Do I want a trailer jack for my little trailer?
I'm buying a small trailer, only 4' x 8' bed, the one that folds in
half sold by Harbor Freight and NorthernTools (I'm not saying they're
the same, but similar). Buying it new, with new tires.
And they push accessories such as a trailer jack that holds the tongue
up when it isn't resting on the trailer hitch. Do I want one, do I
need one, for a trailer that weighs 200 pounds on which I'll put less
than 100 pounds of furniture? After all, I'm supposed to put the load
on so the tongue weight is no more than 50 pounds, right? And I can
lift 50 pounds easily. OTOH, I love accesories and gadgets? OT3H, I
will rarely if ever use it, but I will pay for gas to carry it around
with me whereever I go.
In fact, I plan to use the trailer only once, to go from Dallas to
Baltimore, and I don't expect to put the trailer on the hitch more
than once, or take it off more than once. At the start and at the
end. Since I have no place to keep the trailer, I'll have to sell it,
cheap. So should I buy the jack?
Should I buy a spare wheel, tire, and spare tire carrier, for a total
of 40 dollars? I'm not made of money. :)
Tongue weight should be about 10% of gross trailer weight, and both
tongue and gross weights will be limited by your tow vehicle and hitch.
A trailer of the type you indicate should pretty much never have a
tongue weight over 120# so you can probably do just fine without a jack.
A spare wheel/tire assy. is a good idea if you expect to tow it a lot. A
tire carrier isn't worthwhile since the tire is small and you should be
able to just strap it down with the load or keep it in the two vehicle.
If you don't tow a lot, don't tow in remote areas and don't tow anything
too valuable you can pretty readily skip the spare tire. If you do get a
flat you just leave the trailer on the side of the road for an hour
while you got to and Lowe's, Home Depot, Auto parts store, etc. and buy
a tire/wheel assy. for $30.
Well, as I said, I like gadgets, but I'll control myself and skip this
Thanks. I feel better now. The dresser has been mine since I was 6
and it's beautiful, but it's not likely someone will steal it, even if
I have to leave it**. I can even chain up the trailer if I have to
leave it. So I'm going to order the trailer right now, and have it
shipped to my brother in Dallas.
**Not likely that anyone will want it, but I'm going to put a switch
under the dresser so that it sets off the car's burglar alarm if
someone tries to take it while I'm in a motel or camping at night.
(Also very unlikely, but when one has had things stolen, he becomes
touchy about it. My car once, though I went and found it, but
everything in the trunk was missing. A roommate' subtenant stole my
desk, deskchair, electric drill, and propane torch once when I was
working out of town. And a second time everything in the trunk of my
convertible. That was 24 years ago, but still. Oh, yeah, someone once
stole 2 lawn mowers from behind my house, but I had spent hours trying
to make either of them work and was only saving them for parts! I'll
bet they were disappointed when they got them home and couldn't start
I had one of those trailers for years. I carried around a cheap Harbor
Freight jack stand to stick under the tongue when I unhitched. It
served 2 purposes:
- Saved the back from lifting the tongue off the ground
- Kept the bed more level
One problem is that if you stand on the rear of the trailer, the tongue
will lift off the jack stand and if the trailer rolls left or right,
the tongue will hit the ground rather harshly when you get off. With an
attached jack stand (preferably with a wheel (~$40)) it may lift up,
but it will return to it's original position a bit more calmly.
Once I upgraded to an enclosed trailer, I found the wheeled jack stand
to be a must if I wanted to move the trailer by myself.
BTW I built a nice set of walls for my trailer from 1 x 6 douglas fir.
I've seen cheap, fast plywood walls, but my walls made an inexpensive
trailer look pretty nice. I got it on sale for under $200, put about
$50 into the walls and sold it for $200 4 years later.
P.S. Never had a spare, never had flat.
As the others have said, with the trailer empty it won't be that bad
without a jack, but I would still want one. It just makes it more user
friendly & saves always looking for something for under the hitch.
Sooner or later you are going to want to unhitch it loaded, and that
will be a task.
Cool. I don't want my dresser falling off at 65 mph**, but I think
I'll use rope. My brother's isn't the best place to make walls.
**Most of the way on small roads at 40 to 50.
It has short legs at the bottom, and a top that overhangs the rest of
it, so I'll be able to get the rope on ok, even on top of the
waterproof wrapping. Unless I crash the car, in which case the
dresser, as much as I like it, will be less important to me than my
A friend once told me about the time the military was shipping him
cross country from one station to another. They wouldn't pay to ship
his girlfriend's stuff or pay her airfare, so he talked them into
giving him the money that they would have paid for shipping his stuff
and his travel expenses. He was going to drive his car and they were
going to give him mileage.
