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Old 02-28-2012, 08:14 AM   #1
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Default Light weight trailers

I have done some searching, but most of the results turned up info on tow vehicles or passing remarks about aluminum trailers. I'm trying to educate myself on light weight, open trailers for towing a Miata. The shorter and lighter, the better. Assume it will be pulled behind a small "SUV" like a Forester XT, Audi Q5 or BMW X3 and towed maybe six times per year with a max distance of 600 miles (round trip) through virtually all flat lands at sea level. Elevation changes would be measured in hundreds of feet, not thousands (e.g. Orlando to PBIR, Homestead, Sebring, with Roebling about the farthest).

I found the Featherlite 3110. The 14' model is about 1250 - 1300 pounds and the 17'6" is 1300 - 1400 pounds.

I also found the Aluma 6316 trailer. This one is about 16' and only weighs 600 pounds according to what I found. However, I don't think it comes with brakes and that's a major issue from what I have read, especially when trying to tow with a non-truck.

That leads to the next size up which is the Aluma 7800. The 12' model is 900 pounds, the 14' is 1,000 and the 16' is 1,050. That one comes with electric brakes.


I have read all through the various tow vehicle threads. Posts like, "it's a terrible idea to tow ~3400 pounds with a wagon or a cute ute; you really need a turbo diesel 3/4 ton truck" will fall on deaf ears. I'm one of those guys who would rather drive a compromised tow vehicle 6 times per year than a (severely) compromised daily driver the other 350+ days per year.


Ultimately, I'm going to do a cost/benefit comparison of a wagon/cute ute + lightweight trailer vs just renting a U-Haul pickup + steel trailer for the weekend and daily driving something I want versus something I've "settled for."
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Old 02-28-2012, 08:43 AM   #2
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Can you get the 12 foot trailer with brakes? If so, that'd be the one.

I vote for the Q5. Nicest looking and highest tow rating, followed by the BMW. The Suburu is just to light.
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:14 AM   #3
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In most states now it is illegal to not have brakes on a tandem axle trailer. Even if it wasn't illegal, not having good brakes is what is going to get you in trouble on the road in a bad situation. Try to get brakes on both axles if you can afford it.

Honestly I would, get the 14 or even the 16 in case you wanted to tow something else in the future. The 150lbs more than the 12 isn't going to hurt for the 16. Also be aware the 6316 only has a load rating of 4000lbs.
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:17 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by chpmnsws6 View Post
Can you get the 12 foot trailer with brakes? If so, that'd be the one.
It appears so. Here is the listing from their website.

Quote:
All aluminum construction (excluding axle & coupler)

Model Weight Bed Size Tires
7812 900# 78" x 12' 14"
7814 1000# 78" x 14' 14"
7816 1050# 78" x 16' 14"
7818 1100# 78" x 18' 14"

Standard Equipment Trailer Options
• 2) 3500# Rubber torsion axles - Easy lube hubs
• Electric brakes, breakaway kit
• ST205/75R14 LRC Carlisle radial tires (1760# cap/tire)
• Phantom aluminum wheels, 5-4.5 BHP
• Removable aluminum fenders with vinyl gravel guard
• Extruded aluminum floor
• Front & side retaining rails
• A-Framed aluminum tongue, 48" long with 2" coupler
• 2) 5' Aluminum ramps with storage underneath
• 6) Stake pockets (3 per side) (7812 - 4) stake pockets, 2/side)
• 2) Fold-down rear stabilizer jacks
• Double-wheel swivel tongue jack, 1200# capacity
• LED Lighting package, safety chains
• Overall width = 101-1/2"

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Originally Posted by chpmnsws6 View Post
I vote for the Q5. Nicest looking and highest tow rating, followed by the BMW. The Suburu is just to light.
Tell that to this guy:




I also found this thread from Hustler about cost/benefit of renting vs buying trailers. I'll go back and re-read that and see if there are any nuggets of knowledge I can use.
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:46 PM   #5
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The ability to find one picture of someone doing something doesn't make it a good idea. That Forester has visible squat in the back and it would be pretty terrifying to drive on a US Interstate with big rigs and such.

Jack, have you looked at something like an F150 Ecoboost?
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:55 PM   #6
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In for answers on lightweight trailers. I too will be getting a small SUV with a v6 to tow with.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savington View Post
The ability to find one picture of someone doing something doesn't make it a good idea. That Forester has visible squat in the back and it would be pretty terrifying to drive on a US Interstate with big rigs and such.

Jack, have you looked at something like an F150 Ecoboost?
Moving the axle forward on that trailer would make life easier and is simple to do on most single axle traielrs. I tow roughly what a miata on an aluminum trailer would weigh with my Outback with ~200lbs on the tongue and it's fine on the highway at 65+. I avg. 14mpg on my trips down to A/C on the parkway/interstates, just almost in boost in 4th. This is towing a boat which should have more drag than a miata. I have a big FMIC and a manual trans.

