by using a template and some spray paint.

I decided to really make the board fancy and an official permanent tool in the Krider Racing trailer by painting the Krider Racing logo on it. I made this template years ago by putting a sticker on a thick piece of cardboard and then used a utility knife to cut away the letters. It works great.

Here is the finished product: a piece of wood. This jack board will make life much easier when working off-road.

I was really happy with the finished product. When I was originally designing the jack support, I made sure the dimensions were large enough to easily support a jack but also just the right size to fit in the bottom of my track-day box. This way when I attend a NASA Rally Sport event (where the pits are a dirt field) I can use my jack board to swap out my tarmac tires for snow tires.

For events where I don’t take the entire race trailer, I have this track-day box for HPDE weekends, autocrosses or rallycrosses. Inside this box I pack everything I will need for a weekend at the track. My jack board was designed to fit right at the bottom.

So, learn from my mistakes. A jack sometimes needs a board to support it if you are going to try to change tires in soft dirt or grass. You can have a simple piece of wood, or you can make your jack board fancy like we did. Choose your own adventure. Regardless of your choice, make sure you have a spare tire for that trailer!

Here you can see the jack support board in action at a rallycross event where I was pitted in the grass and needed to swap wheels/tires. It worked perfectly!
Images courtesy of Rob Krider and Marie Adams

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