January 4, 2002
Featherlite seems to continue
to dominate the numbers of trailers I find at equestrian events - both
national shows and the local jackpots - and I wanted to know why.
introduced the industry's first all aluminum gooseneck trailer back in
1973 - when most of us were still pulling steel. In fact, they hold the
claim to being the original all aluminum trailer. I was excited when
Featherlite called and asked me to try one out this fall. We agreed to
stick to a fairly standard type - the Model 8541, four-horse, gooseneck.
I've been pulling it for two months - numerous short trips of less than 50
miles, and one long trip from Kansas City to Indiana and back.
Featherlite delivered the trailer
on a Sunday in November, (I left the sermon ten minutes early), and I have
to tell you it's always exciting to back up to a new trailer. I drove it
back to church. The rest of the family was waiting for me. Church was just
letting out. I ran inside and touched my wife on the elbow. "Is it
outside?" she asked. She exited without a further word and returned a
moment later. "Great looking trailer.", she said quietly.
"Let's go." With that - I was satisfied with the first test.
Women make most of the trailer buying decisions, whether men will admit it
or not. . . and if they don't like the way a trailer looks, they're not
likely to look into it any further. No matter how it's constructed.
Taking a moment out to enjoy the sunset with my son in
front of the trailer that evening.
Featherlite makes a good quality product at a fair
price. Sounds simple but it's true. It's a household name you never have
to explain when you decide to sell - and they offer excellent scalability.
A fancy word for saying you can buy a basic production model that meets
most people's needs - or you can upgrade through their wide selection of
models. The Model 8541 uses a combination of extruded metal and smooth
skin. I personally like the look - and it's functional too. Horses tend to
get into mischief when tied to a trailer and the extruded metal in this
area tends to hold up better to the occasional stray hoof, or possible
scratching from a bit or halter hardware.
|The inside of the trailer is open and
spacious. Protective rubber runs around the entire horse compartment and
the latches are easy to slide open - even with a gloved hand. But there's
a potential for
an enormous amount of pressure on a divider latch and the
divider itself is not impervious to flexing making it easy for latches to
get out of alignment and fail to latch. This is not a problem with the
Featherlite. The groove pocket is large and set into the wall itself -
distributing the pressure over a larger area.
The saddle rack is removable. I liked the use of molded
plastic to keep the saddles from sliding off and noticed you can adjust
the height on each one - or remove them entirely. I hate cramming saddles
into this compartment and I didn't have this problem with their rear tack.
There was even room along the side to slide blankets.
Pulling. The true test is when an eighteen
wheeler rushes past and you grip the wheel in anticipation of the wind
effect and sway. The Featherlite didn't seem to notice. Loaded or empty -
I liked the way my truck handled the trailer and shifted on the hills. The
trailer seemed to know exactly where it belonged, and it didn't telegraph
any messages to remind that it was still attached and wrestling with my
torque. In effect - It pulls easily.
If you have a well behaved horse, loading them is
actually fun. Especially into a nice roomy trailer. The step up is just
right - about 15 inches - while still allowing for clearance beneath the
trailer in rough ground. Featherlite has done away with the solid butt
bar - using a strap for safety reasons. Horses can get under the butt
bar, placing their hoofs on the ground and wedging themselves under the
bar. When this happens it is virtually impossible to disengage the bar.
The strap can be quickly and easily cut, freeing the animal. The strap
actually holds more weight than the metal, according to the engineers at
Featherlite - who test such things.
I don't usually go into any detail on construction,
but there seems to be a lot of controversy over flooring and strength -
distances between support rails - steel frame, vs. aluminum, and on and
on. My advice is to listen to each
manufacturer's reasoning. No two will be alike and there IS validity to
differing designs. An extruded sheet is much stronger than a flat sheet
of metal - therefore the flat sheet requires more floor support rails.
But many manufacturers will brag about closer floor supports - instead
of telling you they need them. See what I mean? Be careful and just
remember - trailer manufacturers wouldn't be in business long if even
one of their trailer floors simply gave away. By the way - Featherlite
uses a heavy duty extruded aluminum floor. (See picture attached)
Heavy duty hardware throughout
the rig - including door latches. (Note the full rubber seal around the entire door
|Things I would add to this particular
- A small step for getting into the nose of the
- A different method for holding the dividers open
Things I really liked about this particular model
- The windows
- The camper-screen door
- The rear tack compartment
- Did I mention the windows?
Most of us just want to get from point A to
point B without breaking the bank - take our kids and get home safely.
But deep down inside we want to look good too. This is a great trailer
and well styled. I personally love the mirrored stainless steel on the
tapered nose. Featherlite graphics and painting system (Sikkens) is one
of the best in the industry. Besides, my wife loves the way it looks.
This is a solid trailer and I received nothing but good comments from
other Featherlite owners while pulling it. I spoke to at least a dozen
The Featherlite roof is one solid piece of aluminum,
eliminating those nasty seams that
tend to invite leaks. It pulls and rides well using rubber torsion
axles. It's a durable trailer, right down to the fenders - you can stand
on them and not worry about flexing them. (Featherlite uses premium
grade aluminum) I even loaded my two-ton draft horses, Fred and Barney.
Draft horses look funny in fancy trailers - but the boys had plenty of
room. I would be happy to pull one any time. By the way, this Review
Trailer is now for sale. Make a reasonable offer. It was factory direct
for the purpose of the Trailer Review and you can contact me for more
|Review by Dave Mattern Horsetrailers-online
Comments to the editor.
||The American flags drew many
"waves" from passing motorists as we drove down the highway.
Nice touch, kids. Maybe Featherlite would do well to add a flag decal to
their logo for the models in the future.
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