Picking up a Trillium 4500 - 5 hours away - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-14-2009, 11:12 AM   #1
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I found a 78 Trillium 4500 that is up north (Ontario) about 5 hours away. I plan to tow it back and I have a few concerns. This trailer has been sitting in one place for about 15 years. I will be bringing a jack, tools, 2 trailer wheels with tires. My first concern is the wheel bearings. I am thinking I should haul the trailer to a level area and install new bearings before the long drive back. The second concern is the signal / tail light function.

First question. Should I buy new wheel bearings and install them right away without question or remove the hub, inspect the bearings / axles and just repack them. Either way, I need to know the proper way to tighten the nut. I learned how to repack the grease into the bearings back in high school so that part I know. I don't want to damage the axle for the sake of a couple of bearings.

Second question. What bulbs should I need for the tail lights. I am going to bring a few 1156 and 1157 bulbs. I will bring a test light also. My tow vehicle is equipped with a 7 pin round and flat connector.

If anyone on the site has been in a similar situation, I would appreciate any tips you could provide. My number one concern is safety and I don't want to do any damage to the trailer that will cost me a lot of money down the road.

Thank you,
Joe

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Old 02-14-2009, 11:55 AM   #2
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Second question. [b]What bulbs should I need for the tail lights. I am going to bring a few 1156 and 1157 bulbs. I will bring a test light also. My tow vehicle is equipped with a 7 pin round and flat connector.
The 1157's (with 2 filaments) would be the correct bulbs for the tail lights.
My Fiber Stream also uses 1156's (with one filament) for the back-up lights.

Most interior 12 volt lighting uses 1156's. I have rare 2-way (bright & dim) interior lights that use 1157's.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:10 PM   #3
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The 1157's (with 2 filaments) would be the correct bulbs for the tail lights.
My Fiber Stream also uses 1156's (with one filament) for the back-up lights.

Most interior 12 volt lighting uses 1156's. I have rare 2-way (bright & dim) interior lights that use 1157's.
Hi Fredrick,
That's what I thought too. I guess I should bring some penetrating fliud as well. The screws to the lenses are probably rusted from sitting outdoors for so many years.
Thank you.
Joe
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:46 PM   #4
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If the trailer has been sitting for years the bearings themselves are probably just fine. They've had a protective layer of grease wrapped around them and protecting them from getting rusted. The worst thing that may have happened to them mechanically is a few of them may have developed a slight flat spot, but not enough of one to prevent you towing the trailer home.

The grease itself is another matter. It has probably thickened and caked on to the bearing surfaces, so it's probably wise to carefully disassemble the bearings over a basin, wipe them clean and rinse them with a burst of Berryman's spray cleaner, and wipe them clean again. Then you can apply fresh axle grease and re-assemble the bearings.

It's been a while since I last re-packed bearings, too, but it's an easy thing to do. The main two things to remember are that, when you tighten the axle nut remember not to tighten it, just clamp it down to the point where you first feel resistance, back it off a bit, spin the wheel a few times to distribute the grease, then tighten and back off again. When you're done the wheel should spin freely but have no play whatsoever when you try to twist or push and pull it. If the wheel has any drag when you spin it, the nut is too tight; if it has any play when you twist or pus and pull it, the nut is too loose.

The other thing to remember -- and this is important -- is to use a cotter pin to lock the castle nut in place. It damages the trailer and your mechanical ego to have a wheel fall off.

One other thought: The brakes will probably be frozen or shot. Before towing your trailer away I'd inspect them, check to see if the drums are rusted and trashed, the shoes have deteriorated, the electrical wiring has deteriorated or the electrical servos do not work smoothly. Remove the shoes and associated hardware on both sides if there are problems. It's safer to tow a trailer with no brakes than to tow one with bad brakes.

Things I would bring:
Mechanical tools, wheel chocks, a bottle jack, axle grease, a chemical-resistant basin, Berryman's Chemtool, protective gloves, paper towels, lots of rags, and hand cleaner.

