Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

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Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby 221B » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:24 pm

I'm looking to buy a HF trailer and would like to get the version best suited to the teardrop I am planning. I think my build is going to end up right about 950 or 1050 pounds, loaded, so I'm wondering if it would be best to go with the 1195 pound capacity version, or the 1720 pound version.

We used to own a teardrop that weighed about the same (around 1000 lbs loaded), and it was mounted onto a trailer frame that was rated at about 1700lbs. It really seemed too stiff as it traveled on the road, and bounced around a lot; as if the suspension was too stiff. People who followed us joked that the trailer spent more time in the air than on the asphalt.

Any insight on which version of the Harbor Freight trailers might safely ride better at the target load? Whatever works best, the cost is not that much different.

Thanks!
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby pchast » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:27 pm

What air pressure did you use in those tires then?
I need to air down to 32 on mine for it to ride well.
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby les45 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:39 am

I had a NT 5X8 trailer that was rated at 1,700 lbs and my weekender ended up weighing about 1,200 lbs. It too bounced a lot when towing so I went to 13" passenger car tires and that solved the problem. The little 12" tires with 65# of air are very stiff for a reason so they can take the max load of the trailer. Some folks will recommend lowering the tire pressure but that can cause them to flex and overheat and eventually fail. The passenger car tires are inflated to a lot less (35#) making them a lot more flexible both up and down and side to side. The wider tires also looked better. I would go with the higher rating as you will be loading a lot of stuff into your trailer when you tow. If you don't like the way the stock tires ride then upgrade to something else.
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby 221B » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:15 am

pchast wrote:What air pressure did you use in those tires then?
I need to air down to 32 on mine for it to ride well.


Back then, with the old trailer, we tried really airing down a lot, to about 20lb, and it helped, but it still bounced around a lot. Plus, we weren't crazy about doing it, since it could overheat the rubber.
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby 221B » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:17 am

les45 wrote:I had a NT 5X8 trailer that was rated at 1,700 lbs and my weekender ended up weighing about 1,200 lbs. It too bounced a lot when towing so I went to 13" passenger car tires and that solved the problem. The little 12" tires with 65# of air are very stiff for a reason so they can take the max load of the trailer. Some folks will recommend lowering the tire pressure but that can cause them to flex and overheat and eventually fail. The passenger car tires are inflated to a lot less (35#) making them a lot more flexible both up and down and side to side. The wider tires also looked better. I would go with the higher rating as you will be loading a lot of stuff into your trailer when you tow. If you don't like the way the stock tires ride then upgrade to something else.


Good point about the 12" tires. I'm not sure about whether or not the HF trailers can accept a larger tire or not. Officially, I believe they say 'no'.
I wonder also, with the larger, trailer version, if it's possible to alter/remove one of the suspension springs to smooth out the ride if it turns out to be too stiff with the final trailer build.
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby working on it » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:23 am

221B wrote:I'm looking to buy a HF trailer and would like to get the version best suited to the teardrop I am planning. I think my build is going to end up right about 950 or 1050 pounds, loaded, so I'm wondering if it would be best to go with the 1195 pound capacity version, or the 1720 pound version....

*If you think that you'll end up at 80% or 88% of the load rating of the HF 1195 lb trailer, then that leaves very little margin for error, if extra loading or using heavier materials brings up your total travel weight; it'd be much better to "go big" in this case, and opt for the 1720 lb version (54% and 61% towards max load-out).

*I aimed toward 1000 lbs (max tow weight for my HHR Panel), and because the original trailer I was expanding was so small (and most likely around 1k lbs max load rating, if even that). My resulting trailer, even unloaded, ended up at 1280 lbs, and fully loaded at 1438 for my first trip, so i found out how easy it is to exceed original design expectations (& weight). After finding that it was so heavy, the tow vehicle was changed to a beefed-up 3/4 ton pickup instead, and I modified the base trailer less than a year later (after first trip), with frame reinforcements, a 3500 lb braked axle (with 3000 lb springs and shock-absorbing ride dampeners), and now the TTT travels at 2065-2100 lbs, safely.

*Another consideration is starting out with the tires that match your needs and desires:
221B wrote:We used to own a teardrop that weighed about the same (around 1000 lbs loaded), and it was mounted onto a trailer frame that was rated at about 1700lbs. It really seemed too stiff as it traveled on the road, and bounced around a lot; as if the suspension was too stiff. People who followed us joked that the trailer spent more time in the air than on the asphalt.


