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Old 05 December 2017, 13:16   #1
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Is that smoke?

Holy handbrake Batman! Is that smoke I see coming from the wheels?

So there I was driving back from getting engine serviced.

Rolled trailer up to car, checked it after 5 mins driving, all good.
Short motorway leg, then urban traffic. All good.
New (to me) car. Tows pretty well I think to myself. All good.
Wow, that was a big pothole. Checks mirror. All good.

Turn at next junction. Huh? She's not pulling well. Huh? Tried heavier right foot (see above- new to me car)- more noise from engine- not normal acceleration. Not all good...

Better pull in. Great idea I think to myself. It's going to be all good.
Holy Sh!t Batman. Smoke from BOTH wheels? Not good.

Trailer handbrake lever had popped up! Problem solved but smoke continues, not quite all good.

What did I do next? To make it all good?
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Old 05 December 2017, 13:25   #2
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sounds like either brake is jammed on due to cables knackered or the bump has broken the rivets/glue that holds the shoe material and is rubbing/jammed on the drums.

probably need new cables, shoes and clean the drums up...common job on trailers. also adjust cables and grease the ram if required to stop the brake jamming when you compress it under braking and therefore the handbrake jumping on.

i'm guessing the long cable from hitch to cables wasn't adjusted correctly in order for the hand brake to jump on.
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Old 05 December 2017, 13:31   #3
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Depending on how far you've driven it you may have fried the shoes many are glued on and the excess heat may have detached the linings from the shoes
It can also fry the grease seals and allow the hot grease to escape from the bearings.
I'd strip both sides and check bearings and shoes
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Old 05 December 2017, 14:11   #4
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Depends on the hitch setup but the mechanism that links the handbrake and overrun brake uses a tube with a little lever that rotates round a short spindle under the hitch. Newer ones have a grease nipple on the "tube" so as it can be greased but older ones didn't and the "tube" seizes onto the spindle (generally doubles as the bolt that secures the handbrake lever)
If this happens the brakes won't release properly after the handbrake has been applied and the handbrake lever moves with the overrun mechanism. Make sure the main rod is moving back all the way, might need a chap with a hammer on the mechanism.
If you need to strip this to clean and grease it be very careful with the "energy store" ram for the handbrake as there's a lot of tension in it.
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Old 05 December 2017, 17:08   #5
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I released the parking brake, then tried to figure out the quickest way to cool the brakes (and stop the smoke).
So I drove off!

If the brakes hadn't released I'd know straight away, if they had released then there would be continual cooling airflow.
It worked, I avoided any braking I could and made it the rest of the way with one stop to check how things were going.

Thanks for the advice.
Jambo, I think you're right about linkage/greasing releasing, won't go near the energy store myself.
I had only travelled a short distance with the brakes on so hopefully not too much damage.
The parking brake still works and bites sharply when applied, so hopefully I won't find too much damage when I open them up.

As I stood there wondering whether my boat was about to be fried (rib flambe a la trailer) I thought about the fire extinguisher sitting at home. Won't tow without one again.
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Old 05 December 2017, 18:26   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron Dials View Post
As I stood there wondering whether my boat was about to be fried (rib flambe a la trailer) I thought about the fire extinguisher sitting at home. Won't tow without one again.
Interesting post. I tow 3.5 tons of trailered RIB up the hills and down the glens. I notice a very big difference in hub temperatures depending on ambient temperatures. Driving without heavy braking certainly cools them down quite quickly. Fire is a personal bugbear (I've had too many at "real" work to be relaxed) and I always have an extinguisher in the tow truck. My advice is make it a 2kg (a decent 20-30 second burst) and keep it where you can grab it - mine is mounted in front of the passenger seat rails - rally stylie.
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Old 06 December 2017, 01:18   #7
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Maybe keep a fire extinguisher on the Rib. Assist with fires at sea and would be there for towing issues like you describe (if itís somewhere easy and close to hand).
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Old 06 December 2017, 02:50   #8
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This one got hot !
https://youtu.be/phHWDpnSyVY
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Old 06 December 2017, 02:59   #9
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Yes, fire extinguisher on boat alright. I don't like fire (prob not alone in that) so wouldn't climb into a burning anything, would have been disconnecting car instead (plan B).

whiskylee, their brakes were fine!
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Old 06 December 2017, 03:53   #10
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If the brakes stick, the first thing I do is reverse a short distance, this quite often frees them off.
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Old 06 December 2017, 04:11   #11
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Maybe keep a fire extinguisher on the Rib. Assist with fires at sea and would be there for towing issues like you describe (if itís somewhere easy and close to hand).
I have one in the boat, but with a boat full of petrol I'm not sure how keen I'd be to climb aboard, get to the locker (which is strapped closed to stop it opening in transit) and get it out whilst the trailer smoulders underneath me! Its dry powder - which whilst it will put out a fire isn't great at cooling.

I suppose you could pee on the hubs to cool them!
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Old 06 December 2017, 05:13   #12
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There isn't much in the hubs of a trailer to burn, the smoke comes from overheated ferrodo which smokes a lot but doesn't burn
The only things in there that can burn are the grease seals which are in the centre away from the heat and the grease, whilst the grease seals can fail from the heat and allow grease to leak out it has to be extremely hot to do that & I doubt the centre of the hub will get hot enough to cause ignition.
You occasionally see truck brake fires but they have rubber seals on the brake cylinders at the perifery of the drum where the heat is most intense and a source of fuel in the form of brake fluid, once the seals fail the fluid feeds the fire
Whilst smoke pouring from the trailer brakes is pretty scary I think the chance of an actual fire are slim due to the lack of a fuel source
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Old 06 December 2017, 05:14   #13
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I suppose you could pee on the hubs to cool them!
A buddy kindly obliged when we a failure some years ago!
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Old 06 December 2017, 07:15   #14
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My top tip when trailing is not to assume that the guy in the BMW behind furiously flashing his lights is just an impatient driver desperate to overtake.

He might be trying to tell you that one of your trailer wheels is about to fall off...
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Old 06 December 2017, 10:01   #15
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^^^Or that one of the tyres on a twin axle trailer is in shreds!

I have seen a twin axle caravan that was towed with the handbrake not fully released.
The brake shoes & bearings were completely trashed - all the grease had vanished & the drums & the remains of the bearings were a lovely shade of blue so God knows how hot they'd got. The owner wasn't amused when told it wasn't a warranty issue.
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