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Calling All Trailer Experts


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Background: I have a 2006 Extreme tandem trailer.

Recently, I had some issues with the trailer brakes locking up when going over bumpy roads and not being able to reverse when there's a slight incline. The last outing was the worst. We were going down a hill at about 50 mph and I tapped the brakes to slow down. All of a sudden the trailer brakes locked up and the trailer started hopping down the road. Trailer tires smoked like crazy. We managed to come to a stop (thank God there was no one behind us). I checked everything and couldn't visually see anything wrong, besides the tires smoking! :whistle:

Here are things that I have as possible causes:

1. warped rotors

2. air in brake lines

3. actuator malfunction

I can't recruit anyone to help me bleed the brakes so I figured it's easier to take it to a trailer place. One came highly recommended so I gave them a try.

After the trailer shop inspected the trailer they found the following:

1. warped rotors-yes

2. air in brake lines-no

3. actuator malfunction-no (I'm questioning this one).

They also repacked my bearings. This leads me to my question.

I originally had oil bath hubs. After they repacked my bearings they replaced the oil with grease. (HUH?) Their explanation is the grease is a better way to go than oil and they replace all oil bath hubs with grease. If the oil leaks out then you have nothing lubricating the bearings. (I guess this makes sense). If the hubs originally came as oil bath, will the grease damage anything?

Also, I still have trouble backing up a slight incline, but it's intermittent. Should I just replace the entire actuator?

What do you guys think?

Thanks in advance.

Oh...by the way. Awhile ago I posted about abnormal tire wear. I had the trailer's alignment checked and it turns out both my axles are bent! :mad: I'm not sure when I did this. I do remember running over a curb once but at a slow speed. I guess that was enough to do it.

The quote for straightening out the axles is approx. $400 for both axles. You guys think I should do this or just replace tires as needed?

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After reading your abrupt unexpected emergency stop with the tires smoking and hopping around I wouldn't think that warped rotor's would not cause that. Unless the pulsing from the rotor on the caliper caused the actuator to initial movement :unsure: and this I find hard to understand myself but it's the best I could think of. I don't think the bearings have anything to do with your braking situation and yes I would for sure change the actuator. I wouldn't feel too comfortable driving down the freeway at this point!

I would fix the bent axles on the trailer too!

Edited by 68Slalom
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I can't believe they changed over your hubs to grease without asking first?

Anyway I think the rotors were probably warped during your downhill brake lockup, I don't see how they would have caused it.

Does your trailer ride nice and level on the truck all loaded up?

-Chris

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Your brakes locking up I would replace that reverse lock out actuator.

The rotors that are used today are junk they get hot hot spots and just warp sitting.

As far as those axles, from what I recall you said that the insides are wearing on all 4 tires. To were the insides out, that would be positive camber, should be at zero or maybe a little negative for weight. I would be concerned what bent them. A curb would not of done this on all 4.

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Change the actuator and fix the axles

I'm thinking the same thing. I know others have posted similar trailer problems and replacing actuator solved most, if not all, of their problems.

I can't believe they changed over your hubs to grease without asking first?

Anyway I think the rotors were probably warped during your downhill brake lockup, I don't see how they would have caused it.

Does your trailer ride nice and level on the truck all loaded up?

-Chris

I'm upset about this too, but, it's already done. I just know I will not be using them again. :mad:

The trailer rides nice and level all loaded up.

Your brakes locking up I would replace that reverse lock out actuator.

The rotors that are used today are junk they get hot hot spots and just warp sitting.

As far as those axles, from what I recall you said that the insides are wearing on all 4 tires. To were the insides out, that would be positive camber, should be at zero or maybe a little negative for weight. I would be concerned what bent them. A curb would not of done this on all 4.

Yes, this is correct. That's why I'm wondering if fixing the axles now is a good idea without knowing what caused it. The guy at the trailer shop seems to think going over a curb would be enough to bend these axles. :dontknow:

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My trailer will do the same thing if towing without the boat loaded on it. With boat, it works perfect. Was your boat loaded on the trailer when this happened? I have to use my lockout tabs in the actuator to prevent the lockup and axle hop if I tow the empty trailer.

