I had a pucker moment yesterday

Discussion in 'Trucks and Trailers' started by zabmasonry, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. zabmasonry

    zabmasonry LawnSite Senior Member
    from C. VT
    Messages: 316

    I'm currently in school, and as such am truck less. I needed to get my '87 golf to the mechanic so it will be running once I'm out of school in two weeks.

    To this end I borrowed a buddy's truck (1999 1/2 Suburban) and trailer. Well actually I picked up the truck from his mechanic to get it back to his house at the end of the day. I picked up his trailer 16' open. And head across town to pick up my car.

    Surprisingly with a good battery my old battle wagon fired right up (it hadn't been started, much less driven in 10 months), and I drove it onto the trailer.

    Because the trailer had a blinker/brake light that was not working, I decided to take the back way to the shop. Besides being a dirt road, the back way ends in a winding 400' decent (map here).

    At the top of the hill I drop the tranny into 2nd and All's good until I get to the final decent and turn at which point the brake pedal starts to fall out from under my foot (minor pucker) and things start to get a bit smelly. I reach down to manually pull the trailer brakes, and remember, "oh yeah, this rig's trailer brakes don't work" (definite pucker). When I get down to the bottom of the hill I pull over, sure enough the left front brake is smoking (major pucker). After making sure no flames exist, I get back on the road to try and cool off the brakes. All went good after that

    Truck still drives, and stops though perhaps with a bit of a shimmy. The owner is taking it back to the shop to make sure everything is ok.

    I think a series of things contributed to this.

    1st. A lack of trailer brakes. - I probably shouldn't have gone down that hill without knowing that my trailer brakes were working.

    2nd. Looking back, I don't think that the transmission downshifted. This would have definitely made a huge difference, I shouldn't have had to hold the entire weight on the trucks brakes going down the hill. I should have made sure that the truck downshifted before the hill.

    3rd. I mentioned that I was picking it up from the shop, the rear brake cylinders were replaced, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the system was not entirely bled. if the rear brakes were doing their job, they should have heated up more then the front.

    In the end, Its just another learning experience. I share this so perhaps some other young and stupid sole won't repeat my mistakes.

  2. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    It is the only way to learn is when you have to scrape out your underwear and you know not to do that again :laugh:

    I don't like pulling trailers with electric brakes all it takes to have to brakes is a broken wire or one of the magnets not working properly.
  3. pitrack

    pitrack LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,048

    Shoulda made sure the trailer brakes were working or shouldn't have towed it knowing they didn't work. You got lucky, at least nobody got hurt.:usflag:
  4. LandscapePenguin

    LandscapePenguin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 38

    "if the rear brakes were doing their job, they should have heated up more then the front."

    I don't think that this is accurate for most consumer vehicles. From what I have seen, usually, the front brakes do the majority of the stopping and the back brakes just assist.

    IMO, it very well could be that the truck was working fine and that it simply was not designed to be able to haul several thousand pounds of trailer down a 400' descent without trailer brakes. Hopefully the mechanic can give you a more definitive explanation.

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