Trailer vibration question

Discussion in 'Capri/Catalina 14 Talk' started by puddlesailer, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. puddlesailer

    puddlesailer New Member

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    Hello everyone,
    I am new to the Capri 14.2 (purchased an '86 late last summer and sailed it twice) and new to this forum too.
    I have a question about towing:

    I use a Volvo V70 to tow the boat and have found that between 45 and 65 mph I get a lot of vibration out of the trailer- enough to make my teeth chatter! The tires look ok with lots of tread and the boat is centered and strapped down tight. The previous owner says he greased the wheel bearings right before I picked the boat up. I asked my local Discount Tire if they could balance an 8 inch wheel and the guy looked at me like I was crazy.

    Can these small wheels be balanced? Should I just order a new set of wheels and tires? Or do I have some other problem? Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
    John:)
     
  2. gregwcoats

    gregwcoats Member

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    What kind of wheel bearings do you have? Mine are what is called "Buddy Bearings" and they have a small grease fitting in the center of the bearing. I would not trust that the bearings have been greased by the former owner. It is easy to do and something you need to know how to do anyway.
     
  3. Gary Hannan

    Gary Hannan New Member

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    I was told that one bearing was replaced and they were both newly-greased---- NOT

    I would take them out and check them for sure.
     
  4. gregwcoats

    gregwcoats Member

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    Also check that all the lug nuts are in place and are tight. After towing the car/boat for a few miles, you should be able to touch the end of the housing containing the bearings and it should be warm not hot. Be very careful when touching the housing as it could be red hot if the bearing grease is either low or missing altogether. Be sure to use waterproof bearing grease, that could also be your problem, if the old owner used the wrong grease it may have washed away after only one or two times in the water. Let us know what you find out.
     
  5. gregwcoats

    gregwcoats Member

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    My air pressure is 50 PSI, check that as well.
     
  6. puddlesailer

    puddlesailer New Member

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    Thanks!

    Thank you Greg and Gary. I think you are both probably right that it is a bearing issue that I am having. The only reason that I thought that it might be something else is because I towed the boat from Denver to Santa Fe (almost 500 miles) when I first bought it. When I left the guys house and got on the freeway it started vibrating. Guess I just figured that if the bearings were bad they would have seized up on that long voyage. Maybe I just got lucky?!

    Anyway, I have a couple of months before the water temp in the lakes around here gets above 50 degrees, and since both times I've taken the boat out I've managed to capsize it, I think I'll put some time into this trailer and replace the bearings and then maybe the wheels and tires.

    The lug nuts are all on and tight but I've never thought to touch the hubs to see if they're hot. I'll try that.

    Thanks again,
    John
     
  7. RC14A

    RC14A Member

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    if that Trailer had been sitting for awhile, the tires may had some "flat spots" .
    Did the vibration ever go away ?
    Are your tires speed rated? some discount trailer wheel/tire combos aren't .

    I doubt your problem is bearing related since you made it home but do stay on top of them , those little wheels spin at a much higher rate than bigger wheels.

    Rob

    C 14.2 #1174
     
  8. chemprof

    chemprof Member

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    A couple of other thoughts:
    1. Make sure there's proper weight distribution so that the trailer tongue is not too light or heavy.

    2. Make sure the bow eye, cable/strap, and wench are proper and tight. Also, there should be a bit of down angle to the wench so that there is a bit of down force on the bow -- the boat may start to vibrate a higher speeds if not.

    3. Make sure the axle assembly is tight and perpendicular to the long axis of the trailer; this is the same thing as proper alignment for the wheels of a car.

    4. Make sure the stern strap is secure; again vibration here and/or at the rear bunks could be happening when at high speed.

    5. If you are towing with a cover, make sure it is designed to do that.
     
  9. puddlesailer

    puddlesailer New Member

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    Good suggestions- Thanks!

    Hello, and thanks for the suggestions regarding my trailer vibration!

    As to the tires having flat spots- visually the tires seem to be fine and have no dry rot or any indication of flat spots but I guess that doesn't mean that they're not there. I see that I can order a new tire and wheel combo online for less than thirty bucks each so that might be the way to go.

    As to the tongue weight-- I think that might be worth checking on. The boat tows great until I get to about forty and then starts vibrating. The vibration starts to go away at about 75 and is gone at 80. Obviously I prefer NOT to drive 80mph with the boat behind me but this has been the only way to get rid of the vibration. My fellow drivers must think I'm a real a**hole when I go flying by them with a boat in tow!

