Let’s face it: antique tractors are not road-worthy. As much as I wish the Moline UDLX (tractor/truck hybrid) had taken off, the sort of old tractors we love just aren’t portable on their own. If you own a tractor, you’re going to need a truck and trailer before too long.
While my dad and I no longer repair tractors for others, we did so long enough to see all sorts of tractor and trailer problems. The good news is that these problems are avoidable! Here are the top tractor + trailer mistakes I’ve seen, and tips on how to solve these problems.
1. Overweight. Antique tractors are heavier than you’d expect! Add some fluid in the tires, a few suitcase weights, and an implement and you can quickly get in trouble. Each truck, hitch, and trailer has a maximum weight rating. Ignoring these weight ratings is illegal, horribly unsafe, and will damage your truck and trailer. You can avoid this problem by accurately estimating the weight of the tractor you intend to haul (TractorData.com lists the weight of most tractors, but don’t forget about fluid in the tires!) and leaving a margin of safety. If the load is too heavy for you, either break it into smaller loads (if possible) or hire/rent/borrow a bigger rig.
2. Trailer light problems. Wiring a trailer can be tricky! In many trailer models, wires are exposed to the elements, too – so things are prone to shorts and breaks. Check your trailer lights (brakes, blinker, and hazard flashers) before every trip. It’s wise to carry extra fuses. Bonus points for carrying extra brake lights, wire cutters, and electrical tape to solve any problem that might come up.
3. Failure to secure the load. Be sure that you use an adequate amount of straps or chains. Pay attention to how you position the weight of your load over the axle, too – even a foot or two can make a big difference! After your first 30 minutes of driving, it’s smart to get out and check the load to make sure that nothing has come loose along the way.
4. Frost laws. Seasonal road restrictions are nothing to mess around with. Getting caught with a heavy load on a restricted road could cost you big time. It’s not enough to rely on posted signs, either. Your best bet is to call the road commission or police department (on the non-emergency line!) to ask about the status of roads in your community before loading up.
These are the biggest trailer mistakes that come to my mind – how about you? What mistakes have you witnessed, and how can they be avoided? Share your thoughts in the comments below.