RV Time!!

RV_trailerIt’s the great American summer, kids off school, everyone taking vacations and planning road trips with their RV’s that sat waiting through the long winter for this opportunity. Dust everything off, fire everything up and load that puppy up. It’s time to go where you’ve never gone before, see things you always wanted to see in the comfort of your own RV. Finally, wheels rolling!

But what happens when the heat and the humidity start to follow you on your road trip? Do you know the main cause of failures on RVs and campers is brought on by the blazing heat of the summer?

Tires, tires, tires.

The most important part to your trip and yet often the most overlooked part as well. If you’re hot then you know the black top is hot, if the blacktop is hot then the rubber tires are suffering. Take that heat and drive down into Texas or lower New Mexico and you could be in a bad place if you haven’t checked them recently. Always check the tire pressure in your tires and look them over before any trip, be it large or small. You never know when a little rubber could come between you and your vacation experience!

There’s another beast that can make your vacation hot, sweaty and miserable. It happens suddenly, that warm feeling and sweat starts to trickle down your back, suddenly you’re sticking to the seat when you weren’t a moment ago. You don’t want to look but you have to, glance at the thermostat and you know instantly.

The air conditioning stopped working!

With the heat waves hitting the country it’s no wonder people are grumpy and on edge, but take away that precious AC and you’ll see a whole new side to it. Instant vacation self-destruction.

After all, if you have to sweat you should be on the beach, not stuck in four lanes of stopped traffic miles from the next rest stop.

Don’t get caught in the ragged heat of the summer blues. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable vacation full of fun and beaches, road trips and sunshine. But it’s not really a vacation if you spend it being miserable and spending money you didn’t have to on hotel rooms because a part on your RV failed you at an inopportune moment.

No one wants their vacation destroyed and no one wants to deal with grumpy kids when they’re taking the RV across the country. Stock up on all your RV and summer vacation needs at Trailer Parts Superstore!!!

Carry-On Replacement Axles

CarryOnBlogHere at Trailer Parts Superstore we are constantly looking to expand our product lines and more recently our OEM product lines.  We do this so that we can offer direct OEM replacement parts for our customers that desire direct replacements.  We have carried OEM replacement parts from trailer manufactures including EZ-Loader, LoadRite, Shorland’r, Magic Tilt, Venture, and Karavan for some time now. We now have the most common custom fit aftermarket replacement Axles for CARRY-ON Trailers.

They are replacement aftermarket trailer axles designed specifically for use with Carry-On open utility & enclosed cargo trailers. These quality aftermarket axles include pre-welded spring seats and have been precisely measured to perfectly fit your Carry-On Trailer frame assembly. Axle weldment includes spindles, spindle nuts, cotter pins & spring seats, Wheel Hubs and bearings sold separately.

We strive to offer our customers the parts that they need.  We want to provide a place that you can count on for having the exact parts you need, while also having the ability to deliver those parts as quickly as possible. We are constantly looking to expand our product lines and would love your input to do so.

Leaf Springs vs. Torsion

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The two most common forms of suspension on general duty trailer axles (1,500 lbs – 5,200 lbs) are going to be leaf sprung or torsion. Leaf Sprung axles can be visually identified by the fact that they will sit either on top of or below a set of leaf springs.  A torsion axle will mount directly to the frame and has giant rubber cords in the axle tubing that resist torsion and create suspension.  Torsion axles will have torsion arms on both sides of the axle coming down to the spindle.  We are going to discuss the Pros and Cons of both suspension systems and a few things to consider.

Leaf Spring Suspension:

Pros: One of the major benefits of a trailer leaf spring suspension is found on a tandem axle application.  In a tandem axle application the leaf springs on each side are connected with an “Equalizer Bar”.  The Equalizer bar is designed to equally distribute force between both axles.  This will limit any damage caused by curbs, potholes, etc.  Another positive with leaf spring suspensions is that many of the components are fairly easy and inexpensive to replace in the event of something needing replaced.

Cons: On the other end of the things, because there are a lot of components, there are a lot of components that can break.  Another con to leaf spring suspensions is that leaf springs work on the premise of flexing metal.  This can sometimes make for a bit of a bumpy ride.

Torsion Suspension:

Pros:  Torsion suspension works on the premise of flexing rubber, which will create a smoother ride with less vibration.  Another Pro of torsion axles is that, although expensive, they are relatively easy to replace.  There is no welding required because they bolt directly to the frame.  A torsion axle is a self-contained suspension unit, which eliminates many of the smaller components and moving parts that are found on leaf sprung suspensions.

