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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a flatbed trailer to haul my Jeep on.

I will share a few things I've learned over the years, that many people may or may not now about with regard to trailers, some of which I learned while prepping my new trailer for hauling.

1. TORQUE THE LUG NUTS! Check the axle specs, Torque them before your first trip, then check them periodically for the first few hundred miles, and every so often later on. Most trailers use Dexter brand axle. New trailers will typically come with an owners manual for the axles. There may also be a sticker on the fender, or frame near the tires. I think you can also download the information from Dexter Axle's website.

From what I have seen, the typical 3500 lb and up axles quote 90-120ft lbs as the spec.

I've seen the aftermath of a trailer wheel coming off the trailer on the Interstate.
My brother and I always follow this rule. A few years ago, him and someone else bought new trailers. My brother told him to "check the lug nuts and torque them." Part way through the return trip, the other guy just about lost a wheel, because "he didn't check the lug nuts" and they all came loose on one wheel, and wallowed out the holes on the wheel.

I carry a torque wrench with me and actually check the lug nuts periodically during the duration of longer trips.

2. Carry spare lug nuts. You might need them if some knucklehead steals one, you loose one while changing a tire, or one gets boogered up while changing a tire.

3. Check lug nuts for functionality/damage. While at home, in the driveway, remove all the wheels, one at a time, to make sure the lug nuts are all functional. I learned this lesson just today while I was installing brakes on one axle. Fortunately the hub I was removing was NOT going back on the trailer, because it now has 3 wasted wheel studs. I wrecked the 3 lug nuts for those three studs too, and a fourth one is questionable. I found some spare lug nuts from the last brake install project I did back in 1996, they were with the other spare parts left over from that project. I have more, and those will go in the box with all the other junk that goes in the back of my truck when I'm towing. This is a new trailer that only has about 30 miles on it so far.

4. Check the brake wiring at the splices where the wiring from the trailer harness connects to the brake backing plate assembly. I learned this lesson spring of 2007 when I decided it was time to repack the wheel bearings on my toy hauler RV. In the process of dismantling things, I discovered one brake assembly was perfectly clean inside, which was a sign that the brake had NEVER WORKED since day one! The wires were connected, but a shoddy job was done and the actual conductor in the wire was not making contact with the barrel in the crimp splice, therefore, it NO WORKIE! :lildevil: I redid all 4 wheels like the third pic below.

These are pics on my new Jeep hauler:

This is unacceptable, because moisture will get in there and corrode things:



This is ALSO unacceptable:



I redid both sides with heat shrink crimp splices. They have some goo in them that oozes out as you heat them up, so it seals everything. Got them from Delcity.net



5. Brakes: While you are messing around with the brakes and tires (when trailer is off the ground), check brakes for tightness. Trailer brakes do not automatically adjust, none I have seen anyway. Adjustment procedure is just like doing the "drum in hat" parking brake on our Rubi's rear axles. Pull the little oblong shaped cover, adjust the star wheel with a flat blade screwdriver. Replace cover. When I towed my trailer home about 5 weeks ago, I noticed there was very little braking action compared to even my little 6x10 Wells Cargo. Today I discovered the exiting brakes were very loose. One side I had to rotate the star wheel a good three turns before the shoes contacted the drums, then I backed it off a tad. Don't be crawling around under the trailer until you secure it with jackstand(s) (DUH!).

Also get a decent brake controller that is inertia activated, and NOT one that is time based. Tekonsha Voyager for smaller, light weight trailers, or the Tekonsha Prodigy for larger/heavier trailers. The Prodigy has a boost function that lets you quickly dial up or down the braking action.

Here's what happens when the brake controller in the tow rig DOESN'T work correctly: (this is MY trailer, it happened in 1998)









6. Check ALL the wiring:
I've seen varying workmanship when it comes to overall trailer wiring. If there's any splices, check and redo them if necessary. Secure the wiring so it stays put and doesn't chafe against sharp edges. If the cord that plugs in to your truck is excessively long, secure the slack in some way that it will stay put and not drag the ground.

