Safety/Owners Info

Relax, You're Covered

You can always count on quality parts and service with every TRAIL-EZE trailer. It’s how we roll.

Vehicle Inspection

  • I. There are two reasons for pre-trip inspection of a vehicle
    • Safety - You need to see if the vehicle is safe.
    • It is the law - An unsafe vehicle can be removed from service until fixed.
  • II. Type of vehicle inspection
    • A. Pre-Trip Inspection
      • 1. Look for tire problems:
        • a. Check for PROPER tire pressure
        • b. Mismatched tire sizes
        • c. Radial and bias-ply tires used together
        • d. Cuts or other damage to tires
        • e. Dual tires touching
      • 2. Look for wheel and rim problems
        • a. Damaged rims or wheels
        • b. Rust around wheel nuts - possible loose nuts
        • c. Missing clamps, spacers, studs or lugs
        • d. Mismatched, bent or cracked lock rings
        • e. Wheels or rims that have been welded
      • 3. Look for brake drum and shoe problems
        • a. Cracked drums
        • b. Shoes or pads with oil, grease or brake fluid on them
        • c. Shoes worn thin, missing or broken
      • 4. Look for suspension systems defect
        • a. Cracked or broken spring hangers
        • b. Missing or broken leaf springs
        • c. Spring hangers that allow axle to move
        • d. Broken leaves that might hit a tire or other part
        • e. Leaking shock absorbers
        • f. Axle positioning parts that are cracked, damaged or missing
        • g. Air suspension systems that are damaged or leaking
        • h. Frame members that are loose, cracked, broken or missing
    • B. During your trip you MUST
      • 1. Stop and inspect the following within the first 25 miles of a trip and every 150 miles or three hours when driving conditions are good.
        • a. Tires
        • b. Brakes for overheating
        • c. Lights
        • d. Connections and coupling to trailer
        • e. Cargo
    • C. After trip inspection and report - Tells the vehicle owner and next driver something may need to be fixed.

If you find anything unsafe during the Pre-Trip Inspection, GET IT FIXED. Federal and State Laws forbid operating an unsafe vehicle.

Air Brakes on Combination Vehicles

  • I. The trailer hand valve, also called the "trolley valve" or "Johnson Bar", works the trailer brakes.
    • A. ONLY use the trailer hand valve to test the trailer brakes.
    • B. Do NOT use the trailer hand valve when driving.
    • C. Do NOT use the trailer hand valve for a parking brake.
  • II. The tractor protection valve closes automatically if there is a sudden trailer leak or low pressure. This stops the air from going out of the tractor.Trailer Air Supply Control
  • III. Trailer Air Supply Control
    • A. In new trucks; a red 8-sided knob is pushed in to supply the trailer with air. The knob is pulled out to put on the emergency brakes. If the air pressure drops too low, the trailer air supply control will automatically put on the emergency brake.
    • B. In older trucks; the trailer air supply control may be a lever or a knob. It is operated by hand to put on the lever or a knob. It is operated by hand to put on the emergency brake. The "EMERGENCY" position is used to shut the air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes.
  • IV. Trailer Air Lines
    • A. Service Air Line
      • 1. The service line is also called the "control line".
      • 2. The service line carries air, which is controlled by the foot brake or the trailer hand brake.
      • 3. The service line is connected to relay valve(s).
      • 4. The service line is usually colored blue.
    • B. Emergency Line
      • 1. The emergency line is also called the "supply line".
      • 2. The emergency line supplies air to the trailer air tanks.
      • 3. The emergency line controls the emergency brakes.
      • 4. The emergency line is colored red.
  • V. Glad Hands
    • A. Glad hands are used to connect the service and emergency air lines from the truck or tractor to the trailer.
    • B. Clean the glad hands and rubber seals before a connection is made.
    • C. Attach unused hoses to "dead end" or dummy couplers. This keeps water and dirt from getting into the coupler and the air lines.
    • D. If you cross the air lines, supply air will be sent to the service line instead of going to charge the trailer air tanks. If the spring brakes do not release when you push the trailer air supply control, check the air line connections.
    • E. On trailers without spring brakes, if the air lines were crossed, you can drive but will not have trailer brakes. Test the trailer brakes before driving, using the hand valve or by pulling the air supply control.
  • VI. Trailer Air Tanks
    • A. Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more air tanks.
    • B. Air tanks are filled by the emergency supply line from the tractor.
    • C. Air pressure is sent from the air tanks to the brakes by relay valves.
    • D. The pressure in the service line tells how much pressure the relay valves should send to the trailer brakes.
    • E. Do not let water and oil build up in the air tanks. Drain air tanks of water and oil after each working day. Water can freeze in parts of the brake system making the brakes fail.
  • VII. Trailer Service, Parking and Emergency Brakes
    • A. On trailers without spring brakes, the emergency brakes come on whenever the air pressure in the emergency line is lost.
    • B. These trailers have no parking brake.
    • C. The emergency brakes will hold only as long as there is air pressure in the trailer air tank.
    • D. It is important for safety that you use wheel chocks when you park trailers without spring brakes.
    • E. A major leak in the service line will lower the air tank pressure quickly and cause the trailer emergency brakes to come on.

