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Author Topic: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance  (Read 1340 times)

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Offline Tom King

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2022, 08:58:59 PM »
My first boat trailer was for an inboard ski boat.  You had to back it in the water to get the boat on and off.  I took it to college with me the last year, and used it in saltwater.  I didn't know much about mechanical, or electrical stuff back then (early 1970's).  Florida cops didn't think much back then of a trailer without working lights.

With all the trouble I had with the wiring on that trailer, every single trailer I've had since then gets rewired soon after I get it.  Every light has a wired ground, wiring is tin coated copper marine wire, all connections are soldered with rosin core solder,  covered with 3M 33+ electrical tape with silicone sealant over the tape (for the ones before I ever saw heat shrink tubing with sealant inside (what I've used since it came out).

I haven't had trailer light problems since that first one.  It had the common copper coated steel trailer wire using the ball as the ground.


Offline 21incher

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2022, 09:14:39 PM »
Don't forget to torque your nuts often also. Last thing you want to do is loose a nut on the road. Also a good idea to protect your stud because when dipped in water your nuts can rust to your studs making their removal painful. A quick spray of cosmoline can keep those nuts moving freely later. Blue creeper can provide relief should your nuts get really gooed up with rust. Sometimes rusty balls are the least of your problems. ;D
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2022, 09:40:41 PM »
Should is an important word.  The white wire should provide ground but doesnt  
always.  

Today I ran the light test in my truck with the boat trailer.  I got intermittent results. The only change was wire brushing the hitch ball and cleaning the coupler.  The lights worked perfectly. 

A Goggle search will confirm that ground between the tow vehicle and trailer does occur through the hitch ball.  
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2022, 09:48:37 PM »
I have never relied on the ball and coupler to provide a connection, I use the white wire on the connector to couple the trailer ground to the tow vehicle. For some reason one of my fifth wheel travel trailers needed the house battery hooked up for the trailer external lights to work, never figured that one out.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline Don P

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2022, 10:03:14 PM »
Shuttling stuff around the site a week or two ago, I was just walking toward the rear of the dump trailer to spot it backing in when I thought he hit the gas. Nope, the truck was still but the trailer was backing down the hill pretty fast. So, no chains on and I hate it when a ball slips out of the hitches. There's 42 bags on a pallet of quicrete, even when they are not on the pallet ::).
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Online doc henderson

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2022, 10:18:29 PM »
when I build or rebuild a trailer hitch, I often go up a size on the hitch and therefore ball.  I tend to overdo things.  so the hitch on my 5 x 10 foot trailer, with brakes and 3500# axle, it has a two inch ball, and the tongue is 1/4 inch wall 4 x 4 inch tube with enough length to jack knife without getting into the bumper.  i guess my balls are just bigger than most.   ;)   :)
Timber king 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor powered by a 12 volt tarp motor

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2022, 10:32:34 PM »
 :D Doc!

I try to keep everything at 2 or 2 5/16 just to reduce the number of hitches I have to keep up with.  I keep a 2 on or in the truck all the time and I keep a 2 5/16 with the equipment trailer. Of course the camper has its own weight distribution hitch.  I even switched the couplers on the wood splitter and the little Boston Whaler trailer from 1 7/8 to 2 so I dont have to keep up with another hitch or polish extra balls.
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Online doc henderson

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2022, 11:18:28 PM »
yes, I move away from the 1 & 7/8th inch ball, and the flat 4 wire plugs.  I used to have the 6 and now it is all rv 7 and I have adaptors for the others as needed.
Timber king 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor powered by a 12 volt tarp motor

Online Southside

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #28 on: September 17, 2022, 12:06:46 AM »
My portable irrigation reel is European made and has a pintle hook on it, without the 4", 1000' of hard hose full of water it weighs nearly 8,000 lbs.

Well first time I went to hook up with it I dropped the hitch onto my 2" ball and it would not fit, so I tried a 1 7/8" instead and wouldn't you know it my ball got stuck in the pintle hole so I had to whack it with a sledge hammer to free it up. Ended up taking an angle grinder to my ball so it would fit. 

