Choose A Stock Trailer with Purpose and Due Diligence

Published on Wed, 11/07/2018 - 11:54am

 Choose A Stock Trailer with Purpose and Due Diligence

 By Bruce Derksen

Just imagine waking up one morning, deciding you need a stock trailer, driving to the nearest lot with 300 trailers spread over 15 acres and before you can even get out of your truck, two slick suited salespeople are heading your way looking to take advantage.  Sounds like the opening scene in a horror movie to me.

Before you find yourself in this predicament, come up with a plan and decide on a few things.  What are you going to be using the trailer for?  Your choice will vary greatly depending on whether your answer is- hauling show horses, grass cattle, pasture bulls, hogs, sheep, feed or equipment.  Will you be making long cross- country hauls or just occasional quick jaunts to the local veterinarian?
First, your budget will dictate additional questions.  New or used, bumper hitch or fifth wheel, steel or aluminum, plus what kind of truck will you be pulling it with?  Don’t forget or disregard the cost of registration, insurance and warranty, as it all adds up.  Be certain the combined trailer and cargo weight will not exceed what your vehicle can handle.
Steel and aluminum trailers both have pros and cons.  A new aluminum trailer will likely hit your pocketbook harder on purchase day, but will stand up to the elements better, pull easier and give more worry- free longevity.  Decide on slatted or solid walls and rooftops.  In the colder northern areas, you will likely need solid walls and roof, protecting against the elements, while the heat will be a greater nemesis in more southern areas, thus slatted walls and possibly a bow-top tarped roof may be the best choice.
If you decide to buy new, there are still many available options to choose from such as steel, aluminum, wood, or rubber planked flooring and matting.  Roof height, door positioning and available safety latches and locks should be considered.  Attempt to purchase locally as dealers in your area will be familiar with what is working well for other nearby producers.
If your decision is to purchase second hand or used, more work and diligence is ahead for you.  Check the serial numbers and chain of ownership.  Many stock trailers are stolen throughout the country yearly, and if you make the mistake of purchasing one, you could potentially be out both the money paid, and the trailer if it is recovered and returned to the original owner.
It is extremely important to do a thorough check on any used trailer you are considering buying.  Over the course of time, rust and corrosion on a steel trailer will attack welds, joints and supports and leave it vulnerable.  Check all visible welds, especially where walls and floors meet, probing any visible rust spots with a pocket knife looking for possible issues.  Inspect gates and latch conditions for bent or replaced metal signifying potential chronic troubles.  Crawl underneath and view the underside for corrosion and cracks of floor crossbeams, supports, shackles and bolts plus springs and axles. While underneath, it is the perfect time to check for loose exposed electrical wires and harness.

Arrange a test drive with your own truck, listening for any odd or unusual noises, taking note of how the trailer pulls and brakes evenly with proper pressure.  Watch for extensive bouncing and swaying and check that all the lights function.  It is always a good idea to get your intended purchase inspected at a reputable trailer dealer.
When scouting a trailer, do so with purpose of mind.  Don’t be distracted and find yourself discussing the price of feed or the status of your favorite NCAA football team with the seller, when you should really be crawling underneath searching for warning signs of corrosion and rust.  Consider using a checklist to help keep you focused and on track.  When you begin your search with a well defined and narrowed goal, you’ll be able to step out of your truck with confidence at that 15 acre- 300 trailer lot, or at your neighbor’s yard 20 minutes down the road. Face the slick suited salespeople or your neighbor with the proper mindset and know that with your knowledge and due diligence, you will make a sound decision for your operation.