You'd be amazed at how often I've remembered everything else but forgotten hand cleaner.

I like the idea of bringing new tires!

1156 bulbs, a wiring repair kit with crimp connectors, 12 gauge wire, electrician's tape, crimp/wire strip tool and a multi-tester.

I went past Walmart and bought a collection of trailer wiring hookup adapters and different ball sizes before I went and picked up my last trailer, then returned the stuff I didn't need after I got back.
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Old 02-14-2009, 01:06 PM   #5
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If the trailer has been sitting for years the bearings themselves are probably just fine. They've had a protective layer of grease wrapped around them and protecting them from getting rusted. The worst thing that may have happened to them mechanically is a few of them may have developed a slight flat spot, but not enough of one to prevent you towing the trailer home.

The grease itself is another matter. It has probably thickened and caked on to the bearing surfaces, so it's probably wise to carefully disassemble the bearings over a basin, wipe them clean and rinse them with a burst of Berryman's spray cleaner, and wipe them clean again. Then you can apply fresh axle grease and re-assemble the bearings.

It's been a while since I last re-packed bearings, too, but it's an easy thing to do. The main two things to remember are that, when you tighten the axle nut remember not to tighten it, just clamp it down to the point where you first feel resistance, back it off a bit, spin the wheel a few times to distribute the grease, then tighten and back off again. When you're done the wheel should spin freely but have no play whatsoever when you try to twist or push and pull it. If the wheel has any drag when you spin it, the nut is too tight; if it has any play when you twist or pus and pull it, the nut is too loose.

The other thing to remember -- and this is important -- is to use a cotter pin to lock the castle nut in place. It damages the trailer and your mechanical ego to have a wheel fall off.

One other thought: The brakes will probably be frozen or shot. Before towing your trailer away I'd inspect them, check to see if the drums are rusted and trashed, the shoes have deteriorated, the electrical wiring has deteriorated or the electrical servos do not work smoothly. Remove the shoes and associated hardware on both sides if there are problems. It's safer to tow a trailer with no brakes than to tow one with bad brakes.

Things I would bring:
Mechanical tools, wheel chocks, a bottle jack, axle grease, a chemical-resistant basin, Berryman's Chemtool, protective gloves, paper towels, lots of rags, and hand cleaner.

You'd be amazed at how often I've remembered everything else but forgotten hand cleaner.

I like the idea of bringing new tires!

1156 bulbs, a wiring repair kit with crimp connectors, 12 gauge wire, electrician's tape, crimp/wire strip tool and a multi-tester.

I went past Walmart and bought a collection of trailer wiring hookup adapters and different ball sizes before I went and picked up my last trailer, then returned the stuff I didn't need after I got back.
Hi Peter,
Wow, sounds like I need to start a checklist of all the things I should bring. I never thought about rags, hand cleaner and all that electrical stuff. Good call!

I assumed that all Trillium Trailers use 1-7/8's ball attachment but I will be sure to bring a 2" ball just in case. If I bring another ball, I will have to bring some big wrenches and some channel-lock pliers to exchange the balls. That can be a chore to loosen those things.

Maybe I should just hire you to pick this up for me. lol

Great tips Peter.
Joe
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Old 02-14-2009, 01:22 PM   #6
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Joe,

There have been a couple of in-depth threads about "What to bring to pick up a new trailer far away" in the recent past, with some good considerations and lists of tools. Here is a link to a good one:

http://tinyurl.com/Prior-thread-with-info

Congrats on your new Trillium!

Raya

PS: All the Trilliums I've seen have had a 1-7/8" ball, but of course it can't hurt to bring a 2" one as well.
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Old 02-14-2009, 01:33 PM   #7
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You'd be amazed at how often I've remembered everything else but forgotten hand cleaner.
Then you want my top tip: margarine.

Better still: margarine with some granulated sugar mixed into it.