Just because I do it doesn't make it a good idea.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
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I had been looking for trailers for sale on craigslist and the likes, hoping that my motorcycle would sell and I could pick one up. I came across a 12 footer home built. I needs some work to make it what i want but for $900 I couldnt pass it up. It pulled behind my trailblazer just fine this weekend to Wilmington and back.

There is also a thread if anyone is interested in building there own lightweight trailer.
http://www.roadraceautox.com/showthread.php?t=38163
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
I found the Featherlite 3110. The 14' model is about 1250 - 1300 pounds and the 17'6" is 1300 - 1400 pounds.

...

I have read all through the various tow vehicle threads. Posts like, "it's a terrible idea to tow ~3400 pounds with a wagon or a cute ute; you really need a turbo diesel 3/4 ton truck" will fall on deaf ears. I'm one of those guys who would rather drive a compromised tow vehicle 6 times per year than a (severely) compromised daily driver the other 350+ days per year.
That Featherlite is a $6000 trailer. You'd be better off buying a used $1500 wood+steel trailer and a $4500 Suburban. Don't want to drive the Suburban to work? You don't have to -- drive whatever it was you were going to tow the $6000 trailer with and treat the Suburban like it's permanently attached to the trailer.

--Ian
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savington View Post
The ability to find one picture of someone doing something doesn't make it a good idea.
How many pictures does it take? I can find pictures of 540iT's and loads of other wagons that are rated at 4000+ pounds in the UK and Europe but the same vehicles in the US are either rated at 2000 pounds or nothing.

How about a shot of a guy I know towing his F20C-powered Miata with his Magnum SRT-8 (which happens to wear UHP tires on RPF-1s and rocks an alumalite front splitter)?

I'm only partially kidding. I know you are a big proponent of towing with full-size trucks and I think that makes perfect sense in your scenario because you tow often and far over what I assume is mixed terrain (meaning elevation changes). And, the real kicker, is that I assume you don't mind driving a truck. For me, see below:

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Jack, have you looked at something like an F150 Ecoboost?
I am sure that's a great vehicle and makes a lot of rational sense but I really dislike driving trucks and SUVs. A Q5 is about the least sporty-handling thing I think I would realistically put up with as a daily driver and I am not even sure I am sold on that. Well, might be able to put up with a 6-speed manual Cayenne but I can't justify spending that much on a daily driver at this stage (even though my wife tried talking me into it).

I understand I will have to make sacrifices somewhere in this equation. In my case, I am probably more willing to spend more money on a Q5 and a small, lightweight aluminum trailer that will fit in my garage than I am to spend less money by buying a used truck and steel trailer for 25% of the aluminum ones.

Said another way, I am probably more willing to sacrifice dollars than daily enjoyment if that makes sense. Also, it's worth pointing out that - while Orlando is no NYC or Paris - my daily driving route is pretty metropolitan and involves pretty narrow streets, tight garage parking at the office, semi-regular parallel parking, etc.

A truck would be better for pulling a trailer for the 3 - 6 times per year that happened. It would be worse for me the other 98% of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tzdevill View Post
I had been looking for trailers for sale on craigslist and the likes, hoping that my motorcycle would sell and I could pick one up. I came across a 12 footer home built.
Thanks for the link. Did you feel like the 12-foot trailer was sufficient in terms of length? I thought an NA Miata was right at 13' in overall length. I guess the front and rear bumper covers just extend past the edges of the trailer a little bit? The wheelbase is well under that, obviously.


Another model that came up is the Trailex CT-7031. That bad boy is about 835 pounds with a bed length of 13' and overall length of 19.5'. It's also sporting an MSRP of almost $6k.
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codrus View Post
That Featherlite is a $6000 trailer. You'd be better off buying a used $1500 wood+steel trailer and a $4500 Suburban. Don't want to drive the Suburban to work? You don't have to -- drive whatever it was you were going to tow the $6000 trailer with and treat the Suburban like it's permanently attached to the trailer.
This is a perfectly reasonable suggestion and something I did look at. I will have to price it out, but the complication for me is storage. I do not really have a place to keep a $4500 Suburban or cheap wood & steel trailer*. So, I would have to figure in the cost of a storage unit or some other option (not really sure where you would even store a Suburban/panel van/cheap tow truck).
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:39 PM   #12
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Use a tow dolly - it's as light as you're going to get, and cheaper than all the other options. Also, a tow dolly doesn't need to be registered/plates (at least in Ohio) as long as it's towing a vehicle with a current plate on it.
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:44 PM   #13
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Jack the length is perfect for me. It does hang a little over the rear. In my plan is to add a foot to rear of the trailer and a low tire rack. And then it will be exactly perfect. It is small enough to hide beside the house and the wife doesnt complain.
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
How many pictures does it take? I can find pictures of 540iT's and loads of other wagons that are rated at 4000+ pounds in the UK and Europe but the same vehicles in the US are either rated at 2000 pounds or nothing.
How many times do you have to watch this to decide it's a bad idea?


