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Old 06-28-2009, 09:45 AM
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Talking Hopeless Newbie, Ignorant and Unashamed!

OK. I got my first boat last September and it came with a fancy trailer that I never use because the boat sits in the water. I tried to lift the boat out for the first time yesterday to install a new prop, but I quickly found that all four wheels of the trailer are either frozen or the brakes are on. The trailer simply drags across the ground.

I live in The Bahamas and I have no experience with trailer brakes of any kind. We're not as heavily regulated as you are in the US and I don't think many people have brakes on their trailers at all. Then again, we do a lot less trailering here, cause we're never very far from the water. Boats tend to either stay in the water or sit on their trailers right beside it. They don't take long road trips.

I've had a long careful look at the trailer and I think I have a pretty good idea of how the surge brakes work, but that hasn't helped me figure out why my wheels are locked. It could be something very obvious and simple (did you turn the flagimatator off? Duh!) or it could be something simple but bad, like the one time I used the trailer before (Sep '08), I just parked it, wet with saltwater and have paid no attention to it since and now the drums or the hubs themselves are just frozen up and need serious attention. However, if the latter was the case, I wouldn't have thought all four wheels would have locked up, or that one of them might have loosened when I started dragging it with the truck. All four are like, immovable.

Can someone run me through the basics of the system and / or give me an opinion on what's wrong and how to fix it? I'm itching to try my new prop out. Any help would be much appreciated.
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:54 AM
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Do the brakes lock up in reverse?
Did you put the actuator pin in?
Is your electrical plug connected?
These are the first things you should look at. The trailer should be able to roll as long as the pin is in and the electrical plug is in. I am not a trailer expert by any means. This is probably the extent of my help. But there are others here that are a wealth of knowledge.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:20 AM
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Get a piece of 2x6 or a brick or anything that will let you drive one wheel of the trailer up onto it; thus elevating the other wheel off the ground. This will allow you to spin the wheel (or not). This will be a good time to remove the wheel to inspect the drum and bang it off.
Then remove the brake pads and throw them away. Reinstall wheel and go onto the next wheel.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:26 AM
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Check as mentioned above first. Usually there is a breakaway chain attached to the actuator. If the arm at the end of that is pulled toward the front, Knock it back.

Sounds like you might have rusted together. At any rate, after long periods of non use in a salt air environment, it probably makes sense to inspect the internal conditions of the drums and shoes. There should be a slot on the inside of the backer plate where you can get a flat blade screwdiver in and loosen the shoe tension. Then if the wheel spins when jacked up, at least you should be able to remove the drum after removing the spindle nut, washer and bearings.

If it is all wasted in there, then you will either need to replace as needed, or maybe just remove the shoes if you can (if all you are going to use it for is to pull the boat out for service, laws permit, and it's a small light boat). Use common sense on that one, certainly ok just to pull the boat out to change props.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:27 AM
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What brand of flagimatator does iy have?


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Old 06-28-2009, 11:04 AM
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Default Thanks, but....

Gentlemen,
Thanks for your replies, but you have underestimated the extraordinary depth and breadth of my ignorance. So, what's an actuator pin, what does it look like and where does it go?

The electrical plug certainly wasn't plugged in because my neighbor's truck has no place to plug it. Are these things set up so that they can't be used without the plug being in?

And SnapperHead, the flagimatator is, of course, an Acme! Yeesh!

Best to you all.
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Old 06-28-2009, 12:45 PM
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Several things: first, about your caption for this post, we here are totally unaccustomed to such complete and noble honesty, and far more used to the usual b/s prone, blowhard, ego obsessed, "power" power boater. God what a breath of fresh air!! Welcome.

Now, about the trailer. Yes, just get rid of the brakes for your usage unless they are legally required, and I gather they aren't. For your towing, they are useless.

Next, yes, parking it wet with saltwater and leaving for nine months will do it by freezing the brakes. Do you have brakes on both axles? If yes, then that is probably your problem with all four wheels. Usually though it is more common to have them only on one axle. If yours are only on one, are you SURE the two without the brakes won't turn? If so, then you have a second problem.

As to the second problem, wheels WITHOUT brakes won't turn, it is much easier to deal with. The suggestion above to start by raising it's mate (the one WITH brakes) onto a block to elevate the other is a good one. YOu can usually break the non-brake one free with hammer, heat, etc. You get the idea....appropriate force.

