Trailer Hitches: What You Should Know

When it comes to towing a trailer, one of the most important things needed is a hitch. Without it, of course, you can’t haul a trailer. Having the proper trailer hitch is crucial. This includes the correct type, strength, and hitch ball size. There are a lot of great hitches out there that can do the job, however. We’ll dive into the types of hitches and important features of each.

What is a Trailer Hitch?

A trailer hitch or tow bar is an accessory that attaches to your vehicle’s frame or chassis to allow the safe connection and towing of a trailer behind a vehicle. The only part of the hitch that may be visibly seen is the square shaped receiver tube, which the ball mount slides into. It is common to see the ball mount and trailer ball collectively referred to as a hitch as well.

Close up of a ball hitch connection between a trailer and a car.

Bumper Pull vs. Gooseneck Trailer Hitches

Bumper Pull Hitches

Bumper pull hitches are easier to hook up, and can be used with any vehicle. They’re ideal for first-time trailer buyers and those with pickups who desire truck beds clear of the gooseneck hardware. An open truck bed without the gooseneck hitch and trailer tongue increases your payload capacity without going over your GVWR. However, bumper pull hitches have limitations on the weight and size of the trailers and cargo they can haul. Additionally, there is more trailer sway with bumper pull hitches if they are not hooked up properly or if cargo is unbalanced. Lastly, there is a limited turning radius with bumper towing, so turns must be wider around corners.

Gooseneck Hitches

Gooseneck hitches provide amazing stability because the weight is placed over the rear axles of the truck compared to the bumper. This also gives gooseneck hitches the ability to tow larger trailers and heavier cargo. Additional benefits include improved maneuverability and a tighter turn radius. This means turns can be sharper than a bumper pull. The main disadvantages with pulling longer and heavier trailers with goosenecks is that you need a heavy-duty truck. You may also need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). However, CDLs depend on the length of the trailer and the state you’re are driving in.

Enclosed cargo trailer that hitches in a truck bed. Possibly a gooseneck trailer hitch.

What is the Strongest Trailer Hitch?

Overall, trailer hitch strength breaks down into 5 classes. Gross Tow Weight (GTW) increments from 2,000 pounds all the way to 20,000 pounds. However, even if a hitch is in a particular class, it could be rated differently depending on the model and manufacturer.

  • Class 1 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 2,000 lbs. / 1.25” Receiver Tube)
    This class is for light duty work, and you’ll find it on most compact and midsized cars.
  • Class 2 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 3,500 lbs. / 1.25” Receiver Tube)
    This hitch is for moderate use and can be found on cars, crossovers, and minivans.
  • Class 3 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 8,000 to 12,000 lbs. / 2” Receiver Tube)
    Most commonly installed on pickup trucks and SUVs, this hitch is strong and versatile.
  • Class 4 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 12,000 to 14,000 lbs. / 2” Receiver Tube)
    This class is more for full-sized and heavy-duty pickup trucks towing larger trailers and heavier loads.
  • Class 5 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 16,000 to 20,000 lbs. / 2” or 2.5” Receiver Tube)
    You’ll find these installed on heavy-duty pickups or truck flatbeds for commercial or heavy-duty work.

Trailer Hitch Safety Checks and Maintenance Tips

Use the Correct Ball Size

Most towing jobs can be done by between a 1 7/8-inch, 2 inch or 2 5/16-inch sized trailer ball (or hitch ball). However, the diameter of your ball must match your trailer’s coupler opening size. You can use a ruler or measuring tape to determine the opening size on the coupler’s head. If it measures 2 inches, your hitch ball must be 2 inches. Having the exact fit is necessary for both safety and usability.

Person connecting a bumper pull hitch.

 

Cross Safety Chains

A common mistake is connecting the safety chains straight across instead of crossing them. Chains should be loose enough for turns and cross over each other in an “X” shape under the trailer coupler. If the trailer should ever disconnect on the road, the crisscrossed chains will catch the trailer tongue like a safety net. Otherwise, the trailer tongue would drop directly to the ground, digging into the road. This could cause considerable damage to your vehicles and put your safety at risk.

Use Ball Grease

Hitch balls receive a lot of friction from the trailer’s coupler sliding around it as it’s pulled. Greasing your hitch ball will help extend the life of it, reducing scratches and pitting. Even though the coating painted on some hitch balls looks great, it alone is no replacement for a little bit of grease.

Check Electrical Components

When you pull a trailer, always ensure your wiring harness connects and powers it’s components like lights and brakes. This is especially important when driving at night and visibility is limited. You may not always see burnt out taillights or brake lights when on the road, so always test them out before taking off.

Trailer full of oranges being towed.

Respect Weight Limits

When you buy hitches and accessories, ensure they are rated for the weight of your trailer and the cargo you intend to pull. In addition, make sure your cargo load is balanced properly. Too much weight in the back will lighten the tongue weight, and your vehicle to fishtail more when changing lanes.  Too much weight on the front will put undue stress on the hitch and tow vehicle, which can cause excess wear and damage.

Lock-Mounted Trailer

Once your trailer coupler is connected to the hitch ball, it’s never a bad idea to add a security lock to keep anyone from stealing your trailer and potential cargo.  Vehicle and trailer theft is common in the United States, happening once every 40 seconds in 2017. A formidable lock is a small price to pay to deter thieves and keep your trailer in your possession.

If you’re looking for the best trailer hitches, quality parts or accessories, Country Blacksmith Trailers has what you need. Our expert staff members can answer any question and check if the trailer parts you’re looking for are in stock. In addition, we carry hundreds of new and used trailers for sale at our two trailer dealerships in Illinois. Contact Country Blacksmith Trailers and let us serve you today!

Best Pickup Trucks for Work in 2022

There’s no doubt about it. Pickup trucks are the top work vehicle choice for most general contractors, new construction companies, and other industry professions. What is it that makes them so desirable? Well, many factors like versatility, power, and storage ability. However, not all trucks are made equal, and we’ll share what we feel are the best pickup trucks for work use in 2022.

