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Thread: Trailer Questions

  1. #1
    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Question Trailer Questions

    I am looking to buy an enclosed trailer and I need some help decifering a few things. I found a used single axle, 6'x12' enclosed utility trail, and I need a little help, as I am a little uneducated about trailer capacities and such.

    Tongue says 5000 lb max gross weight. - Is this number referring to the axle max or tongue max? (this is the total weight of the trailer and load in it, correct?)
    The one I am looking at has got what I think are called torsion(sp?) springs. They are the type that attach at the axle and angle back and down to where the wheel hub is. I think I remember hearing that these are better because they work independently (rather than with the axle on leaf springs) and they distribute the weight back and straight up rather than tilting the wheels up and in. Am I thinking correctly on this?
    Are all half ton trucks rated for 5000 lb towing capacity?

    Thanks
    -Buck

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    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    The 5,000 pounds on the tongue are what the tongue can sustain, not what the trailer can hold.

    Torsion springs are nicer but aren't for heavier loads.

    Each truck is different, check your owner's manual for towing weights.

    Check the axle to see what weight it is rated to. That's what you can actually haul with that trailer but, don't forget to subtract the weight of the enclosure from that rating.

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    Normally 5000lbs gross weight (GWR or GVWR) is the maximum weight of the trailer and it's contents. The toungue weight is the weight that is actually pushing down on the ball of your truck. Which is usually 10 percent of the GWR. In this case 500 lbs. I guarantee it's not 5000lbs. As far as the trailer tow rating of your truck, that depends on engine, trans and axle ratio and whether or not it's 2 or 4 wheel drive. Trucks also have a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) which is the maximun combined weight of the truck AND it's cargo, fuel, people stuff, etc. They also have a GCWR (gross COMBINED weight rating) which is the total weight of the truck, it's cargo and the trailer.

    Bottom line is if you have a half ton truck with a v8 you can pull a 5000lb trailer. Most are usually rated up closer to 7000 lbs.

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    The tag on the tongue should show the gross weight. You probably won't find the empty weight listed. If it is listed I wouldn't trust it. Your axles are probably the limiting factor, as are the tires. Torsion spring axles are the way to go unless you're talking about an equipment trailer. Electric brakes are better than surge brakes. Before you hook it up and hit the highway have a trailer shop do some PM on the hubs and brakes. If you're pulling a trailer near max rating I'd suggest two spares. Make sure you have a jack that will lift a loaded trailer that's sitting on a rim. Verify the load limit of your hitch and ball. Just because your truck manual says it can pull 7000# doesn't mean your hitch is rated at that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    Normally 5000lbs gross weight (GWR or GVWR) is the maximum weight of the trailer and it's contents. The toungue weight is the weight that is actually pushing down on the ball of your truck. Which is usually 10 percent of the GWR. In this case 500 lbs. I guarantee it's not 5000lbs. As far as the trailer tow rating of your truck, that depends on engine, trans and axle ratio and whether or not it's 2 or 4 wheel drive. Trucks also have a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) which is the maximun combined weight of the truck AND it's cargo, fuel, people stuff, etc. They also have a GCWR (gross COMBINED weight rating) which is the total weight of the truck, it's cargo and the trailer.

    Bottom line is if you have a half ton truck with a v8 you can pull a 5000lb trailer. Most are usually rated up closer to 7000 lbs.
    Good info Snyd... I've heard of the 10% rule and I know about the dependence on engine, trans, axle. Learning about the different gear ratios available on trucks right now. Any suggestions for what to look for?
    Thanks!

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    The tag on the tongue should show the gross weight. You probably won't find the empty weight listed. If it is listed I wouldn't trust it. Your axles are probably the limiting factor, as are the tires. Torsion spring axles are the way to go unless you're talking about an equipment trailer. Electric brakes are better than surge brakes. Before you hook it up and hit the highway have a trailer shop do some PM on the hubs and brakes. If you're pulling a trailer near max rating I'd suggest two spares. Make sure you have a jack that will lift a loaded trailer that's sitting on a rim. Verify the load limit of your hitch and ball. Just because your truck manual says it can pull 7000# doesn't mean your hitch is rated at that.
    Pid - About the torsion springs, I agree with you from what I know, but what does that do for the argument of carrying lesser loads? Am I crazy for pulling a 6'x12' tailer with no brakes? The one I am looking at doesn't have them. It has got brand new tires and I plan to get another spare so that I have two. I have a strong enough jack.