He took the money, rented a big Ryder truck, loaded a bunch of stuff
into his car and drove it into the truck. They then packed all the rest
of their stuff around the car and drove the truck cross country.
When I thought I was taking two dressers, the desk, and the
nighttable, I looked into renting a truck. almost 1000 dollars to go
one-way. (Now a truck trip I could have done in the winter, but if
I'm taking my convertible, I want to wait until the weather is
When I foudn out my nephew was using most of the furniture, I looked
into a cargo van. It was only 240 dollars for the time they allotted
for this distance (7 days I think) but they charged 480 for returning
the van to Dallas, and another 180+ dollars for other charges, so more
than 900. This will be about 100 dollars each way for gas, plus the
200 for the trailer, minus the 100 dollars I would have spent for a
one-way flight. So it is only 200 more than flying there and back.
As opposed to 800 dollars more. Plus I get ten days or more of
tourism. Mammoth Caves, Memphis, Nashville, Elvis, Little Rock,
Diamond State park (where you can look for your own diamonds. 6
dollars for the afternoon iirc, and keep what you find) and Hope
Arkensas. Plus lots of other things I'll see.
Dang, I just remembered the book case! I don't think they're using
that, so I guess I'll take it too. But it weighs little and will sit
atop the dresser. Gas mileage will be lwow and may cost another
??50/100?? dollars. Maybe I should make a shroud like semis use above
the cab. I wonder how.
I think not. My trailer which is much larger has has two different
trailer jacks both of which I have managed to wreck don't ask me how.
So now i just use my trusty floor jack if I need some help. you will
need no jack for the tiny little trailer you describe since you will be
able to lift it without a jack.
My trailer has a typical loaded tongue weight of about 960# and the jack
on it does just fine. Not sure how you killed yours.
For the little trailer though the loaded tongue weight should never be
over 120#, typically much less so it should be perfectly manageable
without a jack.
He was probably using it in a gang fight.
At any rate, I'll bet it wasn't being used as desgined. :(
Derby Dad has given me pause, but if I were to want one, I realize I
don't have to buy it at the same time or same place as the trailer.
I have realized that maybe I can squeeze the trailer in somewhere,
maybe even build a shed in a way I hadn't thought of before, because
it will be very hard for me to part with a trailer that is only two
weeks old, even if it does have 1200 miles on it.
Of course if I could get 200 for a 250 trailer... Well, I'm going to
try this spring to sell a trailer hitch cargo carrier that is better
than new, because I put carpeting on the ends to protect the floor,
and red and white striped reflective strips on 3 sides. Less demand
for that then a trailer, so I expect to sell it for half or less of
what I paid. I bought a lighter one, that uses a wood bottom I make
myself. The old one is so heavy I can barely carry it to the car, and
certainly can't carry it down the steps to the basement.
Haha, those jacks had wheels on the bottom which many do. I think I
bagged mine by trying to drag a loaded trailer across rough ground. Or
possibly I took off with the jack in the down position, ouch. If your
jack has a wheel like that then you will want to use it only on
pavement and then as little as possible. Make sure to put the jack up
before blasting off and learn from my drunken mistakes.
Now i just put a jack in the truck in case of need. Usually I use one
of those Hi-lift style jacks but lately been using my floor jack since
I can't find the other. A floor jack is a better solution than an
attached jack, or even a hi-lift, since it has four wheels, is
extremely rugged and takes up very little space in the truck. Besides,
it doubles for vehicle repair.
So, you never know when you might want to change your oil, rotate your
tires, or grease your bearings so buy a floor jack like I did and get
it over with. Mine has lasted about 20 years at least.
They were selling one cheap so I bought one. Didn't use it much for
the first 10 years, but used it the last couple years to change a
motor mount, to change a tie rod end, three times to jack up the
sagging deck to put longer 4x4's under it, and most interesting, to
hold the insinkerator up while I guided it to its mounting and twisted
it on. Front wheels of the jack in the cabinet, and rear wheels held
up by phone books or something.
The tire depends on how far from home you will be. Well maybe in your case.
For the trip you are making consider the model with the larger 12-14" tires.
Those little guys are fine for local hauls.
I have the smaller version of the same trailer. I have hauled 1180 pounds
of rock and dirt to the landfill. Mine is now about 6 years old, abused a
few times per year and going strong.
You won't need the trailer jack when it is empty and if you move it about
when loaded and on the jack, the tongue will twist. BTDT (been there done
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