(While all my previous posts have been somewhat technical in nature, this post may seem out-of-place for some. Only time will tell if this is a one-time occurrence, or if other such posts will follow in the future. I considered starting a 2nd, non-technical blog, but wanted to avoid a possible unnecessary split. Additionally, some posts could belong to both... If you'd like to limit your viewing to one or more topics, please consider making use of the labels.)
Since Sarah & I bought our first house almost a year ago, our parents were placing bets that we'd end up buying a trailer in less than a year. As they usually are, they were right.
My Ford Explorer has pretty good cargo capacity. A few of the larger items we've hauled home include a lawn mower, grill, snow blower, dishwasher, and various pieces of furniture. However, some of those items pretty much reach the limits. Especially with the amount of renovations we've been doing to the house, there's been several times where we needed a way to haul home larger pieces of construction materials, e.g. 4x8 sheets of plywood and drywall.
One of the main reasons we bought a house in Rothschild (e.g. compared to the City of Wausau) was for one of the lower tax rates in the area. However, this lower rate is reflected in some services. For example, while some other areas may have weekly leaf and yard waste pickups, Rothschild only schedules one near the end of the fall - and the leaves may not even all be off the trees yet.
Last year, one of our neighbors was kind to let us borrow their trailer a few times, but that doesn't always seem the most proper or convenient. Renting a trailer may have been an occasional option, but it definitely wouldn't be convenient, and could become rather pricey rather quickly. Additionally, in a rant that will become a post of its own, U-Haul pretty much has a monopoly on the trailer market, and due to an absurd policy against Ford Explorer owners, I can't rent one!
Some of my good friends back in Green Lake have been extremely kind to lend us their utility trailer (either a 6x10 or 6x12?) multiple times for various moves, etc. I always thought it'd be nice to have my own, but even with our current house, don't exactly have the place to store one. While there would be room on the side of our house, next to the garage, and while the previous owners did store a trailer there, it is technically against ordinance in the Village of Rothschild. (This seems a bit ironic, considering the need to haul yard waste, and since the village doesn't do more pick-ups...)
Even if we did store a trailer there, it certainly wouldn't be ideal. Even as we went shopping, we repeatedly noticed a common theme at just about any place in the area selling trailers: Trailers sitting in the snow, and rusting.
We considered a covered trailer, which would be nice for moving items more delicate or requiring protection from the elements. A covered trailer would also probably be a bit more resistant to outside storage. However, I can see that it could also be a bit more of an "eye-sore", as well as being more expensive, and being an over-kill for our typical needs. For anything we would've preferred a covered trailer for, we can probably make work with a regular utility trailer - just with some additional tarps and tie-downs.
A year or two ago, I recall walking through Sears, and seeing a fold-up utility trailer in one of the isles within the store. I didn't think much of it at the time, or regarded it as more of a "toy". However, with all of the above considerations, when Sarah & I made the decision to go out trailer shopping, our goal was to find a different trailer or a reason to not get the one at Sears. Sears still won.
See Sears' product page: "Craftsman Fold-Up Utility Trailer" (item# 07124201000, Mfr. model# 0220). It retails for $1,499.99, but we got a rather good deal on one and paid considerably less.
Before we left for shopping, one thing that was really convincing us to go with this trailer was one of the several great product reviews posted on the Sears product page. The review posted 2007-10-09 by an anonymous reviewer in Camden, PA seemed to match our criteria exactly:
I have to say, especially with the Sears in Wausau being "stuck" in the Wausau Center Mall, I've been repeatedly impressed by their ability to seemingly hold a considerable inventory. Compared to the apparently larger Menards, Home Depot, and Fleet Farm stores in Wausau, Sears seems to be able to have items available on-hand when the others don't. (Having a selection of snowblowers in-stock during one of our earlier snow-storms when everyone else was sold-out was a prime example - and I'm sure the one we purchased was the one we would've purchased even if everyone else still had their full line-ups available.)
Having purchased this trailer and already used it twice, I'm also very impressed with it. We've already hauled home several 4x8 sheets of plywood and drywall. Nothing about it feels weak or "cheap". Even without cleaning up our garage first, it easily fit in our 2-car garage along with both vehicles. The only thing I'm considering adding is a jack to the tounge. I also should get a different trailer hitch for my vehicle for better balance by lowering the front of the trailer by 5-6".
I've already been asked by several people for some additional specifications on the trailer, since those listed on Sears' product page aren't too comprehensive.
- Requires a 2" ball hitch.
- G.V.W.R: 1500 LB
- Tires: 5.30-12
- Height of trailer when folded and level: 52"
- Height of bottom of trailer bed from ground: 14"
One thing that I thought would be nice would be a wheeled tongue jack. I was going to buy and put one on for $20, but found that when the trailer is folded, there is only about 2" of clearance on the sides of the tongue - not quite enough room for a side-mounted jack. (The tongue actually retracts into the trailer as it folds - rather neat, as it requires less space for storage.) I saw another bottom-mounted folding wheel that may still work, though it isn't a jack.