Adding Nev-R-Adjust Brakes, Replacing the Hub, Drum, and Bearings

I decided to rebuild the brakes and bearings on my Trailmanor. I wanted nev-r-adjust brakes, and I had no idea of the state of the bearings and axle after I purchased the trailer.

On this trailer the hub and drum are a single piece, which I found out only after fruitlessly trying to dismount the drum from the hub.

I raised the trailer on the stabilizers until the tires cleared the ground. I used some axle stands under the frame for safety, but they were under the frame rather than the axle. Never support trailers by the axle.
The first step was to disconnect the two brake magnet wires (it’s electric rather than hydraulic like your car brakes), and remove the old hub, bearings, and brake. I wiped off all of the old grease, cleaned the axle with brake cleaner, removed the zerk fitting and cleaned it, sprayed brake cleaner inside of the ez-lube duct to remaining remove old grease from that, sprayed protectant oil on the axle, replaced the zerk fitting and wrapped the axle in plastic wrap so that it wouldn’t rust while I did the shop part of the job.
I got a new hub/drum from eTrailer.com. It might have been possible to have a machine shop cut the old brake drum for reuse, but this is complicated because electric brakes require that the flat drum face be cut as well because the magnet clamps to that face, not just the inside of the cylinder where the brake shoes will press. Folks on the Trailmanorowners forum said they’d never found a machinist who would cut the drum face for electric brakes, and a new drum turned out to be cheaper than the machine shop work would have been. Dexter (the manufacturer of the brakes and drum/hubs) has realized this. Their new drums aren’t as thick as the old ones, because they aren’t made to be cut.

Here’s the new nev-r-adjust brake mounted, with the wires reconnected, and with the clean axle. Before mounting the brake, I shot red lithium grease into the zerk of the clean axle, until clean grease flowed out of the ez-lube duct

The new nev-r-ajust brake and the clean axle
The new nev-r-ajust brake and the clean axle

In my shop, I packed the bearings with red lithium grease, and installed them and the seal in the hub, so that I’d only have to mount the hub/drum in the trailer storage yard. I wrapped the hub/drum in plastic to keep dust out of the bearings, and put down a dropcloth under the axle I was working on to keep any dropped parts out of the dirt. Here are some shots of the hub/drum with the bearings and seal installed.

The drum-hub inside
The drum-hub inside
The drum-hub outside
The drum-hub outside

The way the brake works is interesting. 12 volts from the brake controller to the brake magnet energizes the magnet, and the magnet grips the face of the brake drum. This does not apply the brakes. As the wheel turns forward, the magnet is moved by the drum and pushes on a lever that causes the brake shoes to be applied to the inside of the drum cylinder. The wheel has to roll forward a foot or so for this to happen. It doesn’t work in reverse. Trailer brakes are only for supplementing the tow vehicle brakes and tires in stopping the heavier load of the trailer, and for helping to keep the trailer from jack-knifing.

The brake magnet
The brake magnet

Reinforcing the Center Latch Mounting

I had a problem with the center latch on one side of my Trailmanor. It had come loose during transport before I received it. Because it was loose and the weight of the shell was moving it around, it tore the holes out of the bar it attaches to, and I had the choice of reinforcing the bar, or replacing it entirely. This is my first try at a reinforcement, using 1/16 thick 2 inch wide bar stock.

The latch reinforcement
The latch reinforcement

It works, but I will probably drill one that’s neater. I used a fiber saw to cut this piece out of a longer bar, and then drilled it in a drill press.

I think that next time I’ll try to install the latch between the original part and the reinforcing bar, rather than on top of the reinforcing bar. If it’s on top, the latch does not center properly on the bar it captures, and I had to push the shell a bit to get the latch to catch properly.

There’s a dangerous part here. The 4 large bolts hold the torsion bar that helps to raise the shell. You must only remove those bolts when the shell is raised, and this may even be risky then. It worked for me, once so far, without any problem. If you remove the bolts when the shell is lowered, there will be a lot of force on the torsion bar, and it may tear its way out suddenly, and parts may go flying. The force could hurt you badly and you will find it difficult to raise the shell in order to put things back together.
If you’re in doubt about whether you can handle the safety issues, have your RV repair shop handle this.

Replacing the Stabilizers

My trailer was missing one of the stabilizers. I wanted to replace all four with the kind of stabilizer that uses a hex bolt head to fit the crank, rather than the older “hook and eye” style, so that it would be easier to use an electric drill to raise and lower them. I also wanted to mount the new stabilizers so that they weren’t parallel to each other, and thus would not sway as badly as the current, parallel ones.

The old stabilizers were rusted, but still worked.

The old stabilizers were rusty but still worked.
The old stabilizers were rusty but still worked.

The new ones have hex heads to connect the crank, can lift 4500 pounds each, more than the weight of the trailer, and the weight is distributed across four of them. Despite the warning not to use the stabilizer as a tire jack (do they mean without mounting it?), they can easily lift the trailer off of the wheels.

Jack
The new stabilizers had hex heads for their cranks.
There’s  a hex socket available for battery-powered electric drills that makes it very easy to raise and lower this stabilizer.

Hex socket for battery-powered electric drills.
Hex socket for battery-powered electric drills.

I use a Ryobi battery-powered electric drill that has a 12 volt DC charger. I can use it in the tow vehicle or on solar power.

Ryobi 12V charger for car use.
Ryobi 12V charger for car use.

I also have a 120 volt AC charger in my shop to get the batteries ready before a trip.

I deliberately installed my stabilizers “crooked” so that they won’t be parallel to each other. When they are parallel, the trailer sways more in the lengthwise direction when the stabilizers are down. I was able to reuse some of the original holes in the trailer frame, and had to drill others.

The stabilizer is installed "crooked" so that it won't be parallel to any of the other three.
The stabilizer is installed “crooked” so that it won’t be parallel to any of the other three stabilizers.

Raising the stabilizer holds it in place while I install the self-tapping bolts. It comes with at least 4 self-tapping bolts per stabilizer.

Raising the stabilizer holds it in place while I install the self-tapping bolts.
Raising the stabilizer holds it in place while I install the self-tapping bolts.

These new stabilizers work well, don’t sway, are over-rated for the weight they carry, and are fast and easy to raise and lower. They were convenient while I later replaced the old brakes with self-adjusting ones, and replaced the hub, drum, bearings, and seals.