Spruce Up Your Trailer

Trail Rider - - SEASONAL GUIDE -

This spring, tune up your trailer for this sea­son’s tow­ing needs, whether or not you’ve used your trailer dur­ing the colder months. A well-main­tained trailer is safer than one in shoddy shape. Here’s a pointby-point run­down. ■ Check all tires. Check all trailer tires and spares; they should have good tread (at least one-quar­ter inch) and be filled with air to the tire man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­men­da­tion. They should also be free of dry rot and weak spots.

■ In­vest in spares. Carry at least one, prefer­ably two, spare tires for your trailer, ac­cord­ing to USRider® Eques­trian Mo­tor Plan (www.usrider.org). One blowout can dam­age other tires.

■ Ro­tate your tires. Tire ro­ta­tion will even out the tread wear. While the tires are off, lu­bri­cate the wheel bear­ings and in­spect the axle ends for wear.

■ Check the brakes. The brake pads/ shoes might need to be re­placed. On a lathe, turn the drums/ro­tors at least ev­ery 10,000 miles; more of­ten if they stick, make un­usual noises, or aren’t prop­erly brak­ing your trailer. ■ Tighten the lug nuts. When re­plac­ing the tires, man­u­ally tighten the lug nuts to the man­u­fac­turer’s sug­gested level so that you can loosen them in an emer­gency with a lug wrench on the side of the road. Make sure they aren’t rusted or stripped.

■ En­hance your tire kit. Add a proper-size lug wrench, a two-foot ex­ten­sion pipe, chocks, a drive-on jack, and some spray lu­bri­cant to your tire kit.

■ Re­move and clean the mats. Re­move the trailer mats, and scrape, sweep, then hose out the dust, sweat, and urine from them. Use any stan­dard clean­ing prod­uct to get down to a cleaned sur­face; use a pH-sta­bi­liz­ing prod­uct to fin­ish the job.

■ Check the floor­boards. Make sure the floor­boards are se­cured with screws, not just sit­ting on the metal chan­nel. Use a screw­driver to check for weak places or rot in wood; those boards must be re­placed. Use treated wood or Rum­ber (www.rum­ber.com). Even metal floors and frames can rust or cor­rode, so check the frame where the boards are at­tached. Weak spots could fail under travel con­di­tions.

■ Lu­bri­cate the metal. With spray lu­bri­cant, lu­bri­cate ev­ery metal part in the trailer, such as latches, hinges, pins, etc.

Re­place the mats. Now you can re­place the trailer mats. Check the lights. Make sure all the trailer lights work (parking, run­ning, flash­ers, brake and turn sig­nals). Check for loose wires that need to be tied up in­side and under the trailer, or any ex­posed or rubbed wires that might need a coat of elec­tric tape or re­place­ment.

■ Check the emer­gency-brake-con­troller bat­tery. It’s best to have a sys­tem that bleeds power to the bat­tery to charge it at all times. If you don’t have this type of sys­tem, take the bat­tery to an auto-parts cen­ter, and have them check it for power. Make sure the switch is in good con­di­tion and that the ca­ble is con­nected to your tow ve­hi­cle’s frame.

■ Check the brake con­troller. Ver­ify that your brake con­troller is work­ing. To do so, check the man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions. They’ll usu­ally ask you to drive at a slow speed tow­ing your empty trailer, then en­gage only the trailer brakes. That way, you can ad­just the brakes to a set­ting that com­ple­ments the ac­tion of your tow ve­hi­cle. When you load your horse, you’ll need to ad­just the set­ting to match the load.

■ Re­plen­ish emer­gency sup­plies. Re­plen­ish all your emer­gency sup­plies, and add ex­tra tack and tack-re­pair ma­te­ri­als for those un­ex­pected mo­ments when some­thing breaks. — Re­becca Gimenez, PhD (an­i­mal phys­i­ol­ogy), a noted trailer and trai­ler­ing ex­pert and equine jour­nal­ist. As pres­i­dent and a pri­mary in­struc­tor for Tech­ni­cal Large An­i­mal Emer­gency Res­cue (www.tlaer.org), she’s an in­vited lec­turer on an­i­mal-res­cue top­ics around the world.

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