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Old 01/10/09, 08:20 PM
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How much trailer can a pickup pull?

I need to know how big of a trailer my 3/4 ton pickup could pull. It's got a heavy-duty tow package (and 4-wheel-drive, though I don't know if that matters). It's a '97 Ford F-250.

What I think I'm going to do is get a trailer to gut and turn into a mobile barn, since eventually I'll be moving from here. I should be able to get an older travel trailer inexpensively. But I was thinking about it, after reading a couple of other threads here about housing (for humans!), and wondered if my pickup would be able to move a small mobile home? I'd like to have the extra space, but don't really want to have to hire a bigger truck to move the structure. (It will be home to my dairy goats, chickens, and rabbits, no large animals.) An old mobile home may actually cost less than a travel trailer, too.


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Old 01/10/09, 08:40 PM
Rattlin Rock Ranch
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others will be able to give better advice. But a lot of it depends on how far you have to move it! And over what kind of conditions. We moved a 12x46 single wide with a beefed up 1/2 ton. Trailer was not gutted. needed a lot of cleaning but we lived in it!! Might need to look into the legality of it!
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Old 01/10/09, 09:06 PM
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That's a problem, because I don't know yet how far I'll have to move it. But it will be all highway, except maybe some gravel road at the end. And, if I have to go too far, I may sell most everything here and replace it at the new place, but I'd rather not have to do that.

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Old 01/10/09, 09:16 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Washington
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Moving older mobile homes in the State of Washington is not permitted if the homes are past a certain age. I can't remember what that age limit is or how it works in other states but that's probably something you should check into before committing to what sounds like a good "deal."

It won't be a good deal if you can't move it.

It's too bad because it used to be you could pick up decent older single wides for next to nothing. You used to even see them "free" for the moving. People live in them while they build and then need to get rid of them at some point. Now they have to tear them down - such a waste.

Now, if you're going to convert it into a "moving barn" for your animals, maybe there would be a way around it.

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Old 01/10/09, 09:24 PM
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Location: Oklahoma
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I'm going to suggest that you save enough to buy a used gooseneck or 5th wheel livestock trailer that has a dressing/tack room in the front. They are far more suited to what you're describing and will retain value.

The space over the gooseneck hitch in the tack area is the perfect size for sleeping quarters. A queen size mattress fits perfectly and with some covers and you'll be quite comfy. Most of the DR's already have an RV style heater and AC unit and outlets for electrical hookups. Not a whole lot of space or amenities unless you look at trailers with "living quarters" that have shower, toilet, sink and sometimes stove and refrig. The LQ trailers, even used, are a bit pricey. Even just a DR trailer will be more like weekend camping, and the animal quarters are seperate from yours.

An actual livestock trailer is also specifically designed for hauling and containing animals. They'll be a lot more comfortable, sturdy, secure and SAFER than in a gutted out RV.
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Old 01/10/09, 09:31 PM
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Location: Oklahoma
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To answer your original question. On the inside of your driver's side door panel there is a plate that has the vin and other specs pertaining to your particular truck. It will say on there the GVWR (Gross vehicle weight rating). For example, my F350 CC dually has a GVWR of 10,000 lbs.
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Old 01/10/09, 09:35 PM
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Do what we did go to a mobile home dealer check out several that have a back lot where they park trade in and repo and if you buy from them they will move it and set it up We bought a 12 by 65 foot that they had took in trade it was still set up on a lot when they picked it up they deliveried it to us we had a lot on the river they put tie downs on it we had to replace the floor in two rooms and a few other repairs , total cost of the trailer set up and all was 3000.00 As far as the truck pullin it it will stoping it is the problem
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Old 01/10/09, 10:02 PM
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Have you thought about purchasing 2, 20 ft conex storage containers. They are water tight, make great storage and can be winched onto a flatbed trailer real easily. I'm sure your pickup would pull one of those.
If you don't have a trailer now, most people who sell them will deliver them.
Trusses can be spanned between two of them making a really good barn.
Down in New Mexico there are some folks retrofitting them into houses with great results.
I beleive that they can be purchased up to 53' in length.
If the truss span was the same as the length of your flat bed trailer and you put the roof together with screws, it could be easily disassembled and relocated. Also make the end walls in sections that can be bolted together for ease of relocating.
Also a friend of mine bought 2 semi trailers. Dug a hole for each and backed them in. They are working well for him. But they have to be moved with a big truck.
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Old 01/10/09, 10:03 PM
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Helped a buddy pull one. Can't remember if it was with a F250 or F350. Had to get a permit from the state and only allowed to move during daylight. Had to have chaser cars front and back.
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Old 01/10/09, 10:26 PM
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We have a '97 F250 PowerStroke.

