Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Stupid trailer

Seems like I've had to fix my trailer just about every time I've used it this season, clearly its due for a major rebuild in the off-season.

You might remember last time the passenger side taillight fell off. This time it was the license plate which was fortunately held to the trailer by the wiring for it's light.
Heres an in-progress pic of the repair:

I actually had to do a fair amount of work for this one, the bracket that held the license plate was just gone, a piece about twice the size of a quarter was left along with one of the bolts that held the plate. I ended up having to cut that bolt (and the palm of my hand while I was at it) to get the plate back off.
The repair was fairly simple, I welded a piece of corrugated pickup bed repair steel to a piece of 1/8" flat stock, then drilled holes for the plate mount and welded the flat stock to whats left of the trailer. The welds are NASTY, there wasn't much to weld to but if you can't make 'em look good make 'em big so they won't fail.

In the end I actually made the corrugated part too big because I didn't pay attention to how the plate light I'd bought mounts:

I'd added the tab on the right to hold the light which actually mounts perfectly above the plate. Oh well, I'll fix it when I fix everything else. Using a big plate like this will keep the license plate from getting bent as much.

To weld in the plate I needed to remove the tail light and of course the stud spun, so I ended up cutting the nut that held it on so that had to be replaced as did the plate light.

Monday night I went to the snowmobile club meeting and on a challenge I decided to ride in. About halfway to the parking area I hit a big bump and the running lights went out on the trailer. The brake and turn signals still worked though. Since I didn't have far to go I just kept going.

Today I finally took time to figure out what was happening. The first step was to prove it wasn't my truck which was easy, put the meter on the plug at the truck and it was fine. So then I went to the trailer and removed all the bulbs with the meter connected and set for resistance. In a normal world the meter would read some level of resistance while the bulbs were installed and open circuit (1 on my meter) when all the bulbs were removed.

In the pic above the bulbs have been removed and the meter is still showing a connection. Since I had recently worked on the trailer I automatically assumed my work to be faulty. I pulled the new tail light and let it dangle from its wires, when dangling its not grounded so it couldn't be the short. When that didn't help I was starting to get worried about one of the wires where they come down from the hitch. I got under there and started looking around and thats when I noticed the running lights under the tail of the trailer. When I got under the tail I found the wire running to them had been pinched in a piece of angle iron that had been used to strengthen the failing rear crossmember. When they'd welded in the angle iron they captured the wire between sections of weld, what a dumb move.

Those running lights had never really worked anyway so I just cut the wire. They're in a crappy place, under the tail of the trailer so they get whacked on the ground when the trailer is tilted. When I rebuild the trailer I'll flush mount them to the rear of the trailer and weld a frame around them to keep them from getting hit. Thats how my last trailer worked and it was a pretty good system. I'll use LED lights which are thinner and less likely to get hit anyway.