Best Pickup Trucks for Trades

According to a study done by “Tools of the Trade,” 56% of General Contractors used a pickup truck as their work vehicle. And it is no surprise that trailers ranked number two as the vehicle used for trade jobs. Trucks are natural work horses, with the greatest capacity to tow a trailer and carry heavy payloads. The advantages of trucks over work vans and cars are the following.

Ram with Trailer
Image courtesy of Ram Trucks.
  • You can tow a bumper pull or gooseneck trailer. Yes, a car, SUV, or van can be hitched to a bumper pull trailer, but they are not adaptable for gooseneck or “fifth wheel” style trailers. Why is that important? For the most part, gooseneck trailers offer better maneuvering and can hold more weight than their bumper pull counterparts. This enables you to haul anything your truck can tow behind you without limitation.
  • You can convert the standard truck bed into a service body, dump body, or pickup flatbed design. Although utility vans can be customized with shelves and outside compartments, it comes with the cost of space. Service body truck beds can offer the same kind of enclosed storage combined with an open floor and racks to lay down large equipment, pipes, carpet, or other odd-shaped items. And if you just need more space to drop bulk building items like lumber, bricks, hay bales, or bags of soil, then a regular pickup flatbed may do just fine. In addition, having the option to add a dump body for construction or landscaping is a big plus that you won’t get with a car or work van.
  • Trucks are now being made with bigger cabs to accommodate more passengers or storage, in sizes and seating comparable to small to mid-size cars. Small crews can arrive together at a job instead of having to spend more on fuel for taking separate vehicles.
  • Trucks separate the cargo area from the cab, which can keep the smell of the dirty tools, materials, or chemicals from affecting drivers as they travel. Also, it is easier to load and unload cargo in the back of a pickup truck than a van or car.

Best Pickup Trucks – Heavy Duty

2022 Ram 3500
$38,565 MSRP
Payload Limit: 4,644 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 37,090 lbs.

With some models offering six seats, you get plenty of seating and power with this truck. Winning a J.D. Power award in “Quality Among Large Heavy-Duty Pickups,” the Ram 3500 has enhanced features like a digital rearview mirror to show the road behind you if your view is obstructed by cargo or a trailer. If you are looking for a truck with plenty of tow power for the price with great safety features, the Ram 3500 is a good choice.

2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD
$40,095 MSRP
Payload Limit: 4,572 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 36,000 lbs.

Having almost semi-truck like strength, the GMC Sierra is a five-seater that comes in many models. The more popular model is the Denali Crew Cab with a 6.6L V8 engine which will run you close to $70,000. If you are looking for a similar option with slightly lesser price tag, you can check out the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD. The Silverado offers the same towing abilities and brings an additional seat to the cabin, but lacks some of the Sierra’s visual thrills in its design.

Ford Super Duty towing a livestock trailer.
Image courtesy of Ford.

2022 Ford Super Duty F-350
$39,705 MSRP
Payload Limit: 7,850 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 35,750 lbs.

This five-seater is as impressive inside as it is on the outside, with tech to impress any passenger. If you want a F-series truck that pulls out all the stops, then this is the pickup truck for you. With a comfortable ride, luxurious interior, and incredible power, the F-350 will get you between jobs in style.

2022 Nissan Titan XD
$48,000 MSRP
Payload Limit: 2,240 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 11,040 lbs.

The Titan XD offers a smoother ride than most competition and bridges the gap between regular full size and heavy-duty pickup trucks. This Nissan model has definitely carved out a niche for those who want a balance of power and drivability. However, with recent advances in full size pickup technology, the Titan XD is failing to show its worth. Yet, it remains a respected name that can get the job done.

Best Pickup Trucks – Full Size

If you are looking for something a little less overpowering and more affordable, here are some great full size pickup options for getting the job done.

2022 Ford F-150
$31,685 MSRP
Payload Limit: 3,250 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 14,000 lbs.

No list of best pickup trucks can exclude Ford’s flagship F-150. Whether you are a contractor, ranch owner, or just a truck enthusiast, the F-150 has the looks and features to appeal to all. In addition to versatility, it’s one of the most affordable trucks in its class. And for those who desire to go green, there is the full electric Lightning model which boasts 10,000 pounds of towing and 300 miles of driving between charges.

The Sierra 1500, one of our best pickup trucks.
Image courtesy of GMC.

2022 GMC Sierra 1500
$32,495 MSRP
Payload Limit: 2,240 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 13,000 lbs.

With high tech features like Hands-Free Towing, Automatic Lane Change, and enhanced voice activated navigational systems, driving a truck has never been easier. The Sierra also incorporates the world’s first Six-Function MultiPro Tailgate which allows you to have several configurations of the tailgate to load or secure cargo in the truck bed. The Sierra combines superb luxury, absolute comfort, power, and drivability together into one masterpiece.

2022 Ram 1500
$34,400 MSRP
Payload Limit: 2,300 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 12,750 lbs.

When outfitted with a 5.7L HEMI® V8 engine with eTorque, the Ram 1500 easily wins as one of the best pickup trucks in its class. And when towing a trailer, you can rely on the Trailer 360 Surround View camera, Trailer Reverse Steering Control, and Trailer Hitch Light for maximum awareness around your vehicle. The entry level Tradesman model starts at $34,400 and the price tag goes up from there.

All these pickup trucks are great choices to assist you in getting the job done. However, sometimes the standard pickup truck beds limit your payload carrying capacity or the way you can arrange your tools and cargo. If you are looking to convert your pickup truck bed to a service body, dump body, or pickup flatbed, contact  Country Blacksmith Trailers. We carry hundreds of new and used truck beds from trusted brands like Bradford Built, Zimmerman, and CM Flatbeds for sale. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about compatibility with your truck and ensure you get the best pickup truck bed for your job!

Cargo Trailers: The Best Brands to Shop

There are dozens of manufacturing companies producing high-quality trailers of every size and color. However, how do you know which brands make the best cargo trailers? Well, we’re going to highlight a few names we feel have earned a spot as some of the most trusted and reliable trailer manufacturers around. In addition, we’ll note important features you may want to consider during your next purchase. 

