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Cargo Trailer Advice

Posted By: Dock Holiday

Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/26/20 04:36 PM

We are in the market for a small (4x6, 5x8) enclosed cargo trailer for occasional use. I have almost zero experience with such trailers, so thought I would reach out for advice on what to look for.

The primary use will be migrating between our summer home and winter home, so reliability is must (don't want to be stranded far from home). In searching on the internet, I see a huge range in prices, so wondering what the lower priced models don't have that the more expensive models do? Also concerned about ability to back up as years ago I borrowed a small cargo trailer that was impossible to back up w/o jack knifing. Is there a minimum hitch to axle length?

We were going to rent a trailer, but these price out as $600 each way, so a purchase would pay for itself quickly.

Thanks in advance.
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Posted By: 2Suns

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/26/20 07:24 PM

I had a 6’ x 10’ V nose for a while. A few observations-

I wish I had bought a bigger one.

The V nose was supposed to be better for mileage, etc. I suppose it is, but it makes for an awkward area to fit things in. Not sure I’d buy a V nose again.

The read door was a ramp instead out swing out doors. I preferred the ramp door, but I could see it being a problem if you don’t have the space to open it. Mine had a side door as well.

I didn’t shop too much before I bought it. But I would imagine the cost differences are due to the usual suspects- quality of build, etc.

Short trailers are hard to back up. Whenever the distance from the pivot point to the trailer axle is less than the wheelbase of the tow vehicle, it gonna be hard. I routinely pull a short trailer with an extended WB cargo van. The two things I’ve learned is go slow, and small corrections. I’m always backing in off the street and I am constantly saying “slow down, small corrections” to my myself when doing it.
Posted By: captkevin

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/26/20 07:51 PM

if you are going to use in winter might want to consider aluminum.
Posted By: GoFirstClass

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/27/20 03:41 AM

pc
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/27/20 05:38 PM

Originally Posted by 2Suns
I had a 6’ x 10’ V nose for a while. A few observations-

I wish I had bought a bigger one.

The V nose was supposed to be better for mileage, etc. I suppose it is, but it makes for an awkward area to fit things in. Not sure I’d buy a V nose again.

The read door was a ramp instead out swing out doors. I preferred the ramp door, but I could see it being a problem if you don’t have the space to open it. Mine had a side door as well.

I didn’t shop too much before I bought it. But I would imagine the cost differences are due to the usual suspects- quality of build, etc.

Short trailers are hard to back up. Whenever the distance from the pivot point to the trailer axle is less than the wheelbase of the tow vehicle, it gonna be hard. I routinely pull a short trailer with an extended WB cargo van. The two things I’ve learned is go slow, and small corrections. I’m always backing in off the street and I am constantly saying “slow down, small corrections” to my myself when doing it.


Most of the trailers we are finding on the dealer lots are V nose. I was thinking the same thing about the odd shaped interior. I was actually thinking they should but an empty nose on the front of the trailers (similar to what they put on some semi trailers).
It seems like most of the trailers have the ramp door. I have no need for a ramp, and would prefer a swing door, but not a big deal either way. My main concern with the ramp is maintenance/reliability.

As for length, the Admiral wanted a 4x6, but I will not sign up to back up a trailer so short.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/27/20 05:40 PM

Originally Posted by captkevin
if you are going to use in winter might want to consider aluminum.


Good suggestion. I did a search, and there are some enclosed trailers with aluminum frames, but they are not common. I don't have time to order one (needs to use in a few weeks), so will have to go with steel. However, the better brands claim to have a under coating.
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/27/20 05:56 PM

After visiting a few dealer lots yesterday, and searching the "inter webs", we came to a few conclusions:
1) We don't want a lower priced trailer. I researched a model available at a local Fleet Farm store that would cost about 30% less, but it seems like each an every component is cheap. Reliability is very important, so we are not considering the lower cost options.
2) While there are countless makes of trailers, most of the trailers available appear to be similarly priced with similar features. They seem to use the same components and designs.
3) We decided one important factor for us is to fit under a 7' garage door. This limits us to an inside height of 5'. There are only 2 trailers within a reasonable drive that I have found that will fit under a 7' door. One is 5x8 and one is 5x10, both are from the same dealer and same mfg, and both are single axle. The 5x10 has stabilizer jacks on the back so you can load/unload safely without being attached to the tow vehicle. The stabilizer jacks make the decision easy: 5x10. This is more trailer than we need, but the extra size might come in handy, and might also tow better as well.

