Mackay FFA adviser Trent Van Leuven had been on the lookout for someone skilled enough to lead the construction of a trailer for a long time, according to his student Eric Estrada.
As he stood next to a 6x10-foot, 1,500-pound-rated trailer he built, 17-year-old Estrada said it was a project he was supposed to lead but eventually took on the lion’s share himself.
Estrada is selling raffle tickets for a chance to win the trailer. Ticket sales run until December with the funds earmarked for Mackay FFA mechanic and welding programs .
It was a labor-intensive project, Estrada said. It took two weeks to do research, since finding the right blueprints online can be challenging.
“We couldn’t just use anything, it had to be something we could complete,” he said. After they found blueprints they could work with, it took several months to build the trailer. He had to design and cut out the steel pieces with a computer-controlled plasma cutting table and then weld them into a trailer.
Estrada said he was fortunate to have the plasma cutter. Using the device, which basically printed the pieces he needed, saved time, he said. Expensive tools like the cutter are not often seen in small, 1A school districts, Estrada explained, which is why it’s so advantageous for the Mackay shop to have one.
Proud of his work, Estrada said he and the people who helped him build the trailer did their jobs correctly. The welds are strong and can support the weight of whatever is being hauled. The last thing someone wants when they’re pulling a trailer is for a weld to pop and the load to come loose on the road, Estrada said.
The teen was allowed to take on the months-long project partly because of his commitment to being a professional welder. Taking after his dad, a 20-year welder, Estrada said he’s considering the Western Welding Academy in Gillette, Wyoming, as the place to advance his skills after high school.