Weight distribution on a generator trailer

Discussion in 'Towing & Trailer Tech' started by Crawdaddy, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    I heard from a friend that Harbor Freight currently has a good price on their biggest trailer. Here's a link to it: http://www.harborfreight.com/automo...-12-inch-five-lug-wheels-and-tires-94564.html . Well, I figured that this is a perfect time for me to build my generator trailer that I've been wanting to build for some time now.

    The trailer claims a weight capacity of 1720 pounds. Well, the generator weighs in the neighborhood of 1200 pounds and I have a 100 gallon diesel tank to put on the trailer too which will weight around 720 pounds, plus other miscellaneous weight of cables, ground rods, etc, for another 100 pounds. So, total weight is closer to 2000 pounds. I'd be overweight by 300 pounds, but this trailer wouldn't see a lot of hard highway miles. To stiffen things up and to provide solid mounting for the gear, I'd be adding in additional braces and bars under the deck.

    The killer for me is deciding where to put everything on the trailer. With the genset weighing 1200 and the diesel tank weighing 720, I've got to figure out how to balance this trailer so I'm not tongue or tail heavy. One thing's for sure, the weight of the generator is a known, but the tank is variable. So, my thoughts are to put the tank over the axle or slightly rear of it, and then put the generator as close to the tank as possible to try to keep tongue weight low and everything over the axle.

    Any thoughts on how to balance this thing?
  2. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    You may be a mechanical or structural engineer who happens to also have the fabrication skills and equipment to not only do the proper math to compute the weak points in an overload scenario, but also compensate for them. However, I am doubting this, as someone with those skills would also be able to scientifically compute/calculate/optimize load placement.

    If I were in your shoes, I would start by choosing a trailer that isn't already overloaded. You may feel the risk is low, however, on that day where you slam on your brakes to avoid a deer or kids or some other ... and hit something ... your insurance company may feel they don't need to pay for your loss or the damage you caused because you were towing an overloaded trailer.

    Is the money you save by going cheap, now, potentially worth a life and/or being poor for the rest of yours? Only you can decide that. For me, it wouldn't be worth the risk...
  3. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    I agree with [MENTION=50075]SurrealOne[/MENTION] , But a bigger trailer. The weight limit may not be only based on the structure steel used to make the trailer but, the wheel hubs (or spindles) and bearings. They may not be able to handle the weight that you want to put on the trailer. Even if you disperse the weight as you want, the axle might not take the load well.
  4. Conlan Rose

    Conlan Rose Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    If you read the owners manual for the HFT trailer it says the axle is rated a little higher, but the springs will totally compress at that weight.
  5. dsfloyd

    dsfloyd Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Going to agree with what is said above so far. I can see the axles and hubs being the weak points. I have one of those trailers (a little smaller one 1090-lb-capacity-40-1-2-half-inch-x-48-inch-mini-utility-trailer-with-12-inch-four-lug-wheels-and-tires-90153) from harbor freight and I mainly just have a 65 gallon water tank making up the wieght. Looking at the two the one you are looking at has the full tube axle where mine doesnt (has a C channel and the spindle goes in about 4 inches on each side). Now the trailer works well and drives well. I even take it on some longer highway trips. The one thing I say about their trailers is to switch the tires. They are crappy chinese made and I already had one blowout. I switched the tires out for some carlisle trailer tires.
  6. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    I've been planning on this trailer for some time now, but I haven't been able to find an affordable platform to build off of. So far the cheapest trailer I can find that will hold the claimed weight is over $700. So, I haven't done it yet. I know that's not a bad price for a trailer, but for something so small that will primarily sit, it's high. I've considered building one from scratch, but I'm sure it'll cost more in steel for the frame than what I can buy one already made for. So, this project will get thrown on the back burner again.
  7. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    That's the trouble with trailers ... they spend a lot of time sitting unless you make money with them. I hated to spend what I spent on my tandem axle trailer, but I also know that most trailers don't lose a lot of value over time if kept in good condition -- as evidenced by pretty much every trailer I could find on Craigslist being $200-$400 dollars less than a new one.

    I searched every day for the better part of 7 months ... in an area 200 miles in diameter. That's why I bit the bullet and bought one, new -- because I'll certainly get my $200-$400 dollars in use out of it ... and can sell it for nearly what was paid for it after doing so ... if I ever want to. (I doubt I will. I acutally put a permanent tag on it. :) )

    That's food for thought, for you. It might make the cost a bit more palatable when you begin to look at that angle of it...
  8. PantheraUncia

    PantheraUncia Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I know everything comes down to "weight" but it really amuses me to see trailers that don't have a full on rear axle that matches that of the truck pulling the trailer. Not that I need a 1/2 silverado axle or 2 under a trailer, but it makes life simpler...

    I know what the truck axle can take, and I can go anywhere and get normal tires for it and 6 lug wheels...
  9. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    My trailer would look funny with 34" Trail Grapplers all the way around! (Nevermind the sheer cost of that ... for a tire that will spend most of its lfe sitting.) It'd be kinda cool, though .. especially if I had matched rims. :)
  10. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    I would like to see that! It would make loading a bear. I have seen a guy around here running 33's on a new silverado. He made a trailer out of a color matching bed. He is running the same tires and rims on the trailer.

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