    Too much homework!! I was going to buy a new one, but I just can't shell out the extra cash right now.

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    I'm not sure if there's a legal requirement for brakes but I personally would be very reluctant to pull 5000# without trailer brakes. In fact I'd be reluctant to pull 2500# without brakes. Your truck brakes are not designed to stop an additional 5000# travelling at 60 mph. In a perfect world they may be adequate but the world I drive in isn't perfect. Kids, animals, and other drivers occasionally cause me to romp on the brakes.

    I believe torsion axles provide a better ride at varying loads. That's one of the primary advantages. I pull an enclosed trailer with a wide variety of loads and it works like a dream. The only thing I have to allow for is to change the braking rate for the different loads. I carry a Handyman jack in the trailer, by the way. My previous comments about spares and jacks are from experience.

    If you can find a 4 place snow-go trailer to use to move I assure you it'll sell quickly up here in the fall. The biggest expense we see up here for enclosed trailers is shipping. Enclosed snow-go trailers are in high demand up here.

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    Mr. P is right on the money. Get a trailer with brakes! And like he said. If you have a decent trailer you can sell it quick in Fairbanks. New ones are spendy and nice used ones at a reasonalble price are rare.

    As far as gear ratio goes. The exact ratios in Fords and Chevs are a little different but with a half ton, small block v8 figure 3:50's or 3:73's. And also, autos are rated at a higher tow rating than manuals. I had 3:08's in my chev van and had 3:73's put in, 3:08's were just to high. It will work but hills will slow you down. If you go with 4:11's or 4:10's you may find them way to low for normal driving. Unless you plan on putting 33 or 35 inch tires on your truck.

    What do you have for a truck now?

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    I have to agree with Pid in reference to the size of the trailer you mentioned. I would look for at least and 8'x10' enclosed trailer so it could be used for snowmachines etc. and resale.

    It is recommended that any trailer over 1500 lbs have brakes and if I remember correctly it is required on any trailer over 5000 lbs and in some states less. Bottom line if your hauling a couple thousand pound trailer you will be happy you have brakes on the trailer when you need them.

    A class III hitch is typically what is put on trucks and they are good for 5000 lbs. If you are going to be hauling that much cross countries it would be good to have a class IV and probably tires that are at least D range. I guess I would want more than just the minimums on a long trip. Last thing you would want is problems. Also if your going to purchase a used trailer I would check out the wheel bearings or simply replace them since they are cheap and put on some bearing buddies and grease them up good.

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    Also be cautious loading your trailer, too much in on the hitch (tongue) is bad and too little can be even worse. I pulled a 28 foot car hauler with my 2500 truck full of house hold good to NY in 2004 then back up in 2006. Much smarter load plan on the way back up than the way down. If you have too little tongue weight when you are going down hill and pick up speed you will start to figure it out real fast if you are not loaded properly. For a 1/2 ton I recomend 16 foot with double axles and breaks. If you can get something that is 8 feet wide as resale will be better in my opinion as you can park two sleds or wheelers side by side in it.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Having moved up with not enough truck, too much weight in the trailer and no breaks on the trailer, I agree that it's a very bad idea. The best idea is to get rid of as much stuff as possible before moving. My wife and I had alot of books, so we mailed them up book rate. Just don't let someone pack non-book items in the box or you'll be dinged full rate when you go to pick them up, I think we had to cough up an extra $250 when they arrived

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    So what do you guys think about trailers that are homemade out of old pickup beds? I have one to pull my 4 wheeler and about 400 pounds of camping junk. Doesn't have brakes on it, do I need them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by stiffnecked View Post
    So what do you guys think about trailers that are homemade out of old pickup beds? I have one to pull my 4 wheeler and about 400 pounds of camping junk. Doesn't have brakes on it, do I need them?
    I wouldn't think you would have a problem with it if your hauling one wheeler and a little gear. It might be over the 1500 lb suggestion for brakes but you should be ok as long as your not towing it with a Chevy Luv If you have ever towed a trailer with brakes and then one without you will know just how much difference it makes. I'm not sure this is a good analogy but imagine disconnecting the rear brakes on your pickup, throwing in some gear and going for a spin.