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My trailer will do the same thing if towing without the boat loaded on it. With boat, it works perfect. Was your boat loaded on the trailer when this happened? I have to use my lockout tabs in the actuator to prevent the lockup and axle hop if I tow the empty trailer.

Yeah I had the boat on the trailer when this happened.

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How steep of a grade was this hill. On a steep incline wouldn't be too hard to fully engage the brakes.

Also do you have brakes on one or two axles?

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How steep of a grade was this hill. On a steep incline wouldn't be too hard to fully engage the brakes.

Also do you have brakes on one or two axles?

I'm guessing the hill is a 5% grade.

I have brakes on both axles.

We have a trip to the lake this weekend and will be going down the same hill. Let's see if turning the rotors did anything.

All I'm asking is for the actuator to hold up for one more trip. I've got a new actuator ordered and will be replacing it once it arrives.

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martinarcher

I would also suggest getting in touch with the manufacturer of your hubs and see if it is OK to replace the oil with grease. This just seems wrong.

Why? Most trailer hubs run grease. I would leave them packed with a good synthetic grease and add a couple bearing buddies and call it good. The grease won't leak out and the bearing buddies will keep water out of your bearings and extend their life.

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While I agree with 99 that it was wrong for them to replace that without asking first, it was actually one of the things that I contemplated doing on that trailer. After the initial fixes on the hub seals (IIRC all 4 hub seals needed replacing at one time or another), it was fine, but I was never all that confident in the system. Ironically '04 was the year that Extreme had all of the problems with leaky oil bath hubs, but our '04 never gave us an issue at all. Go figure. But what I'm getting at is that I personally would look at that as a positive on that trailer, IMO of course. FWIW, there are a number of people here that have done that conversion. It's not an issue.

As far as the braking issue, couple of thoughts. If the rotors were already warped, then I could see how it can create that situation. And I can see how they could become warped over time & lead to that, so in my mind that's the most likely explanation. Add a bad actuator into the mix....I can definitely see how a situation like that can quickly evolve. (I don't have time at the moment to explain why I think that at the moment, but will later if you like.)

Axles....I have a hard time believing that running over a curb would be enough to bend those axles. Maybe if it's a hard hit I guess. We never, ever saw the issues with tire wear that you're experiencing & put a lot of miles on that trailer in the 2.5 years that we owned it. Knowing that trailer the way that I do, I think that I'd get a second (third?) opinion before doing anything with that.

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I have an '05 extreme with oil bath hubs. I inspect the bearings every year and replace the oil and haven't had any issues with them. I would more than P.O.'d if the shop just decided to swap out my gear without calling me first!

Personally I don't thick the warpped rotors would cause the lock up, just vibration or chatter. The only way the brakes will lock up is if to much pressure is applied to actuator or if the acutaor is malfuncting.

Just wondering... how did the shop prove your axles were bent? It would take a lot of force to bend one of those steel beams.

As far as the tire wear; there isn't any adjustment for camber on the axle or spindle. It is posible that the rubber cartridges the splined shafts are in could be worn. But that would seem a little odd for all four to wear out at the same time.

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While I agree with 99 that it was wrong for them to replace that without asking first, it was actually one of the things that I contemplated doing on that trailer. After the initial fixes on the hub seals (IIRC all 4 hub seals needed replacing at one time or another), it was fine, but I was never all that confident in the system. Ironically '04 was the year that Extreme had all of the problems with leaky oil bath hubs, but our '04 never gave us an issue at all. Go figure. But what I'm getting at is that I personally would look at that as a positive on that trailer, IMO of course. FWIW, there are a number of people here that have done that conversion. It's not an issue.

As far as the braking issue, couple of thoughts. If the rotors were already warped, then I could see how it can create that situation. And I can see how they could become warped over time & lead to that, so in my mind that's the most likely explanation. Add a bad actuator into the mix....I can definitely see how a situation like that can quickly evolve. (I don't have time at the moment to explain why I think that at the moment, but will later if you like.)

