Archive for the ‘Towing’ Category

Towing 101: Load Matters

Posted: November 7, 2013 by Bunce Rental in Towing

The trailer is hooked up to the truck. The lights are working.  Now it’s time to load the trailer.  Loading a trailer correctly is one of the most important steps of safe towing.  Safe driving practices and maneuvering are very important components, but safety truly begins with the proper loading of your trailer.  Proper positioning and securing of the load is key to driving your load safely from Point A to Point B.

Position Your Load

Loading your trailer heavier in the front (towards the vehicle) helps prevent swaying and whipping.  A trailer loaded heavier in the rear half will sway at a certain speed and can progress into whipping if you increase your speed.  The correct way to load a trailer is to put 60% of the cargo weight in the front half of the trailer (sitting forward of the front axle) and evenly distributed from side to side to provide stability.  The load may not extend more than three feet from the trailer and the height of your load may not be more than thirteen feet from the ground.

Do Not Overload Your Trailer

Proper loading is essential to safe towing.  Overloading (exceeding the trailers capacity or your towing capacity) a trailer can cause serious injury or equipment damage.  Certain items, like forklifts or scissors-lifts, may have too much of their weight centralized in a small footprint for safe towing.  Even though the overall weight may be less than the rated capacity of the trailer, these high density loads make it impossible to distribute the weight of the machine or load across the trailer, which is not only unsafe – but can also cause damage to the equipment or trailer.  For example, a 5000# forklift on a wood decked trailer will fall through the wood decking.

Secure your load

Once you have your trailer loaded as mentioned above, use cargo straps, chains, or tie-downs to secure your load to the trailer.  This will restrict the load from shifting while being moved, which not only prevents damage to your load or cargo – but also maintains the stability of the trailer by keeping the load heavier in the front half.  If hauling loose debris, we recommend covering it with a tarp to prevent material from falling out and obstructing the road or the view of other drivers.  Prior to hitting the road, check the trailer for loose items such as tools, trash, or even spare parts that could become a road hazard while towing your trailer.

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Towing 101: Staying Connected Matters

Posted: November 7, 2013 by Bunce Rental in Towing

Imagine cruising down the road at 55 mph, towing your trailer behind you.  Suddenly, you hit a huge bump in the road, and your trailer becomes unhitched from your trailer ball.  Just like that, 6,000 pounds of metal is flying freely down the highway, ready to slam into oncoming traffic.

The coupler of the trailer you are towing has been designed to fit a specific size trailer ball.  As in the scenario above, attaching a trailer to a towing vehicle with an improperly fitting ball or hitch coupler can cause a serious accident – mainly the tongue of the trailer popping off the ball and disconnecting itself from the towing vehicle.

That is why you need a second line of defense when towing a trailer and this is where hitch safety chains come in.  Safety chains are used to keep the towing vehicle and the trailer connected in case they become disconnected while towing.  Not only is it just a good idea to have these on your hitch whenever you’re towing, but federal and local laws also require you to have safety chains equipped while towing.

Including hitch safety chains, there are three crucial components when attaching the trailer to the tow vehicle hitch.  The first is the hitch ball or trailer ball where the trailer coupler attaches to the tow vehicle.  Trailer balls come in a variety of sizes, so if you have a trailer ball, don’t assume it is the correct size.  The shank diameter of a trailer ball can also vary depending on the weight rating of the trailer ball.  Remember, the rating of the hitch ball is just as important as the hitch rating.

Hitch Diagram(Courtesy of www.autoaccesoriesgarage.com) – This diagram reflects the different components necessary for hooking up a trailer. They also provide a comprehensive guide to buying hitches on their website at http://www.autoaccessoriesgarage.com/Towing-Hitches/Research-Guide

Second is the hitch coupler, which is used to secure the trailer to the towing vehicle.  Some couplers have a “hand wheel” that can be turned to tighten or loosen the coupler to the hitch ball.  There are also “latch style” couplers that will lock onto the trailer ball to hold the coupler and ball together.  The most important thing to remember is the trailer ball and coupler must be the same size!

The third crucial component is the safety chains.  Safety chains must be secured every time you tow.  Make sure any kind of hitch you use has provisions for the connection of safety chains.  The safety chains should always be crossed to help prevent the trailer tongue from dropping to the road if the trailer were to separate from the tow vehicle.  Chains should be fastened to a solid area of the framework (of the towing vehicle) or to the area of the tow hitch designed for that purpose.  The chains should have some slack to permit sharp turns, but not drag on the road.

When renting a trailer from Bunce Rental, our staff will make sure you have the correct trailer ball, sized to the trailer hitch coupler and assist you with the proper hook-up and connection of your rental trailer.  We want your towing experience to be safe and accident free.  By following these simple guidelines, you can stay “connected” and towing with the utmost ease and safety.

Towing 101: Lights Matter

Posted: November 7, 2013 by Bunce Rental in Towing

Before legally towing a trailer on a public road, you have to have working trailer lights.  If your trailer lights don’t work, not only are you at risk of getting a ticket, but you’re also inviting an accident.  Trailer lighting is critical to letting other drivers know what your intentions are, mainly braking and turning.

I can’t stress the importance of checking your trailer lights before you leave on any towing trip, no matter how short.  This is why we work with you to make sure trailer lights are functioning to the best of our ability before you leave our yard.

All of our trailers use 4-wires on a flat plug to control basic lighting and brake functions: tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals.  Most trucks, vans and SUV’s (made since the mid-1990’s) include factory installed trailer lighting connectors.  If your vehicle has one of these connectors, we carry standard wiring-connection adaptors (provided free of charge with the rental) that should make installation a snap!

