• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Kate Downham

cheap truck and trailer set-up for dirt hauling

 
pollinator
Posts: 324
Location: OK High Plains Prairie, 23" rain avg
55
homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I need a trailer to haul dirt - probably mostly loam, not much clay - around the 400 acres. I will use the dirt to make hugels, I may dig into the ground for a greenhouse, and I will haul materials around, and set up and move electric fence for cattle. The property is not flat so I'm thinking a shorter trailer is better and not too tall, perhaps a pick-up truck bed trailer. I need a ranch vehicle and I'm thinking a $500 4x4 Geo Tracker or a Suzuki Samurai because I hear they are cheap with a short wheel base. The vehicle will haul the trailer, be used to set up and move electric fence, and a general work truck on the place. I'm not mechanical or rich so there won't be any large equipment, just me and my trusty shovel. I currently don't have a pickup so may need one for hauling materials from town if the Tracker is not titled. Thoughts?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Your plan has merit.
The 4x4 will be useful on hilly ground.
My place is flatish so I use 2 wd.
A tipping trailer will make unloading very easy and is worth thing about.
I have made a couple and they save a lot of time and effort.
If you are planning any construction a flat tray truck or ute is very very handy.
Particularly if you have racks to carry longer materials.
Cars just cannot cart enough materials and sometimes a trailer cannot carry long materials.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
181
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Denise

When you say "hilly" what do  you mean?

Perhaps another way of getting the picture: Do you have experience of what _won't_ work?

The Suzuki will get you around in good shape, for sure. However, I'm not at all certain whether it will pull any real load. Read up the owners manual, ask on Suzuki forums, etc. Ditto the Geo. Also, talk to people about whether you will able to get those vehicles repaired easily. Losing your truck for 2 weeks while the mechanic waits for a junk yard they other side of the country to send that brake caliper (or whatever) will quickly eat up any savings or love you have for the thing.

Pickup bed trailers, as far as I have ever heard, are very heavy relative to other more standard trailers. They are also cobbled together by (most likely) an unknown person hundreds of years ago... IOW, it can be hard to know what you're getting unless you're a good welder and mechanic with time to check things out. Maybe somebody from the labs will see this and chime on or how many cubic yards of dirt they have moved for their hugels, and what system they found worked for them. This would give you a first data point on how much materials you  may be looking at moving. How much and how heavy the backfill really is.

Yes, dump trailers are nice. But they are extra complexity, extra upfront costs and 150# or so extra weight; maybe more - I haven't ever studied them in detail. They need to be connected to good electrical power from the vehicle.

The trailer lights (and the truck lights, for that matter) really, really should work or be _made_ to work reliably. You are potentially losing important parts of a trucks value if you have to weigh going 3 miles to pick up a good deal against the possibility of getting a $500 fine for no brake lights. Or you can just plan on getting stuff delivered in that situation to avoid the registration and insurance. But factor it in.

If you don't expect to commute more than 10-20 miles (10 would be much nicer) regular and will never go more than 100 miles at one time, and that rarely, the 'Zuke or Geo or similar vehicle could be your Daily Driver and you could get a big pickup or flat bed for the dirt.  The 'Zuke is an effective machine but I have never heard anybody say it was comfortable! Don't have info on the Geo. When looking at any used vehicle try hard for few (like maybe, one!)  previous owners and NO "mods". "Mods" being "improvements" added after the new vehicle left the showroom. "Lifts" of any kind (there are several), big tires, suspension "improvements" of any kind at all, "chips" for modern vehicles (special engine and drive train computers that replace or reprogram the factory computers and designed to make the owner happy)... Creative bumpers may be ok because they're relatively easy to weld back on when they break; provided the local law doesn't take a dislike to them.

But if you're planning on real towing, the hitch MUST BE CHECKED VERY CAREFULLY!!! If you keep the trailers and loads small, and the tow vehicle large, you may be able to get away with no trailer brakes (you need a trailer brake controller in the vehicle). But a trailer brake controller (that actually works!) will make you safer and potentially much more capable. Oh, and mirrors, if you ever expect to back up a trailer. And a hitch on the _front_ of a good tow vehicle can be worth it's weight in gold, those first 10 years before you qualify for your CDL!

