Acres of trailers, you could run across the rooftops for miles and end up in a corn field. Featherlite can pump out thousands of trailers a year, from horse trailers, cargo trailers, car haulers, NASCAR race trailers, specialty semi trailers, helicopter pads and portable emergency rooms for events like Katrina. Featherlite was the first aluminum specialty trailer born in 1973 when I was sophomore in high school. It will surprise you just how dominate Featherlite is in big event trailers. The new transferrable warranty program also showcases Featherlite’s commitment to the customer. Featherlite’s eight-year limited warranty now stays with trailers when traded in at a Featherlite dealer for a new Featherlite trailer. Featherlite Trailer Factory Review.
Traveled North of John Deere to Cresco Iowa, in the middle of corn country to see one of the most efficient trailer factories. Everything is streamlined, coordinated and innovative with employees that have stayed with the company for decades. Complex and professional manufacturing, helps with uniformity, trailers built by the same workers for 10-20 and beyond years. Small town values with work ethic. Driving past the corn fields, out of the small town of Cresco, you see world class manufacturing that reminds me of Detroit and the big 3 auto makers computer based efficient plants. I’ve toured many truck plants with their robot welders and sophisticated assembly lines, Featherlite is the most impressive trailer factory I’ve toured. Smooth flowing professional production is the best way I can describe it.
Randy Lewis gave me the tour and history lesson of Featherlite from it’s creation in Oklahoma to the move to Iowa and now Featherlite is a division of UTC. Being a valuable part of a larger corporation, adds stability in tough economic times. Featherlite’s parent, Universal Trailer, is the largest trailer company in America and offers Featherlite advantages other companies don’t have. While many trailer companies have gone out of business, Featherlite has increased its commitment to customers, offering them an exciting launch of new trailer models, trailer enhancements and a new generation of “lite-priced” trailers just in the last year. Featherlite is the oldest aluminum trailer manufacturer in the nation.
Trailer manufacturing starts at the bottom. Featherlite is the smoothest blend joining axle sub-frame and aluminum floor frame. This is engineering, every piece has a purpose that connects like fine woodwork. Most trailer companies add axle frames to the floor so they stand out separately. Featherlite axle frames have the same floor I-beams inside and out in a streamlined axle trolley with aluminum stringers in the axle trolley below. Featherlite started the trend in1985 with torsion axles, ahead of the crowd. Better ride than leaf springs and safer.
Acres of axles, ready for the thousands of trailers
Axle jig keeps them straight
Steel axle sub-frame starts on a trolley upside down just like truck manufacturing
One of the few trailer manufactures that blend the floor and axle sub-frame
Takes a big machine to flip over the floor. Better welds when you can move the work
Floor frame on rails, you can see the floor ribs that channel urine out the rear
Rolling to the next rail
then the bulkhead squares up the front
It’s fun to watch the trailers evolve down the line
Corrugated floor with grooves for holding mats in place and channeling urine
Wall jigs keeps the uniformity going
Walls fit like a puzzle to the floor
Car trailer on the rail
Efficiently producing small cargo trailers as well
Grommets protect the wire harness running thru the frame
New Model 9405: Compact 1 or 2-horse Featherlite trailer with flip-up rear door and a ramp is just a good looking trailer. Futuristic look with windows up front where they do the most good, wrap around tail lights. A real looker that will get noticed on the road.
Watching small aluminum trailers being built as they go together is a piece of streamlined flowing art.
Unique Goosenecks, with Industry Exclusive Robot Welder
It’s fun to watch, like a Star Wars movie. Lights flashing, sparks flying, a robot arm that spins all around the gooseneck frame. Welding the fitted metal in it’s own jig platform, it’s fast and again, the theme is efficiency. For robots to work, tight tolerances for proper fit are the norm with 1/100 of inch tolerance for robot to weld the gooseneck. An accurate metal saw fits the gooseneck pieces.
CNC, plasma cutting machines make holes with precession making easier to repair when parts fit, big difference when you change lights, having a nice smooth hole that fits as well as doors and windows.
Welding robot just like the big boys in Detroit
The steel frame is in a close tolerance jig
Welding sparks flying like a Terminator movie
Final product, identical gooseneck frames
and of course it fits the trailer like a glove
Neck platform on it’s way to the bulkhead
Neck gussets are engineered and welded right to blend in with walls
Big overhead cranes move the heavy stuff down the multiple assembly lanes
Gates and windows roll to assembly line
Model 8415: 8 ft. wide combo trailer perfect for hauling livestock or horses. Shown with new brandywine color.Your trailer won’t blend in with the common trailers at events.Featherlite new wave siding can be aluminum, painted or polished.