Work a gob of margarine into your oily hands and then wash them in detergent (is that "dish soap" in the US?). I find the marg-sugar mix works better than most commercial hand cleaners and is really kind to my hands.

Biggest downside? Cleaning the oily/greasy/margariney finger marks off the detergent bottle (or, indeed, forgetting to do so....).

Andrew
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Old 02-14-2009, 02:42 PM   #8
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As for the electricals:
Take a little fine sand paper or ScotchBrite. The lamps are probably still good but the connections will be corroded. Polish the solder on the ends of the lamps and the contacts on the lampholder. If that doesn't work check the where the wire connects to the lampholder. It might be necessary to strip the wire back a little to get clean copper. Make sure of the connections are clean.

When installing the brake/taillights remember the bayonet pins on the lamp must match the lampholder. They are at different depths on the lamp!

I would take a connector matching the seven pin connector on your tow vehicle and information on both ends. After many hours of cross refrencing I finally hooked up everything color to color on my Trillium and things worked fine.

On the brakes, make sure they are not binding or dragging. After driving a few miles check to see if the drums are hot. They might be warm but shouldn't be hot to the touch. You might disconnect them electrically if the tow vehicle is heavy enough. I tie-wrapped the brake shoes back to eliminate drag on the trip home.

'Hope you enjoy the 4500.
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Old 02-14-2009, 04:57 PM   #9
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If you wanted to play it safe you could rent or borrow a flatbed trailer meant for towing cars and piggyback the Trill on that.

That is something I considered for the 10 hr trip to pick up mine. Cross border rental issues put an end to that thought. So I found a local mechanic that picked up the trailer and brought it back to their shop to check and prep the trailer before I made the trip. The seller agreed to this since they knew the mechanic. (ya gotta love small towns)

So what are you getting anyways? You posted ownership issues for a 1300 and now it looks like you are getting a 4500. Sounds like a scoop to me.
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Old 02-14-2009, 05:17 PM   #10
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The Dexteraxle.com site has a number of good PDFs on various aspects of their axles. The one pertaining to bearing maintenance is here:

http://dexteraxle.com/i/u/1080235/f/6-8K_S...arings_2-08.pdf

Note that the bearing pre-load torque on page 52 is 50 ft-lbs while slowly turning the wheel -- This ensures all the components are seated.

BTW, if you elect to clean and reuse the bearings, be sure to keep the parts associated with each other as to their original placement -- They will have worn in to fit each other and shouldn't be mixed (Some smaller bearing sizes use the same bearing for inner and outer position in the hub, so it's easy to mix them).

Also, be sure to properly torque and sequence the tightening of the wheel nuts/bolts
as per page 71 of the Wheels and Tires PDF found here:

http://dexteraxle.com/i/u/1080235/f/6-8K_S..._Tires_2-08.pdf

Note that final torque for 12/13" wheels is 75 ft-lbs and for 14" wheels is 125 ft-lbs. Dexter recommends stopping and rechecking torque at 10, 25 and 50 miles after wheel replacement, so this is also a good time to check hubs and tires for heat.



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Old 02-15-2009, 08:42 AM   #11
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If you wanted to play it safe you could rent or borrow a flatbed trailer meant for towing cars and piggyback the Trill on that.

That is something I considered for the 10 hr trip to pick up mine. Cross border rental issues put an end to that thought. So I found a local mechanic that picked up the trailer and brought it back to their shop to check and prep the trailer before I made the trip. The seller agreed to this since they knew the mechanic. (ya gotta love small towns)

So what are you getting anyways? You posted ownership issues for a 1300 and now it looks like you are getting a 4500. Sounds like a scoop to me.
Hey Roy,
Yes, it is a 4500 indeed. I have been reserching quite a few Trilliums and made the error in my posting. I have never seen so many units for sale before...I guess it is a sign of the times. I bought this unit studying the pictures of many long distance ads.