Enclosed Trailer Manufacturer Highlights 

The amazing thing about an enclosed trailer is that they can be used for almost anything! They provide your cargo protection from the outside elements; thus, you can store anything from sensitive equipment and tools to big-ticket items like cars and ATVs It’s also possible to customize these trailers with shelves, sinks, and other fixtures, turning your trailer into a mobile workshop or temporary home. Standard sizes for enclosed trailers are between 5 and 8.5 feet wide. Lengths can vary from 8 to 32 feet long, and heights can be customized to be raised incrementally by 6 inches. Below are some brands we chose which are both well-built and reliable. 

Homesteader enclosed cargo trailers red

Homesteader Trailers

GVWR: 7,000 – 9,950 pounds (bumper pull)

This trailer brand currently produces six different bumper pull models of enclosed trailers, from more affordable (like the Challenger Series) to more expensive models. All Homesteader models come standard with a 32” side door for easy access to the front of the trailer, as well as front aluminum treadplates to protect your trailer from bouncing road debris.  Trailers come in single or tandem axle for heavier loads, along with several rear door options.  Many models are built with an V-Nose which is said to be more aerodynamic, and definitely increases floor space. Homesteader also makes a horse cargo trailer called the Stallion for horse enthusiasts, and for extreme heavy lifting the Hercules gooseneck series which can with GVWR of 15,600 pounds! Whether you are looking for a small cargo trailer to pull behind a car or SUV, to larger models that can hold a car inside, this brand has a model for you! Whether you are looking for a small cargo trailer to pull behind a car or SUV, to larger models that can hold a car inside, you will want to view our Homesteader enclosed cargo trailers for sale!

Gray stealth cargo trailers

Stealth Trailers

GVWR: 2000-21,000 pounds (bumper pull)
Offering up eight different lightweight cargo trailers, Stealth delivers a lot of features for the price. From their entry-level Mustang to the heavy monster hauler like the Hercules. Many models have the choice between a rear single barn door or a ramp, as well as a side entry door option. Most bumper pull models sport the aerodynamic V-nose and front aluminum treadplates. Stealth also produces an enclosed trailer with a gooseneck called the Raptor that has a GVWR of 15,240 pounds. Yet that pales in comparison to their Hercules triple axel, multi-car stacker with a whopping GVWR of 21,000 pounds! For transporting heavy loads and toughness, browse Stealth cargo trailers for sale! 

Gray Haulmark enclosed trailers for sale at Country Blacksmith.

Haulmark

GVWR: 2,990–9,990 pounds (bumper pull) 

Haulmark offers four types of enclosed trailers which all have a V-nose style. The Passport is the starter model capable of hauling loads 1,795 to 4,875 pounds. All models have the option of a side door and various rear door types. The heavy duty and aluminum constructed Grizzly ALX yields a lightweight trailer that can haul payloads up to 6,290 pounds. For both light and strong constructed trailers, check out our Haulmark enclosed cargo trailers for sale! 

Red enclosed Look trailers.
Photo Courtesy of Look Trailers.

Look Trailers

GVWR: 2,990-9,950 

Truly the manufacturer that has a trailer design for any occasion, Look enclosed trailers come in all shapes, sizes, and can suit any purpose. You can find a small cargo trailer to pull behind your car or SUV like the Element or Platinum Aluminum. Or you can tow your vehicles, ATVs, motorcycles, or other toys in the many larger models. Specialty enclosed trailers like the MOAB UTV Trailer come standard with a sink and bed turning your trailer into a small lodging as well. Gooseneck variants (like the Ignite) have added payload capacity raising the GVWR to 18,000 pounds! If you are seeking out very uniquely built custom trailers, give Look Trailers a look. 

White Featherlite enclosed trailers.

Featherlite Trailers

GVWR: N/A 

Just like Look Trailers, Featherlite has many design options for their enclosed trailers to suit many purposes. Recreational models are made for ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles. Their horse trailers have models with living quarters which resemble fifth wheel campers. With 30 years of NASCAR experience, Featherlite prides themselves with their aluminum car haulers that are both heavy duty and lightweight. Another point worthy of mentioning is that this brand can do large scale custom builds that can turn any trailer into a mobile business. Featherlite Trailers may be light, but they are loaded with features which make your enclosed trailer more than a storage space, but rather an extension of your home or business. Looking for a trailer that will make you and your stuff feel at home? Check out these Featherlite enclosed cargo trailers for sale! 

Gray Country Blacksmith enclosed cargo trailer.

Country Blacksmith Trailers

GVWR: 3,500-10,400 (bumper pull) 

We couldn’t finish a list without highlighting our own brand of trailer. Country Blacksmith produces our very own custom enclosed trailers. Coming standard with side doors and aluminum built with a steel frame, our trailers can carry heavy loads without being heavy themselves. See our new and used enclosed cargo trailers for sale! 

Whether you need a new enclosed trailer or another trailer type, our team here at Country Blacksmith Trailers is happy to assist you with all your trailer needs. We offer many new and used cargo trailers for sale in Illinois, from brands like Homesteader, Featherlite, Haulmark, Stealth, Delta, Diamond Cargo, and more! From trailer parts and accessories to new custom trailers, Country Blacksmith is here to serve you!  

Buying Used Utility Trailers

Is your truck bed not enough to haul your stuff? Or maybe you want to upgrade from your current trailer. However, with upgrading comes cost and new trailers can be expensive! Yet, we find out renting frequently can be costly along with the burden of filling out paperwork, dealing with trailers in poor condition, and then returning equipment on time to avoid penalties. There is a better way to get what you need within your price range and avoid the pitfalls of renting. Buy used! The question then becomes, what should I look for when buying a used utility trailer? We have compiled some great tips to make you a pro at picking.

Picking Used Utility Trailers

We’ve written an article about how to choose a good utility trailer and we’ve included some of those points here. You need to have a solid idea of what you need your trailer to do before picking one out. In addition, when buying used, the condition is key to getting both value and reliability. Keep these factors in mind when shopping around, and that will keep your decision making balanced between what you want and getting what you need.

Trailer Age

The number one factor with any used trailer is age. Even if the trailer is well kept, time, wear and tear will take its toll, especially if it’s been stored uncovered outside. However, most well-built trailers are known to have a life expectancy of 15 years or longer. Keep that in mind when making your final choice on your used utility trailer.