Guess the Metric folks have smaller balls. 
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Offline kelLOGg

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #29 on: September 17, 2022, 05:41:56 AM »
Being fearful of rust, I ran my own ground on my trailer and sawmill. The 7-pin RV connectors have a ground contact so I used it.
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Offline sprucebunny

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #30 on: September 17, 2022, 07:52:41 AM »
I have a bunch of trailers. Boat, utility and flatbed. The ones with brakes drive me crazy but the craziest I've ever been was one winter I went away for a week and when I got back, I suspected someone had borrowed my 5 ton flatbed. 

A month or so later I had kind of forgotten and hook up to it and head on down the road. Turn on my right turn signal ... and guess what ?! ... the brakes are coming on instead of the lights !!! ERRT.... ERRT.....

Someone had rewired the plug ! I fried 2 more brake controllers before I figured it out.

I have never needed to clean the ball but have spent plenty of time just plain rewiring whole trailers and putting new plugs on.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #31 on: September 17, 2022, 08:06:59 AM »
Trailer wiring, especially brake trailer wiring is problematic for me.  One thing I was taught by a trailer dealer buddy of mine is to eliminate the truck side wiring and ball altogether when testing lights and brakes and he showed me how to build a "truck simulator" which is a round truck connector with wires exposed and ready to hook up to a 12 volt battery.  All is needed is a new vehicle side connector, not installed, and with the wires exposed.  

Basically, hook the vehicle plug ground wire to the negative side of the battery and then plug it into the trailer side connector. At that point this simulates the truck output and I can hook each wire of the vehicle side to battery and individually put power to the turn signals, brake lights, and trailer brakes.  It makes trailer troubleshooting very fast and simple and eliminates having to deal with the vehicle at all.  

Also, this allows using an open wire circuit detector, which sends an AC signal down the wire, both positive and ground and drag a detector down the trailer harness.  When there is a break in the circuit, the warbling tone stops, and that is where the wiring harness is broken, or the circuit is broken where a light isn't grounded to the frame anymore.

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Offline Walnut Beast

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2022, 08:15:54 AM »
Good advice 👍

Offline chevytaHOE5674

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #33 on: September 17, 2022, 12:37:20 PM »
If your lights only work with the ball/coupler attached then you have poor grounds that need attention. 

Relying on the ball as a ground is bad because going down the road that connection isn't always tight. The reciever in the hitch bounces around, the coupler and ball bounce around, both connections fill with water, dirt, rust, etc very quick and in no way should be relied upon for a good electrical connection.


Online doc henderson

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #34 on: September 17, 2022, 05:35:44 PM »
they have a rubber type compound in spray or brush on call liquid electrical tape. and I also use dielectric grease to protect connections from corrosion.  every 5 or 10 years, a trailer gets flipped upside down for a major look and repair, or sooner if it is giving me trouble.  a trailer I seldom use may get neglected a bit.  every time i buy a new trailer, my wife will ask if I am going to sell one of the old ones.  really?   :snowball:   :D :D :D
Timber king 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor powered by a 12 volt tarp motor

Online Southside

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #35 on: September 17, 2022, 05:41:03 PM »
So you roll one over about once a decade and claim it was intentional for maintenance purposes. 

I believe @WV Sawmiller has done a lot of similar maintenance on his ATV.  :D
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Online doc henderson

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #36 on: September 17, 2022, 05:43:14 PM »
i use the track loader, but what ever works...   :) :) :).  no point in laying on the concrete to check wires.  
Timber king 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor powered by a 12 volt tarp motor

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #37 on: September 17, 2022, 06:31:31 PM »
Ive been known to put a trailer on the lift.
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #38 on: September 17, 2022, 08:08:29 PM »
One day the boss asked me how I spent my birthday, we are longtime friends. I told him I spent it on my back in a snowbank fixing the blankety blank lights on the company owners blankety blank trailer so I could get home to hot meal and dry clothes. End of conversation. I spent more time fixing lights and brakes because they would not spend the money on a proper installation and let's face it, trailers are high maintenance at the best of times.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline Magicman

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Re: Wire Brushing My Ball and Other Trailer Maintenance
« Reply #39 on: September 17, 2022, 09:13:39 PM »
Today's "LED assemblies" solved most of the trailer light woes by eliminating the 1156 bayonet bulbs.  The LED bulbs really did not solve the problem because the bayonet connection is still there.  

The "LED assemblies" are a sealed unit but even they are not fool proof.  LED's die and leave voids.


 I had to replace this light before making this last road trip because about half of panel went blank.  
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