Trailers made with a pickup bed... Too heavy?

Discussion in 'Trailer Tech' started by e9999, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    I may have an opportunity to pick up a pickup bed trailer with camper for free. Haven't seen it yet, but I imagine it's with the original axle, diff hanging there, full frame etc. No idea how much it weighs.
    So, general question: are these typically so heavy, poorly-tracking, and unwieldy that they are unusable offroad on anything more than a graded dirt road? And maybe even too heavy on road in hilly country (for an 80)?

    Yes, I know, it depends on what type of offroading, but asking in general your gut feelings, especially if you have towed one of those...

    TIA
  2. tgreening

    tgreening

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    I see quite a few of those around here. Poor mans utility trailers and I'm sure little to no off-road use (around here anyway) but I'd look at it this way. You'd be carting around the lions share of a TRUCK behind you, at least physical dimension wise. I couldn't imagine hauling one of those around in a true off-road situation.
  3. A few years ago a coworker asked if I wanted a free trailer. Well, sure.... what's the catch? Had to take the camper that was on it.

    Went to his house, and the trailer was made from a 1/2 ton long bed Ford 4x4. On it was a really sad looking camper. The corners were separating, and the interior was nasty from roof leaks. A relative of his was living in the trailer at the beach, and the salt spray really ate up the aluminum.

    I hooked it up and asked where the nearest dump was. Drove there and two large forklifts pierced the sides, lifted it up, and I drove the trailer out from under it. A huge-by-large bucket loader came and flattened it with its bucket, then shoved it into the pit.

    Because I had to pay by weight, I remember the before and after weight showed the trailer was just over 1000 lbs. I don't recall the exact weight now, but that's a fairly good figure for a full size pickup trailer, in the 1000 to 1200 lb range. (The camper that was on it was almost 2000 lbs, probably because all of the wood was waterlogged.)

    The trailer tracks OK. It has a fairly long tongue on it, which helps with tracking and backing up. Short tongues can sometimes have tracking issues, and react quickly when backing and turning. You have power steering, so that's less of a problem, but with manual steering I've found a short tongue sometimes veers so fast that I can't correct for it fast enough with manual steering.

    I have yet to pull the pinion out of the pumpkin. Need to make a blank plate, and other priorities keep putting it off. It would probably increase my gas mileage when towing by a whopping 1 or maybe even 2 mpg. I don't know if this amount of friction helps with tracking or not.

    One consideration with pickup trailers is just how much load they can carry, as well as their legal load. In Oregon, utility trailers do not require a title or registration if the gross weight does not exceed 1800 lbs. Since the rule of thumb is that a pickup trailer weighs about 1000 lbs, that only leaves a legal 800 lb load. The design limit of this trailer is 1000 lbs, since it's made from a half ton pickup. I've put in a half a yard of gravel, which is about 1400 lbs. The springs start squatting quite a bit.

    Another consideration is tires. Few people invest the money to put proper trailer tires on trailers, especially trailers made from pickups. Running cheap tires can get you into trouble if the load rating does not meet or exceed half of the gross weight. Because my trailer was 1000 lbs, and a half yard of gravel is 1400 lbs, that means that the tires must be load rated for 2400 lbs divided by 2, or 1200 lbs each, plus it's a good idea to add 50% overload rating. Total is each tire should support 1800 lbs. The crappy tires that were on it were only rated at 1500 lbs each. The trailer tires I put on were rated at 3000 lbs each, which was overkill, but that was a typical rating for them. Trailer tires are also designed different from vehicle tires. Not only are they designed to have less rolling resistance, but the sidewalls do not flex as much. This means there is less oscillation of the trailer at high speeds. Trailer tires aren't cheap, though, so if you run vehicle tires, make sure the load rating is more than adequate.

    The best donor trucks for trailers are 3/4 and 1 ton, not half ton. Not only can they carry more payload, it's easier to convert them, at least from the standpoint of the axle. Simply pull the axle shafts out. But the fact is there are more half tonners than heavier trucks, so those will be the most common pickup trailers.

    As for off roading with it, I've driven it off road at my mother in law's ranch, but only to get to the burn piles or dump pit. It's on the heavy side. From a size viewpoint, it's like driving a half-ton pickup for width, only you don't care about body work damage (at least I don't). This is why I have a pair of jeep trailers. One is a civilian trailer with tailgate, and it's my utility trailer. The other is a military trailer without tailgate, and we use it for camping. Much easier to take off road, though their cargo capacity is only 500 lbs off road.
  4. Here are some of my pictures. I found thid trailer by accident, the guy wanted $250.00. Brought it home, took it to the shop, pulled the box off of the frame, painted the frame, rocker guarded the under side of the box and fixed the damage to the box, minor dents, small amount of rust. Sprayed white bed liner inside the box, painted the outside to match the 07 cruiser and por-15 the frame. Removed original tailights, put in leds and put a tool box in front of the box. It has a spring over, with 31x10.50. The trailer pulls great. Hauled one dead elk and lots of other garbage for the dump. It seems to be a early 80's datsun nissan king cab box. Pretty cheap trailer, that works really well.
    Trailer project finished (2).jpg Trailer project finished (3).jpg
  5. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    looks nice
    but seems like you'd want to avoid putting weight in the back to avoid having the tongue go light, no?
  6. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    good points Brian

    it does seem that having a smaller bed like Boss's is a good way to go for offroad use over the full size affairs though.

    well, I went to look at it. An old International pickup bed. Kinda big. Cheap old tires, camper in so so shape. Wimpy tongue. Free. Have a good one already. I passed. Life is too short and too much junk already.

    but this is an interesting topic, still would like to hear your opinions.
  7. yeah, I noticed before I bought it that would be a issue. The tool box with tow chains, proper tools and all the other stuff I carry, it has not been a problem. Just make sure I put the weight up front. I have had it 75 miles per hour, tows like it is not even behind you. bosscat800
  8. shfd739

    shfd739

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    My around the house/utility trailer is the back half of a late 50s chevy pickup. The frame rails ahead of the bed were pulled together and reinforced to create the tongue. Still has original axle under it. About once a year I swap the gear oil in the diff.

