Pulling an enclosed trailer cross country

sick 96 250

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Jul 16, 2004
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In 2 weeks I leave for AZ and I am loading up a 8x16 cargo trailer to bring out all my stuff. It will only be loaded to about 4000-4500lbs, the trailer is capable of 7700lbs+ so I am safe in that regard. The tires are fairly good on it but I will most likely get another set just as spares to be safe. Right now I just pull the trailer with a regular ball mount and ball on it. I will be upgrading to a WD set-up with an anti sway system. I have been looking at a lot of RV forums but thats mainly what it is, for campers and crap. Has anyone pulled a regular enclosed trailer a long distance before and any real tips or tricks I should do?

How bad is it really when a big rig passes you or you pass one. Some people say even with the sway control set-up the trailer will want to tail wag, other say they have no issues. I also realize I wont be able to be at a higher speed like I would want but I guess thats just life for a long trip.

Just seeing who has pulled for long distance before. I have an 03 Silverado SS that will be pulling this beast out. Oh and this is going from PA-AZ if anyone has any nice routes to take besides what mapquest gives me.

Just trying to see what I need to do and not do on this ride. I see people all the time with them junk u-haul enclosed trailers being pulled at ridiculous speeds which I know I wont be pulling at but it just seems there is so many different sides to pulling a trailer with everything. Everyone has a different story with how to pull, etc.
 

adam728

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My only advice is load it properly, drive safely, leave extra stopping distance, blah blah blah.

I went from Michigan to Georgia to Arizona with my 5x8 enclosed (approx 1400 lb) behind a Jeep Wrangler. Talk about fun! My only problem was a 35+ mph headwind across Texas in 105+ degree heat. The Jeep did not enjoy that, and told me by refusing to use 2nd gear (in a 3 speed). :)

I'm not sure about routes, I took US40 across because I was told US10 sucked.
 

IndyMX

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sick 96 250 said:
In 2 weeks I leave for AZ and I am loading up a 8x16 cargo trailer to bring out all my stuff. It will only be loaded to about 4000-4500lbs, the trailer is capable of 7700lbs+ so I am safe in that regard. The tires are fairly good on it but I will most likely get another set just as spares to be safe. Right now I just pull the trailer with a regular ball mount and ball on it. I will be upgrading to a WD set-up with an anti sway system. I have been looking at a lot of RV forums but thats mainly what it is, for campers and crap. Has anyone pulled a regular enclosed trailer a long distance before and any real tips or tricks I should do?

How bad is it really when a big rig passes you or you pass one. Some people say even with the sway control set-up the trailer will want to tail wag, other say they have no issues. I also realize I wont be able to be at a higher speed like I would want but I guess thats just life for a long trip.

Just seeing who has pulled for long distance before. I have an 03 Silverado SS that will be pulling this beast out. Oh and this is going from PA-AZ if anyone has any nice routes to take besides what mapquest gives me.

Just trying to see what I need to do and not do on this ride. I see people all the time with them junk u-haul enclosed trailers being pulled at ridiculous speeds which I know I wont be pulling at but it just seems there is so many different sides to pulling a trailer with everything. Everyone has a different story with how to pull, etc.


From Philly.. I'd get over to 81 the best way possible from your house, then take that down to 40 in TN.. and ride!

Really is about the best way to go.

As for passing or being passed, it can be freaky, but just stay as far to the outside of your lane as you can, and it won't be as bad.
 

MrLuckey

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I've pulled an enclosed trailer like you are talking about with a similar load more miles than I can count with a V8 Tundra, as long as you have it loaded properly (so that your tongue weight is reasonable) you should be fine. If I remember right the general rule is something like 60% of the load in front of the axle...just watch that the tongue weight doesn't get too high for the tongue or your rig.

If you are light in the front and heavy in the rear it'll sway like nobodys business.

I had no problem cruising at 75 with my tundra.
 

squeaky

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When Rooster and I drove from IA to RI he pulled our trailer (not sure of the size - but you've seen it, it's the one we take to Paragon). We had some weather on our way out that made it a rather unpleasant trip, but one thing I do remember him saying is if he kept his speeds low (around 55-60) it was better than if he was up in a higher speed. I think it had something to do with control...

I don't know, maybe you should just ask him :coocoo:
 

bigtim6656

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Apr 23, 2007
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i had a 8 by 14 and pulled it from indiana to fl to new mexico down into mexico all over the country load it more in the front

just drive slower then normal and your'll be good
i was in fl and it had rain so we sleeped in the trailer and had about 4500 pounds loaded in the back and when i hit the interstate and hit 65 mph the thing started to sway all over i ended up off the road and thought it would have fliped the scaryest thing that haas ever happen to me
 

kdx200chick

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We pulled the same size from Quantico Va to Camp Pendleton Ca... No problems at all. We were probably loaded a little heavier than what you are talking about. You'll be fine.
 