The brake ones are a bigger problem. There you can try breaking each wheel free, as above. Any (wheels) it doesn't work on you are probably going to have to disassemble. This is considerably easier when you are NOT going to reinstall/repair the brakes. You can trash any part of the assembly in removing it, and not have to worry about it, except for the axle and bearings, which of course you will still need.

This is not detailed, but hope it will help give you the idea. If you are going to permanently disable the brakes, you don't need to worry about actuator, electric power, freeing the brakes in reverse, etc.
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Old 06-28-2009, 12:50 PM
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P.S. If you SURE you have surge brakes, then use cemiii's suggestion above. Make sure the little cable on the hitch is hooked up to the truck, and that the lever it is attached to is free and back to the rear. If it is not (rear-ward) it will lock the brakes. If all four wheels have brakes, that could be you major problem. It also takes two minutes to check, which makes it an appealing fix.
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Old 06-28-2009, 01:11 PM
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A set of 1/4" safety chains hold a trailer to the vehicle. Another, smaller gauge, chain runs from a little lever on top of the tongue to the hitch. In the event that the trailer comes loose from the vehicle, the small chain is stretched and this pulls that lever forward; thus activating the trailer's brakes.

Surge brakes work by sensing a vehicle stopping and applying brakes. It does this by inertia. Trailer moving forward when vehicle slows down; causes trailer to compress a cylinder of hydraulic fluid. IF the wiring is hooked up, placing the vehicle into Reverse doesn't compress the cylinder. If the wiring is not hooked up, then Reversing the vehicle compresses the cylinder and your trailer stops...or skids.

Those of us that don't like to use the wiring place a C-clamp onto the tongue to prevent the compression cycle.

This isn't your case if you were moving Forward and the wheels were skidding. See my prior post about that situation.
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Old 06-29-2009, 08:52 AM
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Default Really grateful!

I have to say I'm really grateful to all of you who took the time to help me with this. Bamaboy, for you to go to the trouble of taking and posting pictures of the trailer parts was really above and beyond. I'll try and "pay it forward" if I can by helping some other newbie with my limited knowledge. KeywestSavage, thanks also for your kind remarks. You want honesty? Listen to this. I only know like...two knots, but one of them's a bowline so I'm probably okay.

Having read all the posts, I think the best thing for me to do is remove / disable the surge brakes. I live in a gated community built around a canal system and all I wanted to do on Saturday was run my boat 300 yds along private roads from the boat ramp to my house and back. I ended up changing the prop standing in the water behind the boat, chest-high in water and knee-deep in some seriously oogy bottom, but it got done.

When I get the boat serviced, I run the boat itself to the marina and they lift it out. Since trailer brakes are not required by law here and I've read on several forums that the care and maintenance of surge brakes is a PITA in any case, they seem like more trouble than they're worth. My boat is a 20 foot Hydra Sports dual console, so I'm not trying to move the Queen Mary.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brilander View Post
I have to say I'm really grateful to all of you who took the time to help me with this. Bamaboy, for you to go to the trouble of taking and posting pictures of the trailer parts was really above and beyond. I'll try and "pay it forward" if I can by helping some other newbie with my limited knowledge. KeywestSavage, thanks also for your kind remarks. You want honesty? Listen to this. I only know like...two knots, but one of them's a bowline so I'm probably okay.

Having read all the posts, I think the best thing for me to do is remove / disable the surge brakes. I live in a gated community built around a canal system and all I wanted to do on Saturday was run my boat 300 yds along private roads from the boat ramp to my house and back. I ended up changing the prop standing in the water behind the boat, chest-high in water and knee-deep in some seriously oogy bottom, but it got done.

When I get the boat serviced, I run the boat itself to the marina and they lift it out. Since trailer brakes are not required by law here and I've read on several forums that the care and maintenance of surge brakes is a PITA in any case, they seem like more trouble than they're worth. My boat is a 20 foot Hydra Sports dual console, so I'm not trying to move the Queen Mary.

Thanks again everyone.
Glad I could help


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Old 06-29-2009, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brilander View Post

And SnapperHead, the flagimatator is, of course, an Acme! Yeesh!

Best to you all.
Touche...
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Old 06-29-2009, 05:49 PM
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yeah, that was a Leno comeback...pretty good, but so was Snappers question so we need a rematch between 'em
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