Whether you are moving mowers between sites across the borough, delivering tools to work crews around a park or carrying prunings through the estate to the compost heap, having the right trailer - and, more importantly, the right combination of a trailer and towing vehicle - can make all the difference to the efficiency of the job and help save time and money.
A robustly built and well maintained trailer can have a long life. Buying a trailer should be viewed as a long-term investment, rather than just a short-term solution, so selecting a new model should not be done in haste. There is much to consider.
Do you need a road-going trailer or is it for running around the park or estate? What is the towing vehicle - car, van, pick-up truck, lorry, tractor, utility vehicle or quad bike - and what is the towing capacity of that vehicle? What is to be carried - mowers and heavy-plant, tools, compost, bedding plants? Does the cargo need the protection afforded by an enclosed trailer or box van? Or do you require a trailer with sides? Would extension sides be useful to increase the volume available for carrying materials such as leaves?
As a general rule, within the limits of your towing vehicle, it is better to opt for a larger rather than a smaller trailer.You also need to consider who is driving the vehicle - their ability, experience, certificates and licences. Remember that twin-axle trailers offer stability when loading and unloading but if you do not need the capacity of a twin, opting for a single allows for greater manoeuvrability. Single-axle trailers can be stabilised with props.
In a lot of situations, measures for handling the cargo when loading and unloading can be improved. If you want to load the cargo by forklift truck, you will need a trailer with sides that can be easily removed or folded out of the way. If the trailer is the correct height, front-end loaders or skid steers can be used to load composts and other loose materials and it makes for greater efficiency if the trailer can tip to empty the load at the other end.
The efficient movement of mowers, excavators and other machinery usually entails driving equipment straight onto the trailer. In this case, unless you have a ramp or beaver-tail trailer, a tilt bed or ramps are essential. Brian James Trailers has taken the idea one step further by developing a method of accessing a truck from the trailer that it is towing, in effect doubling the number of mowers that can be carried. Such equipment would greatly improve the efficiency of vehicle fleets run by local authorities and contractors.
"The CrossOver trailer has been well-received by councils because it allows machinery to be driven from the ground onto the trailer, over the trailer and onto the back of a flatbed pick-up," explains Brian James Trailers marketing manager Richard Craven. "With the train weight, etc, they have to be careful about what they are putting on the back of the pick-up, so they can even it all out by using the trailer as well and getting all the equipment to site in one go."
The CrossOver trailer came about when a local authority wanted to make better use of its fleet by accessing the bed of vehicles carrying large mowers and other machinery in a safe way. New Forest District Council asked the engineering team at Brian James to design a solution. "The bed heights used to present a challenge to safe working and health and safety but the CrossOver removes that problem and, being quick and easy to deploy, increases the efficiency of loading, transporting and unloading the council's mowers," says Craven. To maximise speed and safety, hand rails automatically deploy on the "bridge" and both ramps have gas spring assistance.
New Forest District Council transport manager John Steeds agrees that the trailer has made a huge difference. "The system gives us better weight distribution between the vehicle and the trailer and our machines can be loaded and unloaded faster but more safely," he says.
Also recently introduced by Brian James Trailers is the CarGo Shifter. This range of general-purpose trailers boasts low weight and low chassis height and has been designed to be easy to load, tow and operate. An extra-strength chassis design supports the tough phenolic deck along its full length so heavy equipment can be transported without the deck bowing. This extra support should extend the lifespan of the trailer because it eliminates distortion and weakening. Attention has also been paid to the provision of tie-down points.
For shifting materials, Brian James has added the CarGo Tipper to its range. With "tough and safe" identified as users' key goals, the engineers at Brian James first brought the bed height down to help loading and towability. The design team used high-grade steel to make the chassis stronger but lighter and to give the trailer more load capacity. Then they lined the deck with steel for durability and low stick. They fitted heavy-duty electric tipping equipment and built in a remote control to allow the operator to safely view the drop zone at a distance. Finally, they facilitated side-by-side loading ramps so wheelbarrow users could access the trailer safely.