    Because the vibration goes away at high speed, I don't think that it's an aerodynamic problem- but I could be wrong?? I use a tow bar that has a high side and a low side to attach the ball to (forgive me if I don't have the terminology right). I use the high side because my volvo is a t5 and is pretty low to the ground. The trailer seems to connect to the ball at a flat (level) angle. Maybe I should try the low side so that the trailer tips forward a bit at the tongue??

    If I wanted to increase the weight at the tongue, what is the best way to do that? I thought about putting a sack of gravel in the cubby, but it's not going to be easy to get it in and out. Are there weights that you can buy to attach to the trailer?

    As to the alignment-- I wouldn't know how to check that visually. Everything appears to be straight. I have to say that the trailer is not very stiff but I don't know if that is normal or not. If I give the trailer a lateral shove it definitely flexes and wobbles a bit, but I can't imagine that I new one would be much stiffer...

    Anyway, I will try everything that you all have recommended- Thank you!

    John
     
  10. chemprof

    chemprof Member

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    This tells me that it is unlikely a bearing problem. It should get worse the faster you go.

    No, keep the tongue flat as possible.

    I wouldn't add more weight. The hull can flex at points where it touches the bunks and keel roller -- it is best not to stress those points more than you have to.

    You can adjust tongue weight at least two ways:
    1) reposition your bow roller (stop) so that the boat can be positioned either more forward or aft. I had to do this since my boat was sitting too far aft; it helped improve the down angle on the wench to eye bolt bow strap. By the way, always put a security chain on that bow eye bolt.
    2) loosen the spring shackles and axle u-bolts to move the axle forward or aft.

    An easy way to check axle to long axis alignment is to place two long 2x4's snug to each wheel's face (try to put them near the center of the wheel so you can use the widest part of the wheel -- then you can drop them to the ground). I hope this makes sense the way I describe it.

    So now you have two boards at the edges of your wheels running fore and aft. If alignment is off, then the distance between the boards from one end to the opposite board end will be different. Also, the distance from each board to centerline of the trailer should be the same. Obviously this is an approximation, but it should let you know if it close. I suspect if you can't see a misalignment, it probably isn't your problem.

    I'm just a newbie to sailing and Capri's; my boat's trailer, while in great shape, was set up all wrong. It is strange that there is very little info out there on correct set-up and geometries for boat trailers. People put the beloved boats on junk! Go figure.
     
  11. RC14A

    RC14A Member

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    The first Capri I bought had trailer vibration from sitting a number of years. Mine disappeared by the time I made it home, a 45 minute drive .

    I have also had tires "delaminate", look for bulges or indentations in the sidewall.

    Couple other things - Do you have the correct trailer ball for the Hitch?

    Also, some people put "No Flat" type products in their tires, this can cause balance problems.


    Good Luck !

    Rob
    C14.2 #1174
     
  12. puddlesailer

    puddlesailer New Member

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    What I've decided.

    After reading all of your suggestions this is what I've decided to do:

    Rob suggested in his last post that maybe the previous owner had put fix-a-flat or something like it in the tires. I bet this is the problem. The tires look fine, but if it had been sitting in a back yard over the winter I would imagine that the tires were probably flat. And since I've hauled it over 500 miles without the bearings seizing and I've had the boat on and off the trailer a couple of times and it still continues to have the same vibration problem, I'm thinking that it's a tire problem.

    I've ordered a couple of new tires and wheels from etrailer and some grease. My first step will be to put them on and take it out on the highway. I needed a new spare anyway.

    If this doesn't solve the problem then I'll order new bearing kits and try repositioning the boat on the trailer. I also saw on the etrailer site that you can buy a "cushioned ball mount" which supposedly reduces vibration. It's a little pricey though so I'm going to try the other things first.

    Thanks again to everyone for the great suggestions and ideas. I will keep everyone posted about what ends up solving my problem, and I'm sure I'll be asking a lot of questions once I get out there and start sailing.

    Regards, John
     
  13. chemprof

    chemprof Member

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    Thanks for updating us John. I just realized that you can isolate the vibration problem to either the boat or trailer. Just launch the boat, then do your 40 to 80 miles per hour thing sans the Capri. Just look out for police and interested bystanders who will tell you that you forgot your boat!
     
