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sldan

Trailer research

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A few questions on enclosed trailers.

This is our first trailer so I am searching for words of wisdom.

Thanks to all in advance for your thoughts and comments.

I want to error on the side of safety rather than cost.

Car is 3500 Lbs 120" wheel base 1925 Stutz 693 roadster 15 feet overall length.

Tow vehicle is 2009 Ford F250 Super Duty crew cab 5.4L V8 gas with integrated trailer brake controller.

1. 18 or 20 foot trailer?

2. Leaf spring or torsion bar axles?

3. twin 3500 or 5000 lb axle capacity?

4. Are there different types of trailer brakes to consider?

5. Radial tires or bias tires?

6. Regular, trailer rated, or light truck rated tires?

7. D ring rating?

8. Location of interior lights?

9. Used or new?

10. Aluminum or steel?

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The problem with this question is it is all by opinion which will vary greatly.

Here is my view. You need to buy an enclosed trailer for the vehicle you don't own yet, SO don't short cut the unit. 20 foot is the shortest I would consider. You need room to move the load forward and back to gain proper tung weight. You also need room to move inside to do your tie downs. I prefer the torsion axle. We have never had one fail in 20 years of service with trailers loaded at their limits. You never have too many D rings and build them to match the capacity of the trailer. I would go to the heavier axle you mentioned. Remember this means better load rated tires as well. If you have a trailer failure it is usually a blown tire. Radials are all I am aware of being used by todays builders. The steel VS aluminum is a price and empty weight question. Our steel frame trailers have also served us well. Most trailer builders have an interior package that will include inside lights. I like a finished interior meaning plywood walls. This makes it much easier to move along inside the trailer when a car is in it. Used VS new is only a budget question. Just be careful of condition if going used. Many guys let the maintenance slip on a trailer if they know it won't be with them forever. My Dad and I both bought our's with the thought of them lasting forever. We try to take care of them with that thought.

My last recommendation is a good high quality winch. We winch in and out all the time. In my opinion it is the only safe way to load and unload.

If you have any other questions just put them out there. Old car guys usually have trailers too. If nothing else they gain a parking spot.

Good luck

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msmazcol,

Thank you for the very thoughtful and informative reply.

I have read some of the trailer threads in this forum and everyone has an opinion but the common thought from the more serious guys is safety and maintenance.

I have concerns when thinking about a used trailers unless it has been well maintained. I suspect that these trailers will cost nearly as much as a new one.

The trailers on the local dealer's lot seem to be minimum rated units with little or no options. Is it typical to prepare a specification and get a price for a trailer built to the specifications?

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There is a great 4 part series in the NC Region News on buying a trailer (that came out after I bought my trailer). It starts in the September/October 2006 edition and continues in the next 3 issues. I suggest you read it at the following site:

NC Region News Archives

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I agree with msmazcol on the opinions on trailers where everyone has an opinion. I just bought my first enclosed trailer after a lot of discussion and research with other trailer owners and experience, my actual purchase was:

1. 18 or 20 foot trailer?

Neither. I purchased a 24 ft trailer because of the number of comments about not having enough room to tie the vehicle down when it is in the trailer. This gets harder as we all get older and the extra room was welcome.

2. Leaf spring or torsion bar axles?

Purchased leaf spring because that was what was available.

3. twin 3500 or 5000 lb axle capacity?

Got the 5000 lb axles with brakes on both because if I want to load a larger vehicle did not want to be testing the limits and wanted to be sure it would stop.

4. Are there different types of trailer brakes to consider?

Electric brakes are pretty much the standard

5. Radial tires or bias tires?

I put radial tires on it, but bias ply are available. Looking for maybe a little less rolling resistance and maybe better fuel economy.

6. Regular, trailer rated, or light truck rated tires?

Need to have trailer rated tires.

7. D ring rating?

heavy rating on the D rings and want at least 8 of them so you have some ability to move the load for best weight distribution.