Cons:  Due to the fact that torsion axles are independent from each other, there is no transfer of impact.  This means that in the event that a pothole or curb is hit, the full force of that impact will be on that one wheel creating more chance for damage.  Secondly, it can be difficult and in many cases impossible to repair a torsion axle.  The rubber inside the axle tubing makes welding out of the question, which also means in the event of catastrophic damage, the entire axle would more than likely need to be replaced.

Backyard Ice Rinks ‘Tips & Tricks’

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Tis’ the Season for setting up your own Backyard Ice Rink for friends and family.  With ice time at the local rink at a premium Backyard rinks are becoming more and more popular.  It is perfect for training, practice, family fun, friendly games, and much more.  When you have your own backyard ice rink there is no pressure to fit everything in during your you brief ice time slot at the rink.  When you have a backyard ice rink, ice time is any time.  Here is a quick ‘How to’ for setting one up followed by some pro tips to make your back yard ice rink the best on the block.

HOW TO INSTRUCTIONS

1. Where to Build the Rink. Find the most level area of your yard with relatively dry and solid soil. This space will be your workable area for building a rink. Rinks that have over 18” of water are very challenging to build and more expensive due to requiring additional bracing, more lumber for the rink frame, and increased water required for filling. It is advisable to try to avoid highly sloped areas when building a rink and also to be close to a water source.
2. How Big. Determine the desired size of the ice rink. Keep in mind that it must fit on the workable area that was determined in the step above. The size of your rink will be very important when purchasing a liner. A liner should be at least 4-5 feet longer and 4-5 feet wider than your rink frame.
3. Survey. Precisely determine and document the grade/pitch of your rink outline using a line level or a laser level. The grade will be your guide for spacing the Iron Sleek™ Brackets. It will also guide you on setting your board heights.
4. Layout and Build. Build your frame using the Iron Sleek™ Rink System. Typically, the brackets are spaced 4 feet apart and all corners are secured with Iron Sleek™ Corner Brackets. We strongly recommend using lumber versus plywood. Plywood is not durable and is flexible. For rinks that require higher board heights due to excessive land grade, you should use the Iron Sleek™ Extender Bracket to add extra boards. The major benefit of the Extender Bracket is that it CAN be an afterthought. If your rink is already built and you have an “oh no” moment, you can easily install the Extender Bracket WITHOUT disassembling any component of your rink!
5. Inspect Boards. After the frame is completely built, closely inspect the inside of the rink boards for protrusions or anything that could puncture the liner. Remove all protrusions and sharp ends. Also, be sure the frame is solid.
6. Fill Gaps. Inspect the bottom of the boards for air gaps. If you can slip your fingers between the bottom of the rink frame and the grass, you should back fill the inside of the rink with dirt to fill that gap. Air gaps can allow for liner “bladders” to get under the boards and possibly puncture the liner. A frozen “bladder” may expand to lift or loosen the rink frame. FILL THE AIR GAPS! Do not use snow to fill the air gaps. Snow will melt from the fill water. Use dirt, preferably top soil.
7. Inspect Playing Area. Closely inspect the grass area within your rink frame for anything that can puncture the liner. Also, clear all snow from the rink skating area.
8. Layout the Liner. Carefully stretch your liner inside of the rink frame. Be sure to leave plenty of slack in the corners and to tuck the liner down to the bottom of the boards. Drape the excess liner over the rink frame and the Iron Sleek™ Hardware. This will keep the brackets dryer through a thaw and will keep the boards from absorbing heat on sunny days.
9. The Pour. Fill the rink with water! When you have completed the water fill, the lowest part of your rink should have at least 4” of water. DO NOT LET THE WATER SPILL OVER THE RINK FRAME! If you are close to spilling over, turn off the water and add a “2nd story” of lumber to the high water end using the Iron Sleek™ Extender Bracket.
10. Secure the Liner. After the rink is full of water, you can staple the excess liner to the outside of the rink frame. A flapping liner can end up in the water possibly causing it to escape over the top of the liner.
11. Time to skate. You will need a solid 3” of ice to skate. We recommend you walk and inspect the rink after 3 or 4 days of temperatures under 20°F before skating. A skate that breaks through the ice can tear the bottom of the liner. Do not let this happen! Exercise patience before taking to the ice with skates.

