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Trailer experimentation - from kid trailer to sectional adjustable length frame

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Trailer experimentation - from kid trailer to sectional adjustable length frame

Old 03-13-22, 09:57 PM
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Bikes: Surly Disk Trucker, 2014 w/Brooks Flyer Special saddle, Tubus racks - Duo front/Logo Evo rear, 2019 Dahon Mariner D8, Both bikes share Ortlieb Packer Plus series panniers, Garmin Edge 1000

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First update of the new riding season.

I've been on a few rides so far this year, but not many miles yet. One ride I had the trailer in tow doing a ride/picnic at a park.

Today I embarked on one of my usual between town treks - albeit with a bunch more stuff for a few reasons. With having having a set destination and parking it for a while I wasn't concerned with weight. However, there was a problem with the weight.

If you go back up to the close-up pictures earlier of the metal hitch I fabricated with the rods that attach with clamps/zip ties to the seat stay and chain stay on the non-drive side - the weight I had pushed that hitch bracket down a bit - enough to jam the rear brake. I felt there was significantly more resistance riding than what there should have been and attributed that to the load and low-psi tires (only rated for 35psi). However, I was really crankin' it to stay moving so curiosity set in. The first check was the trailer wheels.

Something to mention here is I replaced the bearings in the trailer wheel hubs last Fall. They initially felt stiffer than I think they should. After the first ride the other day with the trailer one wheel loosened up. The other one still hasn't. However, it isn't terrible. It is just noticeable when moving the wheel freely by hand - it is a bit stiffer than the other side. When spinning the stub axle with my fingers when out of the frame brackets the stiff side feels a lot stiffer then. I am contemplating adding some Fluid Film to the bearings to see if that gets in there and makes things loosen right up. They are sealed cartridge bearings so they "should" be maintenance free...

When I checked the wheels at my stop the resistance I felt with them wasn't anything different - so all good there. Then I rolled the rig forwards and backwards - there was as much resistance going backwards as there was forwards. To add to it - I was on an incline so backwards should have had gravity pulling things. Nada. I checked the back wheel of the bike - it was really stiff. Thats when I checked the hitch and the brake caliper - the head of the bolt that attaches the cable to the actuator arm (mechanical disk brakes) was jammed against the hitch bracket. I was able to pop the bolt head over to the other side of what was catching it, but I decided to just roll on without using my rear brake so I didn't have to mess with fixing the hitch on the side of the road. When I unlatched the brake it rolled a million times easier. However, I had already run about 4 miles with the brake dragging and I was beat. So I ended up getting a ride. It took 2 trips. After the weight reduction of the 1st I made it a few more miles. That doesn't sit too well with me - it cut my miles short this trip. However, being early in the season and not in "riding shape" yet I think backing off on the miles was the right call this round. I'll get more riding in to come so my count this season should go up.

As far as the trailer itself handling the load - it did great. Nothing bent, nothing tweaked, no spokes popped (I did tension them last fall - there is another post above covering that and the "loose spokes"). The only thing I have to complain about (still) is the weak tires - they are only rated to 35psi. I am hoping this season I can build up a new 20" wheel set. Proper rated tires will be easier to come by than the 16" that these wheels are.

One critique I am not sure about is the weight balance of the trailer - there was a significant amount of hitch weight. That is what caused my jammed brake. I do not know if that was the right amount for the overall loaded trailer weight, but I think it was high. I would be curious how it would have worked with more weight in the rear to lighten the hitch weight - though not feather light. Feather light with that load would be bad news fast. I think around 10-15% tongue weight is ideal, but I don't have any numbers to go off with this round. If I was touring I would have my gear organized and the balance figured out up front - just to make things "right" from the start as I would be rolling the same rig day after day. This was just a one off trip today.

New bearings in the wheels
Changed the PVC pole out with aluminum
Added SMV sign

Things to improve on - better securing of pole to trailer frame so it doesn't rotate over the road vibration. The wood blocks I mounted the SMV with (quick and dirty) are not holding - the top one's saddle already split. Of course, the low-psi tires need improving. As discussed, I think that is best done with a new wheel set.

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