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Old 04-06-2012, 12:33 PM   post #1 of 18
jackfrost1031
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Default New to me, old to the family trailer

Well I drug home a tractor my grandpa had made some number of years ago. From the best I can tell he commissioned this puppy back about 1957.

First step is to make sure the bearings are in OK shape. Then I am going to add a light kit and see about getting it legal.

A little about the construction. It uses a Ford model A (near as I can tell) rear axle. The driveshaft cover serves as the tongue. There is a metal box which looks like part of an old car (note, no suspension) and then wooden decking on top of that. It is not super rigid but it's worked for a long time so I'm not apt to change it.

The hitch itself is an interesting one. It's made by "Acme MFG Co." and it has a cast iron housing. There is a nut to tighten it against the ball. It's not labeled anywhere what size ball it uses. I tried a 2" and it fit. I tried to lift if off the ball and it didn't come. Anybody got experience with these sort of hitches?







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Old 04-06-2012, 01:46 PM   post #2 of 18
jackfrost1031
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Here's a better picture of the hitch.



I also need to add some safety chains!
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Old 04-06-2012, 04:48 PM   post #3 of 18
jackfrost1031
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Well I made some progress. Man I love holidays from work.

I got the safety chain on. I have since changed how it wraps around the tongue so that it doesn't drape so low. I don't want it to scrap the road all the time.



I also mounted lights. The small marker lights were easy. There were already holes in the frame in an appropriate place so I put them through. One thing I will have to do is run a dedicated ground wire. This frame is really (surface) rusty and I don't trust it to conduct electricity well.



I mounted the rear lights on some 1-1/4" x 1/8" thick angle that came with holes spaced every inch. I used some 5/16" bolts and washers and it went together really easily. I'm a little afraid of the lights getting damaged being that far on the end but I guess time will tell.





Next up is to wire the lights.

I greased the hubs. They were a little odd. The bearings were not tapered, just flat roller bearings. I think before this used just rear-end oil slashed up there but since I have no idea when that was last replaced I just put moly grease on it. The bearings are huge and the surfaces looked in good shape.

I had wondered how the axle rolled. There looks like there used to be a key that transmitted the power from the axle shaft to the hub. This key is not in, so the wheels just free-wheel on the bearings. Not idea, but definitely it works.





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Old 04-06-2012, 05:45 PM   post #4 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Looks pretty cool! That axle is set up like a full-floating truck axle. The axleshafts themselves don't support any of the weight, it is carried by the bearings. And yes, they were meant to be lubricated by gear oil in the axle. Might not be a bad idea to check the level and either change it or top it off if it is low.

For a suggestion, see if you can fit the tail lights in the corner between the bed side and the horizontal supports, under the angled metal brace rods. Should be a little more protected there. You'll need to make some sort of a bracket to bolt them to, but the perforated angle iron you have plus some bolts might work for that.

Probably going to want some sort of fenders, too.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:06 PM   post #5 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oo-v-oO View Post
Looks pretty cool! That axle is set up like a full-floating truck axle. The axleshafts themselves don't support any of the weight, it is carried by the bearings. And yes, they were meant to be lubricated by gear oil in the axle. Might not be a bad idea to check the level and either change it or top it off if it is low.
Yes I figured they were full floating. Now they just serve to keep the wheels on.

Quote:

For a suggestion, see if you can fit the tail lights in the corner between the bed side and the horizontal supports, under the angled metal brace rods. Should be a little more protected there. You'll need to make some sort of a bracket to bolt them to, but the perforated angle iron you have plus some bolts might work for that.
I had orignally planned on lag bolting the lights on to the wood like you suggested however one side doesn't have its support anymore. The driver's side is the one that seems to get all the pictures but the passenger side lacks the support. If I ever add that back I will seriously reconsider moving the lights to that location.
Quote:
Probably going to want some sort of fenders, too.
Agreed. Definitely going to make some out of wood.

I don't know what kind of wood this is aside from being rough cut. It seems to have held up well. I think it was kept dry so that definitely helped. I drove it home after a rain and could see the rooster tails being thrown up behind me.

I finished running the light wiring. I don't think that's exciting enough to take pictures considering it's still light out. Just some standard lights..
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:04 PM   post #6 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

That is a neat looking hitch, I kind of wonder if it sizes itself by how far down you crank the nut?

I don't know about hitches, but I know most of the products that Acme made were junk. I used to watch the consumer reports every Saturday morning, where they would test them on some poor coyote...
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:08 AM   post #7 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Ditto on the taillight relocation. The first time the front of the trailer goes up to far letting the back end go down to far will really mess up them new tail lights. "Been there done that", If your state requires a license plate you will need to find a proper place to mount the plate. Noticed the left tail light has a license plate bracket built in. Having the plate mounted that low is just asking for trouble. Like I stated earlier been there done that. You also might consider some leaf springs.