PRO TIPS

Everyone that makes their own Backyard Ice Rink has their own little things that they do to improve the quality of the experience.  We are going to go over something’s that will help anyone create a top quality Backyard Ice Rink at low cost.

  • One tip to help give your rink a more authentic look is to add lines (red lines and blue lines).  One way to do this is with Eco-Friendly paint.  Ice Rink Makers have been known to both paint the tarp directly (depending on the depth of the ice) or fill halfway and let it freeze, paint the ice and fill the rest of the way and let freeze over paint.
  • Another way to create lines would be again to use Eco-Friendly paint but in a different way.  Some Pros will paint Ply Wood (cut in strips), old deck boards, or anything that will lay flat and can be frozen into the rink. Just make sure whatever you use will be flat enough not to protrude through the ice.
  • No one likes to miss the net but we all know that occasionally it does happen.  We suggest using netting or a mesh tarp strung between two fence posts mounted 20’ to 30’ apart.  There are many other techniques to do this but this seems to be the most popular and cost effective.

Drum to Disc Brake Conversion

DiscBrakeConverting old drum brake systems to updated disc brake systems is becoming more and more popular.  There are several reasons for these conversions but the most prominent being that a disc brake system is just more efficient.  Other reasons include ease of maintenance and the longevity of the system.  There are three main components of the system.

The first thing to decide when making the switch would be the type of actuator that best fits the application.  There are two options for the actuator.  First being the standard Surge activated hydraulic actuator.  Second being an Electric activated hydraulic pump called an Electric over Hydraulic (EOH) actuator.  The standard surge brake actuator is more applicable to single or tandem axle trailers rated at or below 7,000 lbs.  While the EOH actuator is better suited for greater then 7,000 lbs applications.

The Second major thing to consider would be the brand/version of trailer disc brakes that you want to install.  We have many different options available to fit different types of trailers.  The two most popular brakes we have for Boat Trailers are Kodiak (Dacromet/Stainless) and the Tie Down Engineering ‘G5’.  More popular brakes for an RV conversion would me the Kodiak (Dacromet) and the Tie Down Engineering Eliminator/Vented brakes.

The third and final component of the conversion would be the Brake Line Kit.  The brake lines do not need to be replaced 100% of the time but with all the money being invested into a new system it is worth it to upgrade your lines.  The most popular Brake line kits for both surge and EOH is the Tie Down Flexible brake lines.  The flex lines are DOT approved for up to 3000 psi. and are the easiest to install.  We also have a large assortment of AG coated steel and stainless steel line kits.

Summer Brake Check

Traffic Jam

Summertime has come at last, a glorious time of cookouts and lounging by the pool in the blistering heat sipping on cool drinks. Some of us even weather the trip down to the beach on the packed highways and byways full of cars racing to get to the sand and the smell of salt water and fried food. What people don’t realize is that this is a truck driver’s worst nightmare. Roads full of cars bogging them down on their journey to pick up or drop off their scheduled load.

During the summertime the braking systems on tractor trailers take a beating. It isn’t just the ominous ‘gator’ with its glistening silver belted teeth waiting to eat your car tire that you need to worry about, it’s the tractor trailer who’s brakes suddenly decided to stop working on the trailer. Suddenly a fifty thousand pound wall is moving at you and the brakes only work on the tractor, effectively halving the stopping speed and power of one of these massive mountains of metal and fiberglass. Heaven only help you if you cut one off and his brakes don’t work, you won’t know what hit you.

Literally.

So what, as a driver, can be done about the brakes on trailers to keep them working consistently and effectively? First you should do your standard walk around pre-trip inspection, if you hear any leaks or see any visual damage done to either the red or blue airlines linking the truck and trailer together. Check your belly lines to see if there is any visual wear or if one of the springs has broken to let them drag. D.O.T. checks these lines first as well and who really wants that ticket?

If you hear any leaks around your trailer tandems, odds are it could be either a line going or coming from an airbag or brake chamber. The same can be said if you hear a leak coming from the red and yellow parking brake on your dash when the trailer is attached, this can many times be a brake chamber back-feeding out through the valve in the dash.

Your brake shoes and drums themselves need to be inspected as well as the slack adjusters and s-cams that keep them working properly. These can fail without there ever being an indication that there was a thing wrong in the first place. Always check to see any damage done.

Nobody wants to be faced with the decision to hit a car that cut them off or roll their trailer on the shoulder because the brakes decided not to work. Check everything, keep an eye on it even if you think it is perfectly fine.