Not all of this "best practice" stuff has to all happen yesterday. But big heavy trailer loads towed by small short vehicles are always troublesome and problematic.


Regards,
Rufus



 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hilly, ground rises more than 20 ft.
Tipping trailers can be operated with a cable winch, not electricity.
And if built with a balance point tip very easily.
Trailers which have sides no higher than 12 - 14 inches are very easy to use, truck bodies adapted often have very high sides, and that makes it difficult to load or unload sideways.
Front tow hitches are great if you can fit one, but I have not used it often.
If you have a trailer just for use around the farm, it may be extravagant, if its multi use over ride brakes are good if permitted where you live.
They work when the towing vehicle slows, a piston presses against a lever and either uses cables to pull on the brakes or a hydraulic system.
I think about 1/2 cubic yard of material may be the ideal to cart each time, so that gives you an idea about weight and volume of any trailer.
 
gardener
Posts: 3064
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
327
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard good things about Subaru's  as small farm vehicles.
I'm curious, are you building hugels to moderate/conserve water, build soil or for some other reason?
Since you are digging by hand,  a small  trailer is probably best.
Fill it up and you'll need a rest.
As far as hauling materials from town,  what kind if stuff did you have in mind?
A trailer can do most hauling jobs, and if you don't mind doing a little jerryrigging, the roof of a vehicle can carry a lot of the longer lumber, pipes,conduit and such.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Victoria BC
214
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used my JDM Sidekick Sport as a runabout on the farm for a year or so before selling it. No hitch on it, and I saw no reason to add one. (This is a newer and more powerful but less offroady Zuk, than those you mention..)

It was able to go places that fullsize 4x4 trucks can't, due to the much lighter weight. My issue is not hills, but mud; even with just aired down snow tires, the sidekick was much more capable in this than fullsize trucks with proper mud tires.


But, I really wouldn't expect to fare well hauling trailer loads around with it. I think mine was in theory good for 2500lbs, with a 2.0L V6... You are probably looking at units with the 1.3L or 1.6L?

Subtract the trailer weight, and that is a piddling amount of soil.. Maybe 1500lbs of payload? And I would expect a 2500LB trailer load to really beat up on the Zuk. They're made more to be towed, than to tow.

A couple yards of lightish material is still around 4000lbs, and this is a practical amount for most people to unload. Digging it by hand in the first place is another matter.


I would aim for a pickup truck, something common in your area, and cheap. A gasser with a big V8 isn't a big deal if it's not leaving the property, or very seldom.

A 3/4 ton truck with an 8ft bed can carry that 4000lbs without screwing around with a trailer at all, or pull 10k lbs. A half-ton will still carry about what the zuk might tow, no problem.


Part of this is about prices, around here a samurai or sidekick is more valuable than a much larger truck, once they are both old and battered.



What are your roads like? A loaded trailer on a bad road is pretty rough on the tow vehicle, especially if it's up near the max capacity of said tow vehicle...
 
Posts: 420
Location: Richwood, West Virginia
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Impressed I was by the view of a Geo-Tracker maneuvering like 8 large round bales up a steep windy blacktop.
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
181
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Daley = good points.

Q. 20' elevation change over what distance?


Dump trailers. Only ones I've seen are hydraulic. Is the cable op actually more maintainable? Or is it just to circumvent the need for electrics?

Low side height on a trailer  =  YES.  A _major_ plus. Cargo height and side height is one of the limitations (inconveniently high) of a typical full size pickup, at least most I've seen new in the last 10 years.


+1 for big PU of a type common to your area. More repairable, stronger, potentially safer. If you think you need to squirrel your way between trees on a hillside, well,  not sure that qualifies as farm work.

Any vehicle has a learning curve. Consider if you will be happy with a manual transmission; though, it's hard to find those things lately. Expect to embarrass yourself a lot in the first year or so if  you haven't used a truck for farm work before. Maybe consider a stake bed if you find any; but that starts getting into the realm of a real truck, the kind that are used and beat to shit and soldier on for 30 years or more. Ie. more expensive.

