This past winter, Jon and I did a lot of planning for the season.  Running a farm requires many decisions to be made, big and small. One big decision we were faced with was how keep our produce fresh and crisp while delivering throughout the state.  Rather than buying a refrigerated truck, we decided to build our own refrigerated trailers to haul behind our pick-ups.  Our goal was to create flexible delivery vehicles with a low cost. With a full summer behind us, we are proud to share that our trailers have been a big success.

We equipped two standard cargo trailers with everything necessary to keep produce at 38 degrees, even in the heat of summer.  We use our trailers in our field to quickly cool our greens directly after harvest.  Cooling greens after harvest is one of the most important factors in contributing to a longer shelf life.

Here is how we created our refrigerated trailer:

We purchased two standard cargo trailers, one slightly larger than the other. The pictures below show us working on the smaller trailer.

 

Trailers before we performed surgery

Trailers before we performed surgery

 

The first step was to remove the  inner paneling and to strip the walls down to the steel studs.

Taking out the wooden panels that came with the cargo trailer

Taking out the wooden panels that came with the cargo trailer

Next, we used a metal cutting saw to carefully cut a hole in the front of the trailer through which a standard household AC unit would be inserted.

Cutting the hole for the AC unit

Cutting the hole for the AC unit

Looking at Jon through the trailer

Looking at Jon through the trailer

 

We framed up under the hole with 2x4s and metal drilling screws. Next we inserted the AC unit, placed another 2×4 over the top edge of the AC, tightened everything and secured the unit firmly in place.

AC unit mounted in trailer

AC unit mounted in trailer

 

Next, we measured the inside in order to cut 2″ insulation panels to line the floor, walls and ceiling.  We used strapping to secure the insulation.

Cutting insulation to line the trailer

Cutting insulation to line the trailer

Hanging the insulation

Hanging the insulation

 

The doors are a bit tricky, but with perserverence we were able to make them fit perfectly.

The Pink Panther approves

The Pink Panther approves

 

Lastly, we installed a sensor that, in effect, tricks the AC unit into thinking it is much warmer than it is.  As a result, the AC unit continues to push the temperature downward to a preset temperature.  Pretty cool right?

Installing the sensor that that tricks the AC unit

Installing the sensor that that tricks the AC unit.  You can also see the spray insulation we used to fill the cracks.