New truck too tall for existing GN trailer

I can see from old threads I’m not alone, but I have a few specific questions about this situation.

I just replaced my 22 yo 2WD truck with a 2017 4WD Ram. New truck does not have adequate clearance for my GN trailer (2009 Hawk 2H straight load). Not even close (truck = 60", GN = 61")

The purpose of this upgrade was to get away from really old trucks and 2WD, and every late model truck seems so much taller than the old one (IOW, the Fords/Chevys are similar height as the Ram).

I guess the flatbed conversion is the last resort, but a couple of questions before that:

  1. How much can you block the trailer axles? I’ve seen 3-6" thrown around, I’d obviously need to be at the very top of that to even consider it.

      1b.  Is raising the center of gravity that much safe?
    
  2. Do other GNs offer more clearance? I’m not dying to make another big purchase here, but if my trailer (either Hawks generally or my specific trailer) is unusually low in the GN, perhaps trying to move to another used brand is easier than modifying any component?

       2b.  Does anyone have a brand or model suggestion of a GN they tow with a late model 4WD?
    

Thank you so much for any insights!

Have you checked out how much the truck bed drops when you attach the trailer. I had the same thoughts when I got a 4WD F150. Ended up just adjusting the gooseneck coupling height to account for the bed drop.

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Good point, I haven’t. The new truck doesn’t have a GN hitch installed yet (it actually came with a 5th wheel that I’ll have to swap out). I just brought it home yesterday and have gone straight to panicking. I will need to assess that. Thank you

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I did the same with my Hawk GN. I almost had enough clearance but have a sharp, steep turn into the driveway and another on the road that were just too close for comfort, so I extended the coupling by one hole. It is not perfectly balanced, but it’s not visually out of balance unless you really scrutinize it on a very flat surface.

You have options.

You can adjust the shackles on the truck. This will buy you 2-3". It will take away some of the stock “rake” stance the truck has, but will not impact towing ability.

You can block up the trailer. I know people who have done this substantially, but that’s for their toy haulers. For horse trailers, the difficulty comes with increasing the ramp angle or the step up height. It’s worth a look, but proceed with caution, understanding the full implication of what you’re doing.

You can put a flatbed on the truck. I don’t know much about the cost, but I’d be looking at junkyards for something usable, personally. It can’t be cheap.

You can buy a different trailer. Newer trailers do typically sit up higher to match the newer trucks. I did not have to adjust my 4-Star at all to match my 2012 RAM which is up 2" above stock because of tires. Speaking of tires…

You can put smaller tires on the truck. Or bigger tires on the trailer. Pick your poison, or do both.

What I would NOT do - adjust the coupling on the trailer. This is ok to do with leaf spring suspension trailers, as the suspension will shift to attempt to even the load on the axles. This does not work with torsion axles, which is likely what your trailer has. By giving the rear axle more load, you are dramatically increasing your risk of a blow out.

This is a common problem. Best of luck!

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If it is primarily for hauling, consider converting it to a flatbed. Next I would consider blocking the axles of the trailer.

My Exiss stock combo came with 4" blocks on the axles and has enough clearance for my F250 4WD truck bed, but I would prefer more. And I had to add a ramp because it is way too big of a step down backwards. (I also use a B&W extender to shift it further back in the truck bed, which raises it a couple of inches.)

201115_7748 by Wendy, on Flickr

I did the same last year. I bought a 2018 Ram 2500 and have a 2008 Featherlite GN. The Featherlite coupler can be adjusted, which we did. The trailer still has a slight upward angle, but not too bad. We were able to lengthen the coupler to allow 6" clearance at the back of the pickup bed.

We did “make contact” though after parking in a hilly area. Not terrible damage… just a scrape into the plastic on top of the pickup rails. This is concerning enough that I will consider terrain more closely than I normally would. But new trailers are so expensive, I can’t justify buying new.

I talked to my Ram dealer about making adjustments to the truck and he wasn’t comfortable with it. Raising the trailer is an option but as another poster mentioned, the ramp gets steeper. The Hawk ramp isn’t as steep as a Featherlite so you might get an inch or two.

Like other posters, I just had the coupler adjusted. I’m sure it’s not ideal but it has worked since I got a new truck in 2016.

We were forced to buy a new truck this year when my truck was totaled by a reckless driver. We faced the same issue and researched trucks before we bought a new one.We stayed away from Fords and Dodges - they are too tall. We ended up buying a 2016 GMC. We were going to raise the axel on the trailer (3 in is the safe max) but ended up adjusting the coupler on our GN. It works but I will have to be careful in hilly terrain. There is a huge disconnect between the truck designers and the GN trailer designers. This is a huge problem. Most people I know who are really into horses are buying flatbeds now for this reason.

