For all those towing trailers...

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gyre
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Postby gyre » Sun May 09, 2010 5:49 am

It's legal trickery.

"Oh, we're not responsible.
Your contract clearly says that you agree not to use this vehicle on any public roadway."

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Postby FIGJAM » Sun May 09, 2010 3:47 pm

I just noticed the patent was filed on my 17th birthday......lol

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Postby theCryptofishist » Sun May 09, 2010 7:42 pm

Just so long as no one's father invented a carborater that ran on water.
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Postby ygmir » Sun May 09, 2010 8:12 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:Just so long as no one's father invented a carborater that ran on water.


I have yet to even see a carburetor that even floats.........How could........
I guess this'd go more in the stupid joke thread?
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Postby bud buddah » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:40 pm

OK, I just bought one of those cheap utility trailers with small wheels, and I'm scared to use it. Has anyone made it to the playa from the bay area with one of these trailers? I just wonder if it's just too far for the wheel bearings or tires. I expect to have about 500 lbs max in it, and I'l repack the bearings before I go. I just don't want to risk it if the bearings are likely to fail on the way there. I understand fully the need to slow down. I only got the trailer because it seemed more sensible than tying my hexayurt to the roof and putting my bike on a rear rack. Am I foolish to try use this thing?
Bud

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Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:04 pm

:D
Cheese, Bud... what kind of answer do you want?

How crummy IS this trailer? Does it say 35 MPH and 250 pounds max on it?

You are thinking correctly about packing the bearings. Apply your brain to speed and weight also. The enemy is HEAT.

About bearings....
One of the primary targets of Allied bombing in WWII was the Nazi ball bearing factories. The Germans (and the Swedes) make very good bearings.
The Chinese will never even come close to winning a mechanized war, because they make lousy bearings. Don't know why, but all the El Cheapo Chinese bicycles have bearings made of moldy rice. So maybe you ought to purchase good replacement bearings. (The Swedish SKF brand is excellent.) Just a thought.

I'll stop rambling now.

Grease, air, weight, speed -- you'll probably be all right.
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Postby Token » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:15 pm

Tire size makes all the difference in the world.

If they are 8" tires, sell it.

If they are 12" tires, maybe you are OK up to 55 Mph.

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Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:36 pm

Token makes an excellent point.

This thing was sold as a highway trailer, right? Right??? It is not a garden cart, is it?

Conceivably it might be possible to upgrade to taller wheels-and-tires. The point is to make the bearings run slower.
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Postby bud buddah » Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:14 pm

OK, so if I can get bigger wheels and new bearings I might be ok. The trailer is supposed to be highway legal. The last owner had it on the highway and didn't have problems, for whatever that's worth.
Truthfully, I would have loved to rent a trailer from UHaul. But the damn 5x8 is a bit under 8 on the inside, and I have 4x8 sheets to move. And the damn trailers weigh about 1200 lbs. I'm sure they are much more robust than the trailer I bought, but lugging around an extra 800 pounds of trailer is not enticing. There is a local trailer shop that is supposed to be damn good. I'll bring it by there and ask them to replace the wheel bearings and see if they can fit larger wheels.
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Postby ygmir » Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:42 pm

bud buddah wrote:OK, so if I can get bigger wheels and new bearings I might be ok. The trailer is supposed to be highway legal. The last owner had it on the highway and didn't have problems, for whatever that's worth.
Truthfully, I would have loved to rent a trailer from UHaul. But the damn 5x8 is a bit under 8 on the inside, and I have 4x8 sheets to move. And the damn trailers weigh about 1200 lbs.I'm sure they are much more robust than the trailer I bought, but lugging around an extra 800 pounds of trailer is not enticing. There is a local trailer shop that is supposed to be damn good. I'll bring it by there and ask them to replace the wheel bearings and see if they can fit larger wheels.
Bud


yeah not nearly as fun as picking all your stuff up off the side of the road, where the undersized light duty trailer scatters it.........
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Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:36 pm

Oh darn -- for some reason I got the impression you had bought a brand new trailer.

Definitely professional bearing service, and perhaps new tires.

Driving to and from the Art Festival, I always see several trailers on the side of the road with tires and/or bearings out. Tires die of old age (and sunshine), even if there is lots of rubber left.

You may need professional work on the lights and wiring also.
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Postby unjonharley » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:06 pm

I pull a lite (1200lb max load) trailer with small wheels.. The tiers blow.. I put 6ply on..They work fine.. I also hold my speed way down.. It has made the 1000 mile round trip 6 times.. Will pull the wheels, inspect the bearing and repack them..