The two items that I am not seeing on any of the trailers is interior tie down points. I assume the dealers add these on for a fee? Also, not seeing spare tires. Seems like this (and jack and tools)_is a must have for long hauls.

I will be calling the dealer Monday morning.
Posted By: captkevin

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/27/20 06:35 PM

One i'd look at is the class of the tires. On my Triton enclosed trailer the tires that it came with were barely enough for the weight of the trailer & sled. I upgraded them to the next class up to give me more of a safety cushion & kept originals as spares. If i would have thought of that when i bought it i might have explored upgaded.

I'd make sure it has led lights
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/27/20 06:52 PM

Originally Posted by captkevin
One i'd look at is the class of the tires. On my Triton enclosed trailer the tires that it came with were barely enough for the weight of the trailer & sled. I upgraded them to the next class up to give me more of a safety cushion & kept originals as spares. If i would have thought of that when i bought it i might have explored upgaded.

I'd make sure it has led lights



Not sure of the tire ratings, but they are radials. I won’t be towing heavy loads, so should be fine.

Lights are all LED and are well with placed - vertical strips up high on both sides if the rear door, a strip across the top, and lights on top of the fenders. Thus set up seems to be common.


Posted By: captkevin

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/28/20 04:26 PM

Do they have interior lights?
Posted By: Jack T

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/28/20 07:05 PM

You might want to verify all critical components are made in the USA-- wheels, bearings, coupler, wiring, etc. How are the wires fastened to the trailer between the front and the rear? It sounds like the rear and side lights are "exciting." Are they standard parts that can be purchased locally wherever you are traveling and replaced with simple tools?

Not sure what you will be pulling the trailer with. Many vehicles have tow ratings that you would think would be OK, But, some are insufficient to pull anything other than a very small lightweight trailer. Even some lightweight trailers, when loaded, exceed the tow ratings of some vehicles.
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/29/20 01:02 AM

Brought this trailer home tonight (5x10, 5" inside height).

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As far as I could tell, the components are of decent quality and are typical for a middle of the road brand.
She has an interior light that illuminates surprisingly well.
Quality is. much better than the cheap trailers, but there are better brands out there, I just did not have the time to seek them out.

While towing her home with an empty load, she towed well with no bouncy issues like some empty trailers will do. I have a 4x6 flat bed that I load with 200+ lbs of water softener salt when towing empty as the bouncing drives me bonkers. Hopefully she will do well when loaded.

The tow vehicle is a 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport with a 5K tow rating. I have not towed much with this vehicle yet, but others have posted good experiences online. My previous vehicle, a VW Touareg, was a fantastic tow vehicle.

I had the dealer install a spare tire inside, and I purchased D-ring tracks for the floor and sides, as well as 12 removable D-ring thingies, so securing the cargo should be easy.

Per the car's computer, there is very little hit to the MPG with the empty trailer.

We had the option of getting the same model, except in silver and black. It would have looked great, and matched the tow vehicle, but this added $300 to the cost and I was concerned about the inside getting too hot from the sun.

Thanks for all of the excellent input.

GFC - You can put down the popcorn now.
Posted By: GoFirstClass

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/29/20 01:17 AM

Originally Posted by Dock Holiday
GFC - You can put down the popcorn now.


OH not yet. I want to hear what you think of how she tows with a load.
Posted By: captkevin

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/29/20 06:53 PM

Nice looking trailer. Should be very handy to have around.
Posted By: casualboater

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 12/30/20 04:39 AM

Just upgraded from a 6x12 to a 7x16. It's amazing how much more space those few feet give you!

