Trailer Storage Platform
March 20, 2013
Filed under Trailer Q&A
Q: I have a 33-foot Mountaineer fifth-wheel by Keystone. It has a rear kitchen with the 60-gallon fresh water tank and a gray water tank also in the rear. It also has a standard 4-inch-square steel bumper. I want to install a hitch receiver and a platform so I can carry a 4,000-watt generator that weighs about 110 pounds. I would like to know if you think this is a good idea. I pull the trailer with a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 quad cab that has a payload capacity of approximately 2,534 pounds and the weight of my king pin is 2,040 pounds, so with everything else and the generator in the truck I’m really pushing my limit.
Jerry, via email
A: Yes, you can build and use a storage platform for your trailer’s aft end. It’s done frequently, but it’s also not a project you should launch into half-cocked. That’s a lot of weight hanging out there and you need to be sure it’s done right. Keep the teeter-totter effect in mind.
Before you decide to proceed, you need to gather some weight information. Take your trailer, loaded and ready for a trip, to a public scale and weigh its rear axles, then weigh the overall trailer. Find the trailer’s gross axle weight rating (GAWR) on its data tag and deduct the weight of the axles from the GAWR and you’ll know how much weight you can add without overloading the axles. Likewise, deduct the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) from its measured weight to determine your remaining payload capacity.
You can’t depend on that stock rear bumper to support the generator mounting hardware, as it’s not strong enough. There are no stock hitch receivers available for trailers due to the variety of trailer sizes and frame configurations so you’ll need to have a custom shop fabricate a hitch receiver that mounts to the frame, not the bumper. With luck, a factory hitch receiver designed for a tow rig can be modified, as that would save some cash. The fabricator can then add extra receiver pockets or other fittings as needed to facilitate supporting the storage platform. Your truck’s payload capacity and hitch weight should be OK because weight added to the trailer’s aft end will transfer some weight from the front end.
– Jeff Johnston