JUst repack the van last week..

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Postby Bluemandrew » Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:19 am

So I've read this thread top to bottom as it applies to me this year.

Lots of advice on how to tow well with a trailer with brakes on it, but what about some of us towing smaller trailers with smaller cars?

We're driving a 4 banger dodge neon automatic from CT...(I know, horrible fucking idea, but it is what it is)

We were going to pick something like this http://www.tractorsupply.com/trailers-towing/trailers/utility-trailers/carry-on-trailer-reg-mesh-floor-trailer-1600-lb-capacity-0190326%20%20next%20week%20at%20some%20point

Now you've all got me thinking though.

I'm a fairly experienced driver. Never trailer-ed more than a few hundred miles, but at least I have. The other two co-pilots, not so much. They'll drive after I get off of the east coast (read CT, NY...Probably after I cross the mountains too.) The virgin in our group (craziest driver) asked if he could drive from Fernley to BRC...I said that would also be my job...

We'll pack light, but not too light, and the trailer will likely be at capacity once we pick up water.

I'm most likely getting a transmission cooler installed too.

Tires are new, brakes are good, oil will be changed...I obsessively check over my car/tie downs at every stop anyways.

Oh, we'll be driving in one shot.

I figure it'll be a looong trip, but we'll be fine. Am I missing anything?

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Postby ygmir » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:13 am

one big thing:
does that trailer have brakes?
if not, consider, the little brakes on your overloaded neon, now, trying to stop essentially two cars...........they'll heat and fade fast.

with no trailer brakes, you really need to anticipate stopping, light brake applications way before "needed".
IF you gotta "stand on em", it will want to jackknife. It's important, in that situation, to try to stay straight. If you turn, it'll exacerbate the leverage of the tongue on the back of the car.

Don't go down the hills, much faster than you went up.

fill the tires to max. Rarely, do tires fail for over pressure, but, often fail due to underinflation.
Have a few spares.
even a spare set of bearings and races. And tools.

you're a cool dude, BMD........I, for one, would like to see you travel safe.
Running a lightweight trailer, at max. load, is pushing it......IMHO.
A few dollars more, for a trailer that won't sweat as much may be something to consider.

but, really, with a small overloaded tow vehicle, stopping is more important, that going..........

good luck
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Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:28 am

:D
Bluemandrew.... I'm no authority -- I just happened to be here this morning. But my first reaction is "Stay the bleep home!"

That off my chest.... Of course I do not want you to stay home. But your tiny car, with automatic transmission, and driving straight thru....

PLEASE borrow your uncle's 3/4 ton van or something.

And PLEASE allow a couple more days, with a couple of stops in motels. There is no way anyone gets decent sleep in a car.

27 years of cross country trucking says I know how far CT is from NV.

Please rethink this. Tell "your uncle" what you are planning to do. I think he's go pale and hand you the keys to his truck.
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Postby rodiponer » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:03 am

Hi Guys,

We now have a 7x12 tandem axle enclosed trailer with electric brakes. It has a maximum weight (itself and the cargo inside) of something like 8000 pounds, and we plan to load it lightly with about 1000 to 1500 pounds of stuff. I think empty the trailer weighs a little under 2000 pounds. Aluminipede weighs a hair under 500 pounds, then we have bikes, water, and our shade thing.

We are towing it with a Ford E250 Econoline van.

Do I need a brake controller? I drove the trailer around and I think I can feel it's brakes engaging, without a brake controller, but am not sure. We seem to stop straight if we brake hard.

I've read that the struts that come out of the trailer should be completely level. That I should adjust the tow hitch ball thing until it is level. Do I need to get this in the ballpark of level (+- 15 degrees-ish) or should I try to get this spot on with a bubble level in a flat parking lot?

Also, this is my first experience towing. The ride on the freeway feels 'surge-y'. There are little forward and aftward accelerations on most kinds of roads. It's fine, the van never feels like it's being pushed around or hard to control or anything, it's just not as smooth as not towing. Is this normal, or do I have something wrong with the setup?

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Postby ygmir » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:43 am

rodiponer wrote:Hi Guys,

We now have a 7x12 tandem axle enclosed trailer with electric brakes. It has a maximum weight (itself and the cargo inside) of something like 8000 pounds, and we plan to load it lightly with about 1000 to 1500 pounds of stuff. I think empty the trailer weighs a little under 2000 pounds. Aluminipede weighs a hair under 500 pounds, then we have bikes, water, and our shade thing.

sounds like a nice setup. good for you.