Axles....I have a hard time believing that running over a curb would be enough to bend those axles. Maybe if it's a hard hit I guess. We never, ever saw the issues with tire wear that you're experiencing & put a lot of miles on that trailer in the 2.5 years that we owned it. Knowing that trailer the way that I do, I think that I'd get a second (third?) opinion before doing anything with that.

:clap: OK. Cool. As long as I'm not doing any damage to the bearings or any other parts. I was worried that it might mess things up like mixing brake fluids.

Yes, please. :thumbup:

I'll be going down the same hill tomorrow to get to the lake and will try to reproduce the problem. I did have the rotors turned so if the brakes do lock up again, it's gotta be the actuator. I already have one ordered and will be replacing it for peace of mind.

I have an '05 extreme with oil bath hubs. I inspect the bearings every year and replace the oil and haven't had any issues with them. I would more than P.O.'d if the shop just decided to swap out my gear without calling me first!

Personally I don't thick the warpped rotors would cause the lock up, just vibration or chatter. The only way the brakes will lock up is if to much pressure is applied to actuator or if the acutaor is malfuncting.

Just wondering... how did the shop prove your axles were bent? It would take a lot of force to bend one of those steel beams.

As far as the tire wear; there isn't any adjustment for camber on the axle or spindle. It is posible that the rubber cartridges the splined shafts are in could be worn. But that would seem a little odd for all four to wear out at the same time.

No proof at all. He just said he checked them on the alignment machine and it was bent. :whistle: Do those alignment machines print out reports? I'll be calling him back to ask if he can prove the axles are bent.

What parts are involved in changing the hubs over??? Just adding bearing buddies?? Or is there something else?

I don't see any new or additional parts at all! :mad: I figured they should at least put on bearing buddies. Nope. All I see is grease through the glass window at the hubs. I was going to switch it back to oil bath but after reading posts here I may just leave the grease in and get some bearing buddies and call it good.

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I am in agreement with WakeGirl and MartinArcher.

Once the rotors become warped they actually make the situation worse over time. You build up extra heat just going down the road in a straight line. So after they got warped from the downhill trip the first time they get progressively worse because the warping makes them already heated up before you go down a steep grade the next time. When the rotors get warped you really don't have a choice. You are going to replace them later when it gets so bad you cannot stand it.

As regards the trailer axles not being 100% straight I am of the opinion that 30- 50% of trailer axles are not perfectly straight. Most hub assemblys are welded onto the axle and the likelyhood that the welder got them 100% dead on in a high speed manufacturing operation is only about 70% or so. I've had 8 boat trailers. The axle on my current trailer is not straight because I can tell from the tire wear from towing it 30,000+ miles in 18 seasons.

Edited by DONTW8
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I've had warped brakes on vehicles in the past & the "pulsing effect" that is created when you step on the brakes would (IMO) be greatly exaggerated on a boat trailer, particularly if it's got a bad actuator. I can see a situation in which you have perfectly good brakes, going down a steep grade like that & get them hot, then come to a stop while they're still hot & engaged. That would more than likely warp the rotors, particularly if this is the same route that you take to the lake each time. After that, it's just going to get progressively worse.

Because of some of the tow rigs that we've had, I've looked at how to get more control over trailer braking & there are a few ideas. One would be to set up a switch in the cab that would lockout the brakes, utilizing the reverse lockout lead. You could then flip the switch before you get to your hill/grade. I never liked that option though, because unless you've got a 3/4 ton vehicle, the trailer brakes are very useful when in good working order. The other option that I looked at was to do an electric over hydraulic conversion that would allow you to use a trailer brake controller. That would be ideal because it allows you excellent control over how much braking that the trailer is doing, but it's more expensive even if you don't already own a controller. It's only money though, right? :)

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I've had warped brakes on vehicles in the past & the "pulsing effect" that is created when you step on the brakes would (IMO) be greatly exaggerated on a boat trailer, particularly if it's got a bad actuator. I can see a situation in which you have perfectly good brakes, going down a steep grade like that & get them hot, then come to a stop while they're still hot & engaged. That would more than likely warp the rotors, particularly if this is the same route that you take to the lake each time. After that, it's just going to get progressively worse.

