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Old 22 April 2011, 22:40   #1
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How long does a trailer last?

On my first big haul of the season today, I stopped for a moment and as I was walking past my trailer, I noticed one wheel was all out of whack. On closer inspection, I discovered that the end of the axle had broken half-way though. I suspect had I kept driving, I would have lost my entire wheel within a short while!

So I am going to need to replace the axle, and I figure I will do the hubs and brakes while I'm at it... just replace the works.

But this got me wondering, when is it time to just replace the entire trailer? I use mine a lot and tow several thousand miles each year as I dive all over the Great Lakes. Does the metal fatigue? How about the hitch?

My trailer is I think 12 years old, only gets dipped into fresh water, but is into the water hundreds of time a year... The frame is galvanized, and "looks" to be in good shape.

My tires are getting worn and will need to be replaced later this season, so I'm stating to wonder if I should just replace the entire thing. Obviously replacing only the rolling gear and tires would be least expensive, but I'm guessing that this could easily cost over $1000... and I will still have a well dipped, well-loved, well-used trailer... And I will confess that secretly, I covet a tandem trailer for the added margin of reliability...

Once again, oh learned ones, I seek guidance!
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Old 23 April 2011, 05:37   #2
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Had the same after 5 years of identical use as yours. Always fresh water, almost every week, etc.
Now after 6 years I'm gonne change the bearings on the other axel before the wheels will break off. I think I was to late with the first axel.
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Old 23 April 2011, 06:32   #3
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And I will confess that secretly, I covet a tandem trailer for the added margin of reliability...
twice as many bits that need serviced / repaired / replaced - added redundancy maybe - but I'd have thought it was more likely that at any point in time something needed doing with twice as many bits?
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Old 23 April 2011, 07:47   #4
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twice as many bits that need serviced / repaired / replaced - added redundancy maybe - but I'd have thought it was more likely that at any point in time something needed doing with twice as many bits?
Don't disagree there, but I don't mind the added maintenance. My "worst fear" is that I loose a bearing/wheel in the middle of six lanes of expressway running through Toronto at 120 km/h, and I presume that the tandem would seriously reduce the "repercussions" of such an event. It's the same reasoning I use to justify the fact that I don't dive with single dive cylinders... I always wear doubles...

What I am really trying to determine though, is whether the basic trailer itself has become weakened after many years of use. I'd be quite ok with just replacing the rolling stock and carrying on with a single axle, but I don't want to spend the time and money to repair this one, if I really should just be replacing the trailer... which is much simpler to do I suspect!
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Old 23 April 2011, 08:25   #5
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Don't disagree there, but I don't mind the added maintenance. My "worst fear" is that I loose a bearing/wheel in the middle of six lanes of expressway running through Toronto at 120 km/h, and I presume that the tandem would seriously reduce the "repercussions" of such an event. It's the same reasoning I use to justify the fact that I don't dive with single dive cylinders... I always wear doubles...

What I am really trying to determine though, is whether the basic trailer itself has become weakened after many years of use. I'd be quite ok with just replacing the rolling stock and carrying on with a single axle, but I don't want to spend the time and money to repair this one, if I really should just be replacing the trailer... which is much simpler to do I suspect!
Stoo - I'm no trailer expert but I've never heard of anyone replacing a cosmetically sound trailer as a precaution. If it were mine I'd just be replacing the axle ... but others who know more about trailers might have a different view.
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Old 23 April 2011, 08:42   #6
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Stoo - I'm no trailer expert but I've never heard of anyone replacing a cosmetically sound trailer as a precaution. If it were mine I'd just be replacing the axle ... but others who know more about trailers might have a different view.
That's kinda what I was thinking, but like you, I'm no expert!
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Old 23 April 2011, 10:26   #7
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Stoo,

To put the repair expense in perspective, I bought a brand new galvanized double axle trailer for $2500 last year. Your axle failure seems premature for fresh water.
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Old 23 April 2011, 12:20   #8
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How long does my trailer last?
As long as Triggers broom I guess, forever!!


Just keep replacing the bits that wear out.
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Old 23 April 2011, 13:34   #9
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As long as Triggers broom I guess, forever!!


Just keep replacing the bits that wear out.
Yep, 'til you get fed up of working on it and pass it on
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Old 23 April 2011, 16:20   #10
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Don't disagree there, but I don't mind the added maintenance. My "worst fear" is that I loose a bearing/wheel in the middle of six lanes of expressway running through Toronto at 120 km/h, and I presume that the tandem would seriously reduce the "repercussions" of such an event. It's the same reasoning I use to justify the fact that I don't dive with single dive cylinders... I always wear doubles...