Car with covered tarp on used utility trailers in the roadway in Poland.

Frame and Structure

Steel is cheaper and stronger than aluminum, however, it is also heavier and rusts. Extensive wear could be found on steel trailers along coastal cities or places where roads are salted during the winter. Aluminum may be a better option for that reason if your climate encounters a lot of salt and water. However, if properly cared for and coated, steel can endure for long time as well.

Single vs. Tandem Axle

Single axle trailers are good for some furniture or yard equipment. However, if you think you’ll be doing some heavier lifting with large equipment or dense building materials, go with the tandem axle trailer, which significantly increases your payload capacity.

GVWR

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that your trailer can hold. This also includes the weight of the trailer itself. If you’re looking to increase payload capacities, search trailers with tandem axles.

Used Utility Trailer Buyer’s Checklist

This checklist is comprised for used utility trailers in mind, however, it could apply to buying new or used trailers of any type. Trailers are a big investment, so it’s wise to take whatever precautions you can to get the best value from your purchase.

Tires

See that the trailer tires are the right size and check tire condition, check hubs, brakes, tread wear, and wheel bearings. Along with checking the tires, look at the axles to ensure they are in good condition. Tires are expensive and the need to replace tires needs to be factored into your cost. If you would like to learn more on tires, read our article Picking, Maintaining & Replacing Trailer Tires.

Wooden used utility trailers, red, parked and left in the grass.

Floor & Frame

Inspect everything you can see on the unit including the bottom, floor and floorboards, loose or missing screws/rivets/bolts, cracks, ramp quality and corrosion. Steel rusts, but aluminum can become corrosive over time as well. Inspect the hitches for wear and tear as well. Make sure that the key components have not be replaced with incompatible parts like weaker hitches or axles.

Electrical

Finally inspect the lights and wiring to verify that electrical is in working order. Hitch up the trailer to a vehicle and ensure the lights, brake lights and turn signals are not missing and are in working order. If your utility trailer has any motorized parts like a lift or jack, operate those components to ensure they are functioning as expected.

Test Drive

If you can test drive the trailer, do it! Listen for any high-pitched humming. That could be from the bearing not being properly sealed or lubricated. You can also get a feel for how the trailer rides and know if it turns properly, vibrates usually, and alignment and brakes (if any) are good.

Mechanical Inspection

If you are not a mechanic and you are able to, drive the trailer to a trusted mechanic to give their opinion or point out any flaws you may be missing. This could be part of your test drive as well!

Outdoor stacking the logs on utility trailer for transport at sa

Purchasing and Financing

After evaluating the used utility trailer of interest, make a checklist of any potential fixes needed. If you don’t know the cost for repairs, call around and get some quotes, then see if the dealer can either take care of it or adjust price for work that needs to be done. You can also ask about warranties or quality guarantees the dealer provides for peace of mind. If cost is keeping you from your potential purchase, also ask about trailer financing.

Used Trailer Dealership vs. Direct Seller

Buying from a dealer has advantages like producing a bill of sale and passing over the existing title. To properly register your trailer and ensure that it’s not stolen or free of liens, you legally need these things. And if you don’t like the model you came to see on the lot, trailer dealers usually carry a variety of other models to browse. You don’t always have these options when shopping from a direct seller on a classified. In addition, trailer dealers may provide warranties or incentivized trailer maintenance plans, along with discounts for onsite service. Many dealers will also take trailer trade-ins, where direct sellers are strictly looking to sell only.

Country Blacksmith Trailers is a trailer dealership you can trust. Country Blacksmith carries dozens of quality used utility trailers from brands like Aluma, PJ Trailers, Diamond C, FLOE, Load Trail, and Top Hat. We also provide our own brand of utility trailers called “eConoBody” which is exclusively offered through us. We pride ourselves in both our quality selection and excellence in customer service. We don’t just sell you a trailer. We are here to answer your questions and assist you from searching to purchasing. And from accessories to service, we’ll help keep you and your trailer rolling on the road!

5 Top Service Bodies and Utility Beds Brands

Service Bodies, also known as utility beds, truck beds or pickup flatbeds, are essentially mobile storage for equipment and tools that attaches to trucks. They not only provide massive amounts of storage, but make keeping things organized and accessible. This makes you as a business more efficient, not to mention, more professional looking. However, what makes features make a good service body and which brands are the best? This is what we’ll discuss.

Service Bodies and Trusted Brands

When choosing a brand for a service body, you may want to consider these things:

Steel Or Aluminum Pickup Bed?

Steel is stronger than aluminum, however, aluminum is lighter and doesn’t rust. In addition, think of what kinds of equipment and tools you’ll be storing in your utility beds. Do you need a stronger frame for heavy duty work, or is the cargo be lighter?

Open Or Enclosed Utility Truck Beds?

Are you carrying things in your truck flatbed that need to be covered from the outdoor elements? Then you want to go enclosed. If you have large or awkward shaped equipment, you may decide going with a open design is better.

Road work company and service bodies on trucks loaded with signs and orange road cones. Road workers are in the background

Size & Weight of Service Bed

If you are buying the service body, and important thing to consider the most is the size and weight. All pickup trucks have “payload” capacity and GWVR that can’t be exceeded. With this in mind, you may need to opt for a lighter aluminum frame to get the storage you need rather than a steel flatbed with less cabinet space.

Accessories for Service Bodies

Things like storage space, locking cabinets, lights, hitches, equipment racks, side rails, and more maybe important based on the work you do with your service body pickup truck. Make sure you keep these desired upgrades in mind with your budget.

 Aluma Truck Beds

Made from aluminum, Aluma Truck Beds are simple, effective and lightweight options for a pickup flatbed.

Standard Features:

  • Extrude aluminum floor with drop rear skirt
  • ½”x2” Rub rail with stake pockets
  • Headache rack with sealed beam lights
  • 3” channel main stringers adjustable to fit different models of trucks
  • Recessed sealed beam lights 4 taillights; 11 clearance lights/2backup lights
  • License plate light
  • Re-wired and lights installed.