I have thought of the flatbed idea but again cost is an issue. Even though I did strike a good deal on this 4500, nobody is giving them away. Everyone knows they are collector items. You can easily get buried in costs.
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:00 AM   #12
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Hi Joe,

Check with Ian Harrad in Barrie. We bought our 4500 from him - he is a Mercedes/Chrysler mechanic and has owned a couple of 4500's. I believe he bought his last one in the southern states (Arizona?) so has experience in picking them up and driving them long distances. I believe he would be a good source of advice on which wheel bearings to get (ie part #). If you haven't changed wheel bearing before, you may want to do a bit of research online as to the proper procedure, namely cleaning the bearings and hub, checking for excessive wear, packing the bearings before installing, pre-loading the bearings and finally checking the necessary freeplay.
Another option may be to tow the trailer monitoring the hub temp by stopping regularly and putting your hand on the hub and make your way to a populated area and have the bearings cleaned and repacked at an auto/trailer/truck/rv shop.

Good luck - look forward to seeing it when you're back in Oakville.

Phil
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:15 AM   #13
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As for the electricals:
Take a little fine sand paper or ScotchBrite. The lamps are probably still good but the connections will be corroded. Polish the solder on the ends of the lamps and the contacts on the lampholder. If that doesn't work check the where the wire connects to the lampholder. It might be necessary to strip the wire back a little to get clean copper. Make sure of the connections are clean.

When installing the brake/taillights remember the bayonet pins on the lamp must match the lampholder. They are at different depths on the lamp!

I would take a connector matching the seven pin connector on your tow vehicle and information on both ends. After many hours of cross refrencing I finally hooked up everything color to color on my Trillium and things worked fine.

On the brakes, make sure they are not binding or dragging. After driving a few miles check to see if the drums are hot. They might be warm but shouldn't be hot to the touch. You might disconnect them electrically if the tow vehicle is heavy enough. I tie-wrapped the brake shoes back to eliminate drag on the trip home.
Hi Dan,
My first choice is to see if the trailer lights can function and if it a simple fix, great. If I can borrow a set of magnetic tow lights from someone, I want to bring these up for sure as a reliable backup. This would be a fast , simple and safe solution for me.

The present owner doesn't think the unit has brakes but I have a digital heat thermometer to check for any overheating when I begin the trip home. I will find out for sure if it has brakes when I repack or replace the bearings. This is a bit of a concern as I have never done it before but I am going to do it. I am printing off the instructions from the Dexter site and I have all the tools, cotter pins and even a good torque wrench. The rest is up to my physical abilities.

Great tips,
Thanks Dan
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Old 02-15-2009, 10:08 AM   #14
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Hi Joe,

Check with Ian Harrad in Barrie. We bought our 4500 from him - he is a Mercedes/Chrysler mechanic and has owned a couple of 4500's. I believe he bought his last one in the southern states (Arizona?) so has experience in picking them up and driving them long distances. I believe he would be a good source of advice on which wheel bearings to get (ie part #). If you haven't changed wheel bearing before, you may want to do a bit of research online as to the proper procedure, namely cleaning the bearings and hub, checking for excessive wear, packing the bearings before installing, pre-loading the bearings and finally checking the necessary freeplay.
Another option may be to tow the trailer monitoring the hub temp by stopping regularly and putting your hand on the hub and make your way to a populated area and have the bearings cleaned and repacked at an auto/trailer/truck/rv shop.





Good luck - look forward to seeing it when you're back in Oakville.

Phil
Burlington
Hey Phil,
Great to hear from you. Actually, I noticed that Ian has, or had, a 4500 for sale. I didn't realize you bought yours from him. I will contact him for some pointers for sure.
I have detailed instructions to repack / replace the bearings but I will have to rely on the weather of course to say for sure if I can do this myself outside. I don't think it would cost too much to have this done locally. I will ask the owner about local garages.
I would wait until spring but we are slow at work and it is a good time to work on it since I have a heated shop and all the tools.
Thanks Phil and hope to see you at Bolerama.
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