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Old 18 May 2007, 05:49   #1
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How to Shorten Trailer?

Hello all, I have a Ribcraft 5.45 on a Rapide trailer.

After about six years, I've finally decided to do something about the length of the trailer drawbar - to my mind the hitch assembly / front draw-bar sticks out about 30" more than it needs to. Plenty of folk have made a similar observation over the years. The overall length causes a fair degree of embarrasment when I try and park the trailer in our normal holiday parking space.

The factors I've considered are:

Possibility for car / trailer collision during very tight turning

That the tailgate can still be opened when hitched up

The probable need to move the axle to re-balance the hitch loads

The change in trailer handling - more sensitive in reverse?

Physical clash of any parts - e.g handbrake spring tube

Will need to shorten brake cable.

Will need to protect all cut surfaces. (Suggestions please!)

I can't see any show-stoppers from the above; this looks *almost* as simple as removing the two (12mm?) bolts which attach the whole Bradley coupling/hitch/brake assesmbly from the trailer's square section front tube, cutting off the aplicable length, and and re-mounting the unit further back.

Have I missed anything?

One area I know I'm going to have some hassle is re-locating or re-sourcing the small round steel tube which lives inside the square section tube where the front 12mm attachment bolt does it's thing. I assume this tube provides both crush resistance for the square tube and also extra 'load bearing' area for the attachment bolt. It looks like it could be a real pain to try and remove and re-use the old one - it goes right through (rather than sits snugly inside) the square tube, and was obviously then pressed / hammered /peened to keep the whole thing firmly in place. The fact that the rear holes (with no such crush-tube) have slightly 'ovalled' is telling me that this crush tube is pretty much essential, at least at the front location?

Any tips on how to attack this crush tube would be much welcomed - in particular does anyone know where I could obtain some very small quantities of what looks like 12mm / half inch internal dia steel tube - needs a reasonable wall thickness.

Any other hints and tips much appreciated. I have an engineering background but please assume DIY type tools and facilities only!
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Old 18 May 2007, 05:55   #2
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You forgot 'car will probably get wet while launching'.

It'll be easier to reverse as it is.

You can protect cut surfaces with spray on zinc paint. It doesn't look as good as galvanizing but after a few coats it'll work as well.
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Old 18 May 2007, 06:06   #3
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That was quick!

Thanks for the zinc input - will get myself some.

Yes the car in the water issue had occurred to me, but I can't actually remember the last time I didn't use either the mandatory tractor (Beadnell, hopefully re-opening soon) or a let-down rope.
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Old 18 May 2007, 06:54   #4
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Is the trailer too long or the boat just too far back on the trailer? Could you just move all the hardward forward - it sounds like more work - but if your trailer is like mine would involve no cutting/drilling etc just bolting and unbolting of clamps. If you have to move the axle you are already going to have to do this sort of stuff.

Just a suggestion (and if you decide it was a waste of time you can move it all back).
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Old 18 May 2007, 07:12   #5
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to be honest my trailer is a bit long as well and when i picked up the trailer i was of the thinking that i should shorten it by 24-30 inchs

however

over time i have come to realise this is a huge bonus for me as it means the car is that much further away from the water

attached is a pic of it so you can see how this compares to yours

personally i feel it is a big benefit for me....and....i can upgrade to a 7 - 7.5m boat and keep the trailer

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Old 18 May 2007, 07:26   #6
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Neil R, it sounds as though you pretty much have the measure of it. The anti-crush tubes are a good idea and you can make them by cutting a length of tube to the internal dimension of the drawbar tube and then tapping it into place down the inside of the drawbar. A couple of things work against you here. The new holes you have drilled will have burrs on the inside and if your tube is a slight interference fit, which is a good idea to prevent it moving out of place, then it will get caught on the burrs. Obviously you're going to have to get a file down the inside of the drawbar to remove the burrs. Also, the inside of the drawbar will have a seam, if it's on the bottom or top it will be in the way. Filing a V notch in the end of the anti-crush tube will avoid the seam and it is also helpful because it guides the anti-crush tube on its journey down the inside of the square tube. If the seam happens to be on the bottom of the tube, you may have difficulty drilling accurately from the top because the end of the drill will run and keep jumping the seam. If this is the case, mark carefully around the tube and drill from the underside.

Just painting the cut off ends will be fine, the galvanising will still work to protect the steel surprisingly well. I've used zinc loaded paint and I wouldn't use it again. It works by sacrificing itself so your painted ends will quickly deteriorate.

If you can't source suitable anti-crush tube, you could have a machine shop drill out a piece of 20 bar. This has the advantage of making the tube thick walled to spread the load of the through bolts.

Good luck.
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Old 18 May 2007, 07:36   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil R View Post
I can't see any show-stoppers from the above; this looks *almost* as simple as removing the two (12mm?) bolts which attach the whole Bradley coupling/hitch/brake assesmbly from the trailer's square section front tube, cutting off the aplicable length, and and re-mounting the unit further back.
Does your trailer allow you to loosen some U-bolts and slide the whole front bar backwards? If so I would have thought this would be easier than cutting the other end off?
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Old 18 May 2007, 12:37   #8
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Just painting the cut off ends will be fine, the galvanising will still work to protect the steel surprisingly well. I've used zinc loaded paint and I wouldn't use it again. It works by sacrificing itself so your painted ends will quickly deteriorate.
No offense intended here, Mr. Walker, but the hot dip galvanising on the tube does the same thing. Granted, it's thicker than the spray on stuff will be, and has a better molecular bond to the steel, but I would think that a few coats of the spray on stuff (cold galvanising) with a coat of something like epoxy paint over the top should hold up pretty well.

If you really want to protect the steel, there are a few paints out there that suck up and disperse moisture as they cure; supposedly they will stop any existing corrosion as well as prevent new corrosion from occuring. Pricey, though, and something of a pain to apply.

jky
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Old 18 May 2007, 12:54   #9
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No offense intended here, Mr. Walker, but the hot dip galvanising on the tube does the same thing. Granted, it's thicker than the spray on stuff will be, and has a better molecular bond to the steel, but I would think that a few coats of the spray on stuff (cold galvanising) with a coat of something like epoxy paint over the top should hold up pretty well.
Well, not quite. If the galvanising is complete, then there is no steel for it to sacrifice itself for. However, what I found with the galvanising paint was that the zinc quite quickly sacrificed itself and that left the paint part porous which held water and in itself was not a complete cover for the steel it was protecting. It took little time for it to deteriourate. As mentioned, I've drilled holes in galvanised steel and left them with no protection other than the galvanising around them and they seem fine. I've also got unprotected U bolts on my trailer and, although they do rust a bit they'll not a horrible mess. I once painted a galvanised trailer and that was a big mistake.
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Old 18 May 2007, 16:18   #10
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Are you on about the zinc weld through primers etc than come in an aerosol? Because they are really crap.

Epoxy zinc or Epoxy aluminium is totally different stuff - really hard wearing and brilliant at stopping corrosion. I used it on an old trailer that had all the galv coming off - trailer still looks like new 5 years later out in all weathers and used on the beach!!!
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