Some additional upgrades available for these are the Gooseneck Hitch Opening with removable door, Sides Racks and Tailgate, Mudflap Bracket set.

Bradford Built Work Beds

If you want the option of either steel or aluminum for your service body truck, that’s is simple and made for endurance then Bradford Built is your brand! Base models come with an extensive list of features like LED lights all around, mudflaps, and wiring harness.

Standard Features:

  • 4” Flip Down Rails Extended Skirt
  • Gooseneck and Receiver Hitches
  • Formed Headache Rack
  • Stake Pockets

In addition, you can add crossbody toolboxes and underbody toolboxes. Internal storage comes standard on the 4-Box and Regulator models.

Back view of open truck body delivering from nursery plants and flowers seedlings for gardening at city park or garden. Lanscaping design and replanting of city streets. Cargo vehicle on bright day.

CM Truck Beds

From plain flatbeds to fully decked out service bodies, CM Truck Beds has made a name for itself as both a diverse and established brand. To keep the comparisons fair, we’ll only list features found on the flatbed models.

Standard Features:

  • Headache Rack
  • 4” Frame Rails
  • Gooseneck & Bumper Pull Hitches
  • 7 Pin Trailer Wiring for GN and BP
  • Lockable Toolboxes (Optional on Aluminum Models)
  • Tiedowns / Attachment Rings (Steel Models Only)

There are unlimited customizations beyond these and if you are interested, we encourage you to check out CM’s website.

Cadet Truck Bodies

Just like CM, Cadet Truck Bodies has a wide variety of service bodies and flatbeds for any job. One unique thing about this brand is that they use a Polyurethane Wet Paint instead of a powder coat that most competitors use. This coating on their products touted to keep the metal protected longer from rust and corrosion.

Standard Features:

  • Stake Bodies
  • Skirted Bodies
  • Gooseneck Hitches
  • E.D. Lighting (Cadet Models Only)
  • Toolboxes (Aztec & Laredo Models)

Zimmerman brand service bodies truck bed parked

Zimmerman Trailers & Truck Bodies

The Zimmerman Trailers brand shines when it comes to well-rounded aluminum service bodies with storage. Different models come standard with many features depending on the task at hand. However, we listed what all models have in common below.

Standard Features:

  • Aluminum Build
  • Beds with Front/Rear Box Storage
  • Sides and Tail Boards
  • Mud Flaps

For a list of more features and specific service body models, check out Zimmerman Trailers website!

What to find out more on quality brands that make service bodies? Country Blacksmith Trailers can answer your questions! We sell new and used flatbeds from brands like Aluma, Bradford Built, Cadet, Stellar, CM, Zimmerman, and more! We can also make custom utility truck beds, built to your specifications. Contact us today for an inventory check or quote.

Choosing a Utility Trailer

Buying The Best Utility Trailer

The costs, fees and hassles of renting trailers are not always economical. Especially when you see your reserved trailer is a well-worn ’97 model that wouldn’t hold the weight of kitten. Looking for an affordable option to increase your cargo space and take your business or personal items wherever you need to go? Utility trailers are a great option! Gone will be the days of bumping your head and scratching your vehicle as you try to play storage Tetris. Whether you are buying for the first time or you are just looking to purchase as an upgrade, it’s good to know some basics before browsing a dealer’s lot or searching online.

utility trailer - Small trailer loaded with dry leaves when the garden is cleaned up at spring

Utility Trailer Buying Factors

Use – Decide what the main purpose of your trailer is going to be and focus on that. What are you going to be carrying normally? Is your cargo sensitive to the weather? Do you need to pull heavy lawn equipment? You need to make sure that you are honest with yourself and get something that will meet your expectations.

Design – Once you’ve determined your trailer’s main use you can budget appropriately. For example, you may opt for a smaller single axle trailer for carrying just a few push mowers and trimmers. Or maybe you need to carry heavier equipment that you wish to store in your trailer as well, in which case, you’d opt for an enclosed cargo trailer with tandem (two) axles. Check the trailers GVWR to make sure that it can handle the load you plan to place on it.

Vehicle – Can your vehicle pull both the trailer and the payload safely? Also, if it can, do you have a proper hitch to support the trailer? This is where you will have to check your vehicle’s GVWR located on the VIN sticker in the door jamb or manufacture website. Check out this article about weight ratings for vehicles, hitches, and trailers! We also covered some of the best vehicles for towing a trailer.

utility trailer - Trailer with many bags of plant garbage in the garden. Periodic garbage collection.

Condition – Whether the trailer is new or used, it’s good to make sure that it passes a basic inspection. This includes looking over all visible parts to confirm they are in working order. It also includes checking the tire condition, looking for rust, inspecting the brakes and the electrical functionality. Next, verify suspension is free of cracks, test ramps strength, and make sure hitch assembly has no missing parts. Checking warranties may provide some guarantee on the trailer’s quality as well.

Registration – Check your state’s trailer registration requirements. You may need Certificate of Origin & Sales Receipt. This is crucial when buying a trailer used. Ask the seller for any and all paperwork, including service receipts, upon purchase.

Utility Trailer Types: Open vs. Enclosed

Open Trailer – Utility trailers are typically open air, more affordable, lighter, and have a higher weight capacity compared to similarly sized cargo trailers. These trailers usually have flat wood deck floors bordered with a short sidewalls or railing. Most also have a loading ramp which folds and locks upright like tailgate when traveling. These trailers can be customized with racks and storage to hold tools and smaller items in place when on the road. Given the ease of access, open trailers are especially great for hauling trash or rubble. This also makes it easier to maneuver vehicles on and off the trailer. However, due to the open design, your cargo will not be as secure and protected from outside elements as they are in enclosed trailers. These trailers may fall under the label of “landscape trailers” as they essentially share the same purpose and features. Landscape trailers, however, may be larger and come standard with features not found on basic utility trailers.

Green River, United States - September 7th 2014. 2014 model year Ford F-150 with a trailer parked at a rest stop along Interstate 70.
Green River, United States – September 7th 2014. 2014 model year Ford F-150 with a trailer parked at a rest stop along Interstate 70.

