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Author Topic: Trailer recommendations?  (Read 3153 times)
pickpaul
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« on: August 06, 2011, 08:44:29 PM »

Hi Guys,

For reasons too complicated to go into right now, I may need to buy a trailer before I get my bus. In addition to storing stuff for the next few weeks, I'd like to be able to use it to put my car in to drive across country. Any recommendations for brands/types to look for or to avoid? My plan is to get either an MCI 8/9 or an 80's Prevost which will become my tow vehicle.

Thanks, Paul.

P.S. I want a black one to match my eventual bus paintjob (I know, gets very hot, don'r care, must have :-) )
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buswarrior
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2011, 10:00:57 PM »

Watch closely, these things get spec'd on price, not performance.

All sorts of little stuff matters, and gets left off the cheap ones.

Not enough, or no tie downs are a big one, single small light per side, no decent place for the license plate, skinny chains, weak tongue jack, cheap wiring, no mud flaps, barely a fender...

You want brakes on ALL the axles, not just one, if you are going to put a car and stuff in it.

Door hardware and seals that are taken from the commercial trailer world means you have re-build-ability and available parts, as well as a more robust security.

sounds like a good plan, solve today's problems with tomorrow's accessories.

happy coaching!
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pickpaul
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 10:43:47 PM »

Great advice, thanks. What is the largest size I can tow behind a 40ft bus and not get in trouble in any state?
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belfert
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2011, 01:53:06 AM »

To be completely legal in all 50 states you would need to be at 55 feet combined because they are a handful of states that still have a 55 foot restriction.  Various people have mentioned that interstates have no length restrictions, but who stays on interstates with an RV?  I skirt the 65 foot rules at 67 feet, but I also travel mostly on interstates.  I don't go out East much where 60 and 55 foot restrictions are more common.

Enclosed trailers are all pretty similar in construction.  The differences come in the details like type of axles, spacing of frame members, and things like undercoating on the frame.  Some trailers have even reduced the aluminum skin thickness from .030 to something thinner.  Many trailers come standard with spring axles to reduce cost.  My personal preference is to always get torsion axles on an enclosed trailer so the cargo isn't beat up as much,

The least expensive enclosed trailers tend come out of the south particularly southern Georgia.  The cost of doing business is probably less there I guess.  Two almost identical enclosed trailers priced out in Minnesota versus Georgia can be $2,000 to $3,000 difference.  They won't be the same brand so there could be other differences that affect the price.

Enclosed trailers don't handle salt well.  I bought an enclosed trailer cheap last year that was corroded all to heck from salt.  Even the aluminum siding was eaten away by the salt.  I had to do at least 40 hours of metal work including hiring out 12 to 15 hours of welding.  All of the aluminum siding had to be replaced along with new electric brake assemblies and new brake drums.  My smaller enclosed trailer was purchased new and has been used a dozen times at most in the winter.  Even it has some holes in the aluminum from salt exposure.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2011, 04:55:01 AM »

I just bought a trailer, about my sixth.  This time I went with a 20 foot box - depending on what you mean by "car" and "stuff" you can get away with less.  I custom-ordered and spec'd out a heavy duty frame, floor joists every 12", colour coated aluminium no-rivet exterior, full plywood paneled interior, white  ceiling, insulated, pre-wired for AC on the front vent, two vents, four interior lights with dual switches, 7.5' interior height, 5.5' tongue length (1 foot extra) and dual 5200 lb torsion suspension axles with 12" brakes.  It's completely undercoated, and my last one was 8 years old and had essentially no frame rusting.

You need brakes on all wheels, it's a requirement in some states and provinces.  You can probalby get away with a smaller trailer, but you need at least 2' longer than your car.  My trailer, empty, weighs 4,000 lbs, but it's gvwr is 9950, and even that is well under it's axle ratings - I like it that way.  A more typical 20 box trailer will weigh 3600 lbs, have a gvwr of 7,000 lbs, for a payload of only 3,400 lbs and will handle poorly at that loading, and the tires will be very close to their load limit.  

The extra tongue length is an option.  It reduces tongue weight for a given load, it makes the trailer handle better and sway less, and it's real value is the trailer won't hit the corners of the tow vehicle when you are trying to back into that tight spot.  With a 40' bus, and a 1' hitch extension the over all length of a typical 20' box trailer with a standard 4.5" hitch will put you right around 66' feet long, maybe a few inches less.

Hope this helps.

Brian
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 04:58:37 AM by bevans6 » Logged

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boxcarOkie
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2011, 05:13:54 AM »

Brian and others make a lot of good points.  