However. Maybe stand back and look this thing over some more. What do you absolutely know you're going to need large capacity for? How often, how long? If once or twice and then never or rarely, maybe consider renting or otherwise not-buying-owning a big mover. Running just you and a couple hand tools and sacks of something a mile or so really _is_ a job a Zuk (sp) will do perfectly. There a many useful machines available. Looking at the 70% level of function and spending a "few $$'s more", or straining a bit more, maybe a couple extra trips,  for the next (occasional, like maybe once a year) 25% and, finally, skipping entirely the last 5% can make a lot of sense. Both in $$$ and time spent angsting, worrying and fixing recalcitrant machinery.

It's all just "best guess" right now. Because it takes time and experience to know your style and what tools and equipment you will find comfortable, necessary. So spending less at this time, just for what you know you won't be able to get by w/out, is probably good policy. It would be ideal to find a way to watch somebody do the stuff you think you will be doing. Helping would be even better, but most people know that noob "helpers" usually carry a huge hidden price tag - so that may not be possible. But asking and maybe sweeping up after... Who knows. Learning all by yourself is costly and slow. But I don't know what your experience level actually is, so I better shut up, now. <g>


Regards,
Rufus

 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Definition of hilly for me is, do I get up a sweat walking around. If yes its hilly.
Tipping trailers
I built mine with a hinge point just a bit forward of 1/2 way along the trailer bed.
This meant it always returned to the 'down ' position, and the effort to tip it is greatly reduced.
I have a snap pin for holding it down.
The lifting mechanism consists of a pole rising above the front of the trailer about 4 feet. It has a 4 inch pulley at the top.
The winding mechanism is the same used to pull boats onto trailers, they are geared very low.
It is mounted to a horizontal bracket welded to the upright and pointing towards the tow hitch.
It is just far enough back to give clearance for your hand when winding the winch.
Another 4 inch pulley between the winch and the base of the pole near that horizontal bracket helps with the cable being smooth in its operation.
To lift the snap pin is released, the winch operated until the soil starts to move and a locking strut then swings under the trailer bed to hold it up.
 
denise ra
pollinator
Posts: 324
Location: OK High Plains Prairie, 23" rain avg
55
homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ya'll have given me so much great information and things to consider in this thread, I truly appreciate you all.
Rufus Laggren wrote

It's all just "best guess" right now. Because it takes time and experience to know your style and what tools and equipment you will find comfortable, necessary. So spending less at this time, just for what you know you won't be able to get by w/out, is probably good policy

I've got to remember this, it takes some pressure off!
John C. Daley wrote

Tipping trailers
I built mine with a hinge point just a bit forward of 1/2 way along the trailer bed.
This meant it always returned to the 'down ' position, and the effort to tip it is greatly reduced.
I have a snap pin for holding it down.
The lifting mechanism consists of a pole rising above the front of the trailer about 4 feet. It has a 4 inch pulley at the top.
The winding mechanism is the same used to pull boats onto trailers, they are geared very low.
It is mounted to a horizontal bracket welded to the upright and pointing towards the tow hitch.
It is just far enough back to give clearance for your hand when winding the winch.
Another 4 inch pulley between the winch and the base of the pole near that horizontal bracket helps with the cable being smooth in its operation.
To lift the snap pin is released, the winch operated until the soil starts to move and a locking strut then swings under the trailer bed to hold it up.


John - What a good idea, how about some photos of this?

I have an old toyota sedan for driving to town when I don't have to haul something because town is 30 minutes away. I'd like to be able to haul large round or square bales of hay. Lots of old hay around that could go in hugels or be laid down to slow water on eroding slopes. Plus there may be cattle at some point - the tenant will move them but I might fetch hay. So I think trailer lights are a good idea for sure. If I'm only hauling 1 bale at a time do I need special brakes on the trailer or truck? A bale is about 1500#. I could buy an old truck with a tow package then I don't have to cobble it together. A trailer with low sides like John said is probably best for my dirt works. I can drive anything but older manuals are hard on my body.

Hilly -
A lot of my dirt hauling will be off-road across pastures after digging eroded soil out of low spots. The property elevation is from 2000' to 1900'. The soil description says a bit of 1-3% slope, a lot of 5-12% slope and the rest is steep gullies. One area I want to dig in is a blow-out from gas pipeline installation - it's 50' lower over about 1/8 mile distance.

