Starting a restoration and have a couple of ?s - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-28-2009, 03:25 PM   #1
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Trailer: Trail Michigante
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Im new to travel trailer ownership and have acquired a early 70s TrailMite. Im going to go throught the whole thing and need some opinions on beginning. Basically, Im starting with the frame and suspension and have decided on a Torflex axel but Im wondering if I should get electric brakes. Ive got a Forester XT with HiPerformance rotors and pads and we will be going lightweight on our loads. Im hoping to keep the ttl weight to 1100lbs. Im putting quite a bit of aluminum in it.

Next, are aluminum wheels any better or worse than the standard steel spoked versions. Weight vs durability etc.

Thanks, Art

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Old 09-28-2009, 06:14 PM   #2
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Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
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Im wondering if I should get electric brakes.
Im hoping to keep the ttl weight to 1100lbs.
Weclome to FiberglassRV, Art

I work in the weights and measures industry as a scale repair technician. As a "Busman's Holiday" I weigh Travel Trailers at Rallys and Gatherings. The average weight of all of the loaded-and-ready-for-the-road (NOT "Dry Weight") 13' trailers I have personally weighed is close to [b]1900 pounds. Including my own. (I used to own a 13' Compact Jr.)

IMHO, you cannot go wrong putting electric brakes on any trailer. You might get by without them if your loaded-and-ready-for-the-road trailer weighs [b]less than half of your tow vehicle's rated capacity, up to your state's legal limit for going brakeless... but I feel that if you are closer than that to your tow vehicle's rated capacity, then Electric Trailer Brakes are necessary.

Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:53 PM   #3
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Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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I'd have brakes on any size trailer if for no other reason than it's cheaper to replace trailer brakes than it is the brakes on a tug.... much, much cheaper. Why wear out the brakes faster on the tug than you need to?

And it's a simple matter of safety. Panic stops and potential trailer sway come quickly to mind.

If you're replacing the axle... get the brakes. My 2-1/2 cents.

Wheels are a personal choice. The ones for my Scamp cost me quite a bit, but it was important to me. YMMV
Donna D.
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:41 PM   #4
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Trailer: Trail Mite
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Pictures! Must see pictures! It seems TrailMites are actually kinda rare. Other than ours the only other one we've ever seen in-the-'glass was one that we caught a quick glimpse of at Yellowstone, July '07.

I modified the frame of our mighty 'Mite to mount a straight-axle with leaf-springs. We commonly travel rough dirt-roads and needed extra ground clearance and suspension travel. We also added electric brakes and a Prodigy brake controller. We've been very happy with both mods.

The box-section tubing that the Trail Mite builders used to form the tongue triangle is very thin. We nearly sheared ours off on a Kansas back-road. A patch job of welded on angle-iron got us through that trip but I later replaced the entire tongue all the way back to the first cross-member using heavier guage stock.

Enjoy your TrailMite. In a world of otherwise indistinguishable 13-footers it's kinda cool to have something that's a little different!
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:08 AM   #5
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Trailer: Trillium 13 ft
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Art, If you are going to replace the axle anyway it just makes sense to add brakes. I tow with a Subaru Forester or with my F150 and with either one I prefer brakes on the trailer. Earlier this month I towed my single axle boat trailer (estimated at about 2300 pounds) equiped with surge brakes about a thousand miles to Maine and back with the fully loaded Forester and had no problems or worries at all with the rig. A week later I towed my Trilium 13 which was lightly loaded but has no brakes to Vermont and back with the same car. While that trip was OK I just didn't feel comfortable without the extra margin of safety the trailer brakes provide and found myself figuring stopping distances and escape routes even more than normally during the whole trip. I'll be adding brakes to my trailer even though the axle is fine. I'll go with surge brakes rather than electric though; I've had both on trailers and I can't imagine going with electric again. The surge brakes work without complications no matter what vehicle tows the trailer and Dexter will provide either hydraulic or electric brakes on their axles.

Good luck with the project, Steve
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Old 09-29-2009, 04:25 PM   #6
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Trailer: Trail Michigante
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Hey thanks for all the replies. Looks like brakes are a worthwhile investment.

And as far as pictures go, the 'Mite is under a big tarp and now covering in cherries, leaves and rainwater. Once I clean up the exterior a bit I will take some "before" shots and post them.

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Old 09-29-2009, 09:39 PM   #7
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Trailer: 2004 13 ft Scamp Custom Deluxe
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Next, are aluminum wheels any better or worse than the standard steel spoked versions. Weight vs durability etc.

Thanks, Art
For all practical purposes,in this weight class, aluminum wheels are really only a cosmetic and subjective choice. one very minor problem with aluminum wheels is that they are slightly more prone to slow air leaks at the bead. A simple application of bead sealer upon installation of the tires will insure against even this remote possibility.

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