7. GET SOME WHEEL CHOCKS, and I don't mean those crappy "yellow plastic" ones they sell for RVs, which are even worthless for RV usage. Go to a truck supply store and get the big black rubber ones that have an eyelet in them. I need more, but I have two right now. They fill the gap perfectly between the axles, and require a few kicks to get them in the gap on my RV.

8. Get a massively overkill jack of some sort that you can use to change a trailer tire on the road should the need arise. It doesn't hurt to carry a small assortment of wood blocks too. I have a 12 ton bottle jack.

9. Tires: Always check your tire pressure and condition / age of the tires!
If you buy a used trailer and the tires are of unknown age, figure on replacing them before your first trip. If your trailer is parked where the sun beats down on the tires most of the time, consider getting some of those tire covers the blue hairs use on their RV tires. I started using those things on my truck (which sits 90% of the time) after finding the tires had severe weather checking two summers ago, then having to spend a fortune replacing them.

Just because the tires are new, doesn't mean they are good.
See another one of my stories here:

http://www.rubiconownersforum.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?p=704483#p704483
 

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Great post Doug. I used to sell trailers for a several years at a Farm Supply store of several different makes and models from small little 4x8's, through various dump models, car haulers, up to large equipment gooseneck's. Every one of the things you list could be found on every trailer on the lot-brand new. One other thing I'd see far too often was the tires-the tires were almost NEVER rated for the load of the trailer-meaning they were severely UNDER rated for what the rated capacity of the trailer was. Check that too on your brand new trailer purchase, make sure those tires are up to the task of carrying the rated capacity of the trailer before loading it down and having a blowout on the highway. It will not be covered once you sign the papers and leave the lot.

Also check state laws on trailer brakes. In Washington-I forget the exact ruling, but brakes are required either on both axles of a tandem, or on all axles of a trailer over 3000 GVW. I forget the exact wording of the law. I know all tandems we sold had to have brakes on both axles, so check laws in your state before purchasing. We often had some come in with brakes on only one axle and to send them back for conversion.

Again, Good Post Doug.

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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Good information Doug. I'm in the process of going through the wiring on my trailer right now. The wiring job on it is total crap, and I think I may end up just ripping it all out and starting from scratch. I've got an intermittent brake lock up problem that I have been unable to find. Very frequently after sitting for a little while hooked up to the truck, the brakes will be locked up when I first try to move the trailer. Last night I narrowed it down to something in the break-away circuit (either battery, charger module or switch). If I remove the break-away battery, the brakes never lock up, but function normally.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
desertfox1 said:
Here's what happens when the brake controller in the tow rig DOESN'T work correctly:

I need to elaborate on the above blowout. That's my Wells Cargo enclosed trailer. I was towing it behind a 40' diesel pusher motorhome. I couldn't see the trailer at all other than in the rearview camera.

I knew the rig had no brake controller, and after the above catastrophe, I discovered that the brake circuit in the trailer plug apparently was wired in to the brake light circuit, so as soon as I hit the brakes, the trailer brakes were FULL ON.

Finally, the tire just blew out from extreme dragging as I was using the exhaust brake (which activates the brakes light). Wheel was toast... see the flat spot at the 4 o'clock position? :lildevil:
 

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Discussion Starter #5

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In addition: If renting a trailer, have them check the lug nuts while you watch. After the accelerating tire incident a buddy and I started having them do this and you'd be surprised at how many need tightened.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
[quote='05TJLWBRUBY]... In Washington-I forget the exact ruling, but brakes are required either on both axles of a tandem, or on all axles of a trailer over 3000 GVW. I forget the exact wording of the law. I know all tandems we sold had to have brakes on both axles, so check laws in your state before purchasing...[/quote]

here it is:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.37.340

(3) Brakes on all wheels. Every vehicle shall be equipped with brakes acting on all wheels except:

(a) Trailers, semitrailers, or pole trailers of a gross weight not exceeding three thousand pounds.......
 