8. Location of interior lights?

Do not want to have just interior lights. I also put exterior lights at the back of the trailer on the exterior for loading when it might be dark. I also put 110 volt fluorescent lights inside along with an inverter to run off the 12 volt system and and a battery in the trailer. Attached to the 12 volt deep cycle battery, I attached a solar panel on the roof to keep the battery charged. That way I can use the brighter 110 volt lights

9. Used or new?

I found that the price for a used trailer was almost the price of a new one around here,....especially when you look at buying a used one and almost always want to replace the tires, brakes and probably look at the wiring.

10. Aluminum or steel?

With the truck that you have, either will work. Aluminum trailer will be a multiple of a steel trailer in cost.

A couple of other things that you might want to look at is the escape door on the drivers side. You might not need it for your present vehicle, but it does help if you need to have access to the drivers side for another vehicle to get in and out and it is not that expensive when you spec the trailer.

Also look at putting a couple of vents in the roof for ventilation, not just one.

E channel all around the inside is something that you might want to add if you would be carrying anything that would need to be tied upright.

I also use an equalizing hitch.

Good luck on your decision

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)

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One detail I forgot was door opening clearance. Make SURE you know how tall your car stands. I've seen some closed trailers with door openings less than six feet tall. That won't cut it with many vintage cars.

Roof vents were mentioned by Larry. I chose not to have roof vents. The builder did have wall vents available. I liked them much better as they offer adjustments for opening. I like the idea of keeping the holes in my roof to as few as possible. The equalizer hitch is a really good idea for sway control if nothing else. When my Willys fire engine is loaded I'm tipping the scale at near 12,000#. It is a must. Yes, 6,000# axles are an option too.

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Thanks to all for the great information. I will read the article in the NC news letter.

It is clear that trailer selection is more of an engineering exercise than bargain hunting.

A question on electric trailer brakes. Are there drum brakes, disc brakes, etc..

I think I need an electric tongue jack and remote tire pressure monitor. Any thoughts.

On rear door clearance. I realized last night when I measure the height of the car with the top up maybe the standard dimension maybe too low unless the top is down.

An equalizer hitch will be on the list. Is that a permanent installation on the truck frame?

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I am currently looking at buying another trailer as mine though working fine is a 1995 and just surpassed 55,000 miles. Below is just my opinion on answering your inquiries:

1. 18 or 20 foot trailer? enclosed 22' or 24' x 102" wide for extra room (tools, parts, different cars, etc)

2. Leaf spring or torsion bar axles? torsion, last longer and ride better

3. twin 3500 or 5000 lb axle capacity? 10,000 lb is common now

4. Are there different types of trailer brakes to consider? electric common

5. Radial tires or bias tires? used both little to no difference

6. Regular, trailer rated, or light truck rated tires? trailer tires is the law in most if not all states

7. D ring rating? EZ track allows flexibility

8. Location of interior lights? middle front and back, both AC and DC.

9. Used or new? either or

10. Aluminum or steel?<!-- google_ad_section_end --> aluminum (less rusting, lighter, etc)

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I love my electric tongue jack. It is an option that is worth every $. Keep in mind that it will mean a battery on board the trailer. In my opinion this is the best set up so you can make slight adjustments prior to hooking the harness to your truck. The deep cycle battery will get charged via your truck tow pack harness while moving. This is also where you can tie in your winch to the battery. Many people are mentioning the 24 ' for length. Trailers are like garages the extra always helps. Dad's trailer was a 20' and would not handle my fire engine. My new trailer is a 24' with a wedge and slope nose. This gives plenty of room to work up front.

You ask about equalizer hitches. There are many to pick from. If you have a receiver hitch with your tow package you are all set. The hitch I run is called the "Equalizer" built by Progress located right here in UTAH USA. It is a solid bar using no chain hook ups. The bars act as a weight leveling as well as a sway control. I am very happy with the set up. The only minor issue being it does creek a bit when turning corners. This is only because you are overcoming the friction of the anti sway. It was not a cheap set up but we've been pleased with the performance. We run the 12,000# bars. You would be fine with the 10,000#s.