Coupling and Uncoupling

  • I. Steps to Coupling Tractor and Semi-Trailers
    • A. Inspect fifth-wheel
      • 1. Be sure fifth-wheel plate is greased. If the fifth-wheel plate is not kept greased, there could be steering problems caused by the friction between the tractor and trailer.
      • 2 .Check if the fifth-wheel is in proper position for coupling
        • a. Wheel is tilted downwards toward rear of tractor
        • b. Jaws are open
        • c. Safety unlocking handle is in the automatic lock position
      • 3. Make sure the trailer king pin is not bent or broken.
    • B. Inspect the area and chock the wheels
      • 1. Make sure the area around the vehicle is clear.
      • 2. Be sure the trailer wheels are chocked or spring brakes are on.
      • 3. Check that any cargo is secure before coupling.
    • C. Position the tractor
      • 1. Put the tractor directly in front of the trailer (not at an angle)
      • 2. Check your position using outside mirrors by looking down both sides of the trailer.
    • D. Back slowly
      • 1. Back until the fifth-wheel just touches the trailer.
      • 2. Do not hit the trailer.
    • E. Secure the tractor
      • 1. Put on the parking brake.
      • 2. Put transmission in neutral.
    • F. Check the trailer height
      • 1. Check that the king pin and fifth-wheel are aligned
      • 2. Raise or lower trailer height. The trailer will raise slightly when the tractor is backed under the trailer.
    • G. Connect the air lines to trailer
      • 1. Check glad hands and seals.
      • 2. Connect emergency air line and service air line from tractor to trailer.
      • 3. Make sure air lines will not be crushed or caught while tractor is backing under trailer.
    • H. Supply air to the trailer
      • 1. From the cab, use air supply valve to supply air to the trailer brake system.
      • 2. Wait until the air pressure is normal.
      • 3. Check brake system for crossed air lines.
        • a. Shut off engine so you can hear the brakes.
        • b. Apply and release the trailer brakes. You should hear the brakes move when the brake pedal is pushed and hear the air escape when the brakes are released.
      • 4. Check air brake system pressure gauge for signs of major air loss.
      • 5. Start engine. Make sure air pressure is normal.
    • I. Lock the trailer brakes
    • J. Back under the trailer
      • 1. Use the lowest reverse gear.
      • 2. Back tractor slowly under trailer to avoide hitting the king pin too hard.
      • 3. Stop when the king pin is locked into the fifth-wheel.
    • K. Check connection for security
      • 1. Raise trailer landing gear slightly off the ground.
      • 2. Pull tractor gently forward with the trailer brakes on.
      • 3. Check if trailer is locked onto the tractor.
    • L. Secure vehicle
      • 1. Put transmission in neutral.
      • 2. Put parking brakes on.
      • 3. Shut off engine. Take key with you so no one will move the truck while you are under it.
    • M. Inspect coupling
      • 1. Make sure there is NO space between upper and lower fifth-wheel.
      • 2. Make sure the fifth-wheel jaws have closed around the shank of the king pin.
      • 3. Check that the locking lever is in the "LOCK" position.
      • 4. Check that the safety catch is in position over the locking lever.
    • N. Connect the electrical cord, hydraulic lines and fasten the safety catch
      • 1. Plug the electrical cord into the trailer and fasten the safety catch. If the trailer is equipped with an electrical remote, hydraulic valve or other optional electrical power requirement, the center pole of the truck plug must be hot.
      • 2. Check air, hydraulic and electrical lines for signs of damage.
      • 3. Make sure air, hydraulic and electrical lines will not hit any moving parts of the vehicle.
    • O. Raise front landing gear
      • 1. Raise landing gear all the way up.
      • 2. Secure legs for transport.
      • 3. Secure the crank handle if so equipped.
      • 4. Check for enough clearance between the rear of the tractor frame and the landing gear, so that when the tractor turns sharply, it will not hit.
      • 5. Check to see if there is enough clearance between the top of the tractor tires and the nose of the trailer.
    • P. Remove and store trailer wheel chocks if they were used
  • II. Uncoupling Tractor and Semi-Trailer
    • A. Position rig
      • 1. Make sure surface of parking area can support weight of trailer.
      • 2. Have tractor lined up with the trailer.
    • B. Ease pressure on locking jaws
      • 1. Shut off trailer air supply to lock trailer brakes.
      • 2. Ease pressure on fifth-wheel locking jaws by backing up gently.
      • 3. Put parking brakes on while tractor is pushing against the king pin. This holds the rig with the pressure off the locking jaws.
    • C. Chock trailer wheels if needed
    • D. Lower the landing gearDisconnect air, hydraulic and electrical lines
    • E. Unlock fifth-wheelPull tractor partially clear of trailer
    • F. Secure tractor by applying parking brake and putting transmission in neutralInspect trailer support.
    • G. Pull tractor partially clear of trailer.
    • I. Inspect trailor support.
      • 1. Make sure ground is supporting trailer.
      • 2. Make sur landing gear is not damaged.
    • J. Pull tractor clear of trailer

