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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I have a 2520 with FEL, but no ballast box ... I need to only occasionally trailer it a few hundred miles on four lanes in only somewhat hilly countryside, including interstates.

My tow vehicle is small - Ford Sportrac with 5000# tow rating - been using OK for several years to pull a 20 foot fiberglas lake boat (SeaRay 20) on a single axle surge brake trailer. I also pull a 5x8 single axle landscape trailer pretty often.

I can't change out tow vehicle! (I may at some future time, but not now)

Would like to replace the small landscape trailer (don't have room to store two) with a dual purpose trailer that will allow me to move the 2520 once in a while. My research says I will have to have a tandem solution - some have said I could make a 12' work and other 14'.

I would prefer surge brakes since I would not have to modify the Sportrak and could also use the trailer with any other tow without mods.

So, I need a minimalist approach ... what can I just barely make work without being unsafe.

Would appreciate your thoughts!

Thanks!
 

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Hire a flatbed tow truck when you need to move your tractor. The Sport Trac is not big enough to do the job regardless of trailer. Why risk a very expensive piece of machinery, not to mention your vehicle and the safety of yourself and others just to try and squeak by?

The tractor alone weighs about 1,900 lbs. If your tires are filled add about 100 lbs. The loader will add 6-800 lbs so call it 2,700 lbs. If you're using the loader with no form of ballast you are again risking your machine and safety. We've had a few incidents of 2 series front axle failures on GTT along with machine rollovers, both due to lack of rear ballast. For the towing discussion, I will assume you have ballast waiting at the job site. If you don't, you need it though.

A trailer will weigh probably 2,000 lbs and be rated for 7k. Trailer plus tractor is at roughly 4,700 lbs before you add chains, tools, extra fuel, etc. If your towing capacity is 5k, that's cutting it way too close for hilly mountainous terrain.

Unfortunately there is no safe way to do what you want to do with your equipment.
 

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Hi All,

I have a 2520 with FEL, but no ballast box ... I need to only occasionally trailer it a few hundred miles on four lanes in only somewhat hilly countryside, including interstates.

My tow vehicle is small - Ford Sportrac with 5000# tow rating - been using OK for several years to pull a 20 foot fiberglas lake boat (SeaRay 20) on a single axle surge brake trailer. I also pull a 5x8 single axle landscape trailer pretty often.

I can't change out tow vehicle! (I may at some future time, but not now)

Would like to replace the small landscape trailer (don't have room to store two) with a dual purpose trailer that will allow me to move the 2520 once in a while. My research says I will have to have a tandem solution - some have said I could make a 12' work and other 14'.

I would prefer surge brakes since I would not have to modify the Sportrak and could also use the trailer with any other tow without mods.

So, I need a minimalist approach ... what can I just barely make work without being unsafe.

Would appreciate your thoughts!

Thanks!

First welcome to GTT. Hope you enjoy this site as much as the rest of us do.

I used to own a trailer sales dealership. SO I have a little experience in the "trailer field".

It is going to be difficult to find a tandem axle flat deck trailer with surge brakes as most are made with electrical brakes. So I think you may encounter some problems with the availability of what you seek.

You are really pushing the limits of the tow vehicle pulling your 2520 with FEL. From what I can recall, and of course, depending upon the year of your tow vehicle, the following are the specifications;

the 4.0 XLS towing capacity is limited to 2,740 lbs
the 4.0 XLT 4x4 auto trans towing capacity is 5,300 lbs
It appears that the base curb weight of our truck is roughly 4,200 pounds

The 2520 with a FEL weighs APPROX 1,900 pounds and another 600 pounds for the FEL so the combined weight is roughly 2,500 lbs.

The fact that you go without a rear ballast box needs to be addressed but I will leave that for another time. Let me just say it is dangerous and not the proper operational procedures for any tractor with a front end loader. I will leave it at that.....

Back to your question. A maximum towing limit of 5,300 lbs less the tractor weight of 2,500 lbs leaves you with a 2,800 margin for the weight of the trailer, etc.