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I had the bed of my truck lowered by 2 inches. I think 3 inches was the max but considering how much the bed dropped once the trailer was on, it was perfect. I bought a conversion kit “lowering kit” on line and went to a heavy duty truck suspension place to have them install it. It turned out that it probably would have cost less money to have them do the whole thing, I think the kit was like $100 and they said they can get the bolts for like $50, but either way it wasn’t too much money. You can barely tell the bed was lowered and it looks even better when the trailer is on it. I’ve had the truck for 8 years and have not experienced any issues with it.

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Good information http://www.blueridgetrailer.com/blog/newer-taller-trucks-making-older-gooseneck-trailers-obsolete/

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I pull multiple trailers, so my solution was to go with a flat bed. I have a 2016 RAM 3500 cab and chassis, and had the aluminum flat bed put on by the dealership.

I have yet to come across a trailer I haven’t been able to hook up to and tow correctly. When I say tow correctly- your trailer needs sit fairly level. If it is not fairly level, it can have negative effects on both the rear axle and tires. These are parts that are essential for safe hauling that you do not want to have issues with, especially with a horse on the trailer. Adjusting the neck and still having the trailer ride level is not always possible. Just something to keep in mind!

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I have a “jacked up” trailer and I love it and every horse that has been put into it loves it. Whoever raised mine did it with heavy duty Dexter torsion axles so it would fit their new truck and then got a different trailer so me and my horse benefited from their upgrade. Does it look weird? Yup. Is the ramp steep? Yup. Does it pull like a dream when loaded? Yup. Is it kind of dreadful when not loaded? Sadly, also yes. That said, it is super stable since the heavier duty axles don’t allow it to rock and roll.

Editing to add that unless you can see yourself hauling empty often on gravel or Michigan roads, I wouldn’t worry about the unloaded unpleasantness. It’s not a big deal unless you’re hauling home empty from Ohio to Ontario and cannot avoid Michigan roads lol. “We should have worn our sports bras or picked up a draft horse or two for the trip home” On normal well-maintained roads it’s not really noticeable any more than you can feel any other gooseneck giving the truck the occasional nudge when it goes over a pothole.

I just went through this. Had a 1996 4 Star that I LOVED. Needed to replace my 20 yr old truck, got a 2019 Ram 3500. Nowhere near enough clearance.
I did a ton of research. Blocking the axles can work fine, we were looking at 4". My husband found heavy duty rubber blocks that we were going to attach to the top edge of the ramp, creating a small step but at the same time reducing the increase in ramp angle.
You can’t just lengthen the coupler, the increase in trailer angle, as someone above said, will increase your risk of a blowout.
I had saved some money, so after much pondering I bought a new trailer. Sadly, there were no 4 Stars in my configuration anywhere near me for 9 months. I bought an Adams, which is OK, but honestly, I am missing my 4 Star…

Is is possible to measure the ground clearance on a parked level trailer and know if it will have the appropriate vehicle clearance before you buy it? The sides/gate of my 2015 Dodge Ram 2500 bed are 58" high and it does not yet have a gooseneck hitch. I am reluctant to cut into the bed liner to install a hitch if I will need to trade the truck in for something lower. Converting to a flat bed, blocking axles and or modifying a ramp are not good solutions for various reasons.

Absolutely. Depending on the trailer, account for 1-2" of drop in the tailgate. Measure from ground to bottom of the “neck” of the goose - make sure you have the lowest point with the trim pieces. Also, make sure the trailer is 1-2" nose high to have good balance loaded.

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How does a flatbed on the truck affect the height of the gooseneck hookup? Aren’t both a regular pickup bed floor and a flatbed floor both fixed in height?

I was wanting a new truck this summer. The 2019 F350 sat too high for my 2019 Merhow LQ (which already sits crazy high with blocked axles with the LQ, so much so that I had to get a ramp put on).

We measured the 2012 F350 and the 2019 and if I remember correctly, the 2019 was a good 5 inches taller at the tailgate and bed rails.

It’s the clearance to the bed rails that’s the problem. Without bed rails, you can lower the gooseneck coupler to your heart’s content to get a level ride.

I really want to know the manufacturer’s thought process here.

It’s a truck. It needs to do work. I don’t want to have to sling my heavy load 5" higher to get it in the bed. Ugh.

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