While we all enjoy driving our favorite Mopars to shows and events, sometimes that’s just not practical. Race cars and full on show cars are generally always trailered. And now that winter has arrived in full force in most of the country, many enthusiasts will be trailering their vehicle to shows and events rather than driving them because of the inclement weather and salt on the roads.
Unlike driving a car or truck, pulling a trailer is much more demanding. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran, or a novice, there are a number of things to consider when it comes to trailering, starting with the truck you will be using to pull the trailer. The one thing you never want to happen if you can avoid it, is to have a break down on the road. With that thought in mind, the best thing to do before you start out on a trip is to take time to check out your truck. Items such as the brakes, cooling system, tires, lights, battery and even windshield wiper blades are all important for a safe journey, whether it’s near or far.
With regard to the truck you choose for trailering, be sure that the manufacturer’s suggested towing capacity for the vehicle is not exceeded by the total weight of the trailer and the vehicle you will be hauling with it. Likewise, it’s important that the load rating of the trailer hitch meets or exceeds the requirement for the combination of the weight of the trailer and the vehicle it will be towing.
In addition, check to confirm that the electrical plug your truck is outfitted with is compatible with the one on the trailer. If the vehicle does not have a brake controller, you’ll need to install one, as it is a necessity for the operation of the trailer brakes. While many new trucks come equipped with a trailer brake controller from the factory, older trucks did not. Another other item that’s really important when trailering are exterior mirrors that extend for trailer towing and have both normal view and convex mirrors.
Above left: Rickson 19.5” Forged Aluminum Wheels and Goodyear 265/70R19.5 commercial tires. Above right: Lightweight aluminum 6” adjustable Rapid Hitch
We have been trailering vehicles for a number of years with a 2003 Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab that has a rated towing capacity of 15,250 lbs. Our trailer is a 24-foot Haulmark tandem enclosed auto transport trailer. The Ram is a four wheel drive one ton dually is powered by a 24-valve Cummins 550 HO, backed up by a six speed manual transmission.
A Gear Vendors under/overdrive has been installed, and provides a 22% overdrive and the ability to split transmission gears, plus the benefit of improved fuel economy. The differentials are fitted with 4.10 gears and outfitted with Outlaw ribbed aluminum Ram logo differential covers that not only look good but offer increased oil capacity for lower operating temperature and longer gear life.
Above left: Superwinch S5000 12V electric winch. Above right: Aluminum floor jack
For rolling stock, the Ram has been upgraded from the stock 17 inch wheels to 19.5 inch forged aluminum Rickson Truck Wheels. They weigh less than the stock steel wheels, and benefits include better fuel economy, along with longer brake and wheel bearing life. When compared to the heavy stock steel wheels, the lighter aluminum wheels reduce unsprung weight for safer vehicle handling. In addition, the tires have been upgraded from the stock LT235/80R17 to Goodyear G159 265/70R19.5. The G159 Goodyear’s are specifically designed for commercial over the road truck use and have more plies than the stock tires.
Out back, rather than use a single position hitch, we outfitted the Ram with a lightweight aluminum Rapid Hitch which offers 6 inch adjustable height designed to ensure safe level trailering regardless of the tongue height of trailer or the ride height of the truck. The Rapid Hitch is V5 certified with a strength rating of 10,000 lbs. and a 1500 lb. tongue weight. It utilizes a 2” and a 2 5/16” steel ball, the larger of which in our case is the required size for coupling on the trailer.
We also upgraded the trailer with 12,500 lb. axles and torsion bar suspension in place of the original 7,500 lb. axles and leaf springs. The torsion bar suspension rides much better and is far more reliable than the leaf springs the trailer was originally equipped with. Wheels and tires has also been upgraded from standard 15 inch, five lug wheels to 16 inch eight lug wheels and Goodyear G647 RSS tires, size 225/75R16, which are over the road commercial truck tires like those used on the Ram.
Compared to the standard trailer tires, they are larger, far more durable and manufactured using additional plies. One of the most common and dangerous occurrences in trailering is tire failure. Like the upgrade to the higher capacity axles, the Goodyear G647 tires are far more durable and significantly safer than what the trailer was originally equipped with.
Inside the trailer, we installed Kinedyne Logistical Tracking from front to back in addition to the four floor mounted D-Rings that were already in place. The logistical tracking makes it easy to tie down virtually any vehicle in a safe, secure way. In the event of a problem with a vehicle, we added a Superwinch S5000 12-volt electric winch is mounted to iron plate that is welded to the trailer chassis. The Superwinch provides a 5000 lbs. pull rate, and with the hand held remote, makes getting a disabled vehicle into the trailer easy.
Equipment to consider carrying in the trailer or the bed of your truck when trailering should include a spare wheel and tire for the trailer, a tool kit, a lightweight aluminum floor jack, an air tank and a 12V battery jump box. You never know when you will need a spare tire, tools, jack or need to start a vehicle with a dead battery. A couple of 2 x 4’s are also handy to have for loading lowered vehicles. When you’re on the road, we’ve learned that it’s best to as self-reliant as possible and believe in the legendary Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared.”
While trailering is more involved than just driving, it provides a great way to get your vehicle to shows and events when it isn’t practical to drive. And by doing your homework and preparing for the unexpected, you will hopefully have a safe, uneventful trip.