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Axle ratings, lug nuts, tire sizes, etc. for horse trailers

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  • Axle ratings, lug nuts, tire sizes, etc. for horse trailers

    I've posted on another site but wanted to gather some information here as well since I've found this site to be full of helpful folks

    I'm in Florida and shopping for my first horse trailer. I have narrowed my search down to Shadow. Specifically a 2 horse gooseneck straight load with a ramp and dutch doors. I am looking at the Pro Series and have three that I'm seriously considering currently. All are essentially the same trailer except for a few differences which I think are major but wanted to get some feedback and thoughts.

    One trailer (trailer A) is brand new with 7 year factory warranty. It has 2 axles that are 3500lb axles each (7000lb total combined) and was told 5 lug wheels that are steel. Trailer has 15" Goodyear tires. The dutch doors with ramp but dutch doors on the back of the trailer do NOT have windows. Same price as "trailer B"

    Another trailer (trailer B) is also brand new with 7 year factory warranty. It has 2 axles that are 5200lb axles each (10400lb total combined) and was told 8 lug wheels that are steel. Trailer has 16" Goodyear tires. Also dutch doors with ramp however the dutch doors on the back of the trailer DO have windows. Same price as "trailer A"

    The final option (trailer C) is used and is a 2006 (out of factory warranty). It has 2 axles however I am not certain the # rating off the top of my head but the trailer hauled a warmblood (for whatever that is worth) and has 6 lug wheels. The tires are 16" and have aluminum wheels (spare is steel). This trailer is in need of all new tires, pricing out at basically $1,000 to do so. Same set up with dutch doors and ramp and dutch doors DO have windows. This used trailer is approx. $5,000 LESS expensive than the new ones once I've figured in having to spend the money to put new tires on the trailer.

    I am mostly going to be hauling one horse (15hh QH), hauling maybe every weekend, a few times a year hauling long distances, and every few years hauling a considerable distance cross country. While money is an object, I want to do it "right" my first try at this new trailer business and not say, "gee I wish I had ...." a few months down the line. I also want a trailer that I can sell if need be (probably not but still needs to be marketable to the widest variety of people just in case).

    1. What are everyone's thoughts/opinions on the differences I've listed above?
    2. Is it better to have the higher lb axles, more lugs, etc.?
    3. Does it change the way the trailer pulls, travels, ride for the horse, etc.?
    4. Is it worth getting a new trailer vs. a used trailer (the 2006)? The difference between the new and used is a cost difference of $5,000 which is a lot of money to me but I want to do what is best for my horse, not what is the cheapest option. With that said, I do not want to wastefully spend valuable funds.
    5. Can you get a used trailer "inspected" as you would a used vehicle? If so, would/should you?
    6. Are the factory warranties really utilized or does it not matter ... as long as the trailer has been maintained well?
    7. Anything else that might be helpful!!

    I really appreciate anyone and everyone's input. Trailer shopping can be overwhelming and I am doing my own research but value various, practical experience so thought I would ask on this thread.

    Thanks so much for your feedback - and sorry for the really long post, just wanted to make sure I included most of the details!

  • #2
    It's important that the axle rating be larger than the largest load you will carry. Find the dry weight of the trailer and subtract that from the axle rating total (ie 7000 for Trailer A). What's left is how much stuff you can put in it: horses, hay, water, tack, books, couches, etc.

    The larger axles will be higher off the ground. Other than that, it shouldn't matter all that much in terms of the ride or utility.

    For a two horse, it's surprisingly easy to get to 4,000 lbs of horse and gear. Thus, trailer A may be living close to the edge. On the other hand, if you're only hauling the one horse you may be fine.

    The weight will vary with the length, width, and construction of the trailer. For the record, both my 2-horse GNs (with dressing room) have had the 5200# axles. They were also both fairly large.

    I'd have no problem with the used trailer other than the caveats you already noted, that it probably needs tires. Have it inspected by a mechanic if you don't feel comfortable doing it. (You can find checklists and discussions online.) Trailers are much simpler beasts than cars - there's no engine, basic electrical, and then the wheels. Look for a solid floor, check for leaks, etc.

    Factory warranty is great if you need it but ideally you won't. Again, trailers are simple beasts - a factory defect usually shows up pretty early. If it's not a defect, it's straightforward to find someone else to work on them. Be careful that if you have an aluminum trailer, that whoever it is knows how to work on one.

