Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New farm equipment: Dump trailer

I think that every farmer has what I've heard called the "line of shame".  It consists of equipment that you thought would make life easier in one way or another, but for some reason just didn't ever work out.  That new planter, or seeder, or...  well, just look around at any farm and you'll find the line. 

So when I was looking for ways to make my life easier, I was really hesitant to buy anything for fear of adding to my line of shame.  In fact, I rented a dump trailer before purchasing one as a proof-of-concept (that's the rented trailer in the picture above) and tried it out, figuring that the rental fee was a small insurance policy. 
We have been getting produce in these 4'x4' boxes, loaded by pallet.  That means that to unload it, we've got to cut the side of the box off, rake out the contents, and then somehow dispose of the pallets, boxes and plastic bag that this whole thing is packed in.  The pallets are kinda handy... until you have 200 of them.  And then 300. 
So this what I tried.  Dump all of the boxes at the source, leave the pallets there -- just load the food into a dump trailer and drive off with it.  Worked really well -- reduced the roundtrip time from 4 hours to a little under 2 -- it it required no raking.   And best of all the boxes, pallets and plastic bag got left at the pickup point.  Excellent! 
This is the new trailer.  It's a little bigger than the one I rented -- 2' longer -- but it has the same rated capacity (14,000 lbs).  I haven't made sideboards for it; I'll do that tomorrow, basically because anytime you've got an operator putting stuff into a trailer they are going to smack the sides.  Wood is cheap and easier to replace than metal, so a wood siderail is a must. 
I chose to get a combo rear gate.  it's a spreader gate (opens at the bottom, for spreading material as you dump it) and as barn gate, to swing wide for complete dumps.  $200 option. 
I also chose to get a tarp for it.  On the farm acreage I never use the tarp, but if you're going to be on the highway, a tarp is a cheap way to avoid tickets for an unsecured load -- and in these times of state budget shortfalls, tickets can be plentiful. 
Here I've loaded it with 8 yards of wood chips as a test.  Probably 3 tons of material. 
Drove it to a muddy spot on my tractor road and dumped it.  Love that.  Beats bringing it over one tractor bucket at a time. 
My second load I stacked 6' high in the bed.  Worked great, dumped fine. 

Dump trailers in this area run between $3k and $7k, the bigger the trailer the higher the price.  People don't sell used dump trailers very much; I looked for a while (weeks) for a used one, but found that the discount for used wasn't much, and given than I'm using this trailer to feed animals, I need it to work, so I bought new. 

Figure it'll pay for itself in 3-4 months. 


Nancy Olympia WA said...

Very nice trailer indeed. You'll use that for all kinds of things.

Eightway said...

nice Trailer. I'm thinking of something similear for our farm. where did you get it?