Utility Trailer Recommendations

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manfre

New User
Manfre
I no longer have a truck, but now own a vehicle that can tow up to 2,700 lbs, not that I'll get anywhere near that limit. I need a utility trailer for trips to the box stores, lumber runs, moving beehvies, yard waste to the dump, and (hopefully) transporting free cabinets. I think the largest things I'll need to transport on a somewhat regular basis are full sheets of plywood and 12' lumber. I'll pay delivery fees or rent the home depot truck if I need to move stuff that cannot be safely transported with my soon to be purchased trailer.

I'm overwhelmed by the many options and haven't been able to make a decision. I'm more accustomed to "I'm borrowing a trailer, so I'll make it work", but without a truck (or car I'm willing/allowed to put lumber in) I think I would need to try and borrow a trailer way too often. The only decision I've been able to make so far is that the trailer will be between 4' x 8' and 5' x 10'.

- Can a full sheet of plywood lay flat on the bed of a 4 x 8 trailer that has a tailgate?

- Is it more useful to have rail sides, wood sides, or mesh sides? Have there been times where you wish your trailer had (or didn't have) a specific type of side?

- Are the standard 4' wire mesh tailgates easily removable when I need to transport a 12' piece of wood? I can't think of any situations where I would need to roll something on to a trailer
 

scsmith42

New User
Scott Smith
Michael, the three most important things to consider when buying a trailer are 1) the deck size, 2) the axle capacity, and 3) trailer brakes.

You have already figured out 1. Re 3, brakes would be nice but are probably not a "must have" based upon your towing weight limit.

For 2, I would strongly encourage you to buy a trailer with an axle capacity of 3000 lbs or greater. My 4x8 trailer has a 6k capacity axle with brakes on it, and it tows just fine behind a small vehicle.

Having a 3k capacity axle or greater means that you will be able to take your trailer on a longer distance trip w/o having to worry about tire or bearing problems.

The type of sides is not that important unless you plan to have stacks of material forked on/off the trailer deck. In that instance you would want a removable side.

Scott


Scott
 

jerrye

Jerry
Corporate Member
I bought a 5x10, 3500# steel decked trailer from these guys several years ago. Shopped around before buying and found that no one could touch their pricing. Quality was pretty good too. It has held up very well. The only thing that I have had to do to it is replace the rail & gate wood. I highly recommend them.
 

manfre

New User
Manfre
Michael, the three most important things to consider when buying a trailer are 1) the deck size, 2) the axle capacity, and 3) trailer brakes.

You have already figured out 1. Re 3, brakes would be nice but are probably not a "must have" based upon your towing weight limit.

For 2, I would strongly encourage you to buy a trailer with an axle capacity of 3000 lbs or greater. My 4x8 trailer has a 6k capacity axle with brakes on it, and it tows just fine behind a small vehicle.

Having a 3k capacity axle or greater means that you will be able to take your trailer on a longer distance trip w/o having to worry about tire or bearing problems.

The type of sides is not that important unless you plan to have stacks of material forked on/off the trailer deck. In that instance you would want a removable side.

Scott

Lots of great information. Most of the trailers that I've been looking at have a 3500# axle capacity. I was looking at some of the cheap-o folding trailers because I like the idea of being able to fold it up in my garage, but those trailers seem like they would be very limited in their usefulness.

The recommendation for towing with my Subaru is to have trailer brakes when towing over 1000#. I've towed more than that long distance with a Camry, so I know it's more of a liability statement than a mechanical limitation. I need to start researching trailer brakes.
 

kooshball

David
Corporate Member
I got a good deal on a trailer from east coast sales and if I remember correctly they had the type that you are looking for. I agree with Scott to get at least the 3000# axle...you might be surprised how much of that #3000 gets taken up by the trailer itself leaving you your working load.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I have a Harbor Freight 4x8 trailer with 12 inch tires. I paid less than $300 for it but also had to buy a sheet of plywood for the bed. It folds for storage. It took my son and I most of a day to bolt it together. The instructions were not great but it isn't terribly complicated. I've had it around 10 years and never had any trouble with it. I added sides about 12 inches tall out of 2x4s planned down to a little over 1 inch thickness. I put 1/2 inch spacers to move the 2x4s away from the bed so I can load a 49x97 inch piece of MDF or melamine particle board. I towed 17 foot pieces of casing home last weekend on this trailer by letting it overhang both ends. I've hauled wood home to SC from sources in NC several times, down the interstate with no issues. My son used it to haul a different motor for his truck several hundred miles. It is rated to tow about 1100 lbs. I don't know how close to that we've come but I know I had 700 lbs of flooring on it a couple weeks ago and it was fine. I made sure the tires were aired up first.