    The 7 year factory warranty is only good if the mfg stays in business. Hopefully the great recession shakeout means the remaining players are here to stay for a while.

    Make sure when you get your new trailer that you get yourself a big-assed wrench with the right size sockets, and actually try to remove a nut and replace it. This sounds easy but it is not always. I like a torque wrench so I can be sure that tight enough really is. I promise you the wrench that came with your truck won't do it.

    As far as which to choose among the trailers, you haven't really given enough info for me to have a preference. Try all the latches, research the brands carefully, compare the dimensions, compare the ventilation, etc. Windows on the back aren't as important as good vents at the head and comparing openable size. Light color, roof construction, roof insulation are also factors.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


    • #3
      are the axles solid shaft or rubber torison?


      • #4
        Originally posted by clanter View Post
        are the axles solid shaft or rubber torison?
        This, and whether or not the pivot points are regreasable.

        The lower cost 3500# axle is going to be constructed with leaf springs for suspension and the pivot points will have thin plastic bushings. Leaf springs have very little damping quality and transmit more vibration to the horses. Within a year the bushings are gone and the metal-metal will creak like crazy. So I would have paid for a better axle design had I known about these features.

        The sway-bar style axles with internal rubber shocks are really effective and give a much better ride to the horses. After adding a wireless camera to our trailer this spring, it's visible how much they bounce around.

        This summer I hope to retrofit a "wet bushing" (regreaseable) kit with an elastomer damper into our leaf spring trailer suspension. I tried once before but the nuts were frozen dead solid, probably due to weather and horse urine corrosion, and this time around I'll have whatever tools necessary to get the job done.


        • #5
          Beyond making sure the axles are appropriate for the weight the trailer is rated to carry and in good repair, I doubt the axle difference is affecting price. If they are all the same brand and same series, than it just matters whether the builder is reputable (I know nothing about that brand).

          I'd automatically rule out ANYTHING that doesn't have ventilation all the way around. I've not found factory warranties to be particularly useful -- if a trailer needs a warranty claim in the first 7 years, I'd be pretty sorry I had bought it in the first place.
          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
          We Are Flying Solo


          • Original Poster

            Wow!! ALL of that was excellent info! I just learned about leaf springs because that's what I have on my truck. I didn't know all of that about trailer axles. I will call them all and find out. Any more suggestions or info...keep it coming! Want to be as educated as possible before making the purchase.


            • #7
              By comparison, our Jamco 2+1 has 8,000 pound axles. I would stay away from the 3,500 pound axles.


              • Original Poster

                So I believe I've decided that I am going to seriously pursue the 2006 trailer based on the axles being 5200# and 6 lug wheels. Now that I am looking at the used trailer that needs new tires, I have tire questions ....

                Looking at PepBoys and TireKingdom to replace all 4 tires + the spare. I don't want to waste money but want to put on quality, safe tires. Does anyone know anything about the following tires or have any suggestions - ALL tires are LT's:

                Cooper Definity Dakota H/T (60k mi warranty, load rating E, speed rating Q) $150/tire installed

                Mesa A/P II (50k mi warranty, load rating E, speed rating R) $155/tire installed
                Uniroyal Laredo (50k mi warranty, load rating E, speed rating Q) $183/tire installed
                BF Goodrich Commercial T/A (50k mi warranty, load rating E, speed rating Q) $192 installed


                • #9

                  My husband is a mechanic and also a tire snob. All our trailers have Michelin tires, usually 14 ply. He hates the Goodyear Marathon always and forever. Of the tires on your list he likes the BF Goodrich Commercial TA. He's had them on our F-350 and the transport driver at the dealership where he works used them also. The transport driver drove 350,000 miles and only used the BF Goodrich Commercial T/As.
                  I hope this helps!


                  • #10
                    With car tires, most any tire will have durability and a reasonable service life - the difference being grip level and length of life.

                    With trailer tires, things couldn't be more different. The basic tires for sale at just about every "normal" place that sells them are junk. I know a guy who always carried a spare and said he used it more trips than not. (!!) He bought his tires from TSC - whatever brand.

                    Burning through tires every season gets expensive and dangerous.

                    I've heard mixed things about Goodyear Marathon trailer tires, probably because they make them all around the world and the tire size determines where it comes from. Hopefully the tire on the prospective trailer is an automotive size which really improves your selection among quality stuff.

                    I've never shopped for Michelins for a trailer but probably because they weren't available in the sizes I needed to shop for.