However, if your vehicle is not prepared for towing or requires a special wiring-connection adaptor, you will need to install or find the correct connection or adaptor.  With some planning and research, you can safely install a wiring kit into your vehicle’s wiring system, or take your vehicle to a professional camping or trailer shop and have the wiring installed there.  Remember, to tow a rental trailer it is your responsibility to ensure your vehicle has the proper trailer wiring and connection adaptors.

We also suggest you always have an observer confirm your tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals are working properly each time you hook up and several times during your trip.

For more information on you federal lighting requirements, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/standards/conspicuity/trlrpstr.html

Towing 101: Hitch Matters

Posted: November 7, 2013 by Bunce Rental in Towing

In determining the proper towing vehicle, it is equally important to know the trailer’s overall weight and tongue weight.  This information is key to making sure you have the correct hitch for the trailer you are looking to tow.

It is important to note that your vehicle and your hitch may be rated for different capacities.  If this is the case you must use the lower of the two to determine what you can carry or tow with your hitch.  To determine your vehicle’s capacities consult with your owner’s manual or your dealer. Your hitch capacities can usually be found on the hitch itself or, if it is an OEM hitch, in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or through the dealer.

With the majority of our trailer rentals, we require towing vehicles to be equipped with Class III hitches, which ensure a secure connection between your vehicle and the trailer, especially with heavier loads.  A Class III hitch is rated up to a 5,000 pounds towing capacity with a corresponding tongue weight in the range of 350 to 500 pounds.

R & P Carriages provides a more in-depth look at the different classes of trailer hitches on their website. http://www.randpcarriages.com/tech/TrailerHitchClasses.htm

Smaller class hitches may be acceptable on smaller trailers and equipment.  We take into consideration the following when ensuring the correct hitch: the size of the vehicle, the vehicles tow rating, the tongue weight of the trailer and the tow rating of the hitch.   Bumper hitches – attaching a trailer ball onto the vehicle bumper is not allowed.  As always, our store managers and service technicians make the final safety determination, ensuring that a vehicle’s tow package meets our insurance company’s guidelines.

Popular Mechanics also provides some great information on the correct way to tow a trailer and the importance of a proper hook-up between the towing vehicle and the trailer. http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/repair/the-right-way-to-tow-a-trailer

If you don’t have the correct size ball to tow our trailers, we’ll provide one (with hitch) free with your rental.  For more information on our trailers and towing requirements, contact any of our stores.  Our staff is more than happy to answer your questions.

 

Towing 101: Size Matters

Posted: November 7, 2013 by Bunce Rental in Towing

As you can imagine, with the number of trailers and trailer-mounted equipment available for rent, towing is one of our top priorities when it comes to safety.   Towing safety requires a lot of different components and you will find that “there’s a lot more to towing a trailer than just hitching up and taking off down the road.”  Over the next several posts, we’ll provide general towing information and safety tips to prepare you for renting a trailer and to help you make safe decisions when driving a tow vehicle and trailer.

Most of us probably remember Chevrolet’s “Like A Rock” advertising campaign and the related commercial showing a pickup truck, carrying a giant bolder, driving up the side of a mountain.  The set for that commercial was at one time located at the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, Washington.  The Olympic Game Farm is home to many local wildlife and animals; some who starred in feature-films filmed over the years at the location.  A number of years ago, I took a tour of the farm, which included not only the animals but also the movie sets.  Anyway, according to our tour guide, the axles on the Chevy truck they used broke multiple times during the filming of that commercial.  Obviously the “rock” was beyond the tow capacity of the truck!

I was reminded of that part of the tour when I started working for Bunce Rental and became familiar with the policies and procedures regarding tow vehicles.  The top insurance claims in our industry are towing or trailer related claims.  Due to the risky nature of towing, our insurance company has set strict guidelines for the selection of an appropriate tow vehicle specific to our trailers or towed equipment:

  • All tandem axle trailers require a 3/4 Ton Full Size Pick Up (F250 or 2500) with a minimum 133″ wheelbase (axle to axle).
  • Other pieces of equipment such as 20KW generators, 185 CFM Air Compressors, and 6″ chippers will require a 1/2 ton full size pick up (F150 or 1500).

While we understand that your tow vehicle manufacturer ratings may allow you to tow much larger items with your truck, our job is to err on the side of caution and follow our insurance company’s guidelines.  This not only ensures your safety and that of your passengers, but also the safety of other people on the road, when you are towing a trailer.

For example, if a tow vehicle is towing an item bigger and heavier than itself, this creates the likelihood of fishtailing and losing control of the vehicle and trailer, particularly when attempting to stop.   If you have ever visit one of our stores, we have on display a picture of what was a Nissan Pathfinder that had attempted to tow a 2-horse trailer.  The trailer was not one of ours, but is a prime example of what can happen when the towing vehicle is mismatched to what it is towing.  When the driver of the Pathfinder tried to stop or slow down, the heavier weight of the trailer compared to that of the SUV, caused the vehicle and trailer to fishtail.  The end result was the front end of the Pathfinder sheared off when it hit the freeway barricades.  Thankfully, no one was injured and the horses involved in the accident survived.

As much as we would like to believe our SUVs, pickup trucks or minivans are equipped to tow any trailer, the reality is the selection of an appropriate tow vehicle and the proper equipment to tow a trailer is affected by the type of trailer, its size and weight, and the amount of weight being towed. If you have any questions about whether your vehicle can tow one of our trailers, free free to contact our staff. We will be more than happy to answer your questions.