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Minimum specs for wood-hauling trailer...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ecfinn, Mar 24, 2006.

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  1. ecfinn

    ecfinn New Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I'm looking into buying a smallish 5'x8' or so utility trailer to tow behind my Durango for picking up wood. I really can't afford another vehicle and insurance, etc, just to be used for wood hauling. which is why I'm thinking a trailer. My Durango is already setup to tow my >4K pound popup trailer so I'm thinking I should just use that and add a trailer. I'm thinking maybe I can get 1/2-1 full cord max per load, so if that's correct I think thats ~4000 pounds max for green hardwood. (Was reading a previous thread on the topic.) So for those that have or have used a trailer for hauling firewood, what would you recommend as a minimum set of specs. Single vs. Double Axle? Dump capability? How high sides? Any other suggestions or nuggets of information you could provide would be helpful.

    I'm hoping to find a used one so I'm guessing it'll be harder to tell how much a used trailer can handle. I know I should avoid most home-made trailers built with old trailer axles. Other than that I don't have much specific knowledge on the subject.

    Thanks,

    Eric (looking for a way to haul free/cheap wood) Finn

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  2. MALogger

    MALogger New Member

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    Hi Eric,

    I have a 6'x10' U-Dump trailer that I use to deliver firewood. It is a 7,000 gvw trailer and it will haul a cord of wood.
    6'x10' a little over 3' high loose thrown is 1 cord (184 cu. ft. loose thrown) But a cord of green hardwood is 5,000 to 6,000 pounds per cord depending on species. I tow my trailer with an F-150 with brake controller (electric brakes) and when there is a cord in the trailer you know it.
    Hope that helps!

    Craig
  3. pinetop

    pinetop New Member

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    my only suggestion would be to buy a trailer that has a larger capacity than what you actually plan to haul with it that way you shouldn't encounter bearing problems and it will also have tires of a higher rating and possibly larger diameter ...nothing worse than a blown tire or burned out bearings under load
  4. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    Eric,

    MALogger nailed it. To carry 4-5 thousand pounds of wood, the trailer itself is going to weigh in the ballpark of 2. That puts you at or near 7K GVW, and that's certainly going to be a dual axle - probably a minimum of 6'X10'. A 5x8 would need 4.5 foot sides, and the taller they are, the stronger they'll need to be to contain that load at on rough roads. If you're looking at a 6x10 dump trailer, expect quotes starting around $4k from the major brands. And it quickly goes up from there - low boy with a ramp gate and upgraded axles.... ( I've been studying these the last couple of weeks) . And to tow that much weight, you will need a brake controller.

    I quickly realized that there is no way I can justify this kind of expense on something I'd use a couple of times a year...

    The way I see it, we have 4 options

    1) have the wood delivered by someone with the right equipment
    2) make more trips with a smaller trailer.
    3) rent a big trailer when you need it.
    4) all of the above

    Me - I'm leaning towards #4. If I can get a tree company to drop logs on my property for short money, it's a no brainer (#1). I've been needing a utility trailer for a while - so I'll get something that will suit most of my needs most of the time (#2) If I catch wind of a big stash of free wood, I'll rent a dump trailer - there's a landscapers supply place that rents them @$70 a day. They're not exactly convienient, but probably more so than unloading a cord of wood by hand before splitting and stacking! (#3)

    MALogger, where are you out of? I'd love to see your setup.

    -Dan
  5. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Make sure the tires are rated for the weight also.
  6. MALogger

    MALogger New Member

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    The Trailer I have is a dual axle 7,000gvw. Don't forget your vehicle needs to be rated to tow that weight also. I don't know what a durango is rated for towing capacity.

    You could get a little smaller trailer and haul a 1/2 cord no problem and it would cost a little less. My trailer I bought used but it took me a long time to find one for reasonable money. You can buy a new trailer like mine for $3600 and if you look in the want ads or similar people want $3000 for a 5 year old model. I held out and got one from a friend for $1800. I have an F-800 dump I use to haul multiple cords but for 1/2 cord and 1 cord deliveries the trailer is sweet.

    The only thing I don't like about the trailer is when you dump the wood it spreads it out because it is a lot lower to the ground than a dump truck but other than that it is nice plus I can load it easily with my bobcat!