Even though a trailer is "customed ordered" you certainly will discover problems with it later on, no matter who it is that manufacturers it.  I did the very same thing, ordered it brand spanking new, I found exposed wiring, open shorts, unpainted areas, and substandard materials used (to save money I assume).

The old expression "You get what you pay for" doesn't seem to apply anymore.  

Seriously consider the "extended tongue option" it will save you a lof of headaches later on.  16" - six lug wheels or better and electric brakes.  (My trailer Paul, is 22' is 2400# and has a 10,000 GVW I believe, 400# on the tongue, measures 64'7" bumper to bumper)  You can see more of this related subject here:  http://boxcarokie.com/2011/06/05/trailer-project-i/ about half way down the page.

BCO
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 05:20:32 AM by boxcarOkie » Logged

rv_safetyman
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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2011, 07:46:56 AM »

Brian touched on it, but there are two basic suspension systems:  leaf spring with a "walking beam" (if two axles) and torsion type. 

The leaf spring system is typically used on less expensive trailers.  It has been around forever and does a good job, but tends to be pretty stiff, as the springs are pretty short.

The torsion system has some similarity to the Torsilastic suspension on Eagle buses in that the system uses rubber encapsulated in a tube to provide the "spring rate".  Here is one system:

http://www.dexteraxle.com/torflex_axles

One of the main "real life" differences between the two systems is that the trailer does not have to be parallel to the ground on the spring type system (the "walking beam" takes care of equalizing the axle load).  With the torsion system, the trailer must be parallel to the ground for the axles to carry equal loads. 

Translated, that means hitch  height is more critical with the torsion system.  That is not an issue if you are using the typical 2 inch square receiver, as there are a ton of different drop height versions and a couple of adjustable height hitches.  Here are some examples:

http://www.etrailer.com/dept-pg-Ball_Mounts-sf-Adjustable_Ball_Mount.aspx
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Jim Shepherd
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luvrbus
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2011, 08:03:42 AM »

I thought a walking beam was 1 axle with a 2 wheels mounted on a beam working off  the one axle and can be rubber or steel springs ? and the one most trailers use are a equalizer type with 2,3 or 4 axles don't know for sure now days but it was that way it was in the past


good luck
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 08:09:08 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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robertglines1
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2011, 09:04:56 AM »

We ran a 10,000 GVW trailer with stainless rockguard in front and sealed under frame. Get what you can for the buck capacity wise,keep it clean(washed after use) of road salt and grime-keep rock chips repaired and any sign of corrosion treat it.stay ahead of problems. one quick test if you go inside and close door and can see light any where; it's not very tight is it? especially in the floor.  A vent is a must. We are shopping for a replacement trailer now and will do it the same way again. One addition I would like to have this time is Stainless sides but I think that is more a dream than reality. The alum served us well for many years.  I do think the GVW is most important; weight your vehicle weight plus trailer plus at least 10 percent for margin=minimal weight in my opinion    Bob
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Bob@Judy  98 XLE prevost with 3 slides --Home done---last one! SW INdiana
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2011, 09:11:58 AM »

Clifford, you are correct when it pertains to semi-trucks and trailers.  They have one pivot point and a beam that connects two axles.  The industry clearly calls that a "walking beam" suspension.

On car type trailers the two springs are connected to what the industry calls an "equalizer".  If you look closely at it, it looks like a small "walking beam".  I have heard car type trailer manufacturers use the term "walking beam" applied to the "equalizer".  However, when I did a search just now, I see that the term "walking beam" is not applied to small trailers.  I have been saying it wrong for perhaps 3 decades Wink.  You learn something new every day.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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luvrbus
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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2011, 10:03:26 AM »

If you ever watched a jet liner land and notice the wheels they use a walking system fwiw

good luck
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boxcarOkie
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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2011, 10:25:47 AM »


This what you boys are talking about?

BCO
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luvrbus
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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2011, 10:56:55 AM »

That is the equalizer system Don if one axle gets to high or to low the other will come off the surface, with a walking beam both tires stay on the ground with the same psi what ever the terrain is.
The thing they shot to moon had a walking beam system lol I forgot what they called it  

good luck
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 10:59:20 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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belfert
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2011, 10:59:16 AM »

This what you boys are talking about?

I am guessing you painted this?  They don't ever seem to look that good from the factory.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2011, 11:07:05 AM »

That's funny Brian I bought a nice looking painted tandem trailer in OKC from Terry's the mark a lot they put the price on with lasted longer than the paint you can still read the price lol 

 Good Luck
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