Going with an aluminum trailer would give you more load capacity because the trailer would be lighter than a steel unit, but it is going to be more expensive.
I wouldn't skimp on the length of the trailer in an effort to save money. If you buy a 16' trailer, you can also haul cars on it but you would never be able to haul cars on a 12 or 14' trailer. Also, I would look at a traditional "CAR TRAILER" because they are the most bang for the buck and the resale value is usually decent because they have a lot of use. Also car trailers have 5,000 lb D rings for tie down on most of them, which is crucial because many landscape trailers have 1,200 lb tie downs which are too light for the tractor load.The typical 16' car trailer with tandem axles weighs 1,500 to 1,700 lbs. SO taking your trucks maximum towing capacity of 5,300 lbs (ASSUMING THAT IS CORRECT) less the trailer weight of 1,700lbs leave you a load capacity of 3,600 pounds. The tractor weighs 2,500 pounds, so you would be within the limits.

HOWEVER, that ASSUMES the use of the electric brakes. And that is CRITICAL.....

It's not a big deal to buy the harness and brake box for your truck and plugging in the electric brake box. I think you are messing with fire pulling that load with surge brakes but that's my opinion.

The towing limits for the vehicle seem "very generous" and it's always wise to error on the side of caution. Also, it is crucial your truck have a properly installed class 3/4 Hitch to carry this load.

Tongue weight is another big issue when hauling the load. Make sure you are well within the tongue limits for your vehicle and hitch set up.

I am late for an appointment so I will have to end it here. A minimum of 14' long, a minimum of 7' wide and TANDEM AXLES with electric brakes are how I would suggest you proceed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, not gonna hire a flat bed ... where's the fun in THAT?

I do agree on the need for a ballast box ... just got the 2520 ... and the use I put my former 4410 to never really required it ... just didn't do much and it was bigger machine (bought from a neighbor and I recognized it was way oversized for my use).

I think the electric brake advice is sound ... I knew I was just trying too hard with the surge brake idea. The boat and trailer probably weights close to 3800 pounds and the surge brakes on it are pretty effective. My Trak is the XLT 4x4 with 5300# rating (I had just rounded down :)).

I agree the best solution is aluminum ... just not willing to buy up to that.

Maybe I'm trying too hard and should just rent a car trailer and relo it to my new location and "think" about it some more.

Thanks!

George
 

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Having been in trailer sales for a short time you would do wise to listen to Sullybear. To add trailer brake controller now is very easy, and get the longest trailer you can. Get the Widest possible. When i haul mine i take all the attachments I think I will need. You never have to much room. And has far has the Ballast Box That is a NO-BRAINER. Be Safe :nunu::nunu:
 

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Well, not gonna hire a flat bed ... where's the fun in THAT?

I do agree on the need for a ballast box ... just got the 2520 ... and the use I put my former 4410 to never really required it ... just didn't do much and it was bigger machine (bought from a neighbor and I recognized it was way oversized for my use).

I think the electric brake advice is sound ... I knew I was just trying too hard with the surge brake idea. The boat and trailer probably weights close to 3800 pounds and the surge brakes on it are pretty effective. My Trak is the XLT 4x4 with 5300# rating (I had just rounded down :)).

I agree the best solution is aluminum ... just not willing to buy up to that.

Maybe I'm trying too hard and should just rent a car trailer and relo it to my new location and "think" about it some more.

Thanks!

George
Boat trailers have surge brakes because of the axles being underwater so often. Surge brakes are ok but I have seen many sets of surge brakes rusted in place and not functioning correctly. Adding the brake box is no big deal and most manufacturers have wiring harnesses which plug right into the factory harness to accommodate the brake box. That is the way to go. Check online or at a good dealer that handles Reese or Draw Tite hitches and they will likely have something to fit your truck.

There are a lot of used car trailers which go on the market this time of year as guys end their racing, etc. and need some cash for the winter. Note that most car trailer are 102" wide and that is a LOT WIDER than your tow vehicle so you will need to add mirror extensions to your truck. Most car trailers are made with either 3,500 lb tandem axles or 5,000 lb tandem axles, which is great. Heavy duty axles are critical to carry as big of a load as you plan to.

