The tires on our old trailer looked pretty grim, so I looked into changing them.
Turns out there are special tires made just for trailers. Good to know. The ones we had on there were for passenger cars (probably late 1970s passenger cars). The special trailer tires (marked with a prefix of ST on the tire for “special trailer”) are built differently.
From TrailerTires.com: In general, trailer tires have the same load range (or ply) from bead to bead and are bias ply construction. This allows for a stiffer side wall which provides safer towing by helping to reduce trailer sway problems. The use of “Passenger Car” (P) tires on a trailer is not recommended because their construction, usually radial or bial belted, allows for more flexible side walls. This could lead to increased trailer sway and loss of control.
Add this to the list of things I did not know. Look, I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know how tires are made, but if there’s a tire specifically for trailers, then that’s probably what I ought to have on my trailer.
And while I was changing out the tires, I started reading up on wheel bearings. Did you know that if the wheel bearing is bad, it can somehow weld itself to the spindle and cause the whole thing to either seize up or break off? I didn’t. Some people have even said an entire trailer can flip over. I don’t know about that. I suppose anything’s possible, and so what the hell. You can check your bearings by hoisting up the rig and wiggling the tires and spinning them. If they sound gritty or anything less than smooth and quiet, you might have a problem. Also, if there’s any play, you might have a problem.
In my case, everything seemed fine, but while I’m here, I might as well take everything apart and have a look-see.
After putting it all back together (in the same order), that’s it. Done. Couple things to keep in mind. If you’re doing this in the front yard, there will be grease and oil and other assorted grime and filth that will absolutely stain the sidewalk. And while your girlfriend might be proud that you were able to do something yourself (she might even bring you a beer while you’re working). She will not, however, approve much of the oil-stained sidewalk in front of the house. You will need to clean it up. I used kitty litter, then Dawn soap. Use a dropcloth. Lesson 5 learned.
There are those who say that this is a job best left for a “professional.” Pshaw. One, it’s expensive. Cheapest I found was about $60 per tire. I’m not Donald Trump, people! My total cost for the whole shebang was about $8 for the grease, $6 for the brake cleaner, $2 for a dumb box of cotter pins (of which I only needed two). That’s it. Next time it’ll be free since I have a lot of the material still left. And since I was slow and learning on the way, it took me a whole afternoon. Next time it’ll take a couple hours max. Worth it.