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February 29, 2024

The Trailer Handbook – Book Review

A public service review by H. Kent Sundling;MrTruck.com

I’ve added this book review because how hard it is to find a good trailer book. It’s important to have the facts on trailers even if you grew up towing.  I think I own all the trailer books written the last two decades, which isn’t very many. These books won’t make any NY Best Sellers list, so you may not hear about them. This book “The Trailer Handbook” written by Clint Lancaster & Richard Klein, is different as the authors don’t own a trailer factory or dealership. They both work with and for the NATM (National Association of Trailer Manufactures) which is the publisher.

Not a long read, just 124 pages. But trailers can get technical, so the specs and glossary are worth $19.95 price tag. NATM is especially concerned with trailer safety, which is why the book was written.

Chapter 1: Selecting a Proper Tow Vehicle/Trailer Combination; Starts with towing dynamics, categories for truck and trailer types and ends with buying a trailer.

Chapter 2: Understanding Hitches, Brakes and Accessories Necessary for Towing; Starts with hitches and receiver hitches, covers ball sizes and couplers. A section on Weight Distributing Hitches which is an important towing factor that is lacking in the horse industry. More on brakes, brake controllers and mirrors.

Chapter 3: Proper Loading of Your Trailer; Loading cargo including horses, is about weight placement and how it effects trailer movement.

Chapter 4: Using Your Trailer; This chapter covers hooking up properly, which is the #1 problem for trailers coming unhooked on the road. Then on road advice for handling problems.

Chapter 5: Frame, Undercarriage and Wheels; This chapter can be helpful in ordering a trailer and knowing what to know to double check your dealers advice. I like to order a size larger axles than what is common. Which is a common problem I see with trailer problems years down the road. Aluminum wheels need re-tightened more often than you’d think. Some trailer frames are like your “body-on-frame truck, some are more similar to your car’s unibody construction. Brakes, suspension and tire wear are often neglected on horse trailers, but are very important.

Chapter 6: Body Components and Wheels; All about couplers, jacks and safety chains including weight ratings for the safety chains. Do you know what your jacks weight rating is? Finishing with facts about fenders, gates and ramps.

Chapter 7: Electrical System; A constant problem with trailers is wiring. How do you access trailer wiring? What markers and reflective tape are you required to have on your trailer? What you need to know about trailer cord connections and your 12 volt breakaway safety system.

Chapter 8: Caring for your Trailer; A good chapter for knowing what is the service interval for packing your axle bearings, checking the breakaway safety system, testing your brake voltage and magnet wear and more.

Chapter 9: General Maintenance Practices; What maintenance you can do yourself and how to do it. Is you trailer axles aligned to tow straight? Brake shoes wear gauge and general trailer troubleshooting.

Appendixes with driver behavior, instructions, warnings, resources and glossary.

I consider it the best non-bias trailer book you can buy today.

Books can be ordered by calling NATM ph. 785-272-4433 or through Amazon.