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A quick run around the Virtual Garage


 
So which one wins??
By John Milliman
  Jan 2014

Eastbound & down!One is the trailer your Daddy / Uncle / Brother taught you to hook up for taking the family pop-up camper or the fishing boat (or both ...) to the lake when you were a teenager (and so was Frankie Valli ...). The other is the baby version of the tractor trailer truck and oh-so-popular with cattle farmers, horse owners and "commercial tourists"... Which one rocks??

Well, pard ... it depends on ... YOU! Both have their pluses and minuses, so let's take a look at 'em and see which one matches up to you and your personal situation, equipment and driving needs. Saddle up!

Tag Along Trailer

The Tag Along, or Bumper Pull, trailer is the tried and true road warrior -- it's design dates back pretty near to the invention of the wheel itself. Heck, it's one of the few things Leonardo DaVinci didn't invent! At some point back in pre-historic times, somebody had a couple of wagons to get to market and only one team of oxen (or goats or rats ...)... what to do? Simple! Hook one wagon to the back of the other!

It's come a long way, baby! Today's Tag Along trailers are simplicity itself! Simple to maintain, simple to hook up and relatively easy to drive and back up -- they simply tag along behind the tow vehicle.

So what's the skinny on these things? Chances are, you've already towed one, in some form, so you know the basics, but here's a few points to consider:

Minimum recommended requirements

  • 1/2-ton truck / SUV
  • Transmission cooler
  • Frame-mounted Class IV hitch
  • Electrical hookup
  • Trailer brakes on all axles with an in-cab electronic brake controller

Advantages

  • Tag Along trailers are generally less costly to purchase.
  • Most modern trucks come from the factory with a Class IV hitch already installed.
  • They're less intimidating to drive and park.
  • Easier to store
  • Coupler is conveniently out of the way (under the rear bumper. NEVER tow from your bumper, by the way!)
  • Lighter than Gooseneck trailers for similar capacity

Disadvantages

  • Tag Alongs tend to have a harsher ride while towing (tends to jerk the tow vehicle around more than the Gooseneck).
  • Not as easy to maneuver (see below)
  • Not as easy to connect (can't see the coupler)
  • Weight limited (unless you go to a pintle hitch heavy equipment trailer ...)
Gooseneck Trailer

The Gooseneck Trailer is a type of trailer that uses raised arms extending forward from the front of the trailer as an A-frame with a vertical coupler at the apex. This coupler attaches to a ball (or mini 5th wheel) mounted in the bed of a pickup truck (or other tow vehicle -- generally directly over the rear axle). Who knows when they were invented (Heck, maybe Al Gore did it ), but just about everyone who uses one is glad they were -- their versatility combines heavier load carrying with a superior ride and pull.

Here's the break out:

Minimum recommended requirements

  • 3/4-ton truck
  • Transmission cooler
  • Bed-mounted (to frame) 2 5/16 ball or 5th wheel
  • Electrical hookup
  • Trailer brakes on all axles with an in-cab electronic brake controller

Advantages

  • More stability -- The weight of the tongue rests directly over the rear axles.
  • Better ride -- Because the trailer is coupled directly over the rear axle, and not out behind it (creating leverage), the trailer can't act on the truck as easily (i.e., the tail can't wag the dog as readily).
  • Tighter turning radius -- The trailer begins turning when the truck turns and cuts corners more quickly than does a Tag Along.  Makes backing into tight spots easier!
  • Handles heavier loads better

Disadvantages

  • Can't put much in the tow vehicle bed (when trailering)
  • Generally more expensive than Tag Alongs 
  • Tighter turning radius.  The tight turning radius CAN be detrimental.  Normal turns are more difficult to make, and corners are often cut too sharply, as a result.  It just takes a little more experience to master.
  • Couplers for Goosenecks typically have to be custom installed and may take up space in the bed of your truck.  Some hitches are made to flip down or be removed when not in use.
  • Emergency towing may be more difficult to find for a Gooseneck / truck combination.
  • Heavier Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of some Gooseneck combinations may require commercial licensing (Remember, DOT Medical Card is required when towing over 10,000 lbs and a Commercial Drivers License is required if your Combined Gross Weight (truck and trailer) exceeds 26,000 lbs. Most Gooseneck trailers have a gross weight rating of 14,000 pounds or less, so as long as your truck is a standard 3/4-ton or 1-ton (gross weight well under 12,000 lbs), this shouldn't be an issue.
  • The larger size trailer may be more intimidating to beginner haulers.
  • Trailer storage can be challenging.
And the winner is ...

Both! Both types of trailers work well for hauling our antique trucks around so which one you choose really comes down to personal preference and individual circumstances.

If both your tow vehicle and your show vehicle are relatively light (both are half tons, perhaps), you're on a budget or you just want to stay simple, then perhaps the Tag Along is the right answer.

If you prefer to have a smoother ride, or you have heavier loads (and a suitable tow vehicle) (or both ... and other factors), then perhaps the relatively higher expense of a Gooseneck, the hassle of getting a hitch installed and losing your cargo space in the bed when towing is worth having a superior towing experience -- ask anyone who's towed both types of trailers and the answer is darn near unanimous. When it comes down to hitting the asphalt and moving an object from point A to point B, Goosenecks just tow better.

Lots to think about! Good luck in your decisions -- I hope this has helped.

PS -- No matter which camp you end up in, there is one thing we can all agree on ...



Friends don't let friends use tow dollies!

More reading

 

-30-

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. - Thomas Edison


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