Enclosed Cargo Trailer – Given the weight and dimensions do not exceed certain limits, enclosed trailers can be used or classified as utility trailers. They double as a mobile storage unit for your materials, equipment, and tools. A trailer with covered storage area gives your equipment maximum protection against the outdoor elements like sunlight, rain, falling branches or debris bouncing up from the road. You can also add extra security to your trailer by locking the door. Another added benefit to enclosed trailers is the ability to put your logo and contact info on the sides. Your trailer becomes a traveling billboard that advertises your business wherever you go! The disadvantage of enclosed trailers compared to open trailers is that they tend to be more expensive and bulkier.

Buying New or Used Utility Trailers

Your budget may be the main determining factor in your purchase. Or you have the budget, but the model you are looking for is out of stock. Unless you have time to save up money or wait for inventory to replenish, buying a new trailer can seem impossible. At Country Blacksmiths Trailers, we can work with any budget and provide financing for all our trailers. We also offer the best prices for both new and used utility, landscape, or enclosed trailers. If we don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, we’ll custom order it for you or find in-stock trailer that meets or exceeds your expectations. We can even customize trailers and add your business information to enclosed trailers. Let our experienced team at Country Blacksmith Trailers answer your questions and get you the right trailer for the right price.

How To Back a Trailer Like a Pro

You finally just purchased, rented, or borrowed a trailer or RV that you are planning to pull with your vehicle. You’re hitched up and ready to go, however, you realize that backing up is not as straight forward as, well, moving forward. To back a trailer into a parking spot or around a corner can be tricky at first, but with lots of practice, it can become an easy task.

Preparing To Back a Trailer

Practice:

As with anything new, practice makes perfect. Hitch your trailer to your vehicle and drive out to an empty parking lot. Give yourself plenty of room so you can get a feel for your trailer’s responsiveness. Smaller trailers are more responsive and adjust quickly to the motions of the tow vehicle, which make them more difficult than larger trailers to maneuver in reverse. Bigger trailers respond slower to the turning of the tow vehicle, which makes it easier to accommodate mistakes when backing the trailer up.

Hay bales stacked on a trailer, tied down, and are ready to be hauled away. Father and daughter can be seen walking around from behind the trailer, but focus is not on them.

Be Mindful of Surroundings:

When hitched up, a trailer becomes an extension of your vehicle, and you have to be aware of both your vehicle and trailer’s position at all times. To give yourself better visual, adjust your mirrors so you can clearly see the rear of the trailer. If possible, have a spotter be eyes in your blind spots. These precautions will keep you from hitting obstacles that could be easily missed like low hanging tree branches, holes, or fences.

Take It Slow:

If you go off path or jackknife the vehicle and trailer, just pull forward as far as you need to straighten up the angle of the trailer and try again. And if you need to get out of your vehicle to get a better visual of what is going on behind the trailer, do it! The important thing is that you park the trailer in the right spot without causing damage. Be aware that bumps and holes may also push your trailer in an unexpected direction. Reversing uphill will require a little extra gas on the pedal as well, due to gravity, but the methods of turning the steering wheel stay the same.

Columbia Icefield, Alberta, canada - June 2018: Truck pulling a camping trailer on a scenic road through the Columbia Icefield in Alberta, Canada.

How to Steer a Trailer in Reverse

Looking Out the Window:

When you back a trailer into place and you are looking out the window toward the trailer, keep one hand on the steering wheel and just turn the wheel in the direction you want the back of the trailer to go.

Using Rearview Mirror:

When you are moving forward, you turn your wheel to the right (clockwise) and both the vehicle and the trailer turn right. Turning the wheel left (counterclockwise) will turn both the vehicle and trailer left. When you back a trailer using your mirrors, you must think backwards when turning the wheel of your vehicle. Spinning the steering wheel right, will cause the back of the trailer to move left and spinning the steering wheel left will cause the back of the trailer to move right. Another way to replicate the correct motion of the steering wheel when looking forward at your mirrors is to keep one hand on the bottom of the wheel, as the bottom of the steering wheel directs the movement of the trailer.

Recreational vehicle fifth wheel travel trailer being towed down curving road in woods.

Reversing A Trailer Around a Corner

Step 1:

Pull straight past (overshoot) your spot or lane that you need to back into and line the rear of the trailer right past the entrance. Stop, roll your window down and put your 4-way flashers on. Turn your steering wheel to the left (counterclockwise) so that your vehicle’s front tires are fully tilted to the left.

Step 2:

Begin reversing your vehicle and backing the trailer to get your turning angle. Once it looks like the trailer has the correct turn radius, start spinning your steering wheel slowly the opposite way to the right (clockwise) to accommodate the direction and ensure the angle of the trailer doesn’t get too tight. Keep straightening out your vehicle while avoiding hitting anything as you move.

trailer coupling at the car

Step 3:

Keep moving back and making slight adjustments until you fully straighten out and are in your spot or lane. Most movement shouldn’t be more than a quarter turn of the wheel. You can pull forward as needed to avoid the angle between the trailer and vehicle getting too tight. Just keep an eye on your surroundings as you move in each direction.

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge on how to back a trailer like a pro, check out our inventory of new and used trailers. At Country Blacksmith Trailers, we have enclosed cargo, utility, dump, livestock, tilt deck trailers and more! We also do trailer customizations to help you get exactly what you need from your trailer. Let us help you with your trailer and accessory needs for whatever job you need to complete. Fill out this contact form to get started!

How Service Body Truck Beds Make Your Job Easier

A service body truck bed, also known as a pickup service body or utility truck bed, is any kind of modification to the bed of a truck (usually pickup trucks) that accommodates the compartmentalization of tools, equipment and storage needed to carry out a particular job. This kind of body style is common among contractors, plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, and more. However, is it worth the extra weight and cost to have these installed on your fleet of service vehicles? Here we’ll discuss why any job that requires various tasks and tools to complete needs a service body style truck bed and what to consider when picking one out.

The Benefits of Service Body Truck Beds

Bed of a shiny black pickup truck containing tools for working with concrete

The easiest way to explain why to have a service body on your work truck is to avoid looking like the image above. Unless you are running a dump pick up service, you want your service trucks to appear clean and organized when they arrive to their location. Often customers are in messy and disorganized situations when making service calls, so having a professional, neat image on arrival, brings some assurance with your first impressions. Otherwise, the customer may be questioning why they didn’t choose your competition.