I built a shelf for the v-nose. Some interesting carpentry work to figure it out, but makes the space much more usable.

I had to order spare tire and mount separate for both trailers, not a standard inclusion.

I also had to install tie downs on both of them. I got several sets of light duty D-rings for this. You can find the steel ribs from the screws on the inside - self tapping screws make for quick and easy install.

Oops - now that I read more I see you got all that take care of already. Enjoy!

Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 01/01/21 10:24 PM

Installed the "e-track" tie-downs today. Not too difficult once you get the hang of it. Wondering if it makes sense to install D-Rings on the cross members in the ceiling?

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Posted By: casualboater

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 01/03/21 05:24 AM

Personally, I wouldn't want to put too much stress/weight on the ceiling. We have several trailers in our school distict (band - gotta move instruments) and one of the trailers had a damaged roof from snow load. It was newer, they got it re-roofed with closer spacing on the 'rafters' and has been fine since, but it makes me nervous.

E-track is good, almost infinite options for tie downs.
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 01/03/21 02:56 PM

I was thinking about straps to the ceiling cross braces to steady taller items, but that probably doesn't make sense. I can use bungie cords if I need to steady something.

Funny, when I started to install the e-tracks, the first thing I did was to grab my trusty level. I quickly realized that a level is just about worthless inside of a trailer. funny
Posted By: casualboater

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 01/05/21 06:40 PM

I'm with you, I started to layout mounting lines for my shelf in the V, and thought level, and then quickly went to measuring everything off the deck. I also realized level's no so important in the trailer as it'll all be strapped down anyway.
Posted By: On Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 01/08/21 05:44 PM

We have that brand and size of trailer at work that is used for construction industry. I've used the trailer personally to move furniture from PA to VA and it towed nicely. Thankfully I have about 3 different trailers at my disposal from work that I could use in a pinch. I have an open 5x8 aluminum trailer for my motorcycle that I though about enclosing.
Posted By: 230 Mike

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 04/17/21 10:51 PM

Three months later... I'd add a 2nd interior light closer to the rear. If you pack high you'll be glad to have more than one.
Posted By: casualboater

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 04/18/21 03:55 PM

As I age I find that more light is good pretty much always...
Posted By: Justification

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 08/12/21 05:27 PM

Has anyone painted the floor of a cargo trailer?
The 20footer I bought last year is big enough to haul my old step-side pickup and will be used to haul project cars once we get the Barndominium done.
Since typically a project car will be leaking oil, I need something that is rough enough for the tires to grip, but will clean up oil spills without soaking into the wood floor.
Thinking a wood deck refurbishment paint may be a good idea
This one is a concrete cover, but would it work on wood?
Deck sealer
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Posted By: WayWeGo

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 08/15/21 02:03 AM

I painted the floor of my race car hauler with garage floor paint and it held up well. With soft race tires traction was never an issue, but you could always sprinkle sand on the first coat and vacuum it off after it dried. A couple more coats would lock in the sand and you would have plenty of traction.
Posted By: Jack T

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 08/18/21 01:18 AM

How about truck bed coating? Tuff, oil resistant and good traction. I have never applied the stuff, but a lot of people sure have, both commercially and as a home project.
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 08/22/21 05:34 PM

I have painted garage shelves (plywood) with Sherwin Willians "decksacpes" porch stain with good results. I have had various things leak onto the shelves, including grease and oil, never had any issue.


https://www.sherwin-williams.com/ho...acrylic-solid-color-deck-stain-pcp-27256
Posted By: On Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 08/24/21 04:58 PM

Check out BTBRV on youtube as he just did a floor install on a cargo trailer. The video was uploaded yesterday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUVUo47PcWo
Posted By: Lou C

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 11/03/21 03:09 PM

I towed a Roadrunner single axle cargo trailer for my son's boy scout troop about 10 years ago, it towed very easily because of the torsion axle, but one thing with these single axle trailers is that they are spec'd to just come to 3,000 lbs so most don't have brakes installed. When they are loaded, they can weigh enough that you'd probably want a pair of 10" electric drum brakes. Fully loaded packed with scout stuff I was able to stop it with my '07 Grand Cherokee but I still think any trailer over 1500-2000 lbs should have brakes.
Posted By: Jack T

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 11/03/21 06:13 PM

Here is my experience on a new 1989 boat/trailer purchase.

