Monday, August 6, 2018

my first trailer snafu.....

Well. It finally happened. I bought my first trailer, a Calico 2-horse bp stock trailer, new in the spring of 2014. Then my second trailer, the Cotner (also a 2-horse bp), new in the fall of 2016 to accommodate Charlie's bronto-dimensions.

There are a lot of pros and cons to consider when shopping for a new vs used trailer, the details of which will depend very highly on your own personal preferences, resources, experiences, etc. For me, buying new worked well for my purposes bc I could:

a) get exactly what I wanted;
b) finance (tho this is an option at dealerships that sell used trailers too); and
c) get something that would be reasonably reliable on the road without me needing a ton of know-how when it comes to maintenance, upkeep, or DIY repairs.

yep, that there is a big old hole in the sidewall, plus another large laceration by the rim. baby was FLAT
Tho as we all know, being on the road will always eventually mean running into some sort of issue.

Like my 18 year old Chevy Silverado - which has had a few small issues of its own (who could forget our epic dead-battery-turned-brutal-betrayal last winter???) and requires more of a delicate touch when it comes to maintenance.

My trailers tho have been pretty low maintenance. Sure, the first (and last) time I loaned out my Calico, it came back to me with a giant dent from getting jack-knifed (and also full of manure bc the borrowers failed to even bother to muck it out. WTF don't be like that, kids!). And sure, I broke my leg stepping out of it that one time.... Which was obvi also a moment just filled with fuckery.

Mostly tho, my trailer experiences have been blissfully clear of any really serious trouble (with just the added assistance of a little dielectric grease every now and then!).

this thing. if you haul, you should have.
So imagine my surprise yesterday when we parked and prepared to unload at the gorgeous Windurra for a low key cross country school (omg! post coming soon!), and Brita immediately says "Omg your tire is completely flat with a giant hole!"

Which did, in fact, prove to be an accurate description of the situation. Hmmm. V Interesting.

It's not even really clear when, exactly, it happened. Possibly on the highway during the ~1hr drive to Windurra? Idk. In any case, it was certainly not gonna return to the road in that condition.

Nbd tho. I figured it would be an easy fix (and it was!) so rather than freak out, we just continued on with getting ready for our ride and heading out, planning to deal with the tire afterward.

ditto the above. these two tools are basically a one-stop-shop, and are available for cheap on amazon
There are all sorts of safety lists out there preaching on all the various tools and safety supplies one must always, always, ALWAYS have handy while hauling horses. I'll be the first to admit that many of these stated experts on the subject would find my own assortment of supplies somewhat deficient in this regard.

As it is, tho, slowly over the years I've amassed a respectable collection of said supplies that have mostly sat unused in pristine condition in either the back of my truck or in my trailer's cubby trunk.

Chief among these supplies would be: the easy-up Trailer Aid tire jack, and the 4-way tire iron for removing lug nuts. Which, for the record, was the beginning and end of what was needed for this job. Also on hand had it been needed was some WD-40, but again the nice thing of having a relatively new vehicle is that there's virtually no rust anywhere.

a spotter was very helpful for getting up onto the jack
I'm gonna recount the process we went through here, simple as it was, just bc we had a couple starts and stops that were nbd but might be useful to say here for anybody else in the same situation.

First of all, upon returning from schooling (again, post soon!), getting my horse sponged and settled and studs out, it was time to switch my attention to the tire.

My plan was simple: Get the horses away from the trailer (Brita would hold them), get the trailer up on the jack, horses could then be tied on the other side, get the lug nuts of busted tire off (pro tip: a hoof pick works like a charm to pop off that little hub cap thingy covering the lug nuts - there's a small notch around the edge that Rachael spotted that is perfectly sized for a hoof pick), replace with the spare, drop from jack, boom, success.

Those of you who have done this before might immediately recognize our first error in logic here: You're supposed to loosen the lug nuts before you put the vehicle up on the jack, bc otherwise the tire just spins. Like, I *knew* this, but ya know. It was hot and it's been a while.

Nbd. I dropped the trailer back off the jack again and went to loosen the lug nuts again. But damn they were on reeeeeally tight and the wheel still kinda wanted to spin (it was so flat it had plenty of clearance from the ground) plus it was hot AF and extremely sunny to boot.

teamwork makes the dream work! and yes, that's a bottle of champagne in the foreground lol, and in the blue solo cup....
So: Change of plans. I decided to pause to relocate the trailer into a shady spot. HIGHLY WORTH IT OMG. Seriously. This made everything else so much better (ie less full of fuckery). But that wheel still wanted to spin instead of hold steady against the force needed to loosen the lug nuts.

Luckily we had a pretty solid hive mind synergy working out, and Brita thought that if we put the horses back on the trailer they'd provide the weight needed to firmly ground the flat tire.