May 9, 2006
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I tow a 4000 pound boat and I'm 16. Don't worry about sway, it doesn't really happen. Before you leave, make sure the tongue weight is 5-6% of the total weight (including trailer).

Just drive the speed limit and make wide turns.

Also, watch out for parking lots--be sure you can get out before you pull in.

It's really no big deal.
 

XRpredator

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squeaky said:
. . . one thing I do remember him saying is if he kept his speeds low (around 55-60) it was better than if he was up in a higher speed. I think it had something to do with control...
bladder control?
 

rmc_olderthandirt

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lkwinnipesaukee said:
Don't worry about sway, it doesn't really happen.


That is a very inaccurate statement to make so broadly.

Your tow rig may not have a problem with sway. But sway can definately happen, and if it happens the results can be disasterous.

The best recipie for sway is to have a short wheel base lightweight tow vehicle with a long single axle trailer with the majority of the weight at the back of the trailer. "Balancing" the trailer by putting an equal amount of weight in the front may provide the desired tongue weight but it doesn't help the sway issue at all.

sick 96 250:

The description of your rig doesn't concern me at all, assuming that your hitch is a receiver style and your are not attempting to pull from a bumper hitch. I am assuming that the trailer is tandem axle and has brakes. If you load the trailer properly I doubt that you would need the sway bars.

Rod
 

sick 96 250

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Right now I have your basic receiver with a 2 5/16" ball mount. It pulls it fine this way but I think I am def going to go with a Weight Distribution hitch with the anti sway built in. I think the whole set-up is around $375 at my trailer dealer so I would rather be on the safe side. I have pulled open trailers in the past with my dirt bikes on and never really thought about the consequences. Use to drive at 80mph no sweat with an open but I got a little older and now look back at how stupid that was.

Yes the trailer has dual axle and electric brakes, I am running with the Prodigy controller as well. But a little curious, we got two different opinions about how to load it up, some say more weight towards the back and others say front? From what i understand more to the front helps with keeping it from swaying more, this is from what others have said. Its not a huge load going out as I am still about 3000lbs under its limit.

As for my tow vehicle, its an 03 Silverado SS, which is ext cab, AWD (not 4wd), 6.0l engine and 4.10 gears so I think I'm safe on that regard.
 
May 9, 2006
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"Balancing" the trailer by putting an equal amount of weight in the front may provide the desired tongue weight but it doesn't help the sway issue at all.

Yes it does. Improper tongue weight is the reason there is trailer sway. It is a very dangerous condition and should never happen, no matter what the tow vehicle is or the type of trailer. If it happens, you are endangering yourself and everyone else. Pull off the side of the road and fix it. 5-7%.
 

Rooster

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XRpredator said:
bladder control?

Very good, my freakish yeti! It was indeed the bladder. I should have never polished off 18 sodas to stay awake on that trip.

The only problem I had with our trip was nothing to do with speed. It was everything to do with loading. I had the tail weight too high on the trailer and it made it sway like crazy. That was with a full load of everything we had in it. Now, with just three or four bikes in it, I can run 90 all day long and don't even notice I have a trailer in tow.
 

sick 96 250

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Rooster, did you just use a regular receiver or did you opt for a WD set-up with anti sway bars for the long haul? Also what size is your trailer, I can picture it but dont know the length.

Oh and lkwinnipesaukee, i thought the tongue weight should be around 10-17%
 

Rooster

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Hey sick, how's it going?

Class III, no sway or equalizers. It's a 6 x 15, single axle. I didn't actually stop on a scale, but I figure I had about 5500 lbs., gross weight. My mistake was putting two large tool boxes at the rear of the trailer (in case something broke down on the way) which made it tail heavy. We had a bad weather system hovering over us all the way out here, the wind made things even worse. Then, whenever a tractor/trailer passed me, I was all over the place.

Keep the trailer as well balanced as you can. My last open trailer was so perfectly balanced with two bikes on it, I could pick up the tongue and move it around the driveway. I never even knew it was behind me when I was pulling it. Obviously not the same with an enclosed.

I would think, if you have the sway and equalizer set-up, you should be fine. Take the back roads! There's a lot of cool stuff to see between here and where you are headed. DO NOT stop in Iowa, LOL.

We will miss you, my sick friend.
 

Rooster

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lkwinnipesaukee said:
Don't worry about sway, it doesn't really happen.

Really? I guess I've been having some sort of hallucinations or something when I get trailer sway.

I have been pulling trailers for longer than you have been out of the cradle.

Sway DOES happen. :boss:
 
May 9, 2006
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Oh and lkwinnipesaukee, i thought the tongue weight should be around 10-17%

5-7% is optimal, according to the Coast Guard Aux. and AAA.

You can probably get away with 15% (I'd go as far to say that any more is dangerous) if you have a truck with a stiff rear suspension system.

