KEYWORDS: trailer, car, weight, body, trailers

Have Trailer--Will Travel--Part 6: Size & Weight

David Berg

DFO 812-613/7/79

1. A LOT OF YOU FOLKS WHO ARE HOME–GOING COULD ASK YOUR FOLKS TO SET YOU UP IN A CAMPER OR TRAILER INSTEAD OF A HOUSE OR APARTMENT! That way you can keep moving & keep going on for God!—Or some of your kings or queens might like to help you finance a camper or trailer. We've already had that happen in several cases. It's one way to keep the family with you, & still have your cake & eat it too! You'll still be able to travel & go into all the world & preach the Gospel‚ with the whole family still serving the Lord!

2. THAT'S WHAT WE DID! That's what my folks did when I was young, & that is what I did when my children were young. So now I recommend it to all of you who want to keep going for God, do it by camping while travelling & preaching the Gospel! I highly recommend camping out, & particularly with a small trailer if possible.

3. NOW, HOW SMALL OR HOW BIG A TRAILER? I just heard one of our Family members got himself a 35-foot (12-meter) trailer, because he has about four or five children & he thought he needed something fairly big to live & travel in. Well, I want to tell you right now, I hauled a 35-foot trailer all over the United States for a couple of years, & that cured me forever of 35-foot trailers! Loaded it was as heavy as lead!

4. I HAD TO HAVE A BIG 20-FOOT FOUR-SPEED HEAVY-DUTY TRUCK TO PULL IT! Overall we were 55-feet long & weighed 10 tons, & I could never get that thing up to more than 45 miles per hour! Some of the U.S. superhighways required a minimum speed of 50 or 55, & twice I got chased off the superhighways because I couldn't go fast enough!

5. THE SALVATION OF TRAILER TRAVEL IS THE SUPERHIGHWAY, where you don't have to worry about little narrow winding roads & steep hills. These huge expressways, superhighways, turnpikes‚ autoroutes, autopistas, etc., with gentle grades & wide lanes & curves & huge wide open spaces & plenty of room to wind through the mountains without any steep grades, these are dream-like travel for pulling trailers, or even for campers.

6. BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO NEED THE LORD, SKILL & NERVES OF STEEL, WHEN YOU START PULLING A TRAILER FOR THE FIRST TIME! You've never done it before, & suddenly you realise you've got this great big thing back there, much wider than your car‚ & usually much longer too‚ & all that extra weight on the curves & the brakes, & all that extra pull on your motor, & strain on your gears‚ & strain on your nerves—until you get used to it!

7. I WARN YOU, YOU ARE GOING TO BE A BIT NERVOUS AT FIRST!—With four or five kids screaming in the back seat & your wife screaming in the front seat‚ we don't want you to have a nervous breakdown in learning how to pull a trailer!

8. SO THE FIRST THING I WOULD SUGGEST IS, DON'T GET A BIG TRAILER! It's hard enough to pull a small one without the headaches of trying to pull a big one! If you get a trailer over 20–feet long‚ you do not need a car, you need a truck! Because even a heavily-loaded 20 to 25–foot trailer would be so heavy you'd need a truck to pull it.

9. THE AVERAGE LITTLE CAMP TRAILER 15 to 20-FEET can be easily pulled by the average automobile, but preferably a good strong heavy car with a strong motor, like one of these big old cars in the States. You don't have to buy a brand new Cadillac, Buick, Chrysler, Rolls Royce, Mercedes, etc. Sometimes you can pick up a big powerful heavy car second–hand pretty cheap, maybe 10 years old, & still heavy, strong & powerful!

10. BECAUSE IT'S BETTER TO PULL A TRAILER WITH A HEAVY CAR WITH A POWERFUL ENGINE, than to try to lug it along with some little mini! So I'd advise you, if you're going to go camping with a trailer, consider what you've got to pull it with to begin with! It had better be a fairly heavy car with a strong engine.