We hauled 26,000 pounds worth of trailer and concrete blocks 150 miles. I'd really rather not do it again, and we were way over weight. But we did it. Very slowly...

Going was okay. Stopping was un-nerving.
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Old 01/10/09, 10:46 PM
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How much trailer a pickup can pull depends on several things. A large displacement engine will do a better job than a smaller displacement engine given a higher rear end gear ratio. A smaller displacement engine (six cyl.) with a lower (larger number) rear end gear ratio may do just fine.

The brakes on the trailer or lack of may make the difference in being able to move and stop the trailer safely. A heavy trailer will push the tow vehicle. Same in areas with curvy roads. A pickup truck pulling an extremely heavy trailer with no or poor brakes can be steered by the trailer in a curve causing the combination to jack knife.

A heavy trailer may have a tongue weight that can create a dangerous situation. A friend once moved using a double axle car trailer hitched to a rental truck. When I calculated the tongue weight it was over 2,000 lbs. She had an antique safe that was so large, no one wanted it. Every thing was removed from the trailer and the safe was repositioned over the axles to reduce the tongue weight. About 100 miles into the trip, the trailer had to be left at a truck stop because the weight had bent one of the axles to the point the tires were rubbing the frame where they bent in at the top.

The transmission can make a difference. An automatic uses a cooler in the bottom of the radiator to cool the transmission fluid. A heavy trailer can cook the transmission. Even a factory towing setup may not be sufficient to preserve the transmission if you're towing something beyond the rated capacity. An after market cooler can do a better job. A good idea if you're going to be pulling heavy trailers is to add an electric temperature gauge with a sensor in the transmission discharge line to the cooler. That way you can tell if the transmission oil temperature is high enough to destroy the fluid's lubricating qualities and eventually the transmission.

Certain axle positions and weight distributions on trailers can reduce the tongue weight but in turn create a situation where the trailer weaves back and forth and essentially steers the truck creating an unsafe situation.

There's more to safe towing than the capacity of the truck. I once towed a 4,000 lb triple axle 28' trailer loaded with a double axle travel trailer packed with a friend's belongings plus a full load in the back of the van. I figured the 318 ci engine working through a 4:10 axle ratio moved 20,000 lbs. over 1,000 miles without destroying anything. I had temperature gauges on the inlet and outlet of an aftermarket cooler for the auto transmission and anti-sway bars on the hitch.

Last edited by Darren; 01/10/09 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 01/10/09, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by sammyd View Post
Helped a buddy pull one. Can't remember if it was with a F250 or F350. Had to get a permit from the state and only allowed to move during daylight. Had to have chaser cars front and back.
What size trailer was it, do you remember?

PlowGirl, it would take me several years to save up enough money to buy a big stock trailer like you described. I'd love to have one, but need better animal shelter a lot sooner than that! (I lost way too many chickens to raccoons last summer -- I want to have them in something more secure before this summer.) I am pretty sure I can get, and rehabilitate, an old travel trailer within my budget. Even if I leave the goats out and just use it for the chickens and rabbits, it will be worth it.

I'll do some checking around and see what I can find. Thank you, everyone!


Darren, thank you -- that was a lot of excellent information! My truck does have an automatic transmission, but I don't know if there's an aftermarket cooler on it. I'll ask next time I have it in for an oil change. It's also wired for trailer brakes, so it will just depend on making sure I get a trailer that can be hooked up to the truck.

Last edited by Freeholder; 01/10/09 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 01/11/09, 02:56 AM
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something around 12x40 or so, been a few years. Didn't have brakes on the trailer. Just put a big ball on the reciever, hooked up the lights and away he went. I was the rear chase car. We only went about 30 miles. Took half a day or so.
He took it home for a chicken coop. That idea lasted about a month and later we just built a big yard and small house for them. He's scrapping the trailer. Hard for him to get in and out of.
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Old 01/11/09, 06:48 AM
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A travel trailer and a small mobile home are two entirely different units. As mentioned check the GVW, I would expect you could easily pull a travel trailer safely.

Just so you know, travel trailers have quite thin floors and walls.
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Old 01/11/09, 08:30 AM
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Here is a link to a trailering 101 (created for equine folks)

You need to know your truck's engine rating, the tongue load on the hitch, the gearing....most sure way is to call the manufacturer (FORD) with the VIN# and they can tell you exactly what YOUR truck can pull.

there may be info in your truck manual if you have it. Check on the door frame where the sticker is..that may have info on it as well.

My F250 turbo diesel can pull more than my friend's F250 new super model. go figure. trailers have VERY thin walls and floors. so do mobile homes. Remember, the floor of whatever you use is going to be pooped and pee'd on if you use it as housing. You could pull up the original floor and lay down a treated plank floor porch planking I suppose would work.

Travel trailer's have very narrow walkways and doors. It won't be easy to clean out, btw. Perhaps look around for an old horse trailer..or stock trailer. Quite often the frame is still really's just rusty and ugly. They're not very expensive.

If you have the opportunity, look at a horse trailer to see how the floor is made (from the underneath)

If you're just moving once, perhaps you could borrow someone's horse trailer? A normal pickup can pull a 2horse trailer. 3/4ton for a 4 horse. 1ton for a 6horse. 1ton dually for a 6horse with dressing room. Those numbers are VERY general

You will NEED electric brakes. The brakes on the truck alone will not be able to stop a loaded trailer safely.
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Last edited by Wisconsin Ann; 01/11/09 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 01/11/09, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Henrico VA
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I have been pulling trailers since before I had a license. I have pulled 20 foot long gooseneck livestock trailer loaded with steers with a 1989 F250 with the poor performing diesel and I still pull a 18 ft flatbed trailer with my 91 Dodge 3/4 ton hauling 4500lb tractors and implements. I used to have a 3/4 ton Chevy Suburban and towed 10,000lbs from Colorado to Virginia with it easily. The key is weight distribution on the trailer, a good hitch and trailer brakes. I had a co-worker in Colorado that pulled a 16ft travel trailer with a 1/2 ton Chevy short bed. Your Ford should be able to handle a stock trailer with ease.
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Old 01/11/09, 11:28 AM
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I dont know anything about jap trucks but most American 1/2 ton pickups will pull just about anything.

I have been using a 1939 Ford pickup for 16 years and have moved some pretty incredible loads.

One load was fourteen 30 foot trusses with my truck and a 14 foot trailer. Think about that.

I have transported more than 100 cars, some for hundreds of miles thru several states including the Ozark mountains.

One time I towed a 1939 1 1/2 ton truck with my 1939 1/2 ton.

I pulled a 21 foot travel trailer up a very steep mountain and learned the travel trailer was not as heavy as the full size farm tractor I pulled up the same mountain.

People worry too much.
Pull anything you want.
Go slow until you learn.
I dont use my brakes much, I back off the throttle and let it slow down on its own.
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Old 01/11/09, 03:04 PM
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You can get it to go, but can you get it to stop? And can you keep it under control? Downhill? In the wind? When getting passed by a semi going much faster than you? These questions aren't really answering your question directly, but they're things to keep in mind.

I don't think this has been mentioned yet: you have a 97 F-250, but what size cab and bed? A longer truck (extended/crew cab, long box) offers more stability and sway control than a short truck (reg. cab, short box). Having a trailer wagging around behind you - especially a heavy trailer that starts swinging the truck around on you, too - is very scary, and not safe.

Not saying what you propose can't be done safely, just be smart and careful if you proceed, please!

I'd look around for stock trailers - used, no-frills steel stock trailers can sometimes be found pretty inexpensively. The windows can be made coon-proof with plexiglas, plywood, hardware cloth, etc. Check the tires, the frame, the wiring, and the brakes, and if those are all sound and working, you're ready to roll with something that was designed to haul animals down the road safely.
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Old 01/11/09, 07:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 325
I met a guy in Texas with a 1950 Ford passenger car set up to pull a gooseneck.
I have pictures of him pulling in with a full load on the gooseneck.
The 50 has a 460 Lincoln engine.
The gooseneck ball is right behind the back window and removes when hes not pulling a trailer.
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Old 01/12/09, 11:15 AM
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House trailers usually dont put a lot of weight on the puller. but the stopping will be a Biggier issue the more the trailer weighs.
What you would be looking for is a short wide trailer.
You can makea bigger trailer shorter but you cant just cut off one end or it will overload the hitch.So you have one you can unbolt the hitch from and move farther back.
Do you have the knowlage and experiance to pull something that wide down the road with confidence?
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