Gate posts, with CNC precision cut holes. Having everything fit the same makes future repairs easier for the trailer dealer
Heavy duty livestock tailgate, nice light cutout for you, won’t cut your finger on when you change lights
Here is the corner LED lights install, such a slick look. Five hinges on this heavy duty livestock gate
Beefy side door so you don’t ask “where’s the beef”
Still on rails, several rows of trailers make their way through the massive plant
Door and gate jigs keep it uniform
then doors come to the line, keeping it behind the yellow line
Parts are on lined up for the assembly line
Close up of how smooth CNC cutting is
Dividers ready between lines
Bumper pull trailers on a rail staying level
Aluminum floor grooves together
Framing conventional trailer, yellow lines again
Stall divider latches
Nose frames waiting by the rail
Left: Model 8117: New 2010 Featherlite livestock trailer with wood floor.Right: Among Featherlite’s biggest innovations are the new “Step-Safe” rear gates, featured in their livestock trailers. Featherlite is offering this popular option for their rear gates in addition to the center gates. “Step-Safe” gates help prevent livestock slippage, convenient for farmers and ranchers too. Rollup rear gate on Model 8127
Roof, You Know How Important It Is
The machine that attaches the roof skin to the cove extrusion
roof seam sealed with pierce and roll, same technique used by aircraft manufacturers
Roof is formed including lights
The roof ladies are fast, they swing completed roof over a row to the trailer to be fitted
On goes the top with ease several times a day
The gooseneck machine lines up the nose and roof
It’s skill sliding the wall skin under the roof
Roof drops into place
Goes together like a puzzle with reinforced rear gate corners sliding into the extruded roof cove
Nose sheets riveted
Nicely fit walls and roof
Reinforced at the bulkhead neck
New wave siding, all the bling bling
The bulkhead gusset is covered with wall sheet metal for a refined look
Featherlite makes some big horse trailers
Triple rack and pinion slides out go smooooth
Plenty of room in the managers
Insulated, ventilated and fans, ready for southern summers
Reverse load, one of the many specialty trailers Featherlite produces. A comfortable configuration for your horse, allowing them to brace with their hip instead of shoulder on sudden stops. This allows more of the rear of the trailer to become a gigantic tack room.
Featherlite streamlined engineering for thousands of uniform trailers a year. Unlimited configurations and options.
Model 4926: Featherlite’s trailers, including this car hauler, are available with up to 3 different colors. Featherlite’s newest colors include green, orange, yellow and brandywine.
Featherlite dealers, (200 across the US and Canada) have taken delivery on almost all the trailers on the Featherlite corporate lot; dealer inventory in locations all over the U.S. and Canada now offers customers bigger and better selection in horse, car, livestock and recreational trailers.
Featherlite knows how to ship trailers across the country in a big way.
Variety of trailer types give Featherlite dealers more options that customers need. So many new options and features makes the slogan “Ahead of the Curve” fit well, which is the theme of having Featherlite trailers that fit you, your horses, your business and your hobbies. What I don’t hear much about in the trailer business is parts and service. It’s a big part of the auto business. When you have a dealer network the size of Featherlite, parts and service is important for healthy business and customer relations. Featherlite also has a fleet of delivery trucks and trolley doubles to keep their dealers supplied.
Featherlite has large selection of auto and cargo trailers
Trailers have their build list on them
Aluminum flatbeds of course
Bull hauler straight deck
Enclosed baby pig haulers
Drop down people haulers, seen these at The All American Quarter Horse Congress
Special purpose trailers, probably top secret
Featherlite makes one of the premiere open car trailers
Rancher style, can’t get better aerodynamic nose
An easier way to reach inside
Featherlite Specialty Trailers, in a Class of Their Own. Mobile ER to NASCAR
From USDA mobile labs, mobile x-ray for port security, mobile medical and disaster support trailers to mobile stages for music and theater. Featherlite is well known in NASCAR racing circuit. Next time you are at public event, look at the big trailers and see the Feather logo.
Emergency Room on the go, miles of wiring
Now that’s a real slide out
the slide out even has it’s own door
Race car trailer with car lift
Massive car trailer, staircase to neck
Starts with heavy duty axle trolley bridge
This one has to be the elephant bus
Even a trailer to land helicopters
Model 1651: In addition to trailers, Featherlite makes truck beds for pickups redesigned radius-style pickup truck bed. The bed offers a “headache rack”, stake pockets and a trap door to install a gooseneck or fifth wheel connection.
