Farm Ireland

Monday 5 December 2016

Trailer maintenance - looking after the unsung hero of the farmyard

Trailer maintenance is an often overlooked aspect of the farm fleet

Jamie Casey

Published 05/10/2016 | 02:30

Unlike the headline grabbing machines, such as tractors, repairs to trailers tend to occur on a reactive rather than a pro-active basis
Unlike the headline grabbing machines, such as tractors, repairs to trailers tend to occur on a reactive rather than a pro-active basis

Did you ever notice how we leave many of the smaller items on the farm such as trailers languishing in a lonely corner of the yard until they are urgently needed?

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Then they are pulled out, used and shoved back into a corner until the next time.

Unlike the big headline grabbing machines like combines and tractors, maintenance and repairs for these unsung farmyard heroes generally occur on a reactive rather than a proactive basis.

With that in mind, this week I took a look at an Ifor Williams trailer with brakes in need of some serious TLC. Manufactured in 1999, I'd say the trailer spends 45 of the 52 weeks of the year parked up.

The owner often found that, having been parked for prolonged periods of time, one or more of the hubs would be locked up and a wheel would refuse to rotate. This trailer, as is common with jeep trailers, has double axles, with braking provided on all four wheels through brake drums and brake shoes.


When working on any raised equipment, never trust the jack to hold up whatever it is you're working on.

Never work under an item that is not 100pc secure. It only takes two minutes to prop the trailer using good, square blocks of timber, or something sufficiently able to carry the weight should the jack fail.

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Once you have completed any works to your braking system don't forget to adjust the brakes in each hub individually.

Using the adjusting bolt on the rear of the brake carrier plate, adjust the brakes until the wheel will no longer turn. You can then begin to slacken the adjusting bolt until the wheel rotates freely by hand.

You may find that the stopping force of the braking system will be slightly reduced immediately after replacing the shoes, but this will be rectified once the new brake shoes bed in.

Check and double check everything for tightness as you reassemble the system.

It is important to check the tightness of the wheel nuts after the first 15 km, and periodically thereafter.

While the braking system on these types of trailers are relatively simple and are well within the mechanical capabilities of many people, they play a key role in the safety of the trailer on the road.

If you are unsure of your work, do not presume it will be alright. Get a qualified person to look over your work.

Indo Farming