For many people the next big purchase after buying a tractor is a trailer to
move it around. As soon as you find how useful your new machine is around your
home, you’ll soon want it any place you have work to do. There are several
different types of trailers; some are better suited for tractor applications
First, a quick explanation of GVW is required. GVW, or Gross Vehicle Weight is
the hauling capacity of the trailers axles. A 10,000lb GVW trailer typically
weights around 2200lbs in itself, leaving 7800lbs of capacity left over for
equipment. A common misconception of that a 10,000lb trailer can haul
10,000lbs, this is not true. It’s always good to leave some room for error when
calculating the weight of your equipment as driving with an overloaded trailer
is never a pleasant experience.
Its equally important not to exceed the towing capacity of the vehicle. Trucks
and SUV's are also assigned a GVW and a tongue weight. The tongue weight
is the amount of weight placed on the truck itself, as opposed to being
centered over the trailers axles. By parking the heavy side of a tractor
towards the vehicle its possible to overload the tongue without overloading the
trailer itself. This is a difficult measurement to calculate and its often just
eyeballed by checking the amount of compression on the rear suspension (as a
guideline its typically 10-15% of the trailers payload). In extreme cases
there are weight transfer kits available that shift trailer weight towards the
front wheels and off the tongue.
Licensing and Brakes
Trailer regulations vary by state, however there are some norms. Most
states require that trailers over 3000lbs be licensed and inspected, those
under 3000lbs do not as they typically do not have brakes. Once you cross the
3000lb threshold brakes become mandatory to help stop the load. A few states
require breaks on just one axle, but most require brakes on all axles. Most
trailer companies operate regionally and build their product to meet local
regulations, always make sure that the trailer your buying meets your local
|A landscape trailer typically has wheels to the sides of the deck, a low rail
around the trailer, and wide mesh ramps. Typical lengths are 12-18 feet, and
capacities of 3000-7000lb GVW. Landscape trailers got their name as they are
the choice of landscapers. They sit low to the ground so its easy to drive a
zero turn mower up the low incline mesh ramps. The low sides also keep small
implements inside the trailer and provide ample attachment points to strap
things down. The limitations are a lower GVW and a narrower width, large mower
decks and loader buckets often do not fit between the wheels. Mesh ramps also
do not hold up well when regularly pushed to their limit.
Low Pofile / Skid Loader Trailers
Low profile / skid loader trailers are typically 10,000-14,000 GVW. Like a
landscape trailer, they have their wheels set to the outside of the decking to
keep the trailer low to the ground. This is important when loading a skid
loader as these machines will bottom out on a steep equipment ramp. Skid Loader
trailers typically do not have sides, but often do have fork pockets under them
to store a set of pallet forks while a bucket is on the machine. To support the
heavy load capacity you’ll usually see a skid loader trailer equipped with a
heavy ladder ramp that can support the larger loads.
Deck Over Trailers
A deck over trailer has a heavy, hardwood deck with the wheels set under
it. A deck over is an ideal equipment trailer as it’s up to 108" wide because
the tires are set under the decking rather than beside it. Most deck overs
range from 16-22ft, and capacities of 10,000GVW and up. The rear of the trailer
is usually equipped with a beaver tail. This is a slopped area at the rear of
the trailer that lowers the backend to provide a shallower angle for loading
equipment. The length of a deck over is normally measured as flat area, not
including the beaver tail which adds about 4 feet. Ladder ramps are exclusively
used, sometimes with spring loading to help lower the heavy ramp. Deck overs
can be problematic when loading tractors with smaller tires, 2WD machines, Zero
Turn Mowers, and Skid Loaders all because it can be difficult to get these
machines to crawl up the long steep ramps. However it usually is the best
choice for larger tractors and backhoes, and machines with implements attached.
A Gooseneck trailer shares the construction of the deckover trailer, but
has a hitch that rests in the trucks bed rather than on the rear hitch.
Centering the load over the suspension can allow for more weight setting
forward on the trailer without crushing the suspension of the truck.
A dump trailer is usually used for moving mulch and debris, however landscapers
have turned them into multipurpose tools by loading equipment into them as
well. Typically found in 7000-12000 GVW varieties, dump trailers have solid
metal floors and sides suitable to carrying loose material. With the proper
ramp, its also possible to load small tractors and the occasional skid loader.
Dumps are available as either deck over or low profile depending on your needs.
Low profile its better suited for loading equipment, but because of its low
height it’s difficult to dump any material into a large pile.
Tilt trailers have a hydraulic tilt or balanced deck that can be lowered
for loading. No ramps are need as the rear edge of the deck is lowered to the
ground. Common capacities range from light 3000lb tilt models, up to heavier
10,000lb models with hydraulic systems. The appeal of a tilt trailer is the
very shallow loading angle which makes it easy to load the most stubborn
pieces. When equipped with a winch, a tilt trailer is ideal for moving disabled
tractors. The downside is expense and the time required to tilt the deck every
time you load and unload. The battery powered hydraulic systems are relativity
simple, but do require maintenance. Normally the tires are set to the sides of
a tilt trailer limiting the width of your equipment.
A flat 4 pin plug is used for light duty trailers where brakes are not
required. The connection simply powers the trailers lights so it can be seen in
A 7 pin RV plug or a round 6 pin plug both power the lights and activate the
trailers brakes electronically. If your vehicle does not have this plug factory
installed it can be added by equipping your truck with a brake controller.
Adapters are readily available to change between these two types.