Whiskey Tango Trailer

Back in July of last year, we had one of our readers, Johnny, share his experience of tailgating the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game that was held at Angel Stadium. You can read his recount of that experience HERE.

Well, Johnny is back and back with a vengeance. This time he has details of how he converted one of those old-school tent trailers into a tailgating/bar trailer. Take a look at the video slide show he put together and then read below how he did it all on a slim budget. He calls it the Whiskey Tango Tailgating Trailer.

YouTube video

Johnny’s perspective on building this tailgating trailer in his own words:

Over my years of camping and tailgating I have found a major problem with all the “equipment” that is required to make each event possible. I always had to pack up fifty things before the event, unpack it all and set up when I got there, break it down and pack it up before we left, and finally unpack it all when I got home. I recently got tired of this and was looking for ways to keep everything in one package and ready to go at any time.

I frequent websites like tailgatingideas.com and tailgatermonthly.com and love to see all the custom rigs these guys build which tend to be mostly for college football games in the south. You can find these trailers all over the internet pre built for like $10-50K. I wanted something like that but with a Southern California twist on a working man’s budget. I knew that in most locations in California we couldn’t just keep a beer tap out front and I also didn’t need a satellite dish with a huge TV to watch every football game that is televised. My necessity for the trailer was based on going camping with multiple families, going to concert festivals, Jimmy Buffett shows, and tailgating off-road racing events in southern California deserts and down in Baja Mexico.

Whiskey Tango Tent TrailerAfter much thought and research, I knew that essential for my trailer would have to be:

1. A trailer that would fit in my garage. I have no driveway or street to park this on.

2. Must have a full size BBQ. I didn’t want a small portable BBQ, we need to cook and serve up to 50 people.

3. Have to keep the beer/liquor hidden out of plain sight. 80% of the places we go in California don’t allow alcohol.

4. Self containment. I needed this to be ready to go at any time and be completely self contained. Water, power, fuel, etc. Just hook up and go.

5. Finally it must come in at a budget I could afford. I had a fixed income to work with and couldn’t break the bank.

My wheels started turning and originally my idea was to build one from the ground up starting with a flatbed trailer. But the more I planned for this I realized that would mean lots of electrical wiring, framing, plumbing, siding, shade, etc… So my next idea was to get a very small toy hauler trailer which already had the stove, sink, wiring, plumbing, fridge, toilet, etc. and then cut a giant catering window on the side and build a bar there. The problem with that is it still wouldn’t fit in my garage. (I live in a townhouse with no street parking) So back to square one with the trailer… Then it dawned on me that I could use an old pop-up tent trailer that already had all the electrical wiring and plumbing and rip out the stuff I don’t need and I could use the back slider bed as a the bar. Ive seen those pop ups in driveways and sides of houses all over and knew I could pick up a used one for cheap!

Whiskey Tango Tent TrailerI started by purchasing a pop up tent trailer that wasn’t so old it would need major restoration. I first removed all the canvas tent walls and the front slide out bed. The floor plan was a key ingredient and allowed me to remove the dinette area up front which is where I planned to put the BBQ. I removed the inside bench seat area that also was a bed and this is where the 180 qt ice-chest and side bar would go. I built a sliding counter top over the ice chest that would hide both the ice chest and liquor storage. The rear slide bed was kept intact and I doubled up the plywood for stability and stained and sealed the plywood. I built a fold up side bar so people could walk up by the bar area and also use this as a serving place for food. I installed a 100,000 BTU stainless steel BBQ with double side burners and rotisserie burner for all our cooking needs. I bought a jockey box beer tap system that fits nicely in the ice chest if we want to hook up a keg. It has as fold down 26” LCD TV with DVD player to watch movies and is cable ready if I decide to go the satellite route. Finally we went with a country theme and covered the sides with fake wood vinyl flooring to give it the chuck wagon effect and also covered the bar stools with fake cowhide.

My tips…

1. Research… Lots of online searches and websites before I even got started. Know what you want before you build it. Think about it, draw it out, picture yourself using it at different locations, and know what you want and how you plan to use it before you start buying stuff. Try searching for tailgating trailers see what comes up.

2. Get a budget and a schedule. My budget was $6k (what I sold my jetskis for earlier that year) and my schedule was to have this ready by Stagecoach country music festival in April. If you don’t have a deadline this will drag on and take forever. The long nights before crunch time makes it worth it.

3. Craigslist, Craigslist, Craigslist!!!! People are desperate now and will sell anything for cheap. I bought the trailer for $2K, the gigantic 100,000btu BBQ for $800, the flooring (in my case siding) for $150, the Jockey box beer tap system and a full keg for $160…. ALL ON CRAIGSLIST. That would have cost a lot more new.

4. Theme… Go with some sort of theme and stick to it. This will help tie everything together so it doesn’t look like a bunch of mismatched stuff you threw together. Tiki Bar, Sports Team, Racing Sponsor, etc… We wanted Western so we went with wood siding and cow skin bar stool covers.

Attached in PDF format are my cost and time breakdown. As a construction superintendent it was important to me to track my hours and costs should I ever want to sell this or explain to people what was really involved in the build. I encourage anyone to test their skills and have a great time building their own tailgating trailer!

See ya in the Parking Lot!

BARBQ Cost Breakdown-1.pdf
BARBQ Time Breakdown-1.pdf