Trailer maintanance thread

Discussion in 'The Choo-Choo shop' started by Mike Kamm, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. Mike Kamm

    Mike Kamm Well-Known Member

    I thought I would throw this in here because I have been asking different people questions about their trailer maintenance, and found out something I didn't expect: A lot of people do little if any! :shock:

    I have also done a search on various sites and couldn't find any threads covering this important topic. Here are some of the things I have been dealing with recently. Now remember that I use my trailer all throughout the winter each year, and it gets a salt bath regularly. Please chime in with your trailer maintenance war stories.

    OK, the sanding, painting, and tail/marker light replacement stuff is self explanatory. So is the corrosion in the harness connector at the tongue. I spray WD40 in mine regularly and it never gets that green corrosion in it any more.

    But how many of you ever check your brakes, spring eye bushings, shackles, and bolts?

    If neglected too long like these, it makes no sense to try to unseize all of the moving parts, replace the shoes, trailer brake magnets and hardware. You can get the whole setup you see here for less money than if you tried to buy the parts separately. I get my parts HERE.


    After my second set of spring eye bushings in six years on my old trailer, I mentioned to a friend that I was getting tired of this all too frequent trailer repair work. He said he simply uses an oil squirt can to lubricate his shackles and bushings every so often. I started doing this and virtually eliminated the [2 to 3 year] spring eye bushing replacements. Very simple.

    How can you tell if your spring eye bushings and shackles are excessively worn? All you have to do is get down and take a look at them. The arrow is pointing to a wear mark from excess play from completely worn out spring eye bushings.


    In this advanced case, the bushings were shot for so long, that the spring eyes were wearing the bolts out as well. They were all grooved up from the shackles rubbing on them. The formerly round holes in the shackles were now ovals. Don't let this happen to you. Check and lubricate your shackles and bushings frequently. It's like the old Fram commercials used to say: "You can pay me now or pay me later".

    This is a generic picture, my bushings are actually much thinner than these.

    One last thought: the spring eye bushings I keep referring to are really thin and cheaply made. I say it's planned obsolesence on the part of the trailer supply manufacturers. But in the past 20 years, I have never seen anyone's trailer come with anything else. But there is a better way. A place like Albany Spring can bore out your spring eyes and install bronze bushings in your springs, complete with zerk fittings to grease them. They will last the life of the trailer with ease. Why don't they make them that way in the first place? [​IMG]

    So, what shape is your trailer in?
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2005
  2. Mike Kamm

    Mike Kamm Well-Known Member

    More trailer work....


    Last week I replaced all of the spring eye and equalizer bushings [highlighted in above picture] on my trailer. They are the high wear pieces in a typical tandem axle type suspension. I upgraded the equalizer bushings from nylon to bronze. Here's what the old and new bushings look like.


    If you are wondering what kind of shape your trailer's suspension bushings are in, there is a sure fire way to know if they are bad. In advanced cases, you will hear lots of squeaking noises coming from your trailer when driving over bumps at low speeds [like in a parking lot]. The squeaks are coming from the metal shackles rubbing on the spring eye through bolts. Here is an example of the wear I am talking about.


    Notice the ovaled out bolt holes in the shackles that started out round. The matching grooves in the bolts tell the story. The shiny area is where the leaf spring itself has also been rubbing on the shackle. These parts should be kept lubricated with an oil squirt can occasionally.


    Check your trailer's suspension for grease fittings. It's really important to pump some grease into a "wet bolt" like this one for the equalizer shaft. Look how badly they can wear out if run dry. In this picture, you can see how one side of the wet bolt has worn right into the equalizer casting's bore. I upgraded to bronze bushings here and will be sure to grease them regularly. It only takes a minute to do.

    I've replaced three sets of these inferior nylon spring eye bushings in my old open car trailer.

    Anyone else ever deal with these?
  3. alan

    alan High-tech Dinosaur

    Good info! I think it's time for a certain trailer to get looked at. :error: :Dou:
  4. Mister T

    Mister T Just truckin' around

    Two things I can think of:

    1. It's time for me to check out my boat trailer (don't have a car trailer)

    2. Perhaps this thread could be a sticky. :Do No:
  5. Brad Conley

    Brad Conley Super Moderator Staff Member

    You wish is my command....
  6. Mister T

    Mister T Just truckin' around

    Thanks Brad. :TU:

    Hopefully this will prevent any catastrophes, for we'd all hate to see someone lose a car or worse for lack of maintainance.
  7. 65gs76limited

    65gs76limited Well-Known Member

    Excellent information. I'am guilty of the above mention neglect. I will check my trailer i will check my trailer i will check my trailer i will check my trailer.
  8. Rusty Davenport

    Rusty Davenport Silver Level contributor

    Good post Mike,Thanks! You made mention of some things I had not know about and I will check out my trailor.I just got a trailer about a year ago and it is something I wish I had done much sooner than I did.It has come in handy many times and allowed me to get some parts cars that if I did not have a trailer I wouldn't have got.Don't forget to mention to pack the wheel bearings.
  9. skylarkroost

    skylarkroost skylarkroost

    Yikes! After reading Mike's post I went out to take a look at my trailer and it's obvious I'll be a busy camper this weekend. It's easy to overlook (reads procrastinate) trailer maintenence. Guilty as charged. :Dou:
    Thanks for the heads up Mike.
  10. Mike Kamm

    Mike Kamm Well-Known Member

    You're welcome guys!