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Stay away from the situation of having to lower your top to load your car. This can only lead to a mishap some day. Enclosed trailers are custom built to the buyers needs. Work with a good dealer and tell him how tall you need your door opening to end up. The roofs are raised to meet that number. The only draw back to this is you usually won't find that kind of trailer in a dealer's stock inventory. This means ordering it and no last year left over pricing.

post-60266-143138140429_thumb.jpg

Edited by msmazcol (see edit history)

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You have recieved some very sound advice from the previous posts. After 20 years of hauling antique cars all over the country, let me offer mine. I never heard anyone complain about too much room. 24ft. MINIMUM. I bought a new 28ft. 4 years ago, now I can take my golf cart AND my car. I had an 18ft. for 12 years and the lack of room became trying as I got older. Just one more thing I don't believe has been mentioned. My current trailer is a gooseneck; not 5th wheel. The gooseneck is a much smoother pull in my opinion. So you might consider this; however, that is a matter of preference. Also there are two types of couplers for goosenecks. One for shortbed trucks and one for long beds.

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I own a 24' Featherlite trailer with a V nose, I love it...... Buy a good trailer that will last you a lifetime..... Never look at what you are towing today. You never know what will be inside it next week.

The photos are from a trip I made to pick up a 1954 Buick Super in San Antonio TX from Orange County CA. The right trailer make towing a breeze IMO.....

Good luck.

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post-58894-143138140518_thumb.jpg

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post-58894-143138140522_thumb.jpg

post-58894-143138140804_thumb.jpg

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Everyone,

I am so glad that I posted my questions. I was expecting a few replies suggesting that I search the forum for previous posts on the subject.

All of the input has been a great help to me. I had been of the mind set that I could go to the local trailer guy and pick out a new trailer that is on the lot and save a few bucks.

Now it is clear that I will have to develop a specification for our trailer and get prices.

What has been your experience with warranty issues?

I saw a mention of electric drum brakes from one manufacturer. Is this the common type of brake?

Is it important to buy locally?

What are your thoughts on the Ford integrated trailer brake controller?

I believe it is time to get my butt to a dealer and get my feet wet.

We hope to have the car finished in the spring and will want to get to some shows.

We plan to go the 75th AACA Louisville event next year.

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1. I have not had any issues with 4 trailers to need warranty work. {knock on wood}

2. I bought all 4 within 1 1/2 hours from my home. It's important to me.

3. Electric drum brakes; yes. You could go hydraulic but I don't see the point. Surge brakes should be left to the boat trailers.

4. Fords integrated brake controller is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I have a 08 F-450 with it.

5. You may already know this, but sometimes there is a 8-10 week wait when ordering a trailer. However, with the economy being slow you may get it quicker.

6. This is just my experience-don't get Carlisle tires.

7. Good luck and let us know what you get.

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I personally carry 2 new spares already mounted up and bolted to the inside front drivers side of the trailer. They are bolted to the side underneath a two section locking cabinet (won't come open when traveling) with shelves which holds misc tools, tie downs, cleaning supplies, towels, first aid kid, spare trailer lamps, emergency radiator hose repair kit, tire air compressor with long cord that can be used with the trailer battery (DC lights and winch), wheel chocks, two exterior trailer lights that plug into flush receptacles located around the top / sides of the trailer, etc.

Also have a 3 1/2 ton floor jack that I chain to the trailer floor (plywood jig for the wheels to set in) along with two jack stands. Also carry a 4-way or breaker bar set up as many trailer lugs are 140 foot pounds of torque. I also carry some misc wood which always comes in handy. Carry a few of those orange cones and a blinking light in case you do need to make road repairs as you will get no respect from the motorist flying by.