What I am really trying to determine though, is whether the basic trailer itself has become weakened after many years of use. I'd be quite ok with just replacing the rolling stock and carrying on with a single axle, but I don't want to spend the time and money to repair this one, if I really should just be replacing the trailer... which is much simpler to do I suspect!
hi Stoo

If the galvanizing on your trailer frame still looks good and there is no apparent damage ie:cracks, corrosion, broken welds etc... then it should still be good for quite some time....
The trailer frame will only fatigue if it has been subjected to a cyclic stress beyond the steel's elastic limit.
Imagine taking some steel flatbar between your hands and bending it very slightly repeatedly.....the bar will return to its original shape and condition after you stop. Now if you start bending the bar more strenuously to the point that it stays slightly bent and continue to do this in a cyclic manner then the steel will start fatigueing and eventually fail.

The dimensions of the steelwork used in your trailer should be of such that it will never reach its elastic limit (unless overloaded) and should therefore never fatigue.

On my trailer build, i opted for twin axles for similar reasons to why you want them but also the fact that the load is spread over twice the surface area. Twice the running surface in the bearings means less stress which means less wear. I chose two 1000kg axles instead of one 1600kg to in effect give the axles and suspension an easier time.

Hope this helps


Simon
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Old 23 April 2011, 18:53   #11
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Thanks Simon, and all...

A friend tacked the thing together today and I got the boat off it. He'll repair it as best he can tomorrow and then I can drag it to the big city to see what can be done.

The frame of the trailer looks fine. The friend who welded the axle is a millwright so I trust his opinion. I've sourced a new axle "kit" near my other house, so I should be in good shape.

Now I'm wondering if I can have my cake and eat it too... Can I add two axles and make my own tandem trailer. These guys seem to have all the bits...
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Old 30 April 2011, 01:30   #12
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Thanks Simon, and all...

A friend tacked the thing together today and I got the boat off it. He'll repair it as best he can tomorrow and then I can drag it to the big city to see what can be done.

The frame of the trailer looks fine. The friend who welded the axle is a millwright so I trust his opinion. I've sourced a new axle "kit" near my other house, so I should be in good shape.

Now I'm wondering if I can have my cake and eat it too... Can I add two axles and make my own tandem trailer. These guys seem to have all the bits...
Having done it before, it is not too hard as long as you get your balance point right and that really depends on your setup and how much room you have to play with. With your size trailer it should probably work.

If your spring hangers are welded to your frame you will break the galvanising as you cut them off or weld on new ones. This will be a potential rust spot but being fresh water use, if you paint it with Coldgal, it should last.

Just remember that manoeuvring the trailer will be much harder when not attached to a car and that when you do tight manoeuvres such as at the ramp, your tyres are fighting each other and putting a lot of stress on the bearings.

There is a lot to be said for keeping it simple.
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Old 30 April 2011, 16:59   #13
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Stoo; Did you already purchase the axle?

I was thinking about going with a torsion axle setup when it came time to replace the axle (which may have been hastened by a failed brake system, but it's currently still hanging in there.)

My view is that with a torsion axle and disc brakes, there's a hell of a lot fewer parts that can fail.

Might be worth a look.

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Old 01 May 2011, 00:08   #14
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I picked it up Friday. I decided to replace everything.. axle, hubs, brake lines, actuator... even the bunks. I have a brand new trailer!

I was on the lake today and had a lovely 155' dive (in 34F water). It was a great day until I was attacked by a suicidal deer while I was driving down the highway... Pretty much totalled the entire left side of my Tahoe. Fortunately I wasn't pulling the boat at the time!
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Old 01 May 2011, 12:58   #15
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hi Stoo

If the galvanizing on your trailer frame still looks good and there is no apparent damage ie:cracks, corrosion, broken welds etc... then it should still be good for quite some time....
The trailer frame will only fatigue if it has been subjected to a cyclic stress beyond the steel's elastic limit.
Imagine taking some steel flatbar between your hands and bending it very slightly repeatedly.....the bar will return to its original shape and condition after you stop. Now if you start bending the bar more strenuously to the point that it stays slightly bent and continue to do this in a cyclic manner then the steel will start fatigueing and eventually fail.

The dimensions of the steelwork used in your trailer should be of such that it will never reach its elastic limit (unless overloaded) and should therefore never fatigue.

On my trailer build, i opted for twin axles for similar reasons to why you want them but also the fact that the load is spread over twice the surface area. Twice the running surface in the bearings means less stress which means less wear. I chose two 1000kg axles instead of one 1600kg to in effect give the axles and suspension an easier time.

Hope this helps


Simon
I went with two 1300 kg axles on a very similar rig to yours ?
Jim
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Old 02 May 2011, 11:16   #16
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It was a great day until I was attacked by a suicidal deer while I was driving down the highway... Pretty much totalled the entire left side of my Tahoe. Fortunately I wasn't pulling the boat at the time!

I hate when that happens...

Glad you're OK;

jky
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