    Used it back in July when we moved to Texas from Alabama and it towed great. 80 pulled without issue and still got my usual 11-12 mpg running 70mph. Had it loaded down with the move. I did put new lights and new Carlisle trailer tires on it aong with new grease fittings on the shackles so they could be serviced.

    I wouldnt take it more offroad than a dirt road or smooth trail but as a free to me utility trailer it's been great. It spent about 30 years in west Texas before we got it and after 5 years in south Alabama the moisture is taking its toll in the form of rust. The thing keeps getting passed around my wife's family.

    Right now it's in the garage serving as a storage place. Ill try and take a pic today
  9. d0ubledown

    d0ubledown

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    only bed trailer id run would be from a 90s DC hilux or 1st gen mini with the tonneau cover hooks probably bobbed about 14". FS would be too wide and heavy i think. plus...youd have the coolness factor of having 'TOYOTA' stamped onto the tailgate.

    if all you plan to do offroad wise is get through dirt/gravel roads..then bed trailers can suffice. for trail type or more technical crawling capabilites, nothing beats a cdn M101, 416, for hauling or AT trailers for a more complete camp setup.
  10. purplexj

    purplexj

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    I'm using a Jeep Comanche as a trailer . I thought it would be lighter. Not planning on offroading it but it pulls really well on road. It had a soa done when I got it as a truck. Returned to sua but with Cherokee 1 1/2 shackles. Putting the stock shackles back to lower it 1". My Jeep has over 280k on it and a 5 speed. Still no problems pullig it. I use it for Home Depot , getting to camp and U-Pull for my other cars. Don't notice too much of a difference in mpg's due to keeping to 50-60 mph.

    [​IMG]

    Just dont try to sit on the tail gate unhooked.
  11. splitshot

    splitshot SILVER Star

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    Vintage is a good way to go. '47 Studebaker seems to fit nicely behind my 40. Swaped to a trailer axle with the same lug pattern so toting around an extra spare wouldn't be an issue and built custom fenders..
    stlr3-2.jpg 100_0970.jpg 100_0971.jpg

  12. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    I like the trailer jack up front! :) Have one of those too! :D
  13. Box Rocket

    Box Rocket

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    I've been trying to find a picture of it, but no luck yet. Paul May from Equipt Expedition Outfitters used to have a little trailer using a bed from a 2nd Gen Toyota pickup. He built a custom frame/tongue, and used a trailer axle. It was far lighter than a trailer using a full truck axle and heavy frame. Worked really well too and was a good size. He sold it to his brother when he started Equipt and became a dealer for Adventure Trailers.

    Before I built my own trailer, I had planned on doing a truckbed trailer and I wanted one to match the lines of my 80 a bit closer than the early Toyota pickups, so I was looking at Tacoma beds. Any of the Toyota minitrucks are a good size if you plan to use it offroad. But I would still look at building your own frame and using a trailer axle.
  14. Box Rocket

    Box Rocket

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    Not a helpful picture of it at all, but it's all I can find. Sorry. You can see the side of Paul's trailer behind his 40 about halfway down the line in this photo. From our club BBQ a couple years back.

    [​IMG]
  15. Phulcrum

    Phulcrum

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    those pick up bed trailers are pretty cheap on craigs list. a freind of mine with an 02 4runner wants me to build him a offroad camper with a toyota bed and a "wildernest" camper . I am glad someone already posed this question . I pretty much agree with the general response which is "depends on the type of offroading." i guess i'll tell my freind to start searching for a trailer . :beer:
  16. purplexj

    purplexj

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    That pic Box Rocket posted looks like a good match for the Toyo rig. Looked more like travel brochure idea.
  17. NorCalBorn

    NorCalBorn

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    Drooooollll :D

    Adam, I'm realizing more and more that I need to get over to both the hitch and weld places around here to pick up a framed setup, then just slap a bed on it. I knew someone you knew had that, ask Paul if there's any more pics or he'd do a writeup on it for us?

    BTW, Happy Holidays, both to you and everyone in here. :D

    Shane
  18. Mark W

    Mark W

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    That is the official rating of the M100/M416/M101CDN... as I like to say... it is rated assuming that it is being towed behind a truck driven by a raw 19 year old recruit with no off road driving experience... and he is being shot at for the first time too! :)

    I load mine to as much as 1200-1500 pounds and pull it down the highway at 70 and over the trails for a week at a time. Been doing this for years. no problems from it. They are very overbuilt for their tasking.


    Mark...
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  19. purplexj

    purplexj

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    What's the total loaded weight. I'm sure no two like trailers weight the same, depending on changes.
  20. kim

    kim

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    Yep, overbuilt is the word! I'm pretty sure that as ammo trailers, they saw a hell of a lot more than 500lbs as well even with a 19 yr old kid......

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