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Default Your opinions please!

    Thanks for all of the input guys, but I am still having a difficult time making a decision on this. Let me try to explain the situation better.

    I have found a used 6x12 enclosed utility trailer for sale. The price tag is $1000.
    It is single axle.
    It does not have trailer brakes.
    It has torsion springs.
    It has barn doors in the back and a side door near the front.
    Aluminum sides (plywood interior).
    Steel C-channel frame (rusty, but solid all around).

    Now, what I would like to have is a tandem axle trailer that is 8' wide...problems with that...
    $$$$$$$$$$$ I am not in a good situation to dump a lot of money into a trailer.
    Availability - I have been hard pressed to find one of these! Even Ebay and craigslist is limited picking. Haven't spent a lot of time looking into new ones.

    Here is what I need to haul.
    Four wheeler (which could go in the bed of the truck if need be)
    My tools for building (not my shop, just portable stuff I would take to a job)
    Camping, fishing, hunting gear
    Clothes (I could ship these)
    Books (I will likely ship these)
    No furniture

    Now, what bothers me is that there are no brakes on this trailer (and it is not 8' wide). My concern is stopping it with a half ton 4wd pickup. I can't ever see it being loaded to the gills, but I want to be safe. If it would not be safe, why would they make a trailer with no brakes? Can aftermarket brakes be installed on a trailer? I really don't have time to deal with that, but what would that take/cost?

    Your opinions please! What would you do?

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    The point with resalability is that if you spent $1500 for the right trailer you could get that much or more in AK. If you see keeping the trailer or simply can't afford the extra time/money then don't worry about it. If you don't see having a use for the trailer once you get here it might be worth renting the same size UHaul. I hate to see someone waste money on renting a trailer though.

    From the list of items you posted to bring with I don't see 5000 lbs unless she has alot of clothes It might be worth getting yourself an ATV/snowmachine trailer and a cheap aluminum canopy instead. All depends on what you plan to use it for once your here.

    Personally I would haul the wheeler in the truck and maybe the camping gear if you purchased said trailer. That stuff doesn't need to be in dry storage. If you don't overlaod the trailer then don't worry about brakes on the trailer. Just a guess but if you don't have a trailer with brakes already then you would need to install the brake mechanism in your truck as well. It could start to get expensive with maybe not so much benefit.

    If you think weight is becoming an issue, take it over to a scale and weigh the load. You can then adjust (add/remove) as necessary. Just some thoughts.

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Default Thanks Bighorn

    Good thoughts there boss...along the lines I was thinking. If I purchase the said trailer, I would keep it...I couldn't see making much of a profit on it and I would use it for carpentry work if I could find a niche in the market for that type of work. I suspect I couldn't afford to keep a more expensive trailer and I would then purchase a "seller" and buy what would provide a profit.

    Any other thoughts?

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    4 years ago I bought a 6x12 single axle flat bed trailer for 1100 bucks. It was new but still, only a flat bed. Sounds like a good deal to me if it's not trashed. Sounds like it would be nice to have up here once you get here. For what you are going to be hauling I wouldn't worry about trailer brakes with a half ton truck. Load it up and come on up!! BUT, you might want to check with Canadian Customs to see if they require brakes on a trailer that size. It would be a bummer to get turned around at the border

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Red face uuggghh...

    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    ...Load it up and come on up!! BUT, you might want to check with Canadian Customs to see if they require brakes on a trailer that size. It would be a bummer to get turned around at the border
    Thanks Snyd! I checked AK laws, but didn't give our good neighbors a thought. It seems I left that off my looooong list of "things to do"! I will do a little more hunting around, but if I can't come up with something soon, I am going to cash in and go through the bearings, wiring and all.

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    I'd buy it and fill it and haul it up, pulled heavier loads with a 1/2 ton without problems. Down Shift on steep hills and leave extra room for breaking (stopping). In my opinion you have a deal that you can't pass up. Suggest a couple of spare tires, which would only add to the value of your trailer if you choose to sell it when you arrive.

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