Initially I had not liked the idea of a horse being in the trailer while on the jack, but then again had this happened on the highway there's NO WAY I would ever, ever, ever want to unload the horses unless 1,000% necessary, so they would have been on the trailer anyway. So back on they went, and again this proved perfect in getting that wheel solidly enough on the ground so that I could get purchase with the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts.

There are 5 lug nuts on the rim, and another 3 on the spare (tho the spare was blessedly not so tight on) and we all divvied up the nuts. I did the first 4 and Brita and Rachael tag teamed the remaining 4. Plus 500 for teamwork, yo!

Once the nuts were loosened, we got the trailer back up onto the jack, and then it was most definitely time for champagne haha (bc doesn't everybody bring champagne to your standard xc school???? lol).

magnetic tray from my stud kit ftw!!! one of these things is not like the others haha
Fun fact: my magnetic tray from my stud kit proved extremely useful for holding the lug nuts while we worked. And once they were all removed, the tire popped right off the rim, as did the spare, and it was an easy process of switching them.

Side Note: I've had some serious issues with my regular daily driver Mazda sedan, that's had two bad flats in the last 9 years) with the tire rusting to the rim. Googling how to solve this problem yielded ideas like loosening the nuts then rolling the vehicle back and forth. This.... did not work. Neither did taking a mother fucking sledge hammer to the wheel. Ahem. 

But the second time it happened was at Charlie's last h/j barn, and the family of guys that did all the barn work there had my back. Instead of just applying brute force (a la sledge hammer) to a single small area of the tire, they put a 2x4 (which I use as supports for my trailer jack when unhitched) against the bottom of the tire, and hit THAT with the hammer. The 2x4 works to distribute the force more broadly across the tire, and *POP* it came right off. A little WD-40 helped with this too. It was a handy trick and one I was happy to have in mind should we have needed it for the trailer. But we didn't, the tire came right off, and the spare went right on. 

Again it was useful to have extra hands here, as the tire is kinda big and heavy, but lining it up with the screws was challenging. So Brita supported the weight of the tire while I guided it onto the screws. Then everything got tightened up again.

The rule of thumb with tightening lug nuts (of which, again, there are 5) is to alternate nuts. Do 1, skip to 3, skip to 5, skip to 2, skip to 4, skip to 1, etc etc etc, round and round, until they're all equally tightened. Again, we took turns with this - with me getting them all prettttty tight, then asking Rachael and Brita to each take a turn finishing them off.

ta da!! all better! with busted spare hangin out for replacement later
So yea. It honestly was not an extremely stressful ordeal, luckily, bc I already knew how to change a tire, had the appropriate tools, plus had friends on hand to help out. Thus making a situation that could have been a major bummer actually not such a big deal.

And for that, I'm grateful. And am hopeful that maybe it'll be another four years before I have to deal with any similar situation haha.

Have you had similar experiences? Or maybe yours worked out less easily, for lack of an important tool you didn't know you needed, for instance?

Had any lessons learned the hard way that would be useful to share with the rest of us? I'm all ears - it's always nice to hear about useful tools or supplies to have on hand in the rare event of an emergency.... Or are you just impatient to hear about schooling at Boyd Martin's Windurra facility?? lol....


40 comments:

  1. I used to find any kind of car problem incredibly stressful. But in Kenya I ran the gamut - changed tires on the reg (once a week or so), got my wheel wells completely filled with mud and had to dig them out in the rain, got stuck, broke the stabilizer bar, started the car from a stop when it wouldn't turn over, etc. I'm such a pro with tire changing now!

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    1. omgosh yea that is really the gamut, isn't it. i've had some crazy things happen with tires, but generally it's all been on nice friendly paved roads haha. but yea it's definitely the case that the more you have to deal with, the more you realize it's not actually really a big deal....

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  2. That hole though! Damn!

    I went YEARS without any tire problems. Now I have them ALL the time. While I hate this, I can definitely say tire issues are so much less daunting than they once were!

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    1. ugh i hate when vehicle problems start coming in rashes.... my truck went without issue for so long, but now i'm kinda worried about it. hopefully your tire issues chill the F out soon!

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  3. I really appreciate this post. My trailer is new as well because the idea of a lot of maintenance right out of the gate is not appealing to me, but I worry a lot about the what-ifs. Your tips and tricks will no doubt come in handy at some point!

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    1. i'm glad you found this useful!! like superficially speaking the idea of "changing a tire" seems simple enough, but in practice there's always all sorts of little hiccups. like putting the trailer on the jack *before* loosening the lug nuts, and needing to take it back off again, then reload the horses, then loosen, then back onto the jack.... none of it is complicated but it's always useful to hear those tips and tricks without having to make all the little mistakes ourselves!

