Although last week’s blog contained a lot of valuable towing information with a comedic twist, we want to continue our exploration of tow-weight capacities and vehicle requirements this week.  There are many other factors that must be considered when attaching a trailer to your vehicle besides a vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.

Before you even think about towing, have your ball and hitch inspected by a qualified hitch installation company.  They will determine your maximum tongue weight which is typically 10% of the hitch’s rated capacity.  If you are unsure of the loaded weight of your horse trailer, toy hauler or RV, Phoenix Coach Works recommends being safe rather than sorry in regard your hitch and ball setup until you can get your rig to a weigh station.

Your trailer should sit level when attached to the towing vehicle with little or no sag in its rear.  Once you know the total weight of your trailer, be sure to place your load as follows:

Single Axle 10% minimum/15% maximum
Tandem Axle 9% to 15%
Travel Trailer 11% to 12%
5th Wheel 15% to 25%


Inspect your safety chain for broken or damaged links and attach them in a crisscross fashion to provide a saddle in the incident that your hitch or tongue should fail.

Another important factor is the wheelbase of the towing vehicle and the length of the unit being towed.  People who tow small utility trailers with relatively short wheelbase SUVs may not be affected but when you haul a 4, 6 or 9 horse trailer weighing 15-20 thousand pounds and measuring between 15 and 30 feet, you need a much longer wheelbase to handle the extended load.

A general rule of thumb is that the bridge length (length from the pivot point of the tongue to the center of the trailer’s axle) should be 1.25 times the towing vehicle’s wheelbase.  Most ½, ¾ and 1 ton pickups with an extended cab and 8ft beds work well for long trailers as long as you comply with the vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.

There are many more details that must be considered depending on your specific setup [vehicle, vessel and items being towed, and distance and roadways traveled].

If you have any questions or to arrange a consultation for a custom built trailer, trailer accessory installation or general trailer repair and maintenance, please contact Phoenix Coach Works directly.  With over 60 years of combined experience in the hauling and towing industry, our expert will be able to steer you and your rig in the right direction.

Feel free to join us next week as we discuss trailer operating techniques including backing and braking.  From safety to proper hauling practices, we know the importance of keeping a vehicle on the road and we do what do to make that possible.

*Tongue weight chart courtesy of Sherline trailer loading and towing guide.

A rose is a rose is a rose, this is true.  But the same is not true when concerning tires.  Unlike men, all tires are not created equal.  This week we’re going to expand our knowledge around the topic of tires.  Whether you’re replacing the tires on your truck, horse trailer or horse van, there are specific characteristics about tires that make them applicable to a variety of functions.

If you haul using a truck and trailer combination or a self-driven horse van such as our Phoenix Sprinter, you may be surprised to find that you will need different tires for your trailer.  Trailer tires are not designed to handle the loads applied to, or the traction required by drive or steering axles.

Unfortunately some folks choose to disregard all precaution and throw on whatever tires fit their rims.  However, when you’re pulling a 6 horse trailer full of your prized companions down the interstate at 65mph, you’d better hope that your tires are qualified for the job.

For that reason, consider the following when selecting and maintaining tires for you horse trailer or toy hauler.

Application: The LT and ST designation on a trailer tire specifies load range only.  It does not mean the tire is suitable for use on small or light duty trucks.  DO NOT mount ST or LT trailer tires on passenger cars or light trucks

Inflation: Underinflating trailer tires is the number one cause of failure.  Always inflate trailer tires to the maximum psi indicated on the sidewall.  Check inflation when tires are cool and have not been exposed to the sun.  If your tires are hot to the touch following operation, add three psi to the max inflation.

Load Carrying Capacity:  The combined carrying capacity of all the tires should exceed the loaded trailer weight by 20%.  All tires must be identical in size to properly manage the weight of the trailer.  If one tire fails on a tandem axle trailer, you should replace both tires on that side.  It is likely that the remaining tire has been subjected to excessive loading and uneven wear.  If a trailer’s original tires are replaced with tires of a larger diameter, the tongue height may need adjusted to maintain proper weight distribution.

Time, Mileage and Wear:  Be sure to abide by your tires’ maximum speed rating as higher speeds generate more heat and overall stress that will decrease your carrying capacity.  As with all things, time and the elements weaken your tires.  The projected life of a trailer tire is between three and five years or 5,000 to 12,000 miles.  It is recommended that trailer tires be replaced every three to four years regardless of treat depth or tire appearance.