At the IoG Saltex 2010 show, Brian James Trailers launched the expanded CarGo family with the addition of commercial plant trailers. The All Plant range is designed for the mini-digger and heavy plant market. Addititional options include a high-mesh kit, which can be attached or detached without the use of tools.
With any trailer it is always essential to secure the load and the number and position of lashing points or other securing devices should be considered prior to purchase. For moving excavators, Indespension has developed TrackLock. This system of securing mini-excavators during transport moves away from the traditional ratchet straps, which inevitably become worn and frayed, and uses four independent metal clamps instead.
The clamps, located within a channel, have the ability to adjust laterally and fix down on the excavator tracks. The channel also acts as a guidance plate to aid centralised loading and a front stop bar allows the digger to be positioned directly over the axle for greater load stability. A chain-tensioning technique is used to prevent the boom swinging while on the move.
To help hold green waste in place on small trailers, Brenderup has trailer netting available. The company has also introduced a lockable tool box for its trailers to hold gloves or pruning equipment. It measures 108cm by 28cm by 34cm.
This year, Apache reintroduced its full trailer range. The original Apache trailers were designed for transporting quad bikes but are equally suited for lawnmowers and other small items of equipment. The range has six models - four of which are road-going - in varying sizes, ranging from 1.52m to 2.4m in length. Prices start from around £400 excluding VAT.
Ideal for transporting lawnmowers and lightweight garden machinery, the GTV 750 from Hazelwood is a new fully-enclosed box or van trailer with secure, lockable lid raised on gas struts. The unit measures 2.1m long by 1.26m wide and has an internal height of 1.18m. Gross weight is 750kg.
For durability, the chassis is hot-dipped galvanised and the sides are double-skinned aluminium. Heavy-duty, anti-slip, phenol-coated birch plywood is used for the floor. At the back is a detachable, hinge-down loading ramp tailgate. Other features include AL-KO axle and coupling, plus full road lights protected within a rear cross member.
For those working on golf courses and estates, the available range of off-road trailers is huge. It might also be worth thinking about using material handlers. Equipment like the Dakota from Campey Turfcare can be used to spread materials or place them into bunkers and trenches, as well as generally transporting materials.
One final thought about trailers - if you are out on the road, use the sides of the trailer for advertising your business or organisation. That way your message can be seen wherever you are working and wherever you go.
TRAILERS AND EUROPE
Currently there are different rules in each European member state regarding type approval. By October 2012, all trailers manufactured and sold in the EU will have to be whole vehicle type approved and hold a certificate showing they have been type tested to all European safety directives.
Companies are busy working towards this. Indespension reports that 80 per cent of its standard range has now been approved and the rest is due soon. The process has cost the company £250,000 so far.
After 2012, no approval will mean no sale. The manufacture of special designs will be limited, although such trailers could be individually approved at a testing station. The regulation is understood to also include trailer-mounted kit, such as towable woodchippers and bowsers.
THE TRAILER MANUAL
Indespension has released The Trailer Manual, which contains everything users need to know about trailers and towing.
As well as offering a comprehensive review of the company's products, accessories and spare parts, the guide includes advice on choosing a trailer, identifying commonly used parts, theft prevention, maintenance requirements, including how to change brake shoes and replace bearing, and more.
A must-read section is the guide to trailer law, towing and EU regulations. An easy read, The Trailer Manual is available from Indespension stores for £5.
TRAILERS FOR GROWERS
Agricultural trailer manufacturer Bailey Trailers of Lincolnshire is now using British-made HMG industrial paints, supplied by Fisher, to give a commercial-vehicle finish to its products. The high-gloss coating is a one-pack polyurethane topcoat in the characteristic Bailey green.
The Government is putting pressure on landowners to "open up" public areas. To transport visitors attending farm visits and open days, Marston Trailers has developed a personnel carrier with four-tonne capacity and seating for 24 people available either centrally or down each side.
SCH Supplies of Ipswich offers bespoke people carriers to accommodate up to 30 passengers. Many types are available from £2,500 plus VAT.