Money Saving Tips on Trailer Tires

KNOW ... the maximum capacity and inflation pressure of the tire being used.

KNOW ... that a tire's capacity is governed by the amount of air inside. For example, an 11-22.5 load range fused as a dual has a capacity of 4760 @ 75 PSI. The carrying capacity of a tire cannot be increased above the maximum rated load by increasing its inflation pressure.

KNOW ... that if one tire in a dual set is underinflated, the other is overworked and the underinflated tire will wear irregularly. Neither tire will give satisfactory service.

KNOW ... that if both tires in a dual set are underinflated or overloaded, they will run hot because of overflexing. Excessive heat buildup is the greatest single cause of the deterioration.

HOW will knowing these facts help save money? Follow these simple rules.

  • Whenever new tires are mounted, recheck inflation 24 hours after mounting because normal tire growth during this period will reduce original inflation pressure.
  • Check inflation before each trip when tires are cool. Use an accurate tire gauge. (Check gauge periodically against a master gauge.)
  • Inflate to the pressures required for the maximum load to be carried. (For sustained high speed driving, pressures should be increased to 10 PSI over normal recommended levels.)
  • Use metal air retaining valve caps on each tire to insure air seal during operation and to keep out dirt and moisture.
  • Never "bleed" tires to reduce build-up of pressure. Tire temperatures increase when the tire is in service, causing build-up in tire pressure. Build-ups of 10 to 15 PSI are normal.
  • Never reduce tire pressure to obtain softer ride. This is a dangerous and costly practice as excessive tire heat may cause tire failure.
  • Never install a used tube in a new tire. It will wrinkle or buckle because it has been stretched from prior use.
  • Never install an undersized tube. It will reduce the air retention quality and overstress the tube splice.


Remember ...

  • Under-Inflation causes abnormal tire deflection, which builds up excessive heat, running the risk of failure. It also causes irregular wear.
  • Over-Inflation causes tires to run hard and makes them more vulnerable to impact and other road hazard damage. It also causes irregular wear.