    Dan, I am based in Foxboro but I work all over eastern MA and RI

    Craig
  7. ecfinn

    ecfinn New Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the thoughtful and helpful replies. To answer a few questions. My Durango is rated to tow 7200 lbs. I've already got a Tekonsha Prodigy electronic brake controller so I should be fine in that regard.

    Dan, I think I'll probably go with something like you suggested. A combination of beg, borrow, rent, and a smaller trailer with multiple trips. Its easier to store that way too... Sounds like looking to transport a cord at a time is going to put me into a price range I'm not comfortable with. Maybe I'll look into something smaller for a half-cord limit. In that case a 5x8 with 3 foot sides is about 2/3 of a cord. That would put me at 3-4K pounds per load. Much more manageable.

    Now I just have to see if I can find one...

    Thanks again everyone for your help in researching my options.

    Eric Finn
  8. ecfinn

    ecfinn New Member

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    Ok, I figured I'd post a followup to this thread since I started it. I've been researching more trailers. It seems I have two options.

    1. Double Axle trailer 7K lbs GVWR - 2K lbs trailer weight = 5K lbs cargo capacity. Roughly $3500 and up. Probably out of my price range for something I won't use much.

    2. Single Axle Utility trailer with ramp - I can get it with electric brakes which will up the GVWR to 3500 lbs. Subtract trailer weight of 750 lbs for 2750 capacity. I can get this one new for ~$1450. I'll have to put my own sides on it. So if its 5 x 10 with 2 foot sides, that's 100 sq. ft capacity. A loose cord is roughly 184 sq. ft. from my reading so I could put about half a cord loose in this trailer. A half cord of wet oak would be 3K lbs so I'm in the range of the right capacity.

    So how reasonable do you think the second option would be? I'd have to make more trips, but I think its a fair compromise for my own needs. I'm not likely to have many large trips and need the larger capacity. I'm also more comfortable having a trailer with electric brakes to be able to control the load. Would I be stressing the axles/bearings too much?

    Thanks again for the help/advice. Once I get the trailer I'll be good to go collect/scrounge my own wood. I've been dying here as of late as we had a storm a few weeks ago and there is wood down all over the place.

    Thanks,
    Eric
  9. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Hey Eric,

    Tractor Supply has small utility trailers that are basically a frame that can carry up to 2000 lbs. I thing they're around 350.00 if memory serves me right. You'd have to add sides to it. I see a lot of people with them who have put 1" plywood on them and haul all kinds of stuff (mostly lawn tractors though). they're not big, but I've got 11 cords in my yard that got there via the back of my Safari, so a trailer would be a huge step up and a lot cleaner and easier on the Van.

    If I score that much wood it's multiple trips for me. Otherwise I'd go rent a bit open top double axle uhaul. 49 bucks a day.
  10. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Warren, I looked at the specs for those trailers and they're not bad. 2k GVWR and only $289. Granted it says no floor, but it would be pretty simple to add that.

    Hmmmmmm, now I'm thinkin.................. :)
  11. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    My .02 Go with what you can afford and make a few trips. Again it is safer not to push the limits of the trailer or tow vechicle I mean 6 loads probably takes care of your heating season 8 at the most
  12. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    You're thinking 8 more loads with a trailer and I'll be in good shape? That is what you mean... right Elk?


    "Hey honey....Elk says I need to get a trailer and then get at least 8 more loads with it!!!!"
  13. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Ha, That didnt work for me with a new trailer ......She said "Yeah right" " "you just spent $1200 in new chainsaws and gear ." I'll have to try next year .
  14. daninohio

    daninohio New Member

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    Eric,

    FWIW, I recently bought a used 5x8 trailer for scrounging wood. The trailer is 500 pounds, GVWR is 2,000 pounds, so I can haul about 1,500 pounds of wood. Picked it up for $525 from a trailer dealer (looks to be about two years old) and it came with a wood floor, spare tire , 1' high sides and a rear ramp. I'm towing with a Jeep Liberty rated for towing 5,500 pounds. It works perfect for me since I am gathering wood in my neighborhood and not going far so an extra trip is no big deal. Here in Ohio, you don't have a title for this size trailer and brakes are not required. I think the registration/plate fees were less as well.

    Also, I'm finding it very easy to maneuver the Jeep & trailer into tight spots to pickup wood since they are on the smaller side.