Keep the trailer as well balanced as you can. My last open trailer was so perfectly balanced with two bikes on it, I could pick up the tongue and move it around the driveway. I never even knew it was behind me when I was pulling it. Obviously not the same with an enclosed.

Perfectly balanced how? No weight on the tongue? And you wonder you get sway... :whoa:
 
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MrLuckey

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Farmer John said:
At least, not once you repositioned my gear bag. ;)


HEY - this discussion is about enclosed bike trailers, not toyboxes lol

And anyone who loads a trailer to be perfectly balanced is crazy. You definitely want more weight on the front, just not too much for your hitch/receiver setup.

If you want to test just load a couple heavy items in your trailer, try them in the back (and be careful on less traveled loads) then try them in the middle and in the front. You'll see very quickly what weight distribution does for you.
 

adam728

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rmc_olderthandirt said:
The best recipie for sway is to have a short wheel base lightweight tow vehicle with a long single axle trailer with the majority of the weight at the back of the trailer.

Hey, that's my setup!
 

Rooster

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lkwinnipesaukee said:
Perfectly balanced how? No weight on the tongue? And you wonder you get sway... :whoa:

1) I NEVER said "perfectly balanced"
2) I don't wonder why I get sway, I KNOW why I got sway ONCE
3) You are pulling a boat. A boat that is on a trailer that is designed to pull a boat. They are built to suit the weight distribution from the factory. Naturally, they pull very well.
4) I have a Class A CDL, need I say more?

You are 16. That makes for pulling a trailer (legally) one year, if your birthday is today. Until you have over the road experience with loads of random items distributed throughout the trailer, you should probably just go fishing, or skiing, or whatever it is you do with your boat.
 
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rmc_olderthandirt

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sick 96 250 said:
But a little curious, we got two different opinions about how to load it up, some say more weight towards the back and others say front? From what i understand more to the front helps with keeping it from swaying more, this is from what others have said.


There is a "rule of thumb" about loading the trailer to get ~10% tongue weight, but that assumes that the trailer is built properly for the intended load. It also makes some assumptions about the load, which often times is close enough but in some cases can be very wrong.

Proper tongue weight IS very important. You want to make sure that the tongue is always pressing down on the ball and never lifts up. Going too light on the tongue weight can create a number of issues while towing and could lead to the trailer unhitching itself.

As for the sway issue, it really is a dynamics issue. As an example, let's say you are hauling a load of bricks. It doesn't take too many bricks to reach the load capacity of the trailer so you would have some options as to how to load the trailer.

One way would be to load half the pile of bricks all the way in the front of the trailer, with the other half all the way in the back. The other way is to have the entire pile roughly centered over the axles. Both methods of loading can provide you with the exact same tongue weight, but they will tow drastically different!

Even though the trailer is roughly balanced (with the desired tongue weight) the trailer loaded front and rear will have FAR greater "moment", which is the torque that the weight has about the wheels. When the trailer starts to sway this large amount of leverage gives the load a lot of control on what is going to happen.

The bottom line is that if you are loading the trailer and decide that you have too much tongue weight you don't want to compensate for it by adding weight to the back. The better approach is to reload so that the heavier items are closer to the center.

Rod
 

knowiam

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How bout loading some more weight on the left side of the trailer vs the right? For example: I load my 450 on the far left rail and the 70 in the middle rail. Would this be good thinking while loading an enclosed trailer?

Ken
 
May 9, 2006
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Rooster said:
1) I NEVER said "perfectly balanced"
2) I don't wonder why I get sway, I KNOW why I got sway ONCE
3) You are pulling a boat. A boat that is on a trailer that is designed to pull a boat. They are built to suit the weight distribution from the factory. Naturally, they pull very well.
4) I have a Class A CDL, need I say more?

You are 16. That makes for pulling a trailer (legally) one year, if your birthday is today. Until you have over the road experience with loads of random items distributed throughout the trailer, you should probably just go fishing, or skiing, or whatever it is you do with your boat.

Yes you did.

Keep the trailer as well balanced as you can. My last open trailer was so perfectly balanced with two bikes on it, I could pick up the tongue and move it around the driveway. I never even knew it was behind me when I was pulling it. Obviously not the same with an enclosed.

Do whatever you want; just don't be flipping your rig near my family or friends.
 

Rooster

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lkwinnipesaukee said:
Yes you did.



Do whatever you want; just don't be flipping your rig near my family or friends.

Well, pardon me. You are so correct. The fact that I didn't mention that the trailer still had enough tongue weight to keep it on the ball is my bad. I guess the theory of perfect balance escapes you. So, with your statement of having 5 to 7 percent tongue weight being "optimal", having two bikes weighing in at, let's say 500 lbs. and a trailer at 500 lbs. that would make for 50 to 70 lbs. Yeah, I can pick that up. At that weight, there is little or no sag to the truck, and makes for a nice smooth ride down the road.

Flip my rig? :rotfl: That won't be happening ... ever.
 
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