Trillium 4500 in Michigan Journal - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-10-2017, 11:38 AM   #1
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Trillium 4500 in Michigan Journal

Hi Everyone!

I am John in Michigan and my wife is Lisa in Michigan . I'm starting this thread to post the latest updates on our 1978 Trillium 4500 that we bought 2 years ago this month.

As background, our first FGRV was a 1974 Boler 13 acquired 4(?) years ago that we sold to another member last year. The Trillium 4500 is our 2nd FGRV, and our 3rd (yes 3rd!!) FGRV purchased last year and still not ready for prime time is a 1979 Boler 17.

Anyway the Trillium 4500 as bought was a "fixer upper" and so far we've made many repairs and upgrades that are posted in my registry.

More posts to follow!

-John
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Old 08-10-2017, 11:56 AM   #2
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question about new brakes...

This Spring we had the axle and brakes replaced, and then in July we towed the Trillium to the Michigan UP for a one week vacation. Upon checking the wheel hub temperature at one of our stops, DW noticed the curbside hub was hot. We had been checking on a regular basis, and this was the first we had noticed this. My first thought was that the EZlube bearing hadn't been adequately greased, so we added grease. 100 miles down the road, I noticed it was still hot AND noticed that the brake drum was even hotter! I concluded that the very hot brake drum was causing the bearing to be hot. I guessed the brake shoes were dragging (too tight) even though when I jacked up the camper and spun the wheels before leaving on vacation, they spun freely with only very slight drag. So I loosened the brake shoes in a rest area... Checked the curbside brake temp two more times on the way home. 1st time it was cool. 2nd time it was "very warm".

QUESTION: Is this just a problem with brake adjustment, or is it something else?? Any thoughts, ideas?

-John
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Old 08-10-2017, 04:55 PM   #3
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HOT BRAKE DRUM

See above post re HOT BRAKE DRUM. Any suggestions?
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:54 PM   #4
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We had a similar problem. After lots of hullabaloo, head scratching, and great minds coming together, it turned out to be an issue with the race--or lack thereof-- on the wheel (drum?). Long story...��
Edited to add: He called it the "inside bearing race"
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Old 08-16-2017, 09:14 PM   #5
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Adjusting the new Dexter 7" electric brakes

Rather than trying to figure out why one brake drum overheats and the other doesn't, I decided to first test/adjust the new Dexter 7" electric brakes:

1. Adjust star wheels on both brakes to 10 clicks in from "frozen brake" setting
2. Plug camper 7pin plug into tow vehicle and turn tow vehicle accessory power on and brake controller
3. Jack up camper curbside to check whether brake engages (by turning wheel by hand) while 2nd person presses brake controller manual override slider switch
4. Repeat for camper roadside wheel

I completed the above test yesterday, and discovered I didn't have the amps turned up NEARLY high enough on the brake controller. As a result, the brakes were not holding. After checking recommended brake controller amp setting online (should be 6 amps), I adjusted the brake controller, re-tested and the brakes locked as they should (with the brake star wheels set at 10 clicks and no wheel drag/free spinning).

The next step is to road test the brakes to make fine adjustments to the brake controller. With that done, we'll need to just keep monitoring brake drum and bearing temp while towing...
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:32 PM   #6
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So.. how'd it turn out?
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:52 PM   #7
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Buggeee, we had the camper out for a weekend earlier in September, and there is still a problem. The right side brake drum still heats up, and also now notice that the brake controller LED is showing amp draw (6 or so amps) AFTER I take my foot off the brake. The I tap the brake lightly and the displayed amp draw drops to 0.0. That might mean the brake controller is faulty (brake switch recently replaced), but doesn't explain why the right brake drum is still hot even after we discovered and worked around the amp draw problem. Also the brake squeals.

I need to pull both brake drums off and inspect the brake mechanisms. Also, need to solve the amp draw problem. These are new brakes installed at the factory on the axles
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Old 09-30-2017, 05:22 AM   #8
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As long as there is some gap between the shoes and the drum, the brake adjustment on electric brakes really has no effect on how hard they grab. When you step on the brakes your controller applies a voltage to an electromagnet. The magnet grabs the side of the brake drum and the arm it is attached to causes the brakes to expand against the drums. The brake adjust determines how far the arm has to move for the brakes to make contact. It is the controller that determines the force of braking as the higher the voltage, the stronger the grip of the magnet.

Your problem could be a bearing issue, a lubrication issue, a spindle nut that's too tight, a lost retainer clip on the magnet........ I'd take it back to the folks who sold you the axle. It could be their fault. It could be Dexter. Doesn't matter. It should have come to you in good working order. Good luck and do tell us what happens. Raz
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:45 AM   #9
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Yeah I think letting the factory know what you're up to at the very least is probably a good idea. If they say that they will stand by their work for you that would be good. If they won't, or if it's too far to take it there or something at least let them know what you're going to do and offer them the opportunity before you get in there. If you find something super ugly in there they won't be able to say you didn't give them first crack at it.