Summer is supposed to be about beaches and relaxation, not accidents and regret. Do what you can now to keep yourself and everyone else happy and safe this summer!

D.O.T Blitz!!!

weighstationCheck your lights and tires, spray your lines and cross your fingers. The season of DOT Blitz is upon us again.

Every year DOT pulls more drivers over and leaves them stranded on the side of the road or in a scale house, waiting on a repair shop to get a service truck out to them. In the end they wind up paying almost double what it would have cost just to fix it right the first time!  Everyone dreads it and everyone waits until the last second to do something.

Get proactive!

Buy that ten dollar gladhand that will save you $200 in service calls when that angry or grouchy DOT officer pulls you over. No one wants to pay that amount of money for something so trivial, so why not take care of it when you can?

There are many ways to check what’s going on with your trailer that start with just a simple pre-trip check, all the way to having a shop walk around it and check it for you. The first place to start checking your lights, for example, would be to start with your pigtail. Check the connections and make sure there are no cuts in the line that visibly show wiring.

Sometimes it isn’t always the most difficult thing that knocks a light out of service. Always start at the front of the trailer and go backwards. You know your truck and you know how it reacts to the trailers that you haul, you know when things go wrong. A mudflap gets ripped off, a tire goes bald. If you wouldn’t ignore your truck then you shouldn’t ignore your trailer either! Trailers almost always have problems before the truck and when things go wrong they can damage the truck.

DOT officers are looking for your trailer, one light out, a mudflap missing, and a bald or blown tire. If they pull you over one small audible air leak could shut you down and it is almost unbelievable how often leveling valves are to blame for air leaks that ruin runs and tie drivers up for hours waiting for repairs.

Take the time now to avoid time lost later! You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Check out the parts mentioned above and our entire Tractor Trailer Parts offering at Trailer Parts Superstore.

What Causes Uneven Tread Wear?

Unfortunately there is no simple answer.  There are a multitude of problems that will cause uneven tire wear and sometimes it has nothing to do with the tire at all.  It can be caused by anything from the hitch height on the tow vehicle all the way back to your suspension on the trailer.  We will go over the most common issues that cause uneven tread wear and how to identify it.

TreadWear

Ball Height
Ball Height on the tow vehicle is a main factor in determining wither the trailer rides level or not.  If the trailer is not towed level it can affect the load pressure on the tires. This is more important on a tandem Torsion Axle trailer because the two axles are independent of each other and will not transfer load between the two. On a torsion axle trailer you will find inside wear on the front axle if the ball is to low and inside wear on the rear if the ball is to high.  If you have a single axle trailer or a leaf sprung trailer it is still important to have a level trailer but it shouldn’t affect tire wear.

Over/Under Loading
Trailer axles are design with specific cambers (or bends) that match the weight capacity of the axle.  This is done to help the axle ‘flex’ into position when load is applied.  The camber in the axle will flatten/level when the trailer is near or at the axle capacity.  If the trailer is over loaded it can over camber the axle which will, over time, begin to wear the inside of the tires.  If the trailer is under loaded over an extended period of time it can begin to wear the tires on the outside.

Tire Pressure
Trailer Tires (‘ST’ or ‘LT’) are designed and manufactured differently than car or truck tires. This can lead to some hesitance to inflate a ‘ST’ to the maximum pressure listed for the tire.  Trailer tires should be inflated to the maximum pressure listed on the tire, which sometimes can me as high as 90- 110 psi.  The tire is made to be able to hold the pressure as well as the fact that that pressure is needed to give the tire the carrying capacity that it is rated at.  Under inflating a tire can cause not only a lower weight capacity but it can also cause wear on the outsides of the tire.

Broken Suspension/Bent Axle (Leaf Sprung trailer)
If you can eliminate all other issues that was discussed previously you can begin to check the trailer leaf springs or trailer axle. We put these two together because they are integrated systems on the trailer and is easy to check the both at the same time.  It is best to let the tire tell you where to begin your search.  Look at the tires and localize the wear, example: right side tire with inside wear, or both tires inside wear.  Once you have the area localized first check leaf springs.  The center bolt on the leaf springs should both be equal distance from frame rail.  If this is not the case the springs should be replaced.  Also visually inspect leaf springs for any broken springs, bolts, or shackles.  Once you can eliminate leaf springs from the issue it might be time to replace the axle.