--Ian
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:32 PM   #15
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tzdevill - Do you think the 12' could be "sufficient" if you weren't adding a tire rack or do you feel it's a little too short as-is?

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Use a tow dolly - it's as light as you're going to get, and cheaper than all the other options.
Hmm... Besides needing at least one end of the car capable of rolling and possibly having to swap on and off some cheap all-seasons for the tires on the ground, what are some other big negatives to towing with a dolly?

That would be a hell of a lot easier to get in and out of my garage. I'm thinking even a feather weight aluminum is borderline, logistically.

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Originally Posted by codrus View Post
How many times do you have to watch this to decide it's a bad idea?
Touchι!

I wonder about some details with that one. For example, a stock E36 is about 1000 pounds heavier than the Miata and that looks like a steel trailer (which seem to average about 2000 - 2200 pounds). In addition, the trailer seemed pretty tall (or the tow vehicle was awfully low) - look how much higher the top of the car being towed is versus Saboteur's Miata and Forester.
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:33 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
Hmm... Besides needing at least one end of the car capable of rolling and possibly having to swap on and off some cheap all-seasons for the tires on the ground, what are some other big negatives to towing with a dolly?

Unless you have a 6 speed your transmission only oils itself when the input shaft is moving.
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Old 02-29-2012, 07:27 PM   #17
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I've dollied a miata with the front end on the ground, too...
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Old 02-29-2012, 07:51 PM   #18
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That Subaru badly needs air suspension.

A small trailer + SUV = nowhere to put stinky and dirty things (gas cans, spare wheels and tires for both car and trailer, tools, track supplies etc). If you had a truck, you could throw that stuff in the bed. With the SUV, I'd think I'd want a minimum of 16' trailer and a tongue box. With a truck, you could get away with a 14' if you had to. I'm not a fan of the little 12-13' single axle jobs. Makes it hard to balance the load on that little trailer, and your little tow vehicle will be sensitive to it. You're also in trouble if a tire comes apart.
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Old 02-29-2012, 07:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
Hmm... Besides needing at least one end of the car capable of rolling and possibly having to swap on and off some cheap all-seasons for the tires on the ground, what are some other big negatives to towing with a dolly?

...

I wonder about some details with that one. For example, a stock E36 is about 1000 pounds heavier than the Miata and that looks like a steel trailer (which seem to average about 2000 - 2200 pounds). In addition, the trailer seemed pretty tall (or the tow vehicle was awfully low) - look how much higher the top of the car being towed is versus Saboteur's Miata and Forester.
For a dolly, if you have the rear wheels on then ground you need to disconnect the driveshaft if you're going more than a few miles or risk blowing up the transmission. If you've got the front wheels on the ground then you need to figure out how to lock them in place, and lose the ability for the car to pivot on the dolly. That gives you a very long effective wheelbase for a 2-axle trailer, so it's going to scrub badly when turning.

You also typically need to have a valid plate on the vehicle being towed with a dolly, whereas when all four wheels are up on the trailer you can run a non-street legal car. This may or may not matter to you.

The way I see it, a dolly is even more of a PITA than a tire trailer, and really all it buys you is a bit more cargo space and the ability to get the car home in some (not all) mechanical breakdown scenarios.

As for the Poland video, sure, the specific details are different. I suspect the major cause of the accident was having too little tongue weight, which can be an issue with any trailer setup. The point is that towing a couple of tons is a big deal, even on flat ground on a straight road, and the consequences of screwing it up can be enormous. Having a tow vehicle that's overbuilt for the job gives you a larger safety margin, and that's something highly desirable.

--Ian
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:33 PM   #20
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For a dolly, if you have the rear wheels on then ground you need to disconnect the driveshaft if you're going more than a few miles or risk blowing up the transmission. If you've got the front wheels on the ground then you need to figure out how to lock them in place, and lose the ability for the car to pivot on the dolly. That gives you a very long effective wheelbase for a 2-axle trailer, so it's going to scrub badly when turning.
Any decent dolly pivots itself - the steering isn't used for pivoting. The steering lock is enough to lock the front wheels in place, though the miata steering will not lock straight, it will be slightly turned.
Quote:

You also typically need to have a valid plate on the vehicle being towed with a dolly, whereas when all four wheels are up on the trailer you can run a non-street legal car. This may or may not matter to you.

The way I see it, a dolly is even more of a PITA than a tire trailer, and really all it buys you is a bit more cargo space and the ability to get the car home in some (not all) mechanical breakdown scenarios.
the dolly also buys you a significant weight savings with regard to towing. You can dolly a miata safely with a light truck or compact SUV.
Quote:

As for the Poland video, sure, the specific details are different. I suspect the major cause of the accident was having too little tongue weight, which can be an issue with any trailer setup. The point is that towing a couple of tons is a big deal, even on flat ground on a straight road, and the consequences of screwing it up can be enormous. Having a tow vehicle that's overbuilt for the job gives you a larger safety margin, and that's something highly desirable.

--Ian
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