Our 17-foot Eliminator and trailer weighed 3250 pounds loaded with gear and gas (no people). The trailer had no brakes, but I assumed the trailer builder knew what he was doing. Then, soon after purchase, my family took a bunch of kids to the lake for the day. Approaching the lake, there was a very long steep, but straight downhill road. I literally had to push on the brake pedal so hard, that my back was pressing hard against the seatback. I almost rear-ended the car in front of me.
After this experience, I weighed the boat and trailer at 3250 pounds, which was more than 1500 pounds heavier than the California brakes requirement. . I decided to have brakes installed, which were very effective and safe, with barely a difference in drivability without trailer. During my research, I referenced the tow vehicle user's guide and found the manufacturer's trailer brake requirement is 1500 pounds or more.

In my opinion, there is no excuse to have insufficient or no brakes where needed or required by law. Do your homework so you know something about brakes on trailers and be comfortable enough to ask questions.

I found this introductory info at the following website. If anything else, if someone is asking questions like “How much can it tow?”, they need to do their homework, hopefully with a professional.

https://www.rvandplaya.com/how-much-can-you-tow-without-trailer-brakes/

The amount that you can tow without trailer brakes will actually vary from state to state. However, on average you can expect from 1,500lbs in California up to 5,000lbs in Alaska.

Many other factors will determine the amount that you can tow without trailer brakes. Here below you can find the most common:

1. Pull weight
2. Weight Of Your Vehicle
3. Age of trailer
4. Speed vehicle is traveling at
5. Items Being Hauled
6. Hitch Type
7. Number of Wheels
Posted By: Lou C

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 11/05/21 02:17 PM

Agreed when I bought our present boat in 2002 the trailer did not have brakes. Many people around here think you can "get away" without brakes because in salt water they can be troublesome. I disagreed and I replaced the old axle with a 3500 lb unit with 10" surge drum brakes and that made a big difference, without brakes our '98 Jeep Grand Cherokee could hardly stop it. This was fine for years, but I got to thinking that when Four Winns spec'd their single axle trailers for the 20' Horizons and Sundowners (both boats had the option of a tandem or heavy duty single axle) they used a heavier axle and larger brakes. So this past month I finally upgraded to a 6,000 drop axle with 12" surge drum brakes (drums work well in my application) with this it stops very well, feeling no push at all behind me.
Both axles I had made to my specs by Champion Trailers in Slidell, Louisana, highly recommended, they do GREAT work.
Posted By: Dock Holiday

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 08/14/22 03:15 PM

Update: This trailer has worked out great for us. We made 3 trips from WI to FL and back and about a dozen trips between Northern IL and SE W. Never a problem and it always tracked true, regardless of load. However, with our housing moves completed, it is now time to sell this little bugger. We have it listed on FB for more than what we paid and got a ton of interest and is sold quickly. We are actually a bit sad about selling and will miss this darn thing. Never thought I would get attached to a trailer.
Posted By: Justification

Re: Cargo Trailer Advice - 08/18/22 03:38 PM

Glad you got good use out of the trailer and I'm sure the new owner will appreciate it almost as much as you did.
You made me realize I need to finish up the floor painting project on ours.


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I tried two different floor paints to see which I preferred.
The light gray is a deck Paint by Behr, while the darker gray is their concrete floor painting
I much prefer the texture and coverage of the Deck repair paint and need to do a second coat using the second gallon I've got over the entire floor of the trailer.
One thing that is really important when applying these paints is the proper roller. Unfortunately, I didn't read the directions properly when applying the first coating and used a 1/4 in nap instead of the 1/4 inch adhesive roller as called for.
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World of difference in application and proper texture.
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