Alpo’s Trailer: how to make a custom travel case

One of the extra little projects I managed to finish before Rose City Live was making a custom travel case for Alpo, my breakage-prone pony. He arrived at last year’s RCL with a broken tail and has been repaired and repainted three times since I made him in 2012. I’d like this time to be the last!

One of the things that makes Alpo prone to breaking is his tail, which is turned and swished. That makes the tail extra fragile. Horses with thin pieces that stick out like swished tails, long ears, or flying manes are all good candidates for custom carry cases.

I took pictures of my process to share with you. My carry case was heavily inspired by Emily Rodger’s tutorial, published on the Braymere Custom Saddlery blog. My version is adapted a bit for stablemates and a smaller budget.

First, I gathered my materials:

  • plastic container slightly larger than model
  • tacky glue
  • scissors
  • white charcoal pencil
  • model
  • foam
  • styrofoam and knife (optional)

alpos trailer - materials

Because my container was deeper than needed and I didn’t want to waste precious foam, I first filled the container up part of the way with styrofoam. I cut the styrofoam carefully to take up the space needed and glued it in place.

alpos trailer - styrofoam base

You may or may not need to do the step with the styrofoam, depending on your container and your supply of foam :D To build the rest of the case:

Cut out and glue down a layer of the cushy foam (you could certainly add multiple layers, especially for larger models).

alpos trailer - foam base

Cut a second square of foam and carefully traced around the model with the charcoal pencil. You want to leave a little bit of breathing room but still provide the secure custom fit.

alpos trailer - tracing

After tracing, cut out the shape.

alpos trailer - cut out 1

And check the fit.

alpos trailer - cut out 2

Now take another square of foam, and trace the shape of the first cut out on it. With your model lying in the first cut out, identify which part(s) of the model stick out- that’s where you’ll need to cut for the second piece. This step will depend a lot on your model and the thickness of your foam.

After tracing the first shape onto the foam and comparing, I could see that Alpo’s raised hind leg and head were both lower than the edge of the foam. The second piece of foam would completely cover those parts, so I did not cut space for them.

alpos trailer - cut out 3

For Alpo, I needed three cut outs. Other models may take more. My continue tracing, comparing, and cutting until the whole model is covered below the edge of the foam.

alpos trailer - cut out 4

Then cover it with one last piece of uncut foam.

alpos trailer - final foam

Add foam or other filler until you reach the height of the lid. You want the foam to be secure but not squished down.

Put the top on, label it, and voila: your own custom carry case.

I opted to glue the first cut out into the container. Be very careful not to get any glue where the model will touch! The other foam pieces are packed over the model and secured by the top piece and the container’s lid.

alpos trailer - all cutouts

Alpo did not win any ribbons at Rose City Live. But he did travel safe and sound there and back!

3 responses to “Alpo’s Trailer: how to make a custom travel case

  1. Very helpful! Thank you!

  2. Lazy H. Custom Tack

    Totally going to do this!

  3. Great idea and tutorial! :)

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