Surge brakes that work by a master cylinder on the hitch generating hydraulic pressure are fairly inexpensive and could probably be added to a little trailer like this. But I've never messed with it. My SUV is only supposed to tow 1500 lbs without brakes and my boat is around 2000 lbs. I towed it without issue but I was careful. You are not going to stop as quickly with a load behind you but if you take it easy, it will work. I wouldn't mess with adding trailer brakes because you're talking about a small trailer that won't haul that much.

My wife had a trailer when we got married that we still have. It has mesh floor and a ramp on the end. It will carry more than my little HF trailer and it is handy to move her lawn tractor since we can drive it on. I don't like towing it empty, however, because while it has a little weight on the tongue, the ramp is a big weight on the back that makes it want to rock up on the ball. So it goes up and down a lot. My little HF trailer doesn't have a ramp and doesn't do this.
 
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merrill77

Master Scrap Maker
Chris
> Can a full sheet of plywood lay flat on the bed of a 4 x 8 trailer that has a tailgate?

Depends on the design. On my current trailer, the tailgate is entirely outside the measured length when folded. I suspect this is frequently the case. However, many 4x8 trailers cannot fit a 4x8 sheet of plywood if you add wooden sides that they are designed to take - because the wood goes on the INSIDE of the rails. DAMHIKT.

> Is it more useful to have rail sides, wood sides, or mesh sides? Have there been times where you wish your trailer had (or didn't have) a specific type of side?

I prefer my wood sides over all my previous trailers. They are essentially wooden deck boards running the length of the trailer, with spaces between them. This makes it easy to run ropes between them for tying down the load and tarps. It is also easy to drill in a mounting point exactly where I need it. The same can be done with mesh sides if you have the right kind of hardware that fits through the mesh just right. Or caribiners. I did that a lot on my previous trailer that had a mesh floor.

Note that if you have mesh floor/sides and want to haul dirt or sand, you can just put a tarp in it. It is a little extra work to secure it in place for loading, but otherwise works fine. Having mesh instead of a solid floor reduces rot and rust if it sits outside.

> Are the standard 4' wire mesh tailgates easily removable when I need to transport a 12' piece of wood? I can't think of any situations where I would need to roll something on to a trailer

I removed the drop-down ramp/gate on my current trailer by removing two bolts. Replaced it with a drop-in wood gate. That really helped the balance of the trailer, as well. I also don't have much use for a ramp...at least not the short ramp that I have.


I'm on my 3rd small trailer, my experience has been this:

1st was one of those 4x8 folding trailers that I bought used from a neighbor for $50. I used that trailer for many, many years and hauled a lot of stuff with it. The ability to fold it up to store in my garage was a big feature, back when I lived a neighborhood with small lots (IMO, even the nicest trailers are darn ugly when sitting in your driveway or yard). 900lb capacity was plenty for my home improvement and home landscaping work...though hauling gravel taxed it mightily. Moved a fair number of tools on that, as well. And a pool table. And it was full when we moved from Cleveland to Raleigh in '99. Many years later, the wooden floor and sides rotted away and I sold it for double what I paid for it :) I have to say, that little trailer served me very well.

A few years back, I moved up to a 1500lb capacity tilt-bed 4x8 trailer. This one seemed to be designed for a landscaper to haul mowers. The sides were very low single metal bars. Without any wood on the insides, it would fit a 4x8 sheet of plywood. But the previous owner had added plywood sides to make it more useful. I really liked having the sides...but with the sides in place, it would not hold a 4x8 sheet of plywood flat. This made me sad. However, it had a steel mesh floor, which made me happy...but not happy enough.

Last year I sold that and moved up to a 2000lb cap 5x10 trailer. It has tall-ish sides (~24"?) with wooden slats, a drop-down tailgate and slide in front and back. The floor is also wood slats, several of which are rotted and I need to replace. I really would like to put in a steel mesh floor, but that is expensive. If I could find the mesh at a reasonable price (even used), I'd buy a used welder and do it myself.

Given the frequency that I've needed to move 4x8 sheets, I am glad to have the 5x10 trailer, now. If I had a mesh floor in my current trailer, it would be perfect. I've purchased every trailer used and sold every trailer for more that I paid for it. So I don't regret starting small and working my way up based on my needs at the time.

I see no need for brakes on a trailer this size, given my light-duty needs. I tow with a Wrangler. I pulled 3500lbs with it once (rated capacity is 2000)...I like to think brakes would have helped that day, but the short wheelbase of the Wrangler was the real problem. And a lack of horsepower. It was a one-time thing, though. Last fall I had it filled 2 1/2 feet deep with firewood, propane tanks and heavy cast-iron grills for a scouting campout. Don't know what that weighed, but pulling it was no problem.

You're welcome to borrow mine for a few weeks if you just want to try one out. It just sits there 99% of the time.