Storage & Maintenance:  The ideal storage for your trailer is in a cool, dark garage with tires at maximum inflation.  For extended storage, put the trailer on blocks to take the weight off the tires and use tire covers to protect them from direct sunlight.  Clean tires using mild soap and water.  Try to avoid tire care products containing alcohol or petroleum distillates.  Inspect tires for cuts, snags, bulges or punctures.

Phoenix Coach Works can help you choose and supply the tires that will fit you needs Here at Phoenix Coach Works we like to touch on a broad range of topics that our customers might find useful and informative.  And if you happen to discover any undisclosed damages in need of repair while performing your tire maintenance, repair or replacement, you know who to call.

Phoenix Coach Works is proud to provide a full line of custom built 4 horse, 6 horse, 8 horse and 9 horse trailers as well as motorcycle haulers, RVs and enclosed trailers.  For commercial haulers we also provide a 15 horse trailer.  Our trailers are fully customizable; by placing you in the director’s chair, you dream the dream and we make it a reality.

Ever get the urge to add some excitement to your trip by bringing along a furry friend? No, we’re not talking about toting horses this time, nor are we discussing a road trip with your old college pal. But sometimes when you’re on the road for long stretches of time, you like to bring a pet along for extra fun and company. Especially when you’re at a rest stop and see others parking their rigs and then stretching their legs while they play with their four-legged cab companions.

Of course, there are certain factors that need to be taken into consideration when you’re deciding whether or not to bring your cat, dog, ferret or bird along in your toy hauler, truck, van or RV.

1. Safety. Check your vehicle with an eye toward your animal’s safety. Depending on the size of the animal you may want to keep your furry friend in an area of your rv or trailer during the trip. The best way to learn the ropes is to take a short test drive before the long haul. And since your animal’s encountering new environments and new people, you should be sure that it’s up to date on all of its vaccines and shots. It’s also vital that you’re aware of pet stores and animal hospitals between your point of origin and destination—just in case.

2. Comfort. While it’s all right to let your pet roam if you’ve taken the correct safety precautions, you’ll want to be sure that he or she has a designated area, such as a crate. Make sure he or she has plenty of room to lie down, stretch out and sit up. You don’t only have to take into account your pet’s comfort, but your own as well. Fido might love to sit in your lap or Kitty might like to nap by your feet, but those aren’t the best options. And even the best-trained pets sometimes exhibit atypical behavior on the road; for example, your pet may be getting car sick or using the restroom in your vehicle, and you’ll want to think about any mess or smells that might make a long drive a lot more unpleasant. You also don’t want an animal that’s going to make excessive noise that can distract you while driving.

3. Convenience. Having a pet with you may limit which hotels, parking areas and camp sites you visit (with your Phoenix Coach Works toy hauler rv, enclosed trailer, or horse van). So before you take off, you’ll want to double-check any pet restrictions along your route. You also want to take into account the extra time and mileage for stops you might need to make to take your pets for walks to stretch and get fresh air.

From insurance to alarm systems to video cameras, we’ve discussed several ways to keep your trailer safe. To round off the series, we’d like to discuss hitch locks, trailer locks and coupler locks.

Hitch locks are pin latches designed to keep your ball mount attached to your vehicle. This will prevent it from being stolen while your vehicle is parked but disconnected from your trailer. However, it’s important to also note that ball mounts should not always remain attached to the hitch; this can make your accessories corrode faster by suffering unnecessary wear and exposure to the elements. Between trips and uses, you should always detach, clean and safely store your ball mount.

Trailer locks cover your trailer’s latching mechanism so that no one can hook their car, truck or SUV up to your trailer when it’s not directly secured to your own vehicle. These typically lock a metal ball in place, similar to how your trailer is traditionally rigged.

Coupler locks also use pins, but these secure your trailer’s latching mechanism to the ball mounts while you’re on the go. Coupler locks offer a variety of drop lengths, ball widths and all trailer weights and sizes. They’re not only made to be secure and easy-impact on the road, but they’re also weather-resistant metal alloy that will prevent or resist rust and corrosions when sitting in the elements for great lengths of time. These anti-theft devices are designed to be resistant to picks and drills so that no one can detach your trailer without your key.

If you have several trailers, you can have all of your locks prepared so that they all work with a universal key, which helps you stay organized and prevents key-switch mishaps. If you only plan to use one trailer at a time and want one kind of lock (hitch, trailer or coupler) for all of your vehicles, you can purchase a universal lock that can adjust to work with all truck and trailer types.