That being said it does seem like the right side at least needs a good going through. Even if the problem wasn't with the bearings originally, if that thing has gotten real hot like that I'd want to know what the bearing looks looks like now anyway. Once you're in there you may find something. Just cuz it was repaired at the factory doesn't mean it was done perfectly. Profit tends to motivate people to move quickly whereas a Saturday in your driveway can provide all the time needed to do it correctly.

It's a fascinating little electro-mechanical system once you get in there to study it. And it is not, ultimately, very complicated.

I'm trying to imagine how a sticking brake arm or short in the magnet itself could cause a continued draw from the electrical controller and I'm coming up empty. Maybe you do have a problem with your new brake switch or the controller. I wonder if there's a way to test either one of those.

Oh, and let's not forget that those two issues might not be related, although popping up at the same time. Wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened to me.
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:52 AM   #10
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Oh! Let's not lose sight of the forest for the trees here.

Bearings on a trailer wheel need to be a little loose when they're cold. In other words that axle nut should be tightened only to the point where the rear wheel has a slight wobble, or click to it when you wiggle back and forth on the wheel hanging there on the jack stand. If when the wheels in the air and cold it does not have any play in it at all, then your bearing is too tight even if it rotates smoothly. As you're flying down the highway those bearings and the races warm up and expand a little. When they're hot there is much less play than when they're sitting here in the driveway.

So what I'm saying, is that if you adjust your bearings so that the wheel rotates nice and smooth without any play while it's sitting there cold in your driveway, it is too tight once it warms up to operating temperatures. And, it will start giving you problems like you're describing here. Maybe the right side wheel bearing is a little too tight.

Check the play on both the left and right wheels and see how they compare. If the right wheel is a little tight, just back off the axle nut 1 cotter pin notch see how that feels and go from there a little bit at a time. Read a little bit about trailer wheel bearing adjustment so you can get some descriptions of the feel you'll be looking for. It's kind of counterintuitive and when I first heard about this I thought it was BS because bearings aren't supposed to be sloppy. Turns out, it's not a bicycle, so you are adjusting them for what the dimensions will be like later when they reach operating temperature.
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Old 09-30-2017, 08:28 AM   #11
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Ruth C, Raz and Buggeee, thank you for your suggestions. I will consider them as I proceed. My understanding is that the axle and brakes were pre-assembled at the Dexter factory and then my chosen mechanical shop (located 170 miles from me) installed adapter brackets to the frame and then bolted the axle assembly to the adapter brackets. Last step would have been to attach the wires.

I read somewhere about someone who had a similar problem with the brakes getting warm on one side even after doing all appropriate adjustments, etc. Apparently Dexter was contacted and Dexter said to replace both brakes.

I suspect its a brake problem rather than a bearing problem because the outer brake drum area feels much hotter than the area of the drum near the spindle and bearings.

I will update this thread as I proceed.
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Old 09-30-2017, 11:36 PM   #12
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update

I did pull off both drums to inspect everything. Everything looks OK right side and left side. The bearings, races, brake components, drum surfaces... All grease was intact and fresh. The spindles are in perfect condition. I moved the brake magnets back and forth and observed that this moved the brake shoes in and out.

Of note though: On both sides the nuts were tight/snug, so when I re-installed, I backed them off a quarter turn. Also, on pulling apart the right side AGAIN, I noticed that what I later determined was a the rubber-band like stretchy steel ring had worked its way out of the "spring loaded lip seal"! In retrospect, not sure how this happened. Overheating might have broken it loose from the rubber seal, or just removing and re-installing the drum??

So I will definitely be replacing the right side bearing seal. But this won't resolve the over heating problem. At this point I would guess the overheating could be caused by:

1. Spindle nuts were too tight: I resolved this problem by loosening the nuts.
2. Faulty brake controller or brake switch: I will troubleshoot these components.
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Old 10-01-2017, 05:10 AM   #13
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The spring inside the seal can come loose from removing the drum. Unless it's damaged, it should go back in. The other thing that can come loose is the clip that holds the magnet on the swing arm. They have a tendency to pop off, grow little legs, and run away .

As the brake controller controls both sides, I'm not sure how it malfunctioning could cause one side to overheat? I like answer number one better.

I once had one side hotter than the other. I determined it was due to driving in the same direction for hours with the sun on the one side. Just a thought. Raz
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:05 AM   #14
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Thanks Raz.

- I will attempt to re-insert the springy band into the seal. I will also check the clips that hold the magnet arms.

- Yes the brake controller applies power uniformly to the brakes. So the only brake controller problem I need to troubleshoot is the "sticking" at 6 amps when I lift my foot off the brake pedal. Since I have discovered this problem, I have been checking for it and tapping the brake pedal to "unstick" the brake controller, so it should not be causing overheating of the right brake at this point.

- So as you point out, the tight spindle nuts MIGHT explain the overheating. But then why would the outer drum, where the shoes contact the drum, be the hottest part of the drum? That leads me back to possible problem with the brake. Well, the Dexter literature indicates the brakes can become hot in normal operation. So I suspect that either the brakes are STILL not adjusted equally tight, or the right (or left) brake mechanism isn't working correctly. (edit: however BOTH brakes engaged correctly when the camper was jacked up and tested by pressing the brake in the tow vehicle)
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