I see that I've written a small book on this...hope at least some part of it is helpful for you.

Chris
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
I second the 5' x 10' size, which is what I have. Also the 3000lb axle (one that takes full sized wheel/tires with a 5 bolt circle. It is best to get one that has the 50psi max tires, as they have the load rating to carry the trailer weight + payload). As for brakes, if you go with electric, Make sure you have the 6 pt electrical hook-up on your vehicle that has the extra wires to run the brake circuit. Mine does not have the brakes, but I am also driving a 5500lb vehicle to tow with. I am considering adding electric brakes, though, as its a lot easier to stop a 3000 lb+ weight.

I have a 5 x 10 with the metal rail sides and a removable drop tail gate. I also have made 24" wooden sides that clamp on to the angle iron rails. It is good for hauling ply, a 48" cut riding lawnmower (which is wider than 4'), logs, mulch, gravel, etc. Even thought it has the wood floor, I always throw a tarp under a load of gravel or mulch. Make it a lot easier to just drag it toward the back as you get down to the bottom of the load, leaving a clean bed for the next use. Besides that, one of my pet peeves is following behind someone dropping stuff or having stuff blowing off the load in the back, so I don't want to be that person. It all started when I was following a contractor with his trailer down Interstate 10, and noticed stuff hitting my truck even though I was a ways back. When I got to my destinatiuon, I had three tires loaded up with roofing nails, all with slow leaks that I had to fix before I could return home.

If you buy used, or even new at some dealers, it may have used or worn tires. You can get a wheel with tire already mounted for around $100 at Lowes or Tractor Supply. I say this because one of the trailer makers near us charges $500 to put new wheel/tires on a new trailer. They sell a good trailer, but cheap out on the treads. Lots cheaper to buy your own and it also gives you a set of spares in case of a flat tire.

Good luck

Go
 

KenOfCary

Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
For reference the Outreach Trailer (much larger than you're looking at) does not have trailer brakes, but we always pull it with full size trucks that have pretty good brakes by themselves. I'm not sure what the axles are rated for, but I know we have more than 3000 lbs in it most of the time. We try (try being the operative word) to keep the weight distributed over the wheels and keep the tongue weight low but not too low.
 

Volksdad

New User
Glen
I bought a harbor freight model with the 12" tires.

I made the wood sides from pressure treated lumber, and bought a quality led light kit online. The floor in the trailer is plywood.

You can carry plywood or drywall flat in it. (The rail sides slide in and out of pockets that hang off the side )

I bought a cargo net to go over the top of the trailer, and I saw a neat idea to buy a $35.00 Green portable dumpster at the big orange so that I can haul mulch.

I pull it with a 2006 Corolla. The car can tow 1500 lbs, but I take it easy and don't go pushing things.

I once filled it with cabinets (metal ones) and drove to Raleigh from burlington. Worked great.

I wish I had one of those mesh ramps though. I have a wooden gate on the back. When loading it I would like to just walk right up with the hand truck sometimes.

Hth
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
LED lights are a good idea on a utility trailer. I added them to my boat trailer that I don't use anymore since I moved to the lake. I don't have them on my utility trailer but may add them. I find that the normal lights on a trailer seem to need cleaning of the contacts once or twice a year. I never want to take the time to do it. LED lights don't need the contacts cleaned, they just work.
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
I bought this trailer for about $1200. Internal dimensions are a generous 9' x 5' x 1' deep. The tires are ST205/75D15 rated at 1820 lbs @50 psi. The drop down ramp is about 4' long and not removable. The hitch requires a 2" ball.

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patlaw

Mike
Corporate Member
I bought this trailer for about $1200. Internal dimensions are a generous 9' x 5' x 1' deep. The tires are ST205/75D15 rated at 1820 lbs @50 psi. The drop down ramp is about 4' long and not removable. The hitch requires a 2" ball.
New or used? That's exactly what I'd like to have.
 

Guy in Paradise

New User
Guy Belleman
I have had one identical to Jeff's for a dozen years and been very happy with it. It is big enough to haul the riding lawnmower and the drop ramp is long enough and sturdy enough to support it well. Fork lifts have had no problems loading it with palletized equipment. It is large enough to carry some bulk and small enough to tow well. Having larger car tires on it seem to make it fairly nimble to maneuver. I haven't had to replace the tires yet.
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
I haven't been out there in a while (about 2 years) and that was to buy some skip-toohed chains for my Stihl saw.. I found that they now have a web page http://www.musgraveequipment.com/ . Looks like they have a good assortment of trailers available, but you probably would have to call about the price. However, under their "used" tab, I noticed they had a used 9 x 5 with the high mesh sides and drop mesh tailgate listed for $795 which may be just what you are looking for.

Hope this helps

Go.
 
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