Choosing a dog truck topper
I am looking at upgrading to a large dog box on a flatbed 1 ton.
Do I go with an all aluminum and stainless metal construction or have one constructed out of woodframing and plywood?
*Woodframing and plywood.
I currently have a 14 hole dog trailer that is built this way. All wood construction with aluminum sheeting on the outside. It is well insulated with poly two wall, the inside of the kennels is rhino lined and all are self draining. I took this trailer with me to Minnesota and South Dakota last summer. Even in 90 degrees F it kept the dogs cool. You could feel the difference with your hand from outside to inside the box. As a side note (my trailer was cooler than my partners Jones manufactured trailer)
*Aluminum and Stainless construction
Now let's think Alaska weather here. Metal to me seems like it would take forever for it to warm up. Plus, from the ones I have seen they are built for maximum ventilation with little to no insulation to retain heat. I see these being the way to go if I were in warmer climates but I don't have any experience with these all metal toppers or boxes in cold climates to make a comparison.
I like the trailer but it is 24ft long and hard to maneuver around on some of the farms that I go to.
So lets here some opinions on what you think would work best.
Thanks in advance.
Have you talked to Larry at Cache Campers? He builds them for quite a few mushers like Martin Buser. The one I saw in process looked like the cadillac version, poly coated wood. I don't know anything about them but it looked good. I got the detailed, 30 minute tour of the dog box. All I ever had to worry about before was heat. This is an entirely new ball game up here.
Yeah. "Cache" is who built the boxes on my trailer.
I'll consider them again if I decide to go the wood frame design over all metal.
Have you thought about a musher style truck that has internal holes? Access is on the inside, not outside. There is no heat loss in the winter. You could run heat or A/C inside. You would walk in through the back and have access to dogs on either side of you. There would only be one door to secure.
Gear could be on the bottom. If you wanted it more secure, access the gear same as the dogs. If you wanted easier access, put doors on the outside.
Just remember to keep hearing protection handy for walking inside with a bunch of kenneled and happy dogs.
Aluminium conducts heat, and thus cold, very well. Unless it is well insulated I would stay away from it for the winter temps up here.
Metal is also hard to repair compared to wood, but then its hard for the dogs to chew on to cause the need for repairs.
With the current non ferrus metal prices I would think that all metal would be too spendy.
Hopefully a pic of my Deerskin low profile 16 hole, stainless and alum, on a 1 ton. Has insulation 4" in roof,1" in sides and 3" in bottom. Down to a windy 16 degrees at least, dogs are kept plenty warm-can't speak below that, but would expect it would do well. They hold value well, but figure around 2k per hole new. Ainley makes a comparable box as well, and both will do custom work. Shamrock makes a nice rig in the siding version, and wolverinecoach could make an inside type trailer-which may get too hot above 70 or so..
not sure if this would be of any help, but I checked the temps in my box the other night to see just how warm it got. When I loaded it, temp was 18 outside and 28 in the box empty..Next morning temp was 16 outside and 49 in the box, with 16 dogs on the truck. Sorry, no testing available here for -40.
Wow. 16 in Miss.
Do you want me to send you some tips on how to train in those "frigid" temperatures. LOL
That is promising. Sounds like it holds heat pretty good.
When I drive down to the lower 48 it is January. It can be 30 to 40 below in certain places along the Alcan. I have a portable generator with an electric heater in the trailer. But at those temps it can't keep up. It will still be 10 below in the trailer. So I wind up with the dogs in my truck. Remember, for others reading this. These are clients retrievers and they are also their house pets. So they do not have the coat to be outside for long periods. These aren't sled dogs that live outside and are conditioned to the cold.
With that being mentioned. How would one heat the interior of one of these boxes reliably while driving down the Alcan? Is there a way to install an RV style propane heater?
I know.....maybe Carhart or Columbia could make a full insulated dog suit. Could you imagine that? Look like little four legged astronauts walking around. If a male tried to lift his leg, he'd fall over. LOL
Speaking of cold, I've got one of these spoiled brats trying to beat down my sliding glass door trying to get back in. Gotta go.
The box I described, with no outer holes, would be easy to heat compared to the typical dog box with individual exits. Heat could be from an auxiliary heater run off of the block or a propane RV style heater. AC could be mounted on top.
The dogs all face inward, and load from the middle. Takes a bit more time to get the dogs in and out. The dogs would be much more secure from weather, people, and accidental escape.
Max width on a truck is 8'6" or 102". That would give you ample room down the middle of the truck to load dogs, and get gear.
The box could be designed with gear compartments accessible from the outside. I would put them on the lowest level on both sides of the truck.
If you don't mind smelling like wet dog, you could build a bunk inside for the traveling days where you are just too tired to continue. Would not be quite like laying on a pillow in front of the wood stove with a dog on your chest, but close?
Hang a food hopper from the front of the box for ease of feeding on the road. Lights would be 12volt off of the truck. Could put in a skylight, but holes in roofs leak. The skylight could be a vent too.
They build those self loading racks for small boats to go on top of the rig. One guy can load a 12' boat or so all by himself.
By using a flatbed truck you could build boxes that hang under the truck bed, in front of an behind the rear axle for birds and what not.
You could also retrofit a "bread" truck or walk through style van that already has the a/c and rear heat.
we'll get an artic blast for a few days, then back to normal. It's 68 today,big swing..Finding the perfect dogbox is like finding one boat for alaska, won't happen. All you can do is get close, and cover the most important needs over the majority of the time. I was thinking a inverter with a ceramic heater would work, but if a generator/heater can't keep up, I'm not sure what would. Interesting decision you have to make.