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  4. I had a trailer tire blow on a 3 hour trip with my yearling. Luckily I had asked for a TrailerAid for Christmas just the year before, and my dad has stocked my truck with a 4 way iron. I was able to pull into a parking lot, jack up the trailer and get the tire off by myself, but then I wasn't strong enough to lift the spare tire on and align it. Luckily I had managed to stop across from a gas station (the route I was taking is pretty remote for 3/4 of the way) and I was able to ask a nice man to come over and help me put on the spare. I immediately replaced all of my trailer tires when I got home (for some reason the previous owners had put light truck tires on instead of trailer tires, and I think that was part of the reason why the sidewall blew out).

    I have a US Rider membership, but haven't had to use it yet. I mostly keep it for peace of mind since my truck is older and I often haul by myself. Although I've heard that it can sometimes take a long time for them to get someone to you, especially on weekends.

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    1. awesome that you were able to get yourself out of that situation relatively easily! it definitely is something that can be handled alone but honestly i was super grateful to have my friends on hand.

      and yea i've heard great things about US Rider - and my friend has a membership. i have roadside assistance through my normal insurance company, but hope to never really have to use it for horse-related stuff. peace of mind, tho, it's a very good thing!!

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    2. I also have roadside assistance through my insurance provider, but my worry was that most of those companies will not help with a horse trailer. So they will tow your vehicle if needed, but won't tow your trailer anywhere.

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    3. yea i have heard about that issue. chatted about it with my insurance company before signing on tho and they seemed cool with it. tho of course we'll see if/when i actually need their assistance....

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  5. Glad you're all ok! My only experience like that was busting a trailer tire on the busiest 2 lane highway in the area. Luckily I was following my husband, so he did all the grunt work while I stayed in the trailer to keep P calm. He's a cool horse, but all the semis flying by were almost blowing my 2 horse trailer down :(

    Second the Trailer-Aid! I got it after that ordeal, but have yet to use it (knock on wood!). But I'm glad you posted this- I've got to check my supplies to make sure I know where everything is should something happen!


    And yes, champagne at schooling is normal :)

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    1. champagne for ALL THE THINGS!!!! and yea honestly i gotta say - being pulled over on the highway is pretttttttty high on the top of my "Nope Please Dear God No" list. multiply that feeling by 1,000 if horses are involved. ughhhh. that's so scary :(

      but at least having helpful hands around and the right equipment can make even a really shitty situation slightly less shitty. which is always #winning in my book.

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  6. No trailer issues yet, because no trailer. :) But I did learn from the generous state trooper who lived next to where I stopped when my car was sideswiped by a minivan and destroyed one tire that there is a car-trunk-sized version of the car jack they use in auto shops that one of these days I'm gonna get my hands on...

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    1. oh nice! i have a jack for my car, and obvi the trailer jack. but i'm not sure i'd be in good shape if anything ever happened with my truck....

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  7. I like using one of those long clicking socket wrenches because they're easier (or require less strength anyway), or better yet a torque wrench so you get the lug nuts put back on to spec. Apparently you're supposed to check the torque every couple months anyway, which I didn't realize until recently. They do that at the dealership as part of the annual maintenance of course, but I have to wonder how many people actually check the torque on their lug nuts EVER? lol. Or even have a way to do that, without owning a torque wrench? I've been in the habit of checking my tire pressure all the time, of course, but not the lug nuts.

    Anyway.. I have USRider too, because I'm ultra paranoid. But one of the best features of it is that it covers the PERSON who is on the policy, so like if one of the people riding with you has USRider, they will assist you/your truck and trailer if she/her horse is in it.

    We had a tire start to blow out while I was driving Trainer's trailer through Louisiana, but luckily I was able to get off the highway and into a parking lot before it really blew. She's so fast at changing a trailer tire, I've never seen anything quite like it lol.

    For anyone who doesn't have a TrailerAid and wants one, Amazon has them for $20 for Prime members!

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    1. yea i can totally see how a better wrench could have improved the experience, esp in terms of the energy it took to make it all happen. as it was tho this tire iron actually worked pretty freakin well. the length of the arms gave it a pretty substantial amount of leverage.

      re: checking the lug nuts, you're also supposed to check and tighten them on a new trailer about a month into driving it, tho i'm also not really sure how many ppl actually do this. tho you don't need a special tool to do it, the tire iron is pretty sufficient with a little elbow grease even as it may be perhaps less precise

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    2. Probably no one actually does that, even though it says to do it right there on the trailer (at least it does on mine lol). But it's kind of shocking how many people don't do annual maintenance or check their tire pressure regularly either. I'm so paranoid about something happening when I'm hauling!

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    3. yea i mean, i feel like a lot of normal, obvious or "duh" seeming maintenance stuff kinda falls into the same category as anything else relating to automotive care. you generally don't really realize an issue unless someone either A) tells you outright or B) it becomes an Issue. tho as far as i'm concerned, i've never regretted being a little extra prepared or taking a little extra time to check up on things. even so tho, accidents happen and stuff still takes me by surprise. sigh.

