Updated: Dec 20, 2021
We had already been moving quickly on what seemed to be a good opportunity on this particular insulated, intermodal semi-trailer, complete with a chassis in good shape. KJ and Dino had looked closely at the photos and given the green light.
We had been told that we could pay half the cost when we had completed an upcoming fundraiser / creative mission, and the seller would finance us the rest and we would simply pay down the balance with the money we would be saving by moving out of our Fernley storage space.
"So to be clear, now the guy selling to you wants the whole price now, you can't finance this, which we understand and that's cool, but now if we want this trailer we need to get this done in two to three days because you are leaving town Friday?"
In three hours I created a prospectus, and sent it out. If it were to be, it would happen.
The deal felt right on a lot of levels. Instinctually. It bordered on too good to be true. Never a great feeling. But the seller seemed solid, had come highly recommended, and had helped 27 Burning Man camps move out of their storage spaces and into tractor trailers he and his crew would drive between Empire and BRC for a reasonable price.
Within four hours I was contacted by a camp member asking what needed to happen. The next day IAMU wired the full asking price, which included two driver jumps, first to Pyramid Lake (20 minutes from our storage space), and once the refit was done (at some undetermined time and mission in the future), onto Empire, where it would live until it was ready to deploy at BM2022.
After the trailer was delivered, photo, dropped pin sent and the dust settled, a few of us quietly began searching for more information and context about the trailer and its price.
Three things became apparent:
No one could find another trailer like it anywhere on the Internet. It turns out this trailer was custom built for Apple with specialized insulation to protect electronics as the trailer moved from cargo ship to rail to truck, then it was later purchased and maintained by J.B. Hunt.
The chassis was worth more than what we had paid. The lowest price we could find for an intermodal chassis was a full $2,000 more than the asking price. And the one we found, with no box, was in terrible condition.
In the savings calculations, no one remembered to include our annual Uhaul costs. The original goal was to come up with a viable way to reduce out Nevada storage costs. The huge bonus was saving at least 500 person-hours moving gear to and from our storage spaces on the several runs of Uhauls we did every year. That was more than enough to say yes and feel great about the deal. But we laughed when we realized we were done with paying for any Uhaul at all, an additional $2,000-$3,000 a year.
It had turned out that quite by accident our first year savings equalled what we had paid for the insulated box and chassis.
Glowing at all of this we realized three things remained.
We needed to figure out how to do a minimum viable trailer configuration to accommodate 60' of gear into our 48' trailer. Happily, half of one of our 10'x30' storage spaces was occupied by a flatbed trailer purchased in 2019. It was stacked with bikes and would probably need a little bit of love after 2 years of isolation, but we were likely already in striking distance of making this work. Nine years of optimizing DC Container loading wouldn't hurt.
We needed a mission plan with at least a few people that could in, either around Renegade Burn, or after ElseWhence. This was all up in the air, nothing was confirmed, those thinking about either needed dates to get time off. We had, of course, been here before. Time to lasso and ground some ambiguities.
For this to work, we would need to do a fundraiser focused on covering some important costs. Registration, forever tags, storage (now $50 a month, down from $320) and some storage to trailer mission support money. It would be nice to create a fundraiser based on making good on some big cost, time and effort savings, to say nothing of realizing a multi-year dream of getting the whole village on wheels.