Clean and Organized Mobile Workspace

Being clean and organized is not only good for the customer, but helpful for the technicians themselves. With a service body, technicians know on arrival exactly where all their tools are located and they have the ability to simply open a panel door and grab them. This saves time on the service call and spares frustration from having to dig through the truck or trailer. The majority of the work can now be focused on fixing the issue at hand instead of searching through a pile of wires and tools to find that screwdriver. And when the job is done, it’s easier to pack up and notice if anything important is missing.

Protection of Tools and Equipment

In addition to better organization, having a service body on your truck will provide extra padding to prevent tools and equipment clanking against each other. Having work materials in covered containers also provides protection from the outdoor elements like the rain, snow, and sun. If properly locked, service bodies provide protection from theft as well. Being made from steel or tough aluminum, your tools and equipment won’t be visible and accessible to any curious person walking past your truck.

"An electrician reaching onto his service truck, in a suburban neighborhood. Model is a licensed Master Electrician."

Efficient Space Usage

With a service body installed on your truck, you utilize every inch of the trucks body for storage. Adding customizations like frames or overhead racks adds a third dimension that you didn’t have with just the pickup truck bed before. Now you can hang materials, pipes, ladders, and more without sacrificing storage space in the main bed or compartments. Even without the frames and racks, the shelves and compartments make better use of space then just throwing everything in one big heap in a toolbox or in the pickup bed itself.

Truck Bed Customizations to Consider

The benefits of having a service body on your pickup truck can be clearly understood when you’re doing more than just transporting items or performing simple tasks. In a garage or service station, technicians have space for neatly laid out tools and equipment. They must be able to find what they need to do their job with speed and efficiency. However, when the technician needs to perform similar services on the go, truck service bodies are a crucial part of creating a mobile workshop.

service body truck bed pickup of a gardening team with tools on loading area

Open vs Closed Design

Every job has different storage needs. You may want an open service body truck bed if you haul equipment or materials that are oddly shaped or heavier. An enclosed body style might be better for creating a dry workspace or additional rain protection for certain equipment.

Steel vs Aluminum Material

Steel service body truck beds are stronger and more cost effective overall. The downside of steel is that it is also much heavier by a few hundred pounds and corrodes faster than aluminum. Aluminum service bodies, along with their alloy variants, provide a lighter weight and are more resistant to corrosion.  However, aluminum itself is not as strong as steel and tends to be pricier.

Overall Storage Space

Remember, the service body truck bed is used to bring critical items from the shop to the location of service. That means you will need to know your inventory and how much of it you’ll need to carry on board. Picking the correct size compartments is important so that you have enough space to place not just tools, but equipment and parts. Pick designs that work well with what you use on a daily basis.

At Country Blacksmith, we sell many different styles of service bodies to turn your pickup truck into the ultimate mobile workshop. We also modify existing truck beds and offer many useful accessories to keep you both organized and efficient. Call us today to check our stock, parts, and accessories for your service vehicle today!

Picking, Maintaining & Replacing Trailer Tires

When researching tires, there are three essential questions: What tires should I buy? How do I make my tires last? And when should I replace them? Whether you are a first-time buyer of trailer tires or have experience, it’s good to be reminded of the basics.


HOW DO I PICK THE RIGHT TRAILER TIRES?

Picking the correct trailer tires comes down to a matter of preference and how much weight you plan to pull. No matter what you choose, we have some helpful pointers listed below.

USE ST TIRES ON TRAILERS

It is best practice to use special trailer (ST) tires on your trailer. Being constructed with thicker walls and center-focused tread, ST tires are built to stabilize and pull heavy loads. Don’t be tempted to replace your trailer with passenger car (P) or light truck (LT) tires. Passenger car and light truck tires have thinner walls and could cause your trailer to sway if installed, not to mention risking other catastrophic disasters.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RADIAL & BIAS PLY TIRES

There are two types of special trailer tires: radial and bias ply. Radial tires can perform well at highway speeds, give a smoother ride, and tend to last longer over time. Bias ply tires have shorter tread life but can handle heavier loads and provide increased stability on the road.


trailer tires - A trailer used to haul construction materials or a car when the sides are down. It was used in an Amish business and pulled by a pick up truck.

HOW DO I MAKE MY TRAILER TIRES LAST?

Although you cannot make your trailer tires last forever, you can do some things to help extend their life and give you the best ride possible.

PROPERLY INFLATE TIRES & CHECK PRESSURE OFTEN

Improper tire inflation is one of the leading causes of tire problems. This is something that needs to be checked regularly, especially if there are temperature changes due to location or season. Tire pressure goes up or down 1 pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10 degree change in temperature. Always check tire pressure before your trip or when tires have been at rest for at least three hours. Tires heat up from road friction, so PSI readings on warm tires will be inaccurate. It is best to keep tires inflated at the maximum PSI recommendation printed on the tire wall. This will give you the smoothest ride on the road. Underinflating or overinflating your tires gives no benefit to your tires or trailer. In fact, if tires are not inflated properly, it will only damage your tires and make the ride harder for both your vehicle and trailer.

FOLLOW WEIGHT LIMITS AND GWVR FOR TRAILERS & TIRES

Check the sidewall of your trailer tires to verify the maximum load capabilities. If the tire is rated for 2,200 lbs. for a single axle, that means the trailer tires can handle a maximum load of 4,400 lbs. With the same tires, that would be a maximum of 8,800 lbs. on a double axle. Regardless of the combined maximum load of your tires, never exceed the trailer’s GWVR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) provided by the manufacturer. Even if the trailer tires combined load capacity can handle 8,800 lbs., your trailer itself may only have a maximum of 8,000 lbs. Although it is a good idea to get tires that can handle more than the GWVR, it is dangerous to have your load exceed the GWVR.

HAVE A SPARE TIRE ON-HAND – TAKE OUT?

