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Carson Trailer Build, Part 1: Towing With The Right Stuff

Posted in How To on August 1, 2012
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All too often, inadequate towing equipment is used to move vehicles down hundreds of miles of highway, and it is a little scary to think about. We’ve heard numerous stories of trailers going out of control, whipping back and forth, just to be brought back from the brink of disaster in the nick of time.

01. Carson Trailer builds Car Haulers rated from 5,000-pound GVWR to 24,000-pound GVWR (gross Vehicle Weight Rating— the weight of the trailer combined with the load on top of it). The company recommends either a 10,000-pound or 12,000-pound trailer for what most off-roaders will be hauling.

That may be acceptable to some thrill-seekers, but we want a trailer that is smooth-riding and under control 100 percent of the time. It pays to have the correct equipment, in more ways than one. And we were ready to get a new trailer for OFF-ROAD magazine so we’d have something capable and safe, and we wouldn’t have to be in a borrowing/loaning situation again. Borrowing trailers is bad for both parties. If you’re the loaner, they never seem to get returned in the same condition. If you’re the borrower, it seems like every trailer you borrow always has some issue with it, whether it be a bad tire, no brakes, faulty electrical, or a messed-up jack.

We wanted to start fresh with something that could handle everything we’d need to tow—something so big that we could put our ’03 crew cab Super Duty on it if necessary. We need an almost commercial-duty trailer that will survive miles and miles of off-pavement towing, handle big off-road trucks without feeling out of control, and stand up to the test of time, while being as self sufficient as possible.

02. Since Carson Trailer builds each trailer to meet the order exactly, we were able to watch our Car Hauler get built. Notice that we have the extrawide extended deck option. Carson starts with their standard Car Hauler but can add any of the features we got to any of their open-deck trailers.

Since we’re in Southern California, it was a no-brainer for us to go see the biggest guys in the car hauler biz: Carson Trailer. We’ve towed with their car haulers before, and the heavy-duty framing with dual axles and electric trailer brakes have always been the nicest setup for us to drag a fullsize truck with. We sat down with the crew at Carson and came up with exactly what guys like us would need. The trailer would have an extended deck as wide as the fenders, drive-over fenders for wide trucks, trailer brakes on both axles, a lockbox to keep straps and tools in, D-rings around the frame of the trailer for multiple tie-down points, and a wooden deck to drop a couple hundred pounds over a similarly-equipped steel diamond plate deck trailer.

The trailer was built just in time to head out to Moab, Utah, and back. We towed a 5,100-pound Blazer with ease behind our 2011 Super Duty. And now that we’re back, we’re ready to start modifying our trailer. Next time we’ll add some electrical power, an air supply, a jack, and the necessary tools for normal trailer repairs. The only thing this trailer won’t be able to do will be to tow itself.

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05.5 It uses a spring-under-axle setup with a pivoting shackle that joins the front and rear leaf springs together. A standard spring setup would have a shackle to the frame for these two spring eyes, with an equalizer joining the shackles.

06. Our trailer is outfitted with a standard trailer tongue for a 2-5/16-inch trailer ball. Carson can also do a raised tongue option for taller trucks, or extend the tongue up to five feet if necessary for the towing vehicle.

Most customers choose to go with a crank-up jack like we did, but Carson also has an electric jack option that requires a battery on board the trailer.

All Car Haulers come with trailer brakes and therefore all require the seven-pin wiring harness to power the trailer lights and brakes.

We also opted for a front lockbox and a spare tire mount that would be out of the way.

07. By going with a wooden deck instead of a diamond plate steel deck, we were able to keep the weight of this large trailer down. Plus, we think the wood looks pretty classy with the Gardena Blue paint. The boards are all pressure-treated, and are easily replaceable when they do eventually start to wear out many years from now. Around the exterior frame of the Car Hauler, Carson welded on eight 5,000-pound D-rings to allow us to strap down a variety of vehicles.

PhotosView Slideshow

11. Unfortunately, we got our trailer before our tires and wheels, so we borrowed some temporary ones to head out on an off-road trip until our wheels showed up to put our new LT245/75R16 General Grabber HTS trailer tires on. We can’t wait to get our new Grabbers and polished wheels on and finish off the look of the trailer.


General Tire
Charlotte, NC 28288
Carson Trailer
Gardena, CA 90248

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