How do you hook up your short bed truck? Short beds are increasing their popularity while decreasing their length as with the 2003 Dodge 2500/3500 standard bed at 6’3″. You still need the trailer weight far enough forward from your rear truck axle for steering control, balance, and efficient and effective brake and spring use. Pop Up has extensions for gooseneck and 5th wheel trailers. Read More…
#1 Gooseneck, fifth wheel or bumper type hitch.
The gooseneck trailer hitch, attached to a 2 5/16 ball in the bed of the pickup truck or the mini-fifth wheel trailer attached to a pivoting receiver with a king pin from the trailer, similar to semi-trucks, are usually attached to the truck 2 to 5 inches in front of the rear axle toward the cab. This puts enough weight on the front axle to steer properly leaving the majority of the tongue weight on the rear axle. This type of trailer is dramatically easier to pull, back up and control. Bumper trailers are for lighter loads. They tend to sway back and forth unless you attach a weight distributing hitch on the trailer tongue and are more sensitive to load balance. They are also harder to back up. With any trailer, having too light of a pulling vehicle can be dangerous traveling down hill or braking, the trailer can push the vehicle!
#2 Tandem, double or triple axles.
It all depends on use. For heavy loads triple axles are cheaper than tandems, but are harder on your tires unless you never turn corners. When you turn corners with triple axles the front tire and the rear tire flex their sidewalls extremely. It can pop the tire beads under a heavy load. Not to mention the pressure on the wheel bearings. I had trailer house axles for awhile under my 33 foot hay trailer. The tires on trailer house axles are touchy. I had to have at least 90 psi of air in them to keep them from heating and disintegrating. I found some 6 bolt Chevy wheels that matched the spindle bearings. That was an improvement! When I bought my first new gooseneck 32 foot flatbed, I made sure it had 8 bolt wheels to match my pickup wheels. You can never have enough spare tires and it’s nice to have the trailer and truck use the same spares.
Comprehensive Trailer Buying Guide
The right springs makes life much simpler if you use your trailer a lot. Torsion axles, the most popular in horse trailers, involve a round axle inside of a square tube housing. The gaps between the round axle and the square housing tube, have 3 to 4 solid rubber ropes that run along the steel axle. These axles are the least maintenance and easiest to replace, most popular on horse trailers. The slipper springs are cheaper. They are a leaf spring attached on end and the leaf spring slides on the other end (usually threw a equalizer in multiple axles) as the spring flattens under load. Also a low maintenance spring, more popular on heavy duty flatbed trailers. The shackle spring, popular because it’s cheaper, is attached with hangers and shackles to the leafs on each end. This spring gives you the least independence of the axles & the most wear. The spring bolts, bushings & equalizers need checked more often or replaced. They do work well on light trailers not used everyday. Popular in RV trailers.
Comprehensive Trailer Buying Guide
#4 Wheels, tires and bearings
I’ve wore out several trailers, axles, and those wonderful brakes. I switched to Dually’s just to be sure I had brakes. If you can, match the trailer wheel to your pickup truck wheel. Six bolt and 8 bolt. Truck wheels have been changing from deeper dish to a flatter wheel on HD trucks to make room for larger disc brake calipers. For over a decade, truck wheels where getting deeper dished. Trailer wheels can be flatter with less offset than your truck wheel so test the clearance to be sure your truck spare will fit without damaging your trailer. You will generally have more flat tires on your trailer than on your truck. The axles are closer together and they tend to throw whatever they pick up from the road at each other. I like the axle hubs that are greaseable from the outside generally or oil bath with a site glass and plug if you use your trailer often with maximum loads. Get the highest ply or load rated tire. C rated is 6 ply, D is 8 ply, and E is 10 ply and on up 2 plies at a time.