Featherlite Country Estate 53 ft. 4 horse trailer was a big splash at the All American Quarter Horse Congress last year. Details.
Featherlite has Innovative Manufacturing Systems and Machines.
Featherlite has pioneered innovative new manufacturing techniques in the trailer industry. Not your typical plant, parts come to the assembly line, all tools have a specific place, welders are overhead. Several lines of trailers come through the plants side by side. Dedicated interiors building keeps the specialty trailers rolling out. Designers and engineers make the magic with art and science. This is reflected in the awesome graphics and refined look of Featherlite trailers. Look at the Medalist horse trailer to see trailer beauty. The current build is 40% horse trailers, 25% stock trailers, cargo, specialty and auto make up the balance.
Big trailer take big floor frames
Custom counters for the specialty trailers
Specialized metal works
Everything in it’s place, I need to send my teenagers to work here
Big sophisticated saws
Sodium hydroxide acid wash and steam cleaners make the trailers shine when they leave
Featherlite is a green company, returning water with a lower ph level and acid
Million gallons of water a month flows through the plants, environmentally friendly and responsible
“At Featherlite, we think the proper response to an underperforming economy is to over-perform,” Randy Lewis, Featherlite’s national sales manager, said. “We wanted to outdo ourselves with both product innovation and customer benefit.”
European style horse trailer. One piece mangers, large horse opening and in-out ramps.
Model 8533: Featherlite’s newest gooseneck horse trailer with 6’7” width and dressing room with 46” short wall
Model 9409: Featherlite’s new bumper pull horse trailer is available in a 2 or 3-horse configuration and comes with Featherlite’s new standard chrome glass windows exclusively on Featherlite’s.
Rounding out Featherlite’s star innovations is the new power lift package on the 3110 car trailer. This option tilts the trailer bed down to the ground, eliminating the need for ramps.
Medalist is in a class by it’s self. This is the trailer that started the wrap around LED tail lights, chrome windows and tuck and roll stall pads. Bling, bling, makes pride of ownership.
Sierra “Lite” Living Quarters will be welcome to trailer buyers on a budget, too. This option is for horse trailer owners who want frugality without sacrificing all the frills.
Ice fishing, Featherlite is aggressively targeting niche markets with their new releases. North American residents above the Mason-Dixon Line will love the “Freedom” trailer for ice fishermen. This comfortable trailer boasts sofa and swing-down beds, a kitchenette, bath and a flat screen TV. It also has fresh water and electricity inputs, and a hydraulic lift lets the trailer sit flush against the ice. Why get bored waiting for the fish to bite? The Freedom serves double duty in the summertime as a toy hauler, perfect for ATVs, motorcycles or bicycles. It also makes a wonderful trailer to take on extended camping or hunting trips.
Another trailer well-suited to outdoor activities is the 1609 “Mod Pod,” especially with its new camper package. The “Mod Pod” transforms from trailer to camper in minutes and is tough enough to take off the beaten path. This is a trailer for cyclists, hikers and other explorers.
Featherlite Model 4926 with optional living quarters is great for hauling all types of toys – ATVs, motorcycles, dune buggies and more!
Featherlite is as close to auto manufacturing as you can get. It’s a lesson in engineering, efficiency and practical design. Starting the aluminum trailer craze, Featherlite leading the way as we see more companies switch to aluminum. It’s nice to see the vision become the trend. Efficient manufacturing, no waste, built more like trucks with strength, built to be light for easy pulling and less fuel.
Gen-Y Hitch heavy duty adjustable drawbar for today’s powerful trailering trucks: These steel adjustable, multi-ball, multi-height, pintle, or weight distributing hitch is the highest trailer rated hitch I’ve seen. The one I’m using from Gen-Y Hitch is rated for a 16,000 lb. trailer with a 2 inch shank. For Class V receiver, 2.5 inch shank, trailer rating goes up to 20,000 lbs. Their newest hitch is the Torsion Flex Hitch that isolates how your trailer bounces verses your truck for a smoother ride. Read the review...Weigh-Safe: Do you know your trailer tongue weight, asks the judge? On a bumper pull trailer, if you have too little tongue weight, the trailer can sway and be dangerous. If you have too much trailer tongue weight, your truck or SUV will squat excessively, aim your headlights to the stars and stress your trucks rear axle, brakes and suspension. What you need to know...
Read my Weight Distributing Hitch article. WDH is common with RV travel trailers as they should be will most bumper pull trailers. This is an important subject for trailer safety to have the best control for a trailer that has leverage on your truck or SUV.Click...