    Dan
  15. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    I know this isn;t what you were looking for, but I actually bought a beater truck specifically for the purpose (of hauling crap - manure, mulch, firewood, lumber, etc.)

    This was several yrs ago, but even then the old-style F150 with the inline 6 and 5 spd was not a real desireable combination, esp. w/no power anything. So $4500 acquired it, and the cost of having an 'extra' vehicle isn't too bad. Our insurance vehicles get assigned to drivers based on value, so the top 2 are insured as daily drivers, anything above that is $10 or 15/month.

    Just somethign to think about. A cheapo trailer from harbor freight or the like can be on the road for a few hundred bucks, but to get anything that carries more than a ton in that size range will be a trick. Although car trailers seem to run somewhat cheaper, and given that kind of acreage, you wouldn;t need much inthe way of sides.

    Steve
  16. Dave_1

    Dave_1 New Member

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    Eric,

    A few more thoughts.

    Ground clearance of the trailer axel since it is easy to snag it & or the electrical brake wires when in a forest. Break that electrical connection & you will quickly learn about the tail wagging the dog, or Durango in your case, if your trailer is fully loaded.

    H.F. trailers are not designed for forest wood hauling. Unless you can load a H.F. trailer on flat ground & immediately get to road pavement such trailers are usless in a forest.

    The ply rating of the sidewalls of the trailer tires. Yes, you can get away with passenger tires, but it is not recommended, especially if the trailer is loaded to the max.

    Steve has the right approach. A junker truck that is mechanically sound & good rubber is a better investment.

    Have a good one.

    KCD
  17. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

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    Hi -

    I've know a number of folks who used 3/4 or even 1 ton beater vans for hauling wood. They just bring less money than pickups.

    Of course with the sides half way beat from the inside out it looks like your'e haulin' a load of angry dragons!

    ATB,
    Mike P
  18. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I went through this recently too. I don't even have a truck, but you'd be surprised at how many cars (even small cars) are rated to tow at least 2000 lbs and have factory drilled holes specifically for hitches. I ended up buying this small trailer:
    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=90154
    For just $200 (they give out 20% off coupons every other month pretty much, currently there is a 10% off coupon you could use).

    The nice thing about this trailer is that it actually folds up, so it can be stored in your garage or shed without taking up too much space.
    The downside is that you can only put 1200 lbs. in it. But if you can get away with making more trips with smaller loads, this might be an option for you.

    For what its worth - I have also seen some GREAT deals on craigslist for used trailers that were much stronger/better than the one I bought with metal ramps, etc. for around $300 or so which is really an unbeatable deal if you can find it.

    The sad thing is that the total cost of my trailer was more than double the price of the actual cart. The hitch/tongue/ball was another $180, registration with DOT was $80, and lumber/bolts for the bottom and side cage was $50.

    I've already gotten a lot of use out of the cart in the short time that I've had it. Made 4 trips a couple weeks back to clear some trees off a new contruction site. Then we had massive storms with trees down all over the place. I made 4 trips out last week to collect an old growth hickory blown down by the storm, and I'll be making 5-6 trips over the next 2 days to collect a huge black walnut tree blown down in the storm. I think after that I should be pretty close to having all the wood I'll need for this winter.
  19. ecfinn

    ecfinn New Member

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    Thanks again for the advice. But I've already got a beater truck that won't pass inspection and needs to be parted out before I scrap her. Its much more maintenance intensive to have a truck/van vs. a trailer. I have time to adjust bearings/brakes and cover rust spots on a trailer. I can't do all that and maintain another engine/transmission/and get it inspected. For me its either a trailer or keep borrowing other people's trucks. Besides my wife would kill me if I tried to buy another beater truck. I've already got 3 project vehicles and a motorcycle in addition to my daily driver. As it is the trailer is going in the back yard and not in the driveway.

    So, with that in mind, How reasonable do my numbers look for the trailer I'm considering? 5x10, 2750 cargo capacity, electric brakes. I'll add my own removable wood sides. I'm not considering a HF trailer as they just don't have the weight capacity. This is a professionally built landscape/utility trailer. I'll definitely check the load rating of the tires. I know they are 15" though so its already better than the 13" ones at HF.

    I'm hoping to look at the trailer Saturday and I'll review it then. You can see its specs here.

    http://www.ringohill.com/proddetails.asp?PRODID=5706

    Thanks again for the thoughts/ideas/suggestions.
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