Dump trailers are designed for transporting and unloading loose materials, such as sand, gravel, dirt, or construction debris. The key feature of a dump trailer is its ability to tilt or "dump" its cargo bed to unload materials quickly and efficiently. These trailers are commonly used in construction, landscaping, agriculture, and other industries where the transportation of bulk materials is required.
Slightly more complicated than other types of trailers, there are three main components of a dump trailer:
Dump trailers are equipped with a hydraulic lift system that powers the tilting of the cargo bed. A hydraulic cylinder is usually mounted on the trailer, and it extends or retracts to lift or lower the bed. The hydraulic system is controlled by the trailer operator using a manual or electric control unit. The hydraulic system is a critical component because it determines the angle you’re able to achieve when dumping - which can be important if you’re using it on uneven terrain.
The dumping mechanism allows the cargo bed to be raised to an angle, typically around 45 degrees or more, to discharge the contents at the rear of the trailer.
Some dump trailers may have a double-acting hydraulic system, allowing the bed to be raised and lowered independently, providing more control over the unloading process.
There are two main types of dump trailer:
Dump trailers trailers are versatile and used in many applications:
Dump trailers are valued for their efficiency in unloading materials at a job site or designated location, reducing the need for manual labor and speeding up the overall process of material handling in various industries.
Dump trailers typically range from 8 ft. to 30 ft. in length. Two popular sizes are 6 ft. x 12 ft. and 7 ft. x 14 ft. - they tend to be favored because they can still handle sizable loads while being relatively easy to transport with a vehicle with a more standard towing capacity.
One aspect of size that is unique to dump trailers is the side wall heights, which determine the type of materials (and how much) can be hauled. The standard dump trailer will come with a 2 ft. (24 in.) wall height. For looser materials like soil or gravel you’ll need higher walls.
Finally, you will want to consider the weight capacities, or GVWR, for your vehicle. If you expect a heavier load, you’ll want to ensure your vehicle can handle the weight, but also the trailer. For a heavier payload, you may want to consider buying a dump trailer with 2 or more axles.
Dump trailers use a variety of hitches, and the choice of hitch depends on factors such as the size of the trailer, the towing vehicle, and the intended use. Here are some common types of hitches for dump trailers along with their requirements:
Pintle hitches consist of a hook on the trailer tongue that latches onto a pintle hook on the towing vehicle.
Ball hitches are a common and versatile option. They involve a ball on the towing vehicle that fits into a coupler on the trailer tongue.
Gooseneck hitches use a ball mounted in the bed of a pickup truck, and the trailer's gooseneck coupler attaches to this ball.
Similar to a gooseneck hitch, a fifth-wheel hitch uses a large, flat plate in the bed of the towing vehicle. The trailer has a kingpin on its tongue that connects to the plate.
Receiver hitches come in different classes (I, II, III, IV, V) based on their towing capacity. Each class has a specific weight rating, and the appropriate class depends on the size and weight of the dump trailer.
Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines for both the vehicle and the trailer to ensure a safe and compatible towing setup. Additionally, professional installation and regular maintenance are important for the safe and reliable operation of the hitch system.
Hydraulic lift systems are what differentiates dump trailers from other types of open trailers that haul materials. The lifts raise and lower their cargo beds, allowing for efficient loading and unloading of materials. There are different types of hydraulic lift mechanisms employed in dump trailers, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some common types:
A single-acting hydraulic system uses a single hydraulic cylinder to lift the dump trailer bed. The hydraulic cylinder extends to raise the bed and relies on gravity or other means for lowering.
In a double-acting hydraulic system, the hydraulic cylinder is capable of both extension and retraction. This allows for more control over the raising and lowering of the dump bed.
Telescopic cylinders consist of multiple nested sections that extend when pressurized. This design provides a longer stroke length in a compact space.
Some dump trailers use a scissor lift mechanism, which consists of a set of linked arms that extend and retract to raise and lower the bed.
In some dump trailers, the hydraulic cylinder is mounted on the front of the trailer, pushing the bed upward.
The hydraulic cylinder is mounted underneath the dump bed, pulling it upward when extended.
When selecting a dump trailer hydraulic lift type, considerations include the desired lifting capacity, speed of operation, maintenance requirements, and the specific application. It's essential to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for maintenance and operation to ensure the longevity and safe use of the hydraulic system.
Although they take a beating, a well-maintained dump trailer can last 10-20 years. The life of a dump trailer can be prolonged if the bed is made of aluminum or galvanized steel - which resist rust and corrosion.
The price of a dump trailer will depend largely on the size and weight it can tow, the power available in the hydraulic lift, as well as the manufacturer. The average dump trailer costs between $8,000-$10,000.
On the low end, a single-axle dump trailer with a low-power hydraulic lift and low weight capacity will cost $3,000-$5,000.
Larger and more durable dump trailers with more axles, a higher weight capacity, the type of hydraulic lift, and the hitch type (i.e. gooseneck) can cost $5,000-$15,000 or more.
Some of the most popular dump trailer brands include: