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Old 08-09-2013
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rebuilding a trailer

I've got a Cape Dory 22 (3300#) and I'd like to upgrade the trailer to something more distance-worthy.

I'm looking for a used tandem axle trailer, and will then install screw-pads, a bow stop, and a big galvanized channel across the cross-beams to support the keel. Sound good so far?

I'd like something with good brakes, and I'm wondering whether people with more trailer experience would recommend trying to buy a used tandem with everything in good shape (seems like a scarce find), or try to buy a good frame, with no regard for brakes (or possibly even the axles), and plan to rebuild it with new parts. Parts seems fairly reasonable to buy new (disc brake kits for $300 for one axle, surge coupler for $300, etc). Even brand new axles are a couple hundred.

So what I'm wondering, is how easy is it to tell whether the brakes on a used trailer are in good shape, or is it most likely that brakes on a used boat trailer are most likely in need of major work or replacement? In that case, maybe I'll buy the cheapest trailer I can find with a good frame, and plan to replace all the components. Just looking for some more experienced advice.

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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: rebuilding a trailer

This gentleman did a fantastic writeup of converting his drum trailer to disc... the price was cheaper than I imagined.

Our state requires brakes for each axle (kinda silly).. but OK... it'd cost ME more.
so get a trailer that is 90% there regardless of brakes, then take the time to repack bearings, and rebuild brakes. It's very rare to find one with decent brakes.

Association Forum - SL's trailer has new disc brakes!
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: rebuilding a trailer

I used mobile home axles. The brakes won't take immersion. I would vote for marine disc brakes. I made the trailer from scratch like you described. It was for a 22ft fin keel.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: rebuilding a trailer

If you don't feel competent to assess the condition of the brakes yourself, then I would plan on rebuilding/replacing them after you buy the trailer anyway.

You can always put beefy axles on any trailer frame, but if the frame was made for a 500 lbs. boat then you may be asking for trouble if you haul a heavier boat on it. Hence, I would say that the main thing to look for is a good, solid frame that was built with the idea of hauling at least as much as the full-up weight of your boat. From there you can do most anything you want with the trailer.

A couple of good sources for bits and pieces:
Portable Generators, Pressure Washers, Power Tools, Welders | Northern Tool + Equipment
Trailer hitch, hitches and bike rack (800)298-8924
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: rebuilding a trailer

What a lot of folks here do is find a old worn out power boat on a good trailer offer the owner a couple of buck to take it off his hands..I did this for $100.00 then rent a dumpster or some buddies with pick ups and chainsaw and sawsall the boat to the dump...sell the motor and such for scrap ....I copied a friends trailer for measurement and as far as brakes I purchased the units complete from a shop locally.....works great...total cost with paint $500.00......
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: rebuilding a trailer

I had two trailers with surge/drum brakes, one about 2,000 lbs the other about 6,000 lbs.
It was always kind of hard to tell how they were working. Once in a while, conditions permitting, I would get on the brakes really hard. To the best of my observations I never smoked the tires on the truck or trailer and everything stayed straight and stopped about the same as the truck alone.

You can block the trailer wheels and have someone reverse the car and then watch the coupling to make sure the surge linkage is operating full travel. Another way to test them is to back up a fairly steep grand without the reverse interlock operated. You should feel a fair amount of resistance.

If the master cylinder is full and the shoe linings show signs of fresh contact with the drums or discs they are probably working.

I would suggest:

1. Find a commercially designed and made trailer factory equipped with brakes. Make sure it is certified to carry your weight

2. Completely inspect and test the brakes.

3. Replace/ refurbish brake components as necessary, in addition to the bearings and races.

4. Carefully inspect all welds and/or joints

If you decide to build one yourself, design is critical. Buying a set of plans from an established commercial fabricator would be worth the money, in my opinion

Paul T
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