Basic rule of thumb is the trailers sold at big box stores are of poor quality and they have cheap axles. Look under them and you will see some aren't even painted under neath and they have wire harnesses running through rough cut frame homes without any grommets or other ways to prevent the wires from rubbing or being cut. If they use scotch locks on their electrical wiring, you will one day have a headache of electrical proportions which will be a bear to find.

Also, pay attention to the tires on lower priced trailers as they often use USED take off tires or tires which are way under the weight limit of the axles. Tires are critical for safe load carrying.........

Good luck......
 

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I have a 2520 with a ballast box (adds about a foot of overall length). I trailer mine on an 18' trailer and would absolutely not go shorter.

You have to understand that it isn't about the physical length "fitting" - it's about being able to position the machine in exactly the right position to create the proper amount of tongue weight.

Once you're done acquiring the proper trailer, its weight plus the weight of the tractor is most likely going to put you over the weight limit for your tow vehicle.

You were advised to hire a truck to move the tractor for you, and I second it (or borrow / rent a larger tow vehicle). You asked where the fun was in that, but I'll ask where the fun is in destroying your tractor, your tow vehicle, other peoples' property, other peoples' lives, or your own life because you weren't using the correct tools for the job.

Tow it correctly, or don't tow it at all.
 

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I have a 2520 with a ballast box (adds about a foot of overall length). I trailer mine on an 18' trailer and would absolutely not go shorter.

You have to understand that it isn't about the physical length "fitting" - it's about being able to position the machine in exactly the right position to create the proper amount of tongue weight.

Once you're done acquiring the proper trailer, its weight plus the weight of the tractor is most likely going to put you over the weight limit for your tow vehicle.

You were advised to hire a truck to move the tractor for you, and I second it (or borrow / rent a larger tow vehicle). You asked where the fun was in that, but I'll ask where the fun is in destroying your tractor, your tow vehicle, other peoples' property, other peoples' lives, or your own life because you weren't using the correct tools for the job.

Tow it correctly, or don't tow it at all
.
I am really surprised that Ford lists a towing capacity on that truck of 5,300 lbs when the truck weighs about 1,000 lbs less than that. I am not even sure if that truck has a full frame under it or if it is built like a smaller / mid sized SUV. A safe rule of thumb is that anytime you are pulling a trailer loaded which weighs 50% of the tow vehicle weight, you should be using a brake box with functional electric brakes on EACH axle of the trailer.

I have watched far too many people operate with the assumption that if they can load it and connect it, they can haul it. That is incredibly dangerous and also a great way to harm or kill some innocent person just going about their day. As a motorcycle rider, between distracted drivers and poorly secured and or oversized loads and peoples terrible driving in general, it makes me very concerned.

Many of the "lawn care professionals" in our area haul their equipment around on open, flat deck trailers, usually with at least a rail around the edge. I can't tell you how many time I have watched those guys either load their big zero turn mowers on the trailer and simply put the tail gate up and go. I said something to one of them one day and he replied "Well, I set the brake on the mower so it shouldn't go anywhere." I thought such an attitude deserved a specially arranged visit with the Weigh Master.....The next week as he was getting on the state highway down the road, the Weigh Master happened to be there and pulled him over and cited him for unsecured load. He even took out the portable scales and weighed the trailer loaded and the tongue weight and went through everything with the guy. Several expensive citations later, hopefully he learned a lesson.

A poorly secured or oversized load puts other people at risk. No one has the right to place others in jeopardy simply because it's "easier or more convenient" for them.

Critical towing Requirements which MUST ALWAYS be complied with; (Note this list is off the top of my head. There are probably more safety issues which should always be followed when towing any trailer.)

1. - Always only use tow vehicles and trailers which are designed to carry the load well within the tow vehicle manufacturers and the trailer manufacturers list G.V.W.R. and towing limits.