HOPE THIS HELPS
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:04 AM   post #8 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Looks nice, and some nice craftsmanship there!!! I ditto about moving the lights. I would move the one to that side support board, and if its broken on the other side, just make a bracket about the same hight, and screw it on. I used heavy duty angle/shelf brackets to mount my lights. they work great. Remember if your bolted to wood, you need a full ground wire to the connector on front. As for the hitch... ya, ive seen them. they work fine, but a bit of a PITA to use. If you plan to use it a lot, I would swap it... but if not, I would just deal with finding a wrench every time.
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:51 PM   post #9 of 18
jackfrost1031
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Well I drove the trailer for a nice trip today. I made sure it kept its keep though.



The trip was from my parents house to my house-- the far side of Chattanooga to the far side of Knoxville. It was about a 4 hr trip driving 60-65 and with a couple stops. I got rid of some scrap metal for them- not much good stuff but that's another post.

The trailer pulls much better with a load. It is less bouncy. I would definitely not want to ride on it at speed though!

I am having some trouble with the lights. I used one of those converters that supposedly lets you have the car with independent turn and stop bulbs drive the single stop and turn on the trailer. Anyway, I get the bulbs to work as running lights. They will also work as turn signals but not stop lights. The turns do not work if I have the headlights on and the stop lights never work. I have verified the vehicle and trailer ground wire. I have also verified the trailer wiring. The next step is vehicle wiring. I did run an independent ground wire to all light fixtures.


Last edited by jackfrost1031; 04-07-2012 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:01 PM   post #10 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

I thought I would post a little about the tow vehicle. It is my 2000 Mazda protege and has about 196000 miles on it. It's got a manual 5 speed transmission and a 1.6l four cylinder DOHC engine. I have replaced all the fluids but the transaxle lube in the past 10000miles. It tows the trailer well and they are the same width so that is nice. I can't use 5th gear though; it really lugs against the extra load. I would not go out to buy this as a trailer tower but it definitely works as long as you are willing to be gentle on it. I am going to really need to be careful not to overload the car. The trailer is not the limiting factor in this tow setup!
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:22 PM   post #11 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

I am considering painting it again. The paint is approximately 15 years old. It was probably applied with a brush. It isn't John Deere green and it's flaking off in places. I am thinking just black. The wheels would be good in white or maybe a bright yellow to stay with the old theme. The frame needs to be sanded down and hit with some black too.

As for preserving the wood, what would I be best of using? I thought about using something meant for a deck.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:38 PM   post #12 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

i put used motor oil on my wood floor trailer
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:11 AM   post #13 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackfrost1031 View Post
I thought I would post a little about the tow vehicle. It is my 2000 Mazda protege and has about 196000 miles on it. It's got a manual 5 speed transmission and a 1.6l four cylinder DOHC engine. I have replaced all the fluids but the transaxle lube in the past 10000miles. It tows the trailer well and they are the same width so that is nice. I can't use 5th gear though; it really lugs against the extra load. I would not go out to buy this as a trailer tower but it definitely works as long as you are willing to be gentle on it. I am going to really need to be careful not to overload the car. The trailer is not the limiting factor in this tow setup!
Proteges are AWESOME cars!!! My sister has had them sence 94..[a 94 that lasted over 200k, and a 03 that went to 150k... no oil changes did that one in.. now has a mazda3] and I have a 03 Protage5. OK... so being that I work for mazda I did know first hand how good they are!!!
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Old 04-08-2012, 05:13 PM   post #14 of 18
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

The converters have been known to have issues, make sure the ground for the converter is good to.

did you use a plug and play converter or a splice in converter??

I love how you are keeping it in the family, I know its just a trailer but its a matter of pride to have something that old thats been in the family forever.

I got a thred around here of my 1976 that was my dads. I "restored" it to better than new last year...... Makes me happy every time I use it to know what its been through and the 10,000 + miles on it

Oh yeah try a 1 7/8 ball too, alot of older trailers were 1 7/8 ...... But some of the adjustable coupler were good on either size ball (1 7/8 or 2 but not
2 5/16)
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:33 PM   post #15 of 18
jackfrost1031
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Default Re: New to me, old to the family trailer

The first thing I did was change the ground for the converter. It is screwed to the trunk latch. I think it gets good contact. The latch is zinc dichromate played (that yellow green).

It is a spliced in converter. I bought it for a few bucks at walmart.

I looked at the 2" ball today and it rubbed the chrome off right around the middle! That'll teach me to not grease it. I guess I cranked it down a little too tight, too. I will try the 1-7/8 ball the next time. I also have a feeling it would fit. There is a lot of adjustment in the hitch. With the 2" it is difficult to get it off. I almost have to unthread the thing all the way.

I really like keeping it in the family, too. It would mean a lot to my grandpa to know it is still being put to use, I think. Nothing glitzy just plain old hard work!
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