When experiencing a flat on the road, there is no greater relief than knowing you have a spare tire. If you don’t carry a spare, you will have to leave your trailer behind to search for the nearest tire shop or be forced to wait on assistance. Always ensure your spare tires are ready for action by checking the air pressure along with your mounted tires each time.


trailer tires - "Bright red trailer used to transport farm and ranch livestock.

WHEN DO I REPLACE MY TRAILER TIRES?

WHEN YOUR TIRE IS 3 – 5 YEARS OLD

Even if there is plenty of tread, tire rubber breaks down naturally over time. According to rubber industry research, oxidation caused from UV rays via sunlight and ozone from exhaust can cause exterior damage to the sidewalls, while oxygen from pressurized air creates unseen internal damage. Store your tires in a cool, dry place to minimize the damaging effects of nature and time.

WHEN TREAD IS DOWN TO 3/32 OF AN INCH OR LESS

To easily determine if the tread is too low, place a penny upside down facing you and if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace that trailer tire.

WHEN THE TIRE IS PUNCTURED OR SHOWS DEFORMITIES

If any holes in the tire are not repaired immediately, the structural integrity of the tire could be compromised and render it unsafe for use. Tires deformities like the appearance of bulges or bubbles on the outside are a sign that the interior of the tire has failed and it needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

WHEN THE VALVE STEM IS DAMAGED

If the valve stem is damaged or cracked, it will leak air causing unsafe tire pressure levels for carrying loads and tire damage when rolling deflated.


trailer tires - Cleaning trailer with lawn weeds

COUNTRY BLACKSMITH TRAILERS – A RELIABLE RESOURCE FOR TRAILER TIRES

If you’re looking for help with purchasing anything from trailers to tires, Country Blacksmith is here to assist you. We have a large variety of trailers, tires, trailer parts, on-site service mechanics, and more to meet all of your trailer and towing needs. We can quote you new trailer tire prices or evaluate your current tires, check the alignment of your axle, and even rotate your tires to optimize your trailer and tire performance on the road. Contact us anytime and we’ll connect you to the right person to answer all of your questions!

Types of Trailer Hitches

When choosing a trailer, you have a long list of decisions to make – size, type, material, weight rating and more. It’s a lengthy process, but you want to make sure the trailer you invest in will be perfect for you. To help you get started on the decision-making process, we put together this guide to different types of trailer hitches. Once you know what type of trailer you want, you need to decide which hitch type you need. Here at Country Blacksmith, we want to make sure you have the right trailer for the tow vehicle you own and the work you need done. So, we’re going through the most common hitch types, how they work, and the pros and cons.

types of trailer hitches - agricultural hay trailer connected to a tractor in a field

Pintle Hitch

Another heavy-duty towing hitch is the pintle hitch, often used on rough terrain. The hooking system, called the pintle, is attached to the truck. The lunette, the main ring the pintle hooks to, is attached to the trailer. Pintle hitches are often used in industrial, military and agricultural settings. They can handle a lot of weight and allow for a large range of motion, making them ideal for bumpy, off-road terrain.


Rear Receiver Trailer Hitch

A very common type of truck hitch, the rear receiver trailer hitch is used mostly in personal, not commercial, settings. It consists of a classic square receiver tube with almost endless attachment options. These hitches mount directly to the vehicle frame, and weight ratings are made on a scale from 1 to 5. The weight rating and the size of the receiver tube varies. Our trailer experts at Country Blacksmith can help you decide how heavy duty your hitch needs to be.


Front Mount Hitch

Similar to the rear receiver hitch is the front mount hitch. This hitch, obviously, connects to the front of your vehicle. It bolts directly to the tow vehicle frame and gives you a receiver in the front with a variety of options, much like the rear receiver hitch. The front mount hitch can be used to insert a cargo carrier, install a snow plow, mount a spare tire, or park your trailer in a tight place.


Fifth Wheel Hitch

The fifth wheel hitch is used for heavy duty towing. It mounts over or slightly in front of the axles in the bed of the truck. It uses a kingpin mechanism to attach to the towing load. In fifth wheel hitches, the coupling system is a part of the hitch itself rather than part of the trailer.

The trailer weight is positioned between the cab and the rear axle with the fifth wheel hitch, so they can handle much heavier loads compared to traditional ball mount bumper hitches. These heavy-duty hitches are used for large campers, car haulers and semi-trucks. They’re designed to pivot easily, absorb sudden bumps on the road and increase your turn radius.


Gooseneck Hitch

A gooseneck hitch is similar to a fifth wheel hitch as it mounts in the bed of the truck directly above or slightly in front of the rear axles. They’re often used for towing livestock trailers, car haulers and other industrial trailers. They’re built to make much tighter turns compared to traditional bumper hitch trailers. They come in above-bed and under-bed styles, with above-bed being the most popular type of trailer hitch in the gooseneck family.


trailer hitch types - bumper hitch

Bumper Hitch

A bumper hitch is the most basic industry standard. It uses a tow ball mount that attaches to the rear end receiver hitch, which is already mounted on the tow vehicle. The ball mount bumper hitch can be used on nearly every vehicle, trucks, SUVs and even some small sedans included. They come in many different sizes, styles and drop lengths. If you need a catch-all type of trailer hitch, a bumper hitch is probably the choice for you. If you need help with the specifics of your bumper hitch, based on your vehicle and trailer specs, our experts at Country Blacksmith are more than happy to give a recommendation.


Weight Distribution Hitch

Although similar to a bumper tow ball mount, the weight distribution hitch has more advanced features. They’re often used for travel trailers as they help keep the vehicle balanced and reduce trailer sway. Normally, when towing a trailer, most of the weight is held on the rear end of your tow vehicle. With a weight distribution hitch, the tongue weight is lifted from the rear axle and spread evenly to the other axles.

The weight distribution hitch works much like a wheel barrow. It uses spring arms, like the wheel barrow handles, to lift and leverage the weight on the rear end of the tow vehicle. This distributes the weight onto the other axles and increases the balance of the trailer while reducing the stress on the back and of your tow vehicle.

Whether you’re looking for hitch or trailer advice, our team at Country Blacksmith Trailer Sales will be happy to assist. We carry a large variety of trailers and our experts are available for any questions. Shop for your new trailer online or in person today!