Because of some of the tow rigs that we've had, I've looked at how to get more control over trailer braking & there are a few ideas. One would be to set up a switch in the cab that would lockout the brakes, utilizing the reverse lockout lead. You could then flip the switch before you get to your hill/grade. I never liked that option though, because unless you've got a 3/4 ton vehicle, the trailer brakes are very useful when in good working order. The other option that I looked at was to do an electric over hydraulic conversion that would allow you to use a trailer brake controller. That would be ideal because it allows you excellent control over how much braking that the trailer is doing, but it's more expensive even if you don't already own a controller. It's only money though, right? :)

I agree with everything but the rotors and that can go on for months. Heat causes many many problems,the biggest is bubbles the brake fluid. You have no pedal and you have no brakes.

I have been towing everything from 12 ft jet ski trailers to 50 ft car trailers. You are right the best system is is ELECTRIC. You can adjust them when you want them to work. So if you are not towing with a Duramax Dually you can adjust them to help stop your tow vehicle.

Tow vehicles are no problem with me I have the GVW. I do wish that they could find a way to put electric brakes on a boat trailer that would solve many problems for other boaters that are using the every day car as there tow vehicle. Also many states only require brakes on ONE axle that causes many braking problems.

The biggest problem other that water and electricity is that electric brakes work with a magnet that is in the brake system. It sends impulses and that is what works the brakes they just can not get wet. So for all you engineers out there find a way to get away from surge and make electric standard.

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....

The biggest problem other that water and electricity is that electric brakes work with a magnet that is in the brake system. It sends impulses and that is what works the brakes they just can not get wet. So for all you engineers out there find a way to get away from surge and make electric standard.

There are electric over hydraulic systems that are geared specifically for this situation.

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because you have problems backing up AND warped rotors there are a few things to check. I am thinking along the lines that your brakes may be dragging?

First off do a complete inspection on the calipers. Make sure that they still "float" and that they are not seized on the caliper slides. I think its very possible given its a boat trailer and submerged in water all the time. Lube them with Silicone Grease. Napa sells it as Silglide.

On the actuator you can check to see if somehow your safety cable was pulled. They are designed so that when pulled, the actuator applies AND holds the brakes. There is a little tab on the bottom of the actuator. I would check out the UFPwebsite video.

Do a really good examination of that actuator as well.

BTW---If you already did all this stuff and posted it.........sorry I am guilty of not reading the whole thread. :)

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There are electric over hydraulic systems that are geared specifically for this situation.

Bet they are real expensive. I have a truck with electric over hydraulic very touchy if you are moving slow.

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I personally can't see the Actuator being the problem... I also think it is overkill to replace the entire thing.. I had this experience when I had to replace the safety cable on my 05 Extreme.. I got the chance to remove the actuator and take it all apart and I saw how it works.. The only real moving part that can wear out and cause a problem like this is the spring that holds the actuator back from moving too far too quickly and aside from the other causes mentioned that is all I can see that may be wrong inside of the actuator.. You can also purchase the correct spring from UFP and I am sure it is much less money than the entire actuator...

As far as the greased bearings I wouldn't change them back to oil but I would for sure add Bearing Buddies.. They are very easy to do your self ( you just basically hammer them in place) but the most common place for the Oil bath bearing to leak is the set screw where the oil goes into on the hub.. That was where mine were leaking from and a little teflon tape cured that issue... Also the rotors are quite thin and when I bought the last boat it had a rotor that was half gone... I towed it from San Francisco to Home (Alberta) like that with my 1 Ton diesel and didn't know it untill I got home... I knew something was up with that wheel though as the evidence was all over the wheel itself...

Good Luck with the fix...

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