Pre-Season Check List.

CheckListIts that time of the year again to go through your pre-season trailer check list.  There are several things to check or maintain on your trailer on an annual basis before the heavy usage begins.  These things help to ensure the trailer is in tip top shape and most importantly safe.  Most of the things that have to be done are easily over looked because they don’t seem important or maybe they seem redundant or hard to do.  Here’s a simple check list to go through before each season that will help pro long the life of the trailer and help make it safer.

Trailer Tires

Trailer tires are constructed differently than a standard passenger car tire and have to be treated differently.  After sitting all winter it is good to check a couple different things with the tires.  First thing to check is the tread of the tire.  The tread of the trailer tire should be even depth across the width of the tire.  If this is not the case it is usually an indication of an issue with axle or suspension (More on this to come).  Side walls should also be checked to ensure there isn’t any cracking or deterioration.  Next check the tires PSI, it is suggested to run ‘ST’ and ‘LT’ trailer tires at the maximum PSI listed on the tire.  Finally check lug nuts to ensure none are loose.

Hubs

There are several different types of trailer hubs as well as lubrication systems available on the market.  The best thing to do would be to remove hub/drum/rotor to repack bearings and check seal.  This can be a lot of work depending on the set up so it’s often over looked.  If this is something that is not going to get done that doesn’t mean nothing should be done.  Most of the time (except drum brake applications) the rear seal can still be checked for leaks without removing anything.  Also take advantage of the lubrication system being used to lube up (check owner’s manual or call us for specifics) and check old grease for any contaminants that could indicate an issue.

Electric Brakes

Electric Drum brakes should be checked to ensure that they are properly adjusted.  Also check that the magnets are still functional and the best way to do that is to use the breakaway kit.  Pull the pin on the breakaway kit and listen for the magnets.  Once the pin is pulled you should hear the magnets humming.  If this is not the case, then check out “Electric Brake Troubleshooting”.

Hydraulic Brakes

Short of bleeding the brakes and adjusting the (drum) brakes there is no fancy way to test them until you hit the road.  What you can check is pad/shoe wear to ensure that they are still at safe levels. Also check for any leaks in the system and make sure master cylinder is full.

Lights

Lights are probably the most simple to check although it is easiest with help.  With trailer plugged in to the tow vehicle check the running lights, brake lights, turn signals, and all marker lights.  If there are broken or non working lights it might be a good time to up grade to LED lights.

Spring Has Sprung at Trailer Parts Superstore!

Well, now that the warmer weather is starting to make it’s move into the central and northern parts of the country many folks are thinking of getting their towable boats & RV’s ready to roll for the season.  There are many things on the “to do list” in order to get a trailer ready for the season.  One of the most over looked things on that list is the trailer leaf spring, and there are a few reasons for this.

It is easy to over look trailer leaf spring maintenance because it is not something that needs to be done very often.  Just because something does not require often or annual maintenance does not mean it should be over looked.  Trailer leaf springs should be checked often to ensure that they are always in safe working condition.

Things To Look For:

If all of those things check out fine then your leaf springs should be good to go.  Just make sure to go through the same check next time trailer maintenance is done.  If there was an issue noticed and the springs need to be replaced, that job is probably easier than you might think.

Replacing Leaf Springs

First thing to do is to identify which type of Trailer Leaf Spring you have and the proper way to measure it.  Once you have the correct replacement spring and all the proper hardware on hand its time to begin the job.  Remove Weight from springs and axle by jacking up the trailer (All trailers and situations are different so please use the safest way to do this, Jack stands and Wood Blocks work great).

With the trailer in the air and the axle lightly supported, remove the U-bolts being used to attach the leaf springs to the axle.  Keep in mind that gravity will come into play if the tires are off the ground they will drop to the ground when those bolts are removed. The shackle bolts can now be removed from the hanger and spring which should now release the spring.  Reverse process to install new leaf springs, bushings and shackle bolts.

Tips:

  •  We always like to stress safety so it goes with out saying that most of this job should be done without putting any major extremity under the trailer.
  • It is a perfect opportunity to replace the Tie Plate Kit   ($20-$30 Well Spent)
  • Get a Helper, It can be a one man job but it is a lot easier with help.
  • If you have a question, Call Us, Don’t Guess!!! 1-800-453-7379
  • Amount of Leafs does NOT automatically dictate weight capacity.  Always pick your Springs based on the weight cap. and not the amount of leafs