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  8. Trailer aids are the best invention. I had a tire blow out on the highway and it was so very stressful. The only other piece of equipment I really like it a tire inflator that plugs into the truck (old cigarette lighter port). It is slow and noisy but does inflate a tire from flat and helps in a pinch when you have a slow leak and not a massive hole.

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    1. that does sound super useful! the guys at charlie's old h/j barn who helped me with my mazda also had a mini air compressor in the trunk of their car that could help with at least boosting a tire up a little bit before getting it to a gas station or service center. very helpful!

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  9. I recently had my first punctured trailer tire too, but luckily caught it before we loaded or left home. I did the same thing though, drove up onto the jack then realized I need to loosen the nuts first, oops!

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    1. ha i'm glad i'm not the only one!!! actually, now that i think about it, i think i did the same exact thing with my mazda last time too. it's like i get so preoccupied with thinking about the logistics of the jack or whatever that i forget that there are steps to do first.... lol

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  10. I've helped change tires on my truck before (OMG such heavy tires lol) but when I have changed trailer tires I found that keeping a piece of wood with me, even a small one really helps. I can kick it with my foot up in front of the tire, and it helps keep the tire from spinning as I undo the lugnuts. Plus I actually stand on the tire iron because I can jump and it makes the lug nuts a lot easier haha! But yes trailer aids are perfect. That and a bit of DW40 and I think your kit is perfect. It's all I usually need! Although I'm probably going to grab that magnetic tray even if I won't need studs for a while because that's just super handy-dandy.

    Can't wait to hear about XC schooling!

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    1. i've always jumped up and down on the tire iron before too but.... after breaking my leg in an extremely stupid manner a couple years ago, i'm suddenly a lot more reluctant haha. which was the case yesterday - i much preferred just using plain old elbow grease lol.

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  11. It's great that your group are all clear thinkers and avid helpers!

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    1. omg yea i was seriously so grateful for my friends. like we were all hot, tired, sweaty, and could have easily gotten grouchy. but... instead it was just helpful good thinking and ideas!

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  12. Thank god for having friends as back up! That sounds like it would have been a really hot, sweaty, annoying mess without them!

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    1. yea i mean, luckily the mechanics of the situation were pretty straight forward (like, no rust or complications or anything) but having the extra hands was a HUGE HELP OMG. like, i probbbbbably could have gotten up onto the trailer aid myself. i'm like 98% sure i could have. but having a spotter? so. much. easier.

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  13. wow thats CRAY that you didnt notice it going??! maybe it did it on the grass as you were negotiating a spot?

    you could be like me, cut a left turn too sharp and blow both the tires. THEN you'll notice theyre flat. you'll also know that youre an n00b and maybe part time idiot...

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    1. lol i can not see any way possible that the grass caused my side wall to blow out.... probably it was on the highway. that section of route 1 can be bumpy in places anyway so i'm sure it just felt like another bump. who knows tho, the truck honestly does a good job and the trailer is easy to tow. but.... yea definitely didn't want to risk any more road time like that!

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  14. Holy shit, that's a huge hole!!
    Glad it was a relatively easy change and nothing more happened.

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  15. i am glad it didn't happen on those winding roads to Windurra!! No where to pull off OMG. Glad it was all fixed while at the relative (though hot) venue of WIndurra LOL :) i bought US Rider when I drove from DE to TN and haven't needed it yet but if i divide it by month it is cheap if i never need it :)

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    1. Yea gotta be honest I’m pretty certain that the tire was already flat by the time we got off the highway. Trailer still pulled just fine but there was no way I was gonna drive it home like that!

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  16. That is a massive hole!

    Someone once put the brake on my float while it was unhooked and I didn't realise... until I wore holes in all 4 tyres because they were dragged by the car. That was an expensive mistake!

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    1. Ohhhhhhh noooooooooo oh I can totally see myself making the same mistake.... whoops :(

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  17. That was very useful. Clearly I need to go shopping.

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    1. amazon.com is where I got all this stuff, and pretty cheap too!! Definitely was an immediate relief when I saw the hole and felt “eh nbd I can fix this!”

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  18. With as independent as we usually are (and need to be) I strongly feel that this needs to be something that people either teach regularly or that we need to step up and teach each other. Things like this are so important, we SHOULD know how to fix these issues when they pop up and so many don't. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Agreed. Like a lot of stuff like this isn’t particularly complicated, but that still doesn’t mean we are born knowing these things. Like you still have to learn,... and google is massively helpful but sometimes isn’t quite exactly helpful enough lol. Obviously we could all also go out at any time and take some sort of instructive class and be proactive or whatever but it can be hard to find that time when the mishaps are so rare. But then the mishap happens and... we’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. So yea.

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