    Yes of course, don't forget to repack the wheel bearings. Some trailers have "easy lube" spindles, where you can remove a rubber cover on the dust cap and there is a zerk fitting behind it to pump grease into. Some trailers don't have this feature and you'll have to remove the drum to properly pack each bearing.

    I'm headed back out to weld on a mounting bracket for my Superwinch today. I occasionally rescue cars that won't move under their own power. :grin:
  11. avc1966

    avc1966 Well-Known Member

    Mike, I actually drilled and tapped my shackles for zert fittings. Has worked out pretty well. I also have a snap on tool that goes on the end of a grease gun and has a needle end. It works great to shoot grease into tight areas. Also allows you to shoot grease at your friends some awesome distances when using a air grease gun. The winch plate and super winch was the best thing I ever bought. The set up is on a receiver end and locks into place on the trailer when in use. I have a stand alone battery in the tool box to power it, and also ran cables on my truck with an additional quick disconnect. To many years of pushing cars around. You gave alot of good info. Thanks Tony
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2005
  12. Mike Kamm

    Mike Kamm Well-Known Member

    Thanks Tony,

    How/where did you drill your shackles for grease fittings? I'm game for anything that keeps these things from needing replacement again.

    I was at Lebanon Valley Dragway a few weekends ago and was looking at someone's dual axle open car trailer that was just restored. This guy went all out. He had the top and bottom completely sandblasted, professionally painted, and even undercoated. It looked like new. I was curiuos to see if he neglected the suspension, so I took a peak at his equalizer bar and shackles. They were in the advanced case of severe wear. The shackle holes were ovaled out so much they were completely visible above the bolt heads. I pointed it out to the owner and he said he he was very glad I did. He never thought of the suspension.
  13. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly escaped mental patient

    good idea to put the tires in the garage etc.......for winter or when not in use keep em from dry rotting by the way
  14. Mike Kamm

    Mike Kamm Well-Known Member

    Or use covers to keep the ultraviolet rays off of them anyway. Yes, that's a good point. In fact I have never worn a trailer tire out.They've always needed replacement from sidewall dry rot first.
  15. slowride66

    slowride66 "TAKE IT EASY"

    Excellent read !!

    Thank You :TU:

    OK here are some tips I do

    ~I have a cheap winch & have made a external battery tray for it what I do here {this is a must for dump trailers} is to use one of the open legs on the 7 prong plug & run a hot lead so that when the trailer is on the truck the battery is charging on the trailer
    Nuthin worse than having to come A long a car onto a trailer because of a dead battery :rant:

    ~ I always run the white wire {the ground wire} to a frame ground point on the truck & trailer.

    ~ axles with brakes you should never put a "bearing Buddy" on it {like on a boat} because it might push the grease thru the rear seal & get on the brakes.

    ~ I also can not stress this point enuf.. .. lock up your stuff!
    I use a tongue lock ,a lock on the latch & pad lock the safety chains with the electrical in it .

    WHY ? because a trailer can be drug off far enuf to a spot where the thieves can cut off the other locks.

    I've read too many threads where someones car that was on /in the trailer has been stolen :af:

    Its also good to have a tool/storage box for your trailer accessories like chains binders & ratchet straps.

    I will post some pix tomorrow{if I remember} :Dou:

    ~ good big convex mirrors are a must for me too.

    ~ 1 more!

    I painted my deck & ramps with rustoleum {YELLOW}& then used a hand held fertilizer spreader to spread 00 sand blasting sand & then roll some more paint over the sand .

    Helps loading & unloading & is easy to walk on when wet..keeps the wood from rotting too.

    SR66 :TU:

  16. Mike Kamm

    Mike Kamm Well-Known Member

    Those are some great additions to this thread!

    Thanks SR66. :)
  17. Truzi

    Truzi Perpetual Student

    I don't have a trailer, but found your post very interesting - very well explained. I love to learn and you made it easy.
  18. Keith Seymore

    Keith Seymore Well-Known Member

    Good thread (just wanted to get my name on here so I could find it easily later). :TU:
  19. slowride66

    slowride66 "TAKE IT EASY"


    Keith if you ever want to subscribe to a thread but not post in the 2nd header @ the top of the page under the 1st options box labeled "thread tools" you will find a drop down menu just choose "subscribe to this thread"

    If you want I can show you how to organize you threads so you can group them any way you like.


    rear ends
    Bull Sh**! :Do No:

    SR66 :TU:

    Attached Files:

  20. slowride66

    slowride66 "TAKE IT EASY"


    Anyway the Pix I promised & remembered :laugh:

    Pictures make everything better :TU:

    SR66 :TU:

    Attached Files:

Share This Page