Be sure that your trailer has the supports in the rear that you can load and unload without having to hook up your truck. They keep the front end of the trailer from lifting. Check out the trailers construction. Where some manufactures used to use square / tube steel they now use angle which won't last. Some name brand trailers that only a few year ago were considered good are now inferior. When I buy my new trailer it won't be of the same manufacture as the current one with 55K miles as they are now junk, but cheap.

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Make sure you order a spare tire. My dealer always includes one as a bonus. The newer trailer I ordered a spare tire well below the floor of the trailer. It is nice that it gets the tire out of the way and gives you a spot for a HD bottle jack and all the needed tools. The only catch with the well is it means you have to potentially move the car back in the trailer a bit to open the door. I considered this a fair trade off. The one time I did have a tire issue I managed to wipe out two at once backing over a broken buffalo box in an empty lot. The water department was too lazy to open the lid and broke it out with a sledge hammer. Smooth!

As far as jacks I thinking you are talking about load level jacks for the rear corners. We optioned the drop down stabilizer posts. This gives just enough support to the back of the trailer when the weight is on the beaver tail to keep from lifting the nose of the trailer and rear of your truck. I have seen several guys with different jack set ups at the rear posts. We never load or unload with out the tow vehicle hooked up for safety reasons. Someone else may chime in here. My only concern of screw jacks at the rear corners would be that is the first spot to drag on a steep driveway or deep rut. I'm not so sure the jacks fare so well.

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Ron is very correct about the design of these trailers. Our 1998 Cargo Mate shows differences from our 2008 Cargo Mate Forest River.

Someone tell me WHAT has not been cheapened up in quality over the year?

Quality not price though!

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I carry one mounted spare and two tires. I figure that I can have them mounted anywhere. I hate to be at the mercy of Buba selling me a tire for $500.00 just to get me on the road again.

I also carry a HCCA roster with me on long trips, there are quite a few helpfull people that you can call if you need a hand.

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Having 2 tires ready to go with rims will give you peace of mine. Plain painted rims really aren't that expensive and you won't have to depend on finding someone to mount the tires, especially at night, holiday, etc when everyone is closed. Plus you won't have to unhook and leave your trailer and vehicle which in some areas is risky. I have seen more than once on a friends trailer (he never checks the air) a tire fly apart and take out the tire alongside it leaving you with a pair of flats. It happens and never at a convenient time.

Whatever you do make sure your spares are secured and not just laying on the trailer floor. One quick stop or swerve or worst yet an accident will turn the tires into hammers doing severe damage to your vehicle.

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I have a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) that also monitors temperature on all 8 of my wheels, I know what the pressure and temp is at all times.

Knock on wood, I have never had a problem....... There is always a first though....

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I have a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) that also monitors temperature on all 8 of my wheels, I know what the pressure and temp is at all times.

Knock on wood, I have never had a problem....... There is always a first though....

Is this an aftermarket system since it includes your trailer tires? Never heard of one with temperature readings. I would definitely be interested in this set up. who makes it?

I know that as of 2005 all vehicles need to have a build in monitor that lets you know if a tire is going flat. I think it works through the ABS system?

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Yes, it is an aftermarket system that has a sensor for each tire and a monitor that tells the pressure & temperature readings. It has a built in alarm to warn you if there is an issue.

It is a product that I am designing for my company. We will be launching it around the first of the year. It can monitor 4-38 tires from 0-200 psi.

Here is a photo of the system, the monitor, relay for the trailer and the sensors that mount to the valve stem.

post-58894-143138141044_thumb.jpg

Edited by OldsmoREO
Photo (see edit history)

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Most of the systems on GM cars and probably other vehicles use a tire pressure sensor at the valve stem. It has a transponder in the wheel that sends a signal to a processor in the vehicle that monitors tire pressure. If the pressure is low, it alerts the driver. Here is a link that offers more information.

Google Image Result for http://www.gmtpms.com/images/tpms_hand.jpg

The one thing that you must be careful is having someone mounting and dismounting the tires that they do not hit the sensor and damage it.

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