11. EVEN SO, THE TRAILER SHOULD NOT BE MORE THAN ABOUT 15 TO 20-FEET LONG, nor weigh loaded more than about 1,000 kilos, or 2,000 pounds—a ton! This I would say is an ideal size for a camping family. It's not too small a trailer to live in, & it's not too big to pull! At 20 feet you're getting pretty heavy!—Over 20-feet (or 7-meters) & 1,000 kilos you're getting up into something that's pretty heavy & you'll just about have to have a truck to pull it!

12. WE'RE TALKING NOW ABOUT THE OVERALL LENGTH, from tail to the ball of the tongue, not the body of the trailer. I would say that the minimum body that you would need with family of two or three children or more with enough sleeping, cooking, eating & living space, would be at least a 4 to 5-meter trailer body—about 12 to 15–feet long. That means close to 18 or 20–feet long overall, including the tongue of it, the part that sticks out & attaches to the car. With a 5-meter (15-foot) body you have about a 7-meter (20-foot) overall size‚ from tongue to tail.

13. NOW THIS IS JUST ABOUT AS MUCH AS YOUR CAR CAN STAND, even with a big strong heavy car.—And it's about as much as you can easily, comfortably pull & drive with comparative safety, & handle in difficult situations, & still have a vehicle which is big enough for your family to live in.

14. WHEN YOU START GETTING OVER 20–FEET (7-METERS) LONG YOU'VE GOT A LOTTA TRAILER & a lot of tail hanging out, & a lot to worry about with a lot of weight, & you're going to need a lot of power & a lot of weight up front in that towing vehicle to handle it, such as a good heavy truck with a heavy-duty truck motor! Most of us don't need that much, & the average family of even four or five children can usually get along very well in a trailer body 5-meters long‚ with an overall length, tongue to tail, of about 7-meters.

15. SOME COUNTRIES ALSO RESTRICT TRAILERS TO ONLY A CERTAIN MAXIMUM WIDTH. For example‚ Switzerland will only allow trailers up to 2-meters-10-cm wide, which is about 7-feet wide. So you cannot drive a caravan in Switzerland that's more than 2-meters-10-cm wide, or 210 cm. You can go up to 224 cm wide if you pay a special extra fee, but you're then restricted to certain highways & not allowed in tunnels or on some of their very dangerous winding Alpine roads—for which you can't blame them!

16. BUT IN MOST OF THE OTHER COUNTRIES OF EUROPE YOU CAN HAVE TRAILERS UP TO A MAXIMUM OF ABOUT 250 CM, OR 2 1/2-METERS WIDE‚ which is close to 8-feet wide, like most U.S. trailers. So I would say something around 210 or 224 would be good most anywhere. Of course the width adds an awful lot to your full-length inner space accommodations, bed space, storage space etc. Of course‚ it adds to the weight too, but it does give you more room inside when you add just a few centimeters width. You get the advantage of that width all the way, the full length of the trailer, so those few extra centimeters do count!

17. SO A TRAILER OF APPROXIMATELY 225 CM WIDE WITH AN INHABITABLE BODY OF 4 1/2 TO 5-METERS LONG (7-meters overall, tongue to tail), is just about the limit on body size for a travelling trailer. In other words, I would advise a trailer with a body not over 5-meters long & with an overall length of not over 7-meters. That's a body about 15-feet long & an overall length of not more than about 20-feet.—And its weight should preferably be not more than 1,000 kilos or 2,000 pounds, loaded, or 800 to 900 kilos unloaded.

18. YOUR LEGAL LOADED WEIGHT FOR A GOOD MANY TOWING VEHICLES, CARS OR VANS IS ALSO RESTRICTED BY LAW IN EUROPE. I don't know how it is now in the States. But in Europe now you are required to have a certain type of towing vehicle with a certain type of horse power & a certain weight to pull certain sizes & weights of trailers. For example, if your trailer is over 1,200 kilos loaded, or about 2,500 pounds, some countries will not even let a good big heavy powerful Mercedes pull it! You've got to have a truck or some more powerful & heavier vehicle.

19. THAT MEANS YOU'RE PULLING OVER A TON OF WEIGHT BEHIND YOU!—And unless your car weights about a ton too, in some kinds of braking circumstances & certain situations where you have to control that weight & swerve or stop it quickly, you just won't be able to, if you have a small light car that the trailer can push around!