We are towing it with a Ford E250 Econoline van.

seems a good tow rig.

Do I need a brake controller? I drove the trailer around and I think I can feel it's brakes engaging, without a brake controller, but am not sure. We seem to stop straight if we brake hard.

Are you testing it loaded or empty? Something has to be telling the brakes to engage, so, if you don't have a controller, is there a direct wire from brake lights to brake circuit? if so, it's not ok. They need a controller to work properly.
Feeling the brakes engaging, may just be it bouncing, too.


I've read that the struts that come out of the trailer should be completely level. That I should adjust the tow hitch ball thing until it is level. Do I need to get this in the ballpark of level (+- 15 degrees-ish) or should I try to get this spot on with a bubble level in a flat parking lot?

by struts, do you mean the anti-sway bars? I'd think as close as you can get it is good, and, your ground has to be level, if you're going to get the trailer right by using a level. it's more to do with the trailer frame being parallel with the ground, so, the tires are loaded evenly, IIRC.



Also, this is my first experience towing. The ride on the freeway feels 'surge-y'. There are little forward and aftward accelerations on most kinds of roads. It's fine, the van never feels like it's being pushed around or hard to control or anything, it's just not as smooth as not towing. Is this normal, or do I have something wrong with the setup?

be cautious, if it's your first "tow". things are different. Turning, stopping and acceleration. The trailer bouncing behind you, lack of tongue weight, or, slop in the hitch system. I'm assuming it's a ball type hitch?
check your bolts in the towing system, to make sure all is tight.
and, if loaded, make sure you have enough tongue weight.
As long as you don't feel you're being "pushed around" it's probably ok. it'll just take some getting used to, towing a trailer.


That's all I can think of for now, but, I'm sure others with more knowledge will chime in.

good luck
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Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:47 am

:D
Hi Rodiponer:

Assuming both units are in good mechanical condition, that's more suitable equipment for hauling Stuff!

Since your trailer has a GVWR of 8000 pounds, it has brakes by law. The California Vehicle Code requires brakes on any trailer with a GVWR of 3000 pounds or more. (1500 pounds for camping trailers.)

So... you are required by law to have a functioning brake controller in the tow vehicle. You are also going to be up around 3000 pounds or more on your trip, so you are required to have a functioning brake controller by common sense.

Sorry, the trailer is NOT applying its brakes by telepathy. The only way the brakes can come on by themselves is thru some electrical malfunction. The first possibility that comes to mind is the emergency application device. This is a switch on the trailer with a thin chain or steel cable that connects to the tow vehicle. If the hitch comes apart, the chain or cable pulls on the switch and the brakes come on, stopping the runaway trailer. This little chain/cable should have plenty of slack.

Also, there is a battery on the trailer, to energize the brakes in case of runaway. Make sure this battery is in good condition and that the wiring keeps it charged from the tow vehicle.

It is normal to feel quite a bit of tugging and pushing and showing around from the trailer. You may even feel some "pogo stick" motion. Probably seems scary the first time. Make sure the van has good suspension dampers ("shocks").

The draw bar should be close to level, but you do not need to use anything like a bubble level. This is one case where "close" is good enough -- in my personal opinion. I wish I could suggest numbers, but I go by eye-ball. The van probably has a "receiver hitch" -- a 2 " square hole? You can buy ball mounts of different height to install in that receiver.

So... off to the shop for a brake controller for you. I hear good things about the Prodigy. Installation is much easier these days -- compared with the old days when brake controllers were plumbed into the hydraulic circuit.
:D

PS. Dang, I see Ygmir beat me to it again! :lol:
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Postby gyre » Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:29 am

I urge everyone inexperienced with this to read a book or two about towing.
It is unlikely this board can cover everything and towing is not a casual thing to do.


I also want to disagree with the notion that a trailer has to be heavy.
My utility trailer can be picked up by two people, but can carry as much as the frame will stand.
But it is true that most trailers aren't like this.
Mine is based on a subaru station wagon and uses 13" rims.
I built it for towing with a roadster weighing less than 2000 pounds.

There are superb light manufactured trailers too.
I know of a trailex for sale at a very cheap price, if anyone wants first class.
Lowering trailer weight allows more safe towing capacity, so it can pay for itself.
Trailex are extruded aluminum trailers.

