June 25, 2009

UPDATED! Trailer Repairs....

While parked for weeks in the Duluth area, I decided to take care of a few "trailer chores" that I'd put off for long enough. More than a few weeks ago, the slide out mechanism quit working. We could hear the DC drive motor running, and manually crank the slide out, so I suspected there was some sort of clutch between the motor & the gearbox that had failed.
I removed the gearbox easily enough, and once the box was open, the problem was obvious, there was metal residue in the grease, and the teeth on a drive gear were completely gone! It took about a week of research on the phone and internet to confirm that the 1998 Alpenlite used a mechanism manufactured by Barker. The Barker folks were great, shipping me the near gear assembly promptly at a very reasonable price, saving a few hundred dollars on a whole new mechanism and a dealer repair!

I also decided to check the brakes and repack the bearings on the trailer. Over the past couple of months, the brakes seem to have weakened, and anticipating the mountains of the southwest later this year, the timing was right.
The first couple of wheels proved my suspicions that the shoes were in bad shape, worn thin with cracking across the linings. Opening the second wheel I had a surprise---the cotter key used on the last brake job was one size too small, had broken off, and that tiny bit of weight wobbling around in the grease cap had caused it to fall off in the wheel hub cover and roll around in there for quite a while. So, impending disaster saved!

The big surprise was in the third wheel. When pulled off one of the brake shoe linings was riding inside the drum, the drum was badly scored, and the DC brake solenoid had grabbed the inner drum surface, bent it's retaining arm, and was badly worn at an angle across it's face. The local folks at Lakehead Brake and Clutch had all the parts, and were able to save the drum.

As I finished up the last wheel with new linings and fresh grease, I realized how lucky we were to have avoided a complete failure somewhere on the road!

When we bought the truck last fall in Portland, the previous owner had passed along a brand new US Brake "D'Celerator" exhaust brake for the Cummings diesel. Another case of procrastination, I had put off this job too long also. So, since the brakes were done, I headed over to Bill's Muffler Shop, and Bill himself did a masterful job of cutting a section of the 4" stainless exhaust pipe out, and installing the new brake mechanism. A little wiring when I got back "home" (the trailer), and we now have a diesel exhaust brake like the big 18-wheelers!
so, if you here that bla-bla-bla big truck noise, it just may be us coming to pay a visit...

July 13th - just got in and installed the new Xantrex C60 Charge Controller which has more capability (up to 60amps) and has equalization for the batteries. The install took the better part of a day, largely due to having to snake larger solar array panel wires through the side of the trailer, and take apart most of the kitchen cabinets to run the small cable for the remote display.

While I was at it, I made the tilt brackets for the solar panels and even this early in the morning here in Duluth, the charging output went from 6 amps to 7 amps, just from tiliting the panels about 18 degrees!