If you’re looking for a high-capacity bale trailer for not too much money, Buckinghamshire trailer specialist Chris Ecob reckons he has the answer.
He first appeared in Farmers Weekly in July 2009 when he designed the first oil-to-air converter unit that allowed a tractor without a compressor to power an air-braked trailer.
Now he is making his own trailer dollies that allow a farmer or contractor to attach any ex-lorry trailer and gain a high-capacity bale-hauling outfit. And demand is huge, he says.
He takes the axle and wheels from a truck and fits his own heavy duty (12mm steel) chassis and drawbar so it can be pulled behind a standard ag tractor. The cost is £1800 for the basic model, rising to £2200 with mudguards and brakes fitted. He can also re-axle farmers’ existing trailers to commercial-spec running gear.
Both single-axle and dual-axle dollies are available and the industry-standard fifth-wheel system means they are compatible with any used artic trailer. It is a cheap way to get a high-spec piece of kit, he says, and second-hand rigid and artic trailers are plentiful.
“Export markets only want trailers with mechanical suspensions, whereas, in the UK, we have used only pneumatic ones for the past 25 years. So there is no export demand for old trailers and, consequently, they are cheap.”
“Haulage companies will usually get rid of them after five years and you can pick them up for £1000-£2000. Both trucks and trailers have an MOT every year and, by law, have to be inspected every six weeks, so you know they will be in good condition. Also the brake and suspension parts are cheap and easy to get hold of.”
Most artic trailers are 40ft long so will give you considerable bale-carrying potential, he adds. Rigid trailers are typically 25ft long, though some can be as big as 32ft.
“Most of the wheels used are the 10-stud variety with big 180mm x 420mm brakes and commercial-spec super-single tyres,” says Mr Ecob. “The axles are designed for carrying 44t loads over several million miles so they are very tough.”
Air suspension is standard and – contrary to what many farmers think – the suspension units are more than tough enough to cope with typical farm use, says Mr Ecob. Unlike mechanical suspensions, which have lots of bushes to wear, the pneumatic variety have no wearing parts.
If you don’t want to source your own trailer, Mr Ecob can make a rigid or artic trailer based on used truck axles. He can even fit an extra set of airbags at the back of the drawbar to give an extra smooth ride and less wear on the tractor hook. Costs start at £4500 for a 25ft rigid trailer.
They are also made from 99% recycled parts, says Mr Ecob, so you can be green too.
He can also supply secondhand commercial components like axles, wheels and tyres.