Spruce Up Your Trailer
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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