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desertfox1 said:
[quote='05TJLWBRUBY]... In Washington-I forget the exact ruling, but brakes are required either on both axles of a tandem, or on all axles of a trailer over 3000 GVW. I forget the exact wording of the law. I know all tandems we sold had to have brakes on both axles, so check laws in your state before purchasing...
here it is:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.37.340

(3) Brakes on all wheels. Every vehicle shall be equipped with brakes acting on all wheels except:

(a) Trailers, semitrailers, or pole trailers of a gross weight not exceeding three thousand pounds.......[/quote]

Thanks! Been looking all over for the actual verbage. Asked the WSP the other day when I was there for the airbag issues, was told basically the same thing-brakes on all wheels of multiple axles, single axles OK without if under 3000 lbs., over 3000 lbs. need brakes. Couldn't remember the exact ruling myself from when I sold them so long ago. We had several tandems come in with brakes on only one axle, always had to ship them back as we couldn't legally sell them without brakes on both. Was always a headache when that happened.

Your post is a good one for prospective trailer buyers-lots of things to be aware of, even on brand new trailers-sadly enough. Very sorry to see the trouble you had with your new tires-sucks when things like this occur. Glad you caught it before towing the Jeep-could have been disasterous!

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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Great post, I just learned a whole lot!

Thanks!

K.
 

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Speaking of tires, make sure whatever you're hauling has good tires that hold air, or if they don't, let all the air out of them prior to hauling. I've had a vehicle come loose off a trailer, because the left front tire lost air pressure and loosened the binders. Needless to say a vehicle coming off a trailer while driving up a hill is not a good thing. We were lucky nobody was hurt or killed.

Good info, thanks for the post.
 

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Another tip:

Make sure your trailer's tires/wheels are properly balanced. The oscillation that starts can really wear the tires out quickly not to mention the shaking is annoying.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
jeffj78 said:
Another tip:

Make sure your trailer's tires/wheels are properly balanced. The oscillation that starts can really wear the tires out quickly not to mention the shaking is annoying.
x100

My new trailer's tires and wheels FAILED the road test last week. I took them back to the dealer and traded them out, and got them balanced tonight.

Something worth noting, don't listen to the trailer dealers when they try to tell you "trailer tires don't need balanced". The dealer I described my problem to (which was the one I bought my flatbed trailer from), talked like it was a crime to balance trailer tires. One salesman actually cut me off mid sentence as I was trying to explain the problem and that I took them in to get 'em balanced to FIX the problem.

Story here:

http://www.rubiconownersforum.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?p=704483#p704483
 

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Good stuff, Thanks.

I personally don’t like having brakes on all wheels of a trailer. If you don't have the brakes set up just prefect for the conditions and lock up the trailer brakes during a hard stop you will have absolutely no control over the trailer. With single axle brakes the trailing axle keeps the trailer in line.
 

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This is so true. This past summer while towing my lawn trailer to the dump, I could smell something burning. Sure enough, looking out of my passenger side mirror, I can see smoke coming from the right rear tow tire.

Didn't have a spare.( Do Now !!!)

Now when I travel, I have the extra lug group for the trailer.

What fun. :pBR:
 

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I discovered that the brake circuit in the trailer plug apparently was wired in to the brake light circuit, so as soon as I hit the brakes, the trailer brakes were FULL ON.:lildevil:

A show on TV about fatal accidents had a couple guys hauling cattle, they had done this before many times, so the investigator wondered why they had been unable to stop at the T intersection where they were hit & killed.

After talking to people he found out that the guys had done some wiring work before they left. But when he inspected it found that they had wired the brakes to the turn signals instead of the brake lights.
 

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I'll add my 2c as well, forgive if I repeated something already said:

Springs..... they often wear in the shackles. The bolts are supposed to be pressed into the shackle flats. If they spin, they'll wear the shackles and fall apart.

Hubs: Carry a spare hub with bearings and dust cap. You'll be glad you did. Some folks buy a spindle and mount the tire on a complete hub assembly, so tire changes or hub issues are one nut instead of 5.

Tires: Trailer tires are NOT car tires. Make sure your tires are rated for trailer service.

hitches: Most reading this post need weight distributing hitches. Don't cheap out.

Spindles: If possible, spec your trailer out with the EZLube system (marine axles) Unlike bearing buddies, the EZLube spindles allow a complete repack of the bearings, whereas bearing buddies really only test your grease seals :p
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Here's a few videos I've done over the last year or so:


Why you should balance your trailer tires

 

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Discussion Starter #20
Brake and bearing inspection / repack:


 
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