I just towed my trailer with 4' by 12' steel frames strapped to the top of the trailer, and overhanging everywhere.
I have five more to move, but didn't want to push it.
Without the trailer loaded, there was some sway, but not bad.
If I adjusted the springing, I could eliminate that.
This was an 80 mile highway trip.

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Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:58 am

:D
Here is an example of what NOT to do:

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Towing the Two Ton Tricycle (true weight unknown) with my Mazda Miata.

:lol: :lol:

Kids, do not try this at home, etc etc.
:D
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Postby rodiponer » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:04 pm

Yes, you should definitely wear a seatbelt while riding a two-ton tricycle on a trailer.

Thanks for your help everyone. I just ordered a brake controller. For some reason I thought that the brake controller just added additional brains to the brakes, but that they would still work without one.

I don't need no steenking anti-sway bars, right?

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Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:14 pm

Just a theory -- I do not know -- but I would guess that if you hook up 12 Volts directly from your stop lights, the trailer brakes would lock up. Again, just guessing. Might be fun to try -- with some junk tires.
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Postby gyre » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:17 pm

rodiponer wrote:I don't need no steenking anti-sway bars, right?

Depends.
Not required, but most vehicles benefit hugely from an upgrade, even my volvo with a matched factory set.

The old ranger I'm fixing up may get them before anything else.
The original is toylike.

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Postby Bling » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:25 pm

We have an Equal-i-zer weight distributing hitch with sway bars--but our trailer is 9' tall and weighs as much as our Yukon which tows it. It's saved our behinds more than once--most recently when we drove 200 miles with the nut missing from the hitch ball... When we just had a closed trailer, we didn't bother with it, and were fine.

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Postby gyre » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:34 pm

I was referring to anti-sway bars on the tow vehicle or trailer, but it is true that some companies refer to the equalizer this way.
I think it is misleading, though that is sometimes part of the function.
I have friction dampers on my large hitch.
I think they are intended to act in emergencies.
Anti-sway bars are in use every time the vehicle leans past a certain point.

Sway should be under control before the hitch gets involved, in my opinion.

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Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:18 pm

Folks, we have been nibbling at it, but I don't think we have presented a clear understanding of the various Gadgets that may be referred to as "sway thingies".

Practically all automobiles and light trucks have a "sway bar" or "anti-sway bar" as an integral part of the front suspension. Many also have one in the rear suspension. Their purpose is to keep the car from leaning onto the door handle in turns. These can, in many cases depending on model of car, be upgraded to stiffer ones. Race cars have very stiff anti-sway bars. Stiffer anti-sway bars are also beneficial for cars/trucks that carry heavy loads or tow a trailer. Unless you crawl under the car, you never see these.

When it comes to towing a trailer, there is an accessory most commonly known as a "load leveling hitch". This is a trailer hitch that incorporates two bars of spring steel that run alongside the tongue of the trailer. At the rear, they are attached to the trailer tongue with short lengths of chain. These spring bars are readily visible. Their purpose is to transfer weight from the rear of the car to the front. This is something you might have forgotten from high school physics class, under "leverage". But try to visualize that the weight on the trailer hitch is pushing down on the car at the very rear-most point. The car then pivots around the rear axle, and weight if lifted off the front axle. Not good for handling. The load leveling hitch transfers weight onto the front of the car, restoring the front-to-rear balance of the car.

Somebody quicker than I on the interweb picture stuff will probably soon post pictures.
:D
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Postby Bling » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:26 pm

The Equal-i-zer does sway control AND load-leveling. http://www.equalizerhitch.com/productinfo/4_point_sway_control.php.

We use a wind deflector on the Yukon, too. Improves MPG by about 10%.

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Postby gyre » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:39 pm

Well, they say it does, but I can't remember the details of them and the site isn't much help.
Do they mean wigwagging or sway, for instance?

Even if it can, it is inferior to not having sway by stopping it at the suspension.
And yes, trailers benefit from an anti-sway bar too.
Some with torsion springing, act as an anti-sway bar.
That is how my subaru trailer operates.

I am dismayed by how primitive most trailer suspensions are.

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Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:59 pm

I am dismayed by how primitive most trailer suspensions are.


Agreed! This is one reason we must take trailer-towing so seriously. Trailers are NOT "user friendly" things.
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Postby unjonharley » Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:02 pm

Hooking up those trailer lights and there dim???

Spit in the recesses of the plugs..


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