Cargo usually needs to be tied down to remain safely on or in a trailer, and especially so if the load is a vehicle. It will usually cost a few bucks to do it right, but then again, what's your tow vehicle, trailer, and cargo worth to you? Right, there's some serious money tied up (no pun intended) in the whole setup. And that's not even counting bodily injury to yourself or others if something fails, so you could look at your trailer's tie-down hardware as a very cheap insurance policy. Crappy tie-downs equal high-risk, which is usually costly in the long run.
Keeping your four-wheel-drive, sand toy, ATV, or whatever pleasure craft secured to the trailer while in transit should be a major concern, but we still see people using a single strap to keep an expensive 4x4 from moving forward on a trailer. Those individuals must've slept through the "force equals mass times acceleration" part of school and also apparently never gave it a thought that not all stops are planned or controlled.
It's very important to use tie-down points according to the load and anticipated stress on them, as well as using appropriately rated hardware. And don't be afraid to err on the safe side when deciding on what to use. There's a picture of a pair of 5,000-pound-rated tie-down points about to be installed in a trailer in this story, and in theory their combined strength, coupled with 10,000-pound straps, should be plenty for a light vehicle, right? Well, not really, if simply mounting the anchors to the plywood flooring. With nothing all that substantial to bolt those tie-down points to, we used some angle iron to bridge the crossmembers and make a stronger foundation. When the not-entirely-unexpected happens and our 3,200-pound four-by turns into a 16,000-pound projectile, hopefully our reinforcements will keep those anchor points intact. We sure hope we'll never find out, but keep these things in mind when tying your four-by down to a trailer and use the best hardware and anchor points possible.
If you have an enclosed trailer, there are probably some smaller items like tools and an ice chest floating around inside. Well, those things should also be confined in a safe manner, and we used two distinctively different ways to deal with such flotsam. Either tie those things down, or give them a permanent home.
Mac's Custom Tie Downs offers a lot of options for making smaller items stay put on and in vehicles with the VersaTie system. Available for pickup beds in dedicated lengths and for various universal applications, the VersaTie tracks allow placing tie-down rings anywhere along the length of the tracks. There are five different kinds of connectors available, with ratings from 2,000 to 8,000 pounds, depending on model and angle of pull, so most anything could be secured, including smaller vehicles.
An elegant way to keep cans, bottles, and other paraphernalia from cluttering up the interior of a trailer is with Racor's aluminum shelves and racks. Made for use in the garage, these lightweight storage units are great for trailers, too, although you may want to stay below the indicated weight limits to counteract the inevitable movements of a trailer going down the road. We've seen this type of storage in high-end trailers and always figured that while it looks really nice and works very well, the pricing would be well beyond our means. Not so with the surprisingly affordable Racor products.
Getting rid of cardboard boxes and milk crates on the floor is nice and practical, if you have an enclosed trailer. To keep a vehicle-or any cargo, for that matter-securely tied down on, or in, a trailer is a necessity. People will endlessly argue over whether to tie to the frame, axles, or tires, and if chains are better than straps, but few disagree with the importance of tying the vehicle down really well. Hopefully this story has provided some food for thought on the subject, and if you do decide to upgrade your tie-down equipment, please donate an old strap or two to the dope who still uses only one at each end of the vehicle.