I googled cheap 4x4s and this came up:
V6 Nissan Xterra 00-04 5000#
Mitsubishi Montero Sport 97-04 5000#
Kia Sorento 03-09 3500#
Jeep Grand cherokee 7400#, but I won't own one too many maintenance issues
Ford Ranger pickup 04-12 5500#
Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer/Lincoln Aviator 06-10 7300#. At cars.com the V8 4x4 is $4000. If I search a while I can probly find one from an individual for $2000.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is similar to mine.
Except I move the tipping point closer to the trailer mid point, it reduces the lifting effort.
The trailer base frame beyound the tipping point has to allow for the trailer bed to drop down.
I use it on a 6 x4 trailer with low sides
customtippertrailer.jpg
[Thumbnail for customtippertrailer.jpg]
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You have a lot to do.
You may need two trailers!!
One for the Hay bales which would need brakes and be a bigger size to hold the bale. I am guessing 8 x 5 feet.
How will you unload them?
The second smaller tipping trailer 6 x4 ft.
If you are travelling only around the farm I doubt you would need brakes.

Some questions;
- Is the gas company responsible for the wash out?
- Is your land badly soil eroded, I ask because you mention steep gullies?
- If you have a soil erosion issue in many places, shifting soil may not help, Has that been suggested?
- Do you have a soil Conservation group near you?
I have also worked with soil conservation techniques, farmers often do it completely wrong, based on old stories.
- can you send images of the degredation.
Removing soil from he lower branches of creeks may not be a good idea, can you create a quarry face to work from?

Here is something to look at
rehydrating the land

This is a good reference
Muldoon Inst.

AND  another even easier site to deal with;
Natural sequence farming and there is a good book available.
 
Posts: 20
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
when you are off road you need weight on the wheels for traction. Adding a weight to be pulled without adding weight to the wheels will sacrifice traction.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Surely the trailer itself will put weight on the rear wheels when its loaded and hooked to the tow bar?
 
denise ra
pollinator
Posts: 324
Location: OK High Plains Prairie, 23" rain avg
55
homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ronaldo detera, how do you add weight to the wheels?
 
pollinator
Posts: 291
64
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Weight on the rear wheels while towing is calculated at “tongue weight” as opposed to towing capacity, i.e. the weight on the tow hitch. My vehicle has a Class III hitch with a 2" receiver and 4,500 lb towing capacity and 675 lb tongue weight capacity. The weight over the hitch can change depending on how the weight is distributed in the load.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1301
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
304
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


I have an actual dump trailer from an auction. I had to replace some minor hydraulics and battery but it works fine. Oh and a tire. I loan it our to people on a you break, you fix basis. They are really awesome. I tow it behind the tractor on a draw bar. I can manage 5 yards of dirt per load. If you are filling in gullies, it might be better to make a road to the gully and try to score some fill dirt (often free if you wait for it) and have it dumped where you need it. Dump trucks with an experienced driver can go places I wouldn't take a rental car with optional full coverage.

I don't own a vehicle that is street legal with the trailer. I loan it to a guy who has a truck, and he makes trips for me if I need stuff. Work on your local network and see if someone has a trailer sitting around. Or if someone has a tow machine you can use, maybe you bring the trailer to the party. I have moved probably 100 loads with the trailer doing my earthworks, and it has set me ahead years. You don't need electrical BTW, the battery dumps at least 10 loads off a full charge and I recharge it off a 25W solar panel in a few days. Also the solenoid can be jury rigged if your pendant is trashed like mine was. I ended up getting a replacement after a while but they are simple machines.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What is the 'pendant' please?
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 1301
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
304
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pendant is the switch that runs the hydraulic. Mine is active up and down. For a while I had to pull the solenoid out and use a screwdriver across terminals but worth getting it fixed with him much I was using it
 
New rule: no elephants at the chess tournament. Tiny ads are still okay.
BWB second printing, pre-order dealio (poor man's poll)
https://permies.com/t/147624/BWB-printing-pre-order-dealio
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic