CC Outtake: Are They Getting Wise To Me, Or Am I Getting Wiser?

That Bobcat S185 skid-steer loader weighs 6220 lbs. How much does that double-axle trailer weigh? 1000? Add a full tank of diesel and hydraulic fluid, and lets call it 7500 lbs (3400 kg) total. A few years back, when I was fixing up my little fleet of moved-in houses, I rented it several times and pulled it behind my 1/2 ton F-100 with with its 129hp 240 six, three-speed transmission (with no granny low), and the same little drum brakes as a ’66 Ford Galaxie sedan. Never mind the oil-fouled clutch. It was a serious stretch, and required the utmost concentration and advance planning; in other words, I was scared shitless highly alert, but I kept doing it anyway. My biggest concern was a stop sign or light on an uphill grade, no matter how slight, since I had no low first gear. Brakes? I kept an old boat anchor in the cab ready to toss out the window. Let’s just say I picked my route very carefully.

So when I needed it again yesterday (as well as a backhoe the day before), I realized I also needed a dump truck. Good thing, because they’re getting wise to me.

In the good old days, as long as you had a “full size” pickup with a 2″ ball, they’d let you hook up pretty much anything in the yard, even with my lightweight (3300 lb) Ford. BTW, that’s the same as the smallest new Toyota Tacoma (regular cab, short bed, four cylinder, 2 WD). “You sure you’re going to be able to pull that thing?” “Oh sure; do it all the time”.

Anyway, as I went in the office to pick up the Bobcat, I notice a prominent sign: Dual axle trailers to be used only with 3/4 ton or larger trucks. Busted, or would have been, had it not been for the husky big Dodge 5500 3-yard dump truck I rented elsewhere.

What a difference! The Dodge and its tower of torque Cummins made child’s play out of the Bobcat. As well as some seriously healthy (over)loads of excavation dirt to haul off. The Dodge was sitting down on its overload springs, but pulled like a freight train. And the brakes!

Sure enough, on the way back to the rental yard on a 40 mph arterial, a big truck and trailer hit its brakes, locking the trailer brakes in a cloud of burnt rubber. I had a moment of sheer panic, unlike the Dodge, which just came to an undramatic quick stop with the Bobcat with gobs of room to spare. Suddenly it hit me: that never happened to me in the Ford, because I had been lucky. I’m not counting on that anymore.