Saturday, August 1, 2015

Baby's Got Brand New Shoes!

Although it has been longer than I anticipated between blog posts, progress has been happening, but in small doses. The latest and most significantly visual thing is new shoes...uh...I mean wheels and tires!

Notice the new wheels and tires and the spare tire!
Note also, in the photo above, that we now have the spare tire mounted and covered, but more on that later.

Besides the new wheel and tire, notice anything else?
Before the wheels and tires were mounted this morning, we wanted the rest of the trailer looking good first, so Thursday morning, we washed the entire trailer and got rid of the green mildew that had built up on it. The front nose cap cleaned up reasonably well, but the rust stains that had tracked down the curved edges of the roof would not budge, but it was already too warm that day to continue.

On Friday, we used some Old Dutch Cleanser to literally scrub the edges of the roof, being careful not to wear through the paint or damage the Kool Seal that was recently applied. In some places the rust stains were also covered by some diluted Kool Seal that ran down over it.

I had made the mistake of trying to do two coats of Kool Seal in one day, and the dew got to it that night before it had set sufficiently. But the Old Dutch Cleanser got through the residue, and the edges of the roof look nearly new again. The only thing I couldn't get off were some greenish-yellow spots that look like some kind of paint, or maybe tree sap, that bonded with the paint so tightly that even abrasive cleanser wouldn't remove it. But the bright side is that the spots are so small, no one is even going to notice them. Really...who looks at roofs, anyway?

On Saturday, we both applied Kit Wax to the entire trailer, and even the fenders, and it sure does make a difference! The trailer is finally starting to look pretty good for its age (it's a 2000 model). Later on, I hope to be able to buff the deck plate stone guard on the front and bring back a nice shine to it, but for now, it's good enough for who it's for (as one of my old contractor employees always told me).

You probably also noticed that the spare tire is finally mounted. I had purchased a standard tongue-mount bracket, thinking I was going to put it up front, but when I tried the bracket, the spare tire hung down below the tongue so far that I had to raise the tongue to even mount the tire on the bracket! What are some of these engineers thinking? Every one of the brackets that I saw for mounting on a trailer tongue were basically the same size and shape, with the same amount of rise from the tongue to the place where the tire mounts to it! There is no way that anyone would be able to mount a tire to a trailer tongue without it hanging down eight inches below the tongue!

I was going to take the bracket somewhere where they could cut it apart and weld in a two-inch box tube riser to give it an additional eight inches of height, and weld it back together again. But my favorite welder has now retired and sold his shop, and to be honest, I don't know anyone else I can trust around here to do it right. So I had to consider other locations to mount the tire.

I finally realized that the best place for it would be right behind the fender on the street (right hand) side, But the bracket would have to be secured very tightly over the center of one of the metal wall studs. There's nothing behind the siding except rigid foam insulation, so any sideways movement could potentially damage the siding.

After what I thought was careful measuring, I drilled the holes...only to discover that two of them went through the upright corner of the accordion cabinet and one of those plus another top one went through the horizontal shelf support! If I had lowered the bracket or raised it about two inches, I could have missed the horizontal support, but due to having to straddle the metal wall stud, there was no way to miss the vertical corner piece.

Metal brackets behind the spare tire mount.
I ended up having to chisel out part of the vertical corner piece. I was able to remove the horizontal support completely, then cut it shorter and reinstall it. The metal brackets in the photo above are the two pieces that would normally mount on the inside of the tongue, but I was able to use them here just as well. The bolts are secured with lock washers and also nylon insert lock nuts.

On the outside, I used gutter seal around the bolts on the back side of the bracket before inserting them through the wall. The gutter seal mashed out nicely to secure the entire perimeter around the bolt holes so that no water leaks will occur. And although the spare tire bracket was installed the day before we washed the trailer, I did wash and wax the area behind the tire circumference before mounting the bracket. 

The spare tire bracket mounted on the trailer.
Once the tire was secured to the bracket, there were two extra parts installed...the parts that lock the tire so no one can steal it. The only problem with these parts is that they stick out too far and push out on the tire cover. Without some protection over the sharp ends, they would soon wear through the nice tire cover.

The spare tire lock in place.
These pieces of hardened steel, thread right on over the bolt studs, and then are locked together with a padlock. The only problem is that they made them way longer than they need to be, and even with the padlock pushed off to the side, the brackets still hit the tire cover! This should never happen, and is very poor engineering! There is no reason they couldn't have been made to lay much flatter inside the wheel and still do their job!

The spare tire lock poking through the center of the tire cover!
In the photo above, you can see the sharp point pushing the tire cover out. This would wear a hole in it within two weeks, guaranteed! To solve the problem temporarily, we found an old pint-sized butter tub, and put a rag inside of it, and then fit that over the lock. I had to hold it in place while putting the tire cover back on, but it's better than nothing...for now. I may have to re-bend those lock parts before we go very far with the trailer, and try to force them inward, so they don't even come near the tire cover!

I thought I had the bracket high enough to allow the turn signal on the top of the right-hand fender to be seen underneath the spare tire, but after I got it mounted, I can see that I did not raise it far enough.

The spare tire is too low to see the turn signal.
On the other hand, getting it too high means having to lift the tire that much farther when mounting it to the bracket, so that wasn't good, either. The only other solution is to add an extra light to the bottoms of the fenders. I've already checked on Amazon, and I can get a couple of nice oval LED surface-mount lights that match the size and shape of the rear lights on the trailer. They work for all running lights, stop lights and turn signals, and they're only about $20 for a pair of them. Those will have to be ordered this week, so I will have time to install them before we leave.

I had another reason for moving the spare tire mount from the tongue, and that is to make room for a future purchase. We thought it would be a good idea to add a deck plate tool box to the tongue, to match the deck plate stone guard on the front of the trailer. We would probably want a smaller one, like the kind that are used as cross-bed tool boxes for mini-trucks. Since our trailer is light on storage spaces already, it would add some much needed storage space up front.

But before we get that (and we may not get it until we leave here), we want a power tongue jack so that we can get rid of the old rusty (and re-welded because it broke once already) hand crank. And it will also add some security, because we will have a power disconnect switch inside the trailer. If a potential thief can't get the jack retracted, they can't very well move the trailer with it hanging down to catch every bump in the road! There will be other theft deterrents in use also, and we'll talk about each one as they are added.

For now, this is enough for one post. I have other improvements made that I will include in the next post, so watch for that one coming up a lot sooner then you've waited for this one!

Thanks for reading, and let me know your thoughts.

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