Hutch Suspension Service and Maintenance

Your Hutch suspension is designed to require a minimum of service. The key to a successful service life, however, is a thorough inspection of the suspension after a short break-in period to make certain all nuts and bolts are properly torqued, and a regular periodic inspection thereafter. This is essential to assure continuous trouble free operation. The frequency of your preventative maintenance inspections depends upon your operation, such as: the terrain your trailers operate over, the mileage per month, etc.

Alignment
Before attempting alignment, make sure the trailer is not loaded. Be sure the suspension has not been placed in a "blind" by being jack-knifed into a bay or having gone through any other unusual maneuver. The suspension must be free and loose in order to obtain a true alignment.

To align, measure the distance from the king-pin to the centerline of the spindle on the front axle. If the dimensions "D" and "D1" (figure 1, below) are not the same, turn the adjustable torque arm screw until the two dimensions are the same. Next, align any succeeding axle from the front axle. Move the adjustable torque arm until "Y" and "Y1" (figure 1, below) are the same. When all axles are properly aligned, make sure all clamp bolts on adjustable torque arms are tightened to 85 foot pounds.

It is to be understood that all alignments are to be performed on smooth, level and flat surfaces with the trailer empty. True readings cannot be obtained if alignment is performed on loaded trailers in the street or on rough terrain.

Air Brakes - Service and Maintenance

The Air Brake System of a trailer is entirely dependent upon the Air Brake System of the towing vehicle for its air supply and control. Therefore, the Air Brake System of the towing vehicle must be in good condition. Otherwise, it will be impossible to obtain good brake performance on the trailer. Before condemning the Air Brake System on a trailer, always be sure the Air Brake System on the towing vehicle is functioning properly. The following is based on the assumption the tractor Air Brake System is functioning properly.