2. - Always use safety chains and the safety brake separation cable should the trailer become disconnected while in use.

3. - Always make sure all lights on the trailer are functioning correctly and used at all times when towing.

4. - Make sure the right sized hitch ball is used. I often see people put 2" or 2 5/16ths" trailer tongues on 1 7/8ths hitch balls. Very dangerous.

5. - Know your loaded trailers tongue weight. Use a bathroom scale for smaller trailers or a commercial scale for larger trailers. A load with excess tongue weight is just like a tractor with a FEL being used to move gravel without a ballast box. It is dangerous and will result in a accident.

6. - Always properly secure a load with straps, chains, chain binders and tie down points which are scaled to the load. The $12.99 set of 4 tow straps sold at Harbor Freight should NEVER be used to secure your tractor and FEL. EACH STRAP should be able to hold the weight of the entire load. So if a load weighs 2,000lbs, each strap should have a 2,000lb load limit, not 500 lbs per strap. When the stresses are put on a strap, it shouldn't fail even if that stress is the weight of the entire object.

7. - Learn how to properly tie down any load and especially a vehicle such as a tractor. Their should be down force on each corner of the vehicle and I always cross the rear straps to prevent the vehicle from "walking sideways" on the trailer as the load bounces down the road. Learn how to secure loads and where to hook the straps and chains and other load securing devices.

8. - A properly secured load should remain attached to the trailer deck in the event of the trailer tipping over. While this is an extreme test, it is a safe standard to prevent the load from coming off the trailer.

9. - If you are hauling individual items like pipes, or lumber or any other items, you should always have a front and rear means of preventing the load from shifting. Strapping a dozen 2 x 10's on the trailer would require a secured board or plate of some type at each end of the load to prevent the individual items within the stack from shifting around. Once you lose one item, all the rest are no longer secured.

10.- Make sure your tow vehicle mirrors permit you to see the entire width of the load at a glance. Essentially, unless your vehicle is equipped with "towing mirrors" from the factory, most factory standard mirrors are not adequate for the job to safely tow a trailer. Since most car trailers are 102" wide, the maximum legal limit, always make sure your mirrors permit you to see the full sides of each side the trailer and load being towed.

As I mentioned earlier, this list is not all inclusive. I am sure there are issues and items I have overlooked. This list is a good starting point.
 

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Isn't a Sport Trac basically an Explorer with a small pickup box?
 

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Isn't a Sport Trac basically an Explorer with a small pickup box?
Yup. The actual name for it is a " Ford Explorer Sport Trac". The frame for it is a cross between the frame from the Ford Ranger and the F150. Instead of being a 1/4-ton or 1/2-ton, it's a 1/3rd-ton vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yep - an Explorer with a very small bed ...wife likes it cause is easy to drive in town. I don't like cause it's not as capable as I would like.

The 4x4 version tow rating is 5080# ... Explorer with a V-8 goes to 7000#.

Tows our 20' lake boat and surge brake equipped trailer really easily ... unless one is cutting through the mountains, then not so much on steep short switchbacks :)

Am talking with local trailer sales folks about a Big Tex 50LA (http://www.bigtextrailerworld.com/pdfs/50LA.pdf) ...14' or 16' both work within weights (I know several of you have different opinions). If I get a ballast system I will need to add another 500# so would take me to about 3000# on the tractor, then the weight of the trailer ... still fits inside published parameters. I am using a frame hitch. I have, btw, installed trailer lighting wiring kits so can do the electric install.

I know I am trying for an "in between" solution by wanting a single solution for both towing the trailer and using it as a utility trailer.

Thanks for all your comments and advice!
 

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6. - Always properly secure a load with straps, chains, chain binders and tie down points which are scaled to the load. The $12.99 set of 4 tow straps sold at Harbor Freight should NEVER be used to secure your tractor and FEL. EACH STRAP should be able to hold the weight of the entire load. So if a load weighs 2,000lbs, each strap should have a 2,000lb load limit, not 500 lbs per strap. When the stresses are put on a strap, it shouldn't fail even if that stress is the weight of the entire object.