It’s the end of 2010, a time for reflection on what’s past and what’s to come. As we think about where we stand today, it’s easy to see that Phoenix Coach Works, Inc. has come a long way from its origins in 1984. But the journey to this place and time paints an accurate portrayal of why Phoenix is now a successful and bustling horse trailer retailer and repair company.

For example, did you know that owner Joe Skupski comes from a family background of trucking—and he even personally owned a company for seven years? His astute attention to detail with Phoenix comes from years of trucking business experience, so you can trust him with the ins and out of financing, paperwork and to hire only the most knowledgeable and trustworthy staff.

But even before that, he started out as a mechanic. He brings this intimate knowledge of how vehicles operate to overseeing the work done on your rigs today. After running his own trucking company, Joe opened a truck repair and paint shop that adapted to include horse transport repairs and restoration—and later became Phoenix Coach Works.

You can find our complete history here and then learn all about the services that are currently expertly offered by Phoenix Coach Works. They’re all part of a result of the company’s background and collective experience. We bring everything we’ve got to the table to ensure the most reliable work on behalf of your valued vehicles.

Looking back at where Joe came from, it’s easy to see how he rose to acquire the success that Phoenix enjoys today. And you can benefit from the fruits of his labors as well when you make a new horse trailer or van purchase from Phoenix or bring any of your needs to Joe and the rest of the friendly crew at Phoenix Coach Works, Inc.—they’re always happy for the chance to show you exactly where they came from and just what they’re made of.

If you are thinking about purchasing an enclosed trailer, you may be overwhelmed by all of the options out there. There are a multitude of choices and in most cases you are not comparing apples to oranges. In this blog we will give you the low-down on what you need to know when you are shopping for an enclosed utility trailer:

1.       Consider Your Cargo. Before you go shopping for an enclosed cargo trailer you want to think about all of the items you want to haul. If you are going to be hauling a car or truck, you will need a lot more capacity than if you simply wish to haul your motorcycle. If you think you may have the need to haul heavier items in the future, it is best to get a cargo trailer with a larger capacity than what you currently need.

2.       Ramp Options. Enclosed utility trailers have 2 different types of ramps – self contained or detachable. Whenever possible it is best to opt for a self contained ramp that simply folds down or slides out. Detached ramps must be manually put into position and are stored inside the trailer along with your cargo.

3.       Optimal Tie-Downs. The more tie downs a utility trailer has, the better. This will enable you to better secure whatever you are hauling, maximizing safety.

4.       Braking System. Ensure you new enclosed cargo trailer has a braking system that can be integrated electronically with the brake controls in your truck. This will reduce the strain placed on your truck and ensure safety.

If you are shopping for an enclosed trailer, the best suggestion we can give you is to start your shopping process with Phoenix Coach Works. With 25 years of experience and a reputation for treating our customers like family, we can help you find the best fit for your needs and budget. Call us today!

Phoenix Coach Works is proud to be a long time partner of Frank DiBella, who resells many of the horse trailers and horse vans that we custom build.  Frank is now reselling our new Phoenix Sprinter 2 Horse Van. Click here to learn more about this innovative new product:

Phoenix Coach Works Inc. is a custom manufacturer of horse trailers, horse vans, toy haulers, and enclosed trailers. A lot of people hear the word “custom” and think “expensive” but that could not be farther from the truth. Here is what custom trailer manufacturing means to us at PCW:

  1. No two customers have the exact same needs and budget. By building our trailers custom we can create the perfect product to fit your needs.
  2. We are not mass producing cookie cutter trailers. Every custom trailer we build is a unique piece of quality construction that nobody else will have.  Since our trailers are so long lasting (90% of them are still on the road today after 25 years in business), we thought you would want to have a unique trailer you can call your own.
  3. If you already have a truck chassis we can build your new trailer or van to fit it.
  4. We offer full service repairs for your trucks and trailers so if you don’t need a new trailer yet and just want to repair your old one, we can help you out with RV painting, fabricating, upgrading, and much more. No repair job is too big or too small!

If you are in need of a new trailer or any type of trailer repair services, give us a call, we are happy to have your business and will treat you like family. At Phoenix Coach Works we want to be the partner that you turn to for all things trailer related, which is why we custom manufacture our products…to provide the ultimate flexibility and service for your needs.