*I opted for 14" tires, since my wife's business trailer already had them (we could share a spare, since it was a budget-build, at first), and a necessity to upgrade from the base trailer's 8" tires (I told you it was very small). I used 14" bias-ply ST tires for a few years, then upgraded to 14" LT all-terrain tires when the 12+ year-old ST tires became worrisome. Though I use the full recommended inflation pressure (50 lbs cold, on both types), the trailer doesn't bounce at all, despite the heavy springs and full pressure tires, probably due to the dampening devices, and from using a weight distributing bar to (effectively) apply downforce on the tongue.

*Bigger trailer + bigger tires = safer travels (w/more load rating, softer ride w/o bounce)
2013 HHRv "squareback/squaredrop", rugged, 4x8 TTT, 2220 lbs
  • *3500 lb Dexter EZ-Lube braked axle, 3000 lb.springs, active-progressive bumpstop suspension
  • *27 x 8.5-14LT AT tires (x 3) *Weight Distribution system for single-beam tongue
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  • *extended-run, on-board, 2500w generator *Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern, Ikea grill, vintage skillet
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby pchast » Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:22 pm

221B wrote:
pchast wrote:What air pressure did you use in those tires then?
I need to air down to 32 on mine for it to ride well.


Back then, with the old trailer, we tried really airing down a lot, to about 20lb, and it helped, but it still bounced around a lot. Plus, we weren't crazy about doing it, since it could overheat the rubber.



I have to say I check the tires at every stop and have never had them nor the bearings heat up above ambient. They are original to the trailers and now, at almost 5 years, I will be replacing them. They still have half the tread after about 10000 miles with even wear.
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby 221B » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:11 pm

working on it wrote:
221B wrote:I'm looking to buy a HF trailer and would like to get the version best suited to the teardrop I am planning. I think my build is going to end up right about 950 or 1050 pounds, loaded, so I'm wondering if it would be best to go with the 1195 pound capacity version, or the 1720 pound version....

*If you think that you'll end up at 80% or 88% of the load rating of the HF 1195 lb trailer, then that leaves very little margin for error, if extra loading or using heavier materials brings up your total travel weight; it'd be much better to "go big" in this case, and opt for the 1720 lb version (54% and 61% towards max load-out).

*I aimed toward 1000 lbs (max tow weight for my HHR Panel), and because the original trailer I was expanding was so small (and most likely around 1k lbs max load rating, if even that). My resulting trailer, even unloaded, ended up at 1280 lbs, and fully loaded at 1438 for my first trip, so i found out how easy it is to exceed original design expectations (& weight). After finding that it was so heavy, the tow vehicle was changed to a beefed-up 3/4 ton pickup instead, and I modified the base trailer less than a year later (after first trip), with frame reinforcements, a 3500 lb braked axle (with 3000 lb springs and shock-absorbing ride dampeners), and now the TTT travels at 2065-2100 lbs, safely.

*Another consideration is starting out with the tires that match your needs and desires:
221B wrote:We used to own a teardrop that weighed about the same (around 1000 lbs loaded), and it was mounted onto a trailer frame that was rated at about 1700lbs. It really seemed too stiff as it traveled on the road, and bounced around a lot; as if the suspension was too stiff. People who followed us joked that the trailer spent more time in the air than on the asphalt.


*I opted for 14" tires, since my wife's business trailer already had them (we could share a spare, since it was a budget-build, at first), and a necessity to upgrade from the base trailer's 8" tires (I told you it was very small). I used 14" bias-ply ST tires for a few years, then upgraded to 14" LT all-terrain tires when the 12+ year-old ST tires became worrisome. Though I use the full recommended inflation pressure (50 lbs cold, on both types), the trailer doesn't bounce at all, despite the heavy springs and full pressure tires, probably due to the dampening devices, and from using a weight distributing bar to (effectively) apply downforce on the tongue.

*Bigger trailer + bigger tires = safer travels (w/more load rating, softer ride w/o bounce)


Thanks very much for your insight and experience in this matter. I think you make an excellent point about the possible "mission creep" (weight creep!), and I think I might go ahead with the higher-rated trailer to be safe.
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby 221B » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:12 pm

I have to say I check the tires at every stop and have never had them nor the bearings heat up above ambient. They are original to the trailers and now, at almost 5 years, I will be replacing them. They still have half the tread after about 10000 miles with even wear.[/quote]

Do you keep the tires at the sidewall recommendation, or do you also air-down somewhat?
Thanks!
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Re: Harbor Freight 4x8 Big vs Small(er) Version

Postby pchast » Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:25 pm

I use 32# as my unit was a light 580 lbs the last time I weighed.
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