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King Kutter Dump Trailer Review

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on July 1, 2006
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There's no sense in denying it. We have a trailer fetish. We think that trailers and towing are great fun. That's probably why we're so aware of the fact that, much as with four-wheel drives, there are trailers that work better in some instances than others. This is why you can't have just one-flatbeds, enclosed trailers, car haulers, dirt-cheap utility trailers, they all serve a specific purpose. Of course, when we took inventory and counted 12 of them, it became obvious that having a dozen trailers might be a bit much for the typical non-addict. Now, the reason we mention all this is because it takes something out of the ordinary to make us overly enthused about yet another trailer. Well, we found trailer number 13 really useful.

Four Wheeler readers living in tract houses might as well turn the page right now, but those lucky enough to occasionally need to move dirt, branches, rocks, gravel, mulch, and such around on their not-yet-paved part of the world might find the King Kutter 1.5T-DT-XB trailer most useful.

So what is it that's so great about this particular dump trailer? Primarily, its features and build quality. We've seen dump trailers two thirds the size of this one that cost several hundred dollars more, and lacking most, if not all, of the King Kutter's features. They've ranged from $200 to $2,000 in price, so at about $1,800 the King is far from the cheapest, but it's the best value we've found, especially if you want the bed to empty the way you want it to, and without major physical effort.

The guts of the 'Kutter consist of a stout 2 1/4- by 3 1/4-inch C-channel frame and a pair of walking beam "suspensions." Notice that each set of wheels operates independently from the other side's, which allows the smoothest and most level ride possible. On the left side is a rod to support the bed in upright position. Another indication that this trailer is meant for real work is that out of the 13 warning decals on it, eight are meant for a real dump truck. We would've preferred "Off Highway Use Only" on the other stickers, but "off road" is unfortunately still an acceptable term in the heavy-duty world of moving dirt.

Perhaps the main feature of this unit is its capability to dump its load-as opposed to having to shovel all or part of it out, or backing the trailer over a steep enough slope and hoping the load slides out. By definition, any dump trailer should do that much, but the 1.5-DT-XB actually does it, not just in theory. Its pump works on both the up- and downstrokes of the lever, raising the 70x50-inch bed to over 47 degrees pretty quickly, which is usually plenty for a load to slide out. A valve on the pump body releases the pressure and lowers the bed, at any rate you feel is appropriate.

A two-way tailgate allows carrying longer loads by lowering the tailgate in pickup fashion, and detachable chains hold it at a horizontal position. Or, pulling a lever at the front of the trailer releases the lower part of the 'gate, as on a dump truck. Release it both ways and the tailgate comes off completely; then get a pair of 91/416-inch wrenches, remove eight bolts, and all the 21-inch-tall bedsides are off, creating a flatbed.

For versatility, this King Kutter comes with both a clevis and a regular trailer ball coupler, which are easily interchangeable by removing just one bolt in the swivel-tongue setup. While we're not fond of the clevis method, at least this one features a generously slotted hole that allows far more movement than does a regular clevis hitch.

Certainly not the easiest way to mount a tandem axle setup, King Kutter chose to completely separate the left and right sides by mounting each side's wheels on their own walking beam. This adds complexity to the construction, as well as cost, but it sure pays off when using the trailer on uneven ground. Unlike independent suspensions on four-wheel drives, however, the King Kutter's setup is both stout and simple-plus it works really well.

An Italian OMFB double diaphragm pump works the 3x12-inch single-action cylinder that raises the bed, and just ahead of it is a 2,250-pound Butler jack. Bolted to a tray under the bed is a clevis, easily swapped for the 2-inch ball coupler installed. Both are swiveling and greaseable, just like the axle pivots. An unusually narrow tongue (about 26 degrees) can allow jackknifing the trailer to over 90 degrees, depending on tow vehicle width and towing attachment dimensions, even on the jack's side.

Nothing is perfect, but we found very little that could be improved on the King Kutter 1.5T-DT-XB. A permanently mounted (with a snap rig) jack would be quicker to swing out of the way than it is to pull and reinsert the pin on the removable jack. Unless you wanted to use the jack on something else, there's no reason to remove it anyway. Also, positioning the jack just 2 inches farther forward on the tongue would allow swinging it to a horizontal position without completely retracting it first.

While offering both a clevis and a coupler, we'd like to see a pintle hook ring instead. Pintle hooks are faster and easier to couple, plus offer more strength and better articulation than either a ball/coupler or a clevis. It's personal preference, but we happen to like things that work well, are strong, and easy to use.

Being built for "off-road use only" limits the usefulness of the Kutter a bit, but high-speed tires, wider axles, lights, and so on would seriously compromise its dirt performance and simplicity-so it's just one more reason to have several trailers.

A parking brake would be nice, but isn't easily incorporated on free-running hubs. Besides, a cheap rock works too. Lastly, it'd be great if the King Kutter could cost less, but then it would surely also be less-and there are a lot of lesser dump trailers out there already.

Apparently we had a pent-up demand for a trailer like this, so after several weeks it's still being used almost daily. Many, many cubic yards of dirt have already been relocated with little effort, thanks to the ease of operation and capability of the King Kutter dump trailer. We never found anything that didn't work at least as well as we'd hoped-and it was not from a lack of trying.

Determined to find some weaknesses, we loaded the little trailer to its absolute maximum (dirt spilling over all four sides) then stopped to dump it at about a 10-degree downhill. The first few strokes of the pump handle aren't exactly light under those circumstances, but once the bed's up about 4 inches, the leverage of the cylinder gets more favorable and it gets very easy to pump again.

PhotosView Slideshow

Doing the same thing with the trailer facing uphill, we raised the bed all the way before releasing the (lower) tailgate latch, thinking that enough weight on the release mechanism could make it hard to operate. Granted, a lot of dirt slid off over the top of the tailgate before the bed reached the total 47 degrees, but the tailgate still released very easily.

Much to our surprise, even relatively steep off-camber slopes failed to roll the narrow-track trailer (it is only 46 1/2 inches from outside to outside of the 8 1/4-inch-wide tires), even with a full load. But, if it happens, the swiveling coupling will come in handy.

Our only regret with the King Kutter 1.5T-DT-XB is that we didn't have one much sooner. It would've saved a lot of time and effort. Next time you're out there shoveling or fighting with a dump trailer that really doesn't, remember that we told you so.

Sources

King Kutter Inc.
www.kingkutter.com

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