7. - Learn how to properly tie down any load and especially a vehicle such as a tractor. Their should be down force on each corner of the vehicle and I always cross the rear straps to prevent the vehicle from "walking sideways" on the trailer as the load bounces down the road. Learn how to secure loads and where to hook the straps and chains and other load securing devices.

8. - A properly secured load should remain attached to the trailer deck in the event of the trailer tipping over. While this is an extreme test, it is a safe standard to prevent the load from coming off the trailer.

9. - If you are hauling individual items like pipes, or lumber or any other items, you should always have a front and rear means of preventing the load from shifting. Strapping a dozen 2 x 10's on the trailer would require a secured board or plate of some type at each end of the load to prevent the individual items within the stack from shifting around. Once you lose one item, all the rest are no longer secured.

As I mentioned earlier, this list is not all inclusive. I am sure there are issues and items I have overlooked. This list is a good starting point.
I can clearly second the above and as a ocean shipping specialist I have seen just too many loads become detached because of improper and/or defective securing.

Just to add a few points to the already well elaborated list of Sulleybear

A. Don't knot textile tie down straps as this will weaken the strap

B. protect (synthetic) textile lashing material from sunlight (UV rays) as this degrades them rather quickly

C. always know the capacity of your lashing points

D. when hauling wheeled loads, "tire lashings" are a good way to secure your load
s-l225.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi, again, All,

I decided to rent a trailer ... very nice folks (Nicole, Rob and Joe) at Blue Ridge Trailers in Ruckersville, VA. Loaned me a set of 10K lbs straps, a straight bar receiver (mine was a 2" drop and they wanted the trailer perfectly level) and checked out the electric brake operation.

So, the trailer is 16' - from the photo you can tell there is quite a bit of space available for placement to balance over the tandem wheels ...BUT, if I were to have had a ballast box, 16' would be just about perfect. They said trailer was about 1900 pounds, but I think more around 1500, plus tractor and FEL of about 2500 pounds ... so, between 4000-4400 pounds. I strapped the FEL on both sides and both rear axles. The hold downs on the decking weren't ideal for my load, but the side rings were close enough. Had zero movement of the tractor. I also had a couple of chains over the axles, as well - no tensioner/binders, but just a make me feel better thing.

I installed a Draw-Tite "I Command" proportional brake controller and wiring harness (Sport Trac on my year only had harness for lighting) ... painful on your back install, but the kit from etrailer had most everything in it ... given my Trac is a bit shorter than most trucks, I coiled a couple of feet cable (two wires) extra under the rear area during the install in case I wanted to remove it later for another, larger truck.

The controller was very easy to get used to ... allowed large range of settings for light versus heavy loads (1-4 axles) ... on my 250 miles through the rolling hills of Virginia between Fairfax County and Bedford County everyone worked just fine. My first time with electric brakes so I was very careful, but soon the brakes gave me a sense of confidence I never felt with either no- brakes or even with surge brakes.

The Sport Trac (4L six cylinder) itself was fine, as well ... I've pulled my 20' boat and trailer quite a bit ...frankly, could not tell any difference between the two loads, but the boat is single axle and the 16' trailer is tandem, so I would expect there to be completely different feel. While I didn't drive much over about 65 mph, it felt very stable ... used the overdrive lockout button for much of the trip. If I could have driven at 70-75 safely, I think it would have been easier and could have left overdrive on most of the time, but the split four lanes most of the way just didn't have enough line of sight to make that advisable. I think a V-8 version of the Trac would be a nice thing, but V-6 worked fine.

Thanks for all the great advice!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Forgot - I moved the tractor around on the trailer a few times and test drove it - the placement I ended up with seemed to connect to the Trac well, without too much weight on the hitch. Any further forward and I could see the hitch had too much on it and any further back the front seemed to move around a bit.

With wife and I in the Trac it was pretty level and felt solid.
 

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Glad it worked out. Nice looking tractor. :bigthumb:
 
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