Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trailer wheel alignment

      Well,  quite a few things to get all done before rolling out.  Packing up the last of our junk in the shed, storing the car, finishing the eaves & overhang on the shed, and getting some wheels back under the trailer.
       In the spirit of going now, work gets classified into wants and needs, or by level of urgency.  In the case of the boat last summer, it was holes near the water line first.  For the camper, it's what might put us on the side of the road.  Not as bad as sinking a boat, but burning through tires is pretty high up there on the trailer avoid list.
       On the last trip, one of the tires lost about half the tread.  After measuring the alignment, the front axle was steering right, rear axle steering left and a fair toe out.  Three wheels were turning right, and the one poor tire was turning left.  Talking with Doug and Jim, I proposed various tug-o-war arrangements between truck and tractor with the trailer in the middle, or a tree on one end, or using the loader bucket with chains.  In the interest of mechanical carnage, they kept encouraging me.  But eventually, thinking it over, and talking to neighbor Don who produced a chain hoist, we settled on the following method of trailer torture:
       First, correct the steer of the axles, measuring from the hitch to each wheel hub.  Elliot and I chased the threads on the U-bolts with a die and removed the axles as shown, and I used the electric die grinder (router) to oval the locating holes another 1/8 to 1/4 inch to allow fore-aft adjustment of the axles on the spring bolt.   Measure and set the steer, then torque down the U-bolts.  I put a paint mark on the spring/axle perch for the correct location, in case they move in the near future I can notice.
         Second, 'straighten' the axles to get close to zero toe.   The A frame pushes on the axle at one side and near the center of the axle, and the chain hoist pulls at the 1/4 point of the axle.   Measure the toe while tweaking the axle, over-straighten the axle to get some toe in, and after releasing the chain hoist, the axle is close to zero toe.  Use a straight edge across the outside of the wheels to judge which corner is the worst offender for toe,  after setting both axles steering straight with the hitch.
        So that was the main trailer project keeping us from pulling out.   All ready to roll tomorrow.  Oh, I also fixed the trailer brakes, shorted out in the front axle.  I've heard brakes are nice to have.   More pictures of the trailer wheel alignment


  1. This is nice to see how you came out of this problem. Thanks for sharing this useful post.

    1. Thanks for looking! See we can fix anything with some blocks of wood and a hydraulic jack or a come along! Later in the trip I got a little more camber on the rear axle, by just jacking up in the middle, against the weight of the trailer.

  2. For reference, here's a professional doing a trailer alignment, straightening the axles to adjust camber and toe. They showed here doing the camber on one side.


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