  • I. Insufficient Brakes -
    • a. Brakes need:
      • 1. Adjusting
      • 2. Lubricated
      • 3. Relined
      • 4. Replaced - Check that correct brand of brake shoes were used during the last service replacement
    • b. Tractor protection valve not in the "normal" position
    • c. Faulty relay valve
    • d. No trailer air supply
      • 1. Clogged emergency line
    • e. Low air pressure in the air brake system (below 100-105 PSI)
    • f. Brake valve delivery pressure in towing vehicle below normal
    • g. Restricted hose, line filter or tubing
    • h. Wrong size air chambers
  • 2. Brakes Apply Too Slowly-
    • a. Brakes need:
      • 1. Adjusting
      • 2. Relined
    • b. Low air pressure in the air brake system (below 100-105 PSI)
    • c. Brake valve delivery pressure in towing vehicle below normal
    • d. Restricted hose, line filter or tubing
    • e. Excessive leakage with the brakes applied
    • f. Faulty relay emergency valve
  • 3. Brakes Release Too Slowly-
    • a. Brakes need:
      • 1. Adjusting
      • 2. Lubricating
    • b. Truck brake rigging binding
    • c. Exhause port of relay emergency valve is restricted or plugged
    • d. Restricted hose, line filter or tubing
    • e. Check the towing vehicle governor
      • 1. Proper setting at 100-105 PSI
        • a. Service (If you are unable to adjust to the proper PSI you will not have adequate air pressure to fully release the trailer brakes)
      • 2. Defective
        • a. Replace
  • 4. Brakes Do Not Apply-
    • a. Connecting hoses to the trailer are crossed
    • b. Faulty relay emergency valve
    • c. Tractor protection valve not functioning properly or not in normal position
    • d. No air pressure in air brake system
    • e. Restricted hose, line filter or tubing
    • f. Hoses between the tractor and trailer not connected
    • g. Spring brakes are caged
  • 5. Brakes Do Not Release-
    • a. Connecting hoses to the trailer are crossed
    • b. Brake valve on tow vehicle in the applied position
    • c. Truck brake rigging is binding
    • d. Check foundation brakes for:
      • 1. Excessive wear
      • 2. Lubrication
      • 3. Missing components
    • e. Trailer relay emergency valve in emergency position.
      • 1. Connect the emergency line of your towing vehicle to the trailer emergency line. DO NOT connect the service line.
        • a. Air comes out the service line on the trailer
          • 1. Replace the relay emergency valve
        • b. No air comes out the service line on the trailer
          • 1. Check the air lines for being:
            • a. Plugged
            • b. Pinched
            • c. Restricted
    • f. Restricted hose, line filter or tubing
    • g. Tractor protection valve is not functioning properly or not placed in normal position
    • h. Check to ensure the slack adjusters do not contact the axle tube when the brakes are released.
      • 1. If they do, check to see if the air chamber push rods are fully retracted at this time.
        • a. If they are fully retracted you are ok
        • b. If they are not fully retracted, it may be necessary to replace the air chamber push rode with one slightly longer in order to allow the air chamber push rode to fully retract
  • 6. Brakes "Grab"-
    • a. Grease on the brake lining
      • 1. Reline the brakes
    • b. Towing vehicle brake rigging binding
    • c. Faulty relay emergency valve
    • d. Check the towing vehicle brake valve for:
      • 1. Compatibility with the trailer brake valve (trailer is typically at 4 PSI cracking pressure). If the crack pressure is higher on the towing vehicle it will allow the trailer to brake first and cause excessive wear on the trailer brakes and possibly tires.
      • 2. Brake rigging binding
    • e. Faulty brake valve on the towing vehicle
    • f. No trailer load
    • g. Check that correct brand of brake shoes were used during the last service replacement
  • 7. Uneven Brakes-
    • a. Brakes needed:
      • 1. Adjusting
      • 2. Lubricating
      • 3. Relining
    • b. Grease on the brake lining
      • 1. Reline the brakes
    • c. Brake shoe return spring broken
    • d. Brake drum out of round
    • e. Leaking brake chamber or diaphragm
    • f. Restricted hose, line filter or tubing
    • g. Check that correct brand of brake shoes were used during the last service replacement
  • 8. Excessive Leakage With Brakes Released-
    • a. Leaking:
      • 1. Relay emergency valve
      • 2. Drain valve
      • 3. Tubing
      • 4. Hose
      • 5. Coupling
    • b. Hose uncoupled
  • 9. Excessive Leakage With Brakes Fully Applied-
    • a. Faulty relay emergency valve
    • b. Leaking
      • 1. Brake chamber
        • a. Diaphragm
      • 2. Tube
      • 3. Hose
      • 4. Coupling
    • c. Hose uncoupled
  • 10. Excessive Leaking With Relay Emergency Valve in Emergency Position-
    • a. Faulty relay emergency valve
  • 11. Excessive Oil and Water Present in the Air Brake System-
    • a. Reservoir not drained often enough
    • b. Air drier on towing vehicle not operating properly

Folding Air Springs on HT25OUS

The standard air spring for Hendrickson's HT25OUS suspension series provides a lower suspension operating pressure. However, this air spring may also be more susceptible to folding over during some operating situations. When the air spring's rubber flex member folds towards the tire, the flex member can be damaged.

The air spring is most likely to fold when a trailer is lifted and the suspensions are allowed to drop away from the trailer frame, as in when a trailer is placed on top of other trailers or on railroad flat cars. When a trailer is unloaded from these situations, the air springs whould be checked for folding before it is operated.

If a folded air spring is observed, the air spring should be straightened as follows:

  1. Release the trailer parking brakes to allow the suspension to raise or lower the trailer.
  2. Connect air to the trailer until the suspension has raised the trailer to the proper ride height. If the fold is eliminated, no further action is required. If the air spring is still folded, proceed to Step #3.
  3. Disconnect the link from the height control valve, rotate the valve arm up and slowly raise the trailer until the fold has been eliminated (See Figure #1 and #2). You will typically hear a popping noise as the air spring flex member seats itself.
  4. Rotate the height control valve arm down to lower the trailer to the proper ride height (See Figure #3) and observe the air springs. If the fold is eliminated, reconnect the height control valve link and proceed with the normal operation of the trailer. If the air spring is still folded, return to Step #3.

CAUTION: Stay clear of all moving components when raising or lowering the trailer.