  14. jamess26

    jamess26 New Member

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    hello,
    i am also new and thanks for all of you. i got lot from here.
     
  15. numbers

    numbers New Member

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    So what was the cause of the vibration?

    Did replacing the tires and wheels fix it, or did you have to adjust the trailer?

    Enquiring minds want to know !

    John
     
  16. puddlesailer

    puddlesailer New Member

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    An update

    So I got the new wheels and tires and put them on but same vibration (maybe a little less but still bad). When I put them on the hubs, I noticed a little wobble, so then I started thinking that maybe my spindles are bad. I took the hubs off and indeed the spindles are scored but I can't tell if they're bent. The bearings had plenty of grease and look ok.

    I called etrailer, who I bought the wheels from and they suggested new bearings and hubs. This sounded reasonable and a hub and pre-greased bearing kit is only $34 each from eastern marine. When I called Eastern Marine the guy said it sounded like my spindles were bad. Since my spindles are welded to the axle they are not an easy replacement. Instead I will need to buy a new axle with spindles already installed for about $90. I will also need to get the spring seats welded to the axle by a local mechanic.

    So my dilemma- do I spend the money, which is not a lot but will add up quickly if my problem isn't solved by the axle? The trailer was made in '87 and the last owner painted it with a course brush and old house paint. Also he didnt have a title for it so my state (NM) has yet to issue me a plate. OR do I just buy a new trailer (or good used one)? And where do I find a good new or used trailer??

    Regards to everyone,
    John
     
  17. RC14A

    RC14A Member

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    Sorry to hear the new wheels didn't fix the Vibration .

    You mentioned having to weld your leaf springs which sparked me to think of another thing to inspect - Check your leaf springs for play.

    I doubt your spindles are bad , the bearings run on their seperate races and only if the spindle is bent or seriously grooved ( from a frozen bearing ) would I consider replacing the axle.

    Check those springs , hope you find your solution inexpensively and quickly.

    Rob
     
  18. puddlesailer

    puddlesailer New Member

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    maybe springs?

    Rob,
    you mentioned that maybe the springs are the problem... They could be adding to the problem but I dont think that they would make the wheel wobble when the trailer is jacked up. Still, it seems that it would be pretty darn hard to bend the spindles or the axles on this trailer considering the boat only weighs about 400 pounds... Maybe the previous owner towed it with bad bearings until it siezed?
     
  19. RC14A

    RC14A Member

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    Have you checked your bearing preload ? if they havent been properly preloaded the races will be misaligned.

    is your hub nut properly tightened ? There is a fine line between too loose and too tight. Too loose the wheel wiggles . Too tight , the bearings cook .

    the wheel / hub should have an almost imperceptible amount of side play when on the jacks. if you have a feeler gauge, end play ( between bearing and washer ) should be .001 "

    bearings must be pre-loaded to seat the races , then tightened to the correct tension.

    of course, follow any instructions that come with new hubs / bearings

    no instructions - This is the method I have used over the years - preload (tighten nut) to 12 pounds of torque , back off a half turn , then tighten to finger tight. then back off until cotter pin can slide into a slot of the locking cap . Check endplay .

    Do the hub "heat" check as mentioned by Greg Coats, I purposely buy gas 20 minutes down the road to to give a once over to my boat and trailer before climbing the mountain.

    Good luck

    Rob
     
  20. JGM

    JGM Member

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    John,
    This is true, but sometimes people back their trailers into things that weigh a lot more and bend their spindles. A little toe-in or toe-out could cause some high speed oscillation. If that's the case, with enough driving eventually you would see the vibration reflected in tire wear.

    With all the messing around with these hubs putting on and taking off wheels, I'm thinking you would already know if these bearings are bad enough to cause such vibration. If they are turning freely and have plenty of grease, about the only thing to watch out for is insufficient tightening. If that's not the problem, then it's looking more and more like a bent spindle or axle.

    Certainly a new trailer would remedy the situation but it might be cost effective to talk to an alignment shop or body shop to see what they think. Replacing the axle seems like it would cost a lot more than a few minutes on a frame machine.

    As for replacement trailers, when the rusty monster that came with my boat finally had both bearings seize over the winter, I didn't want to mess with it anymore and found a pretty good substitute on Craig's list for $200. I ended up investing another couple hundred for new bunks, some paint, a new coupler and wiring harness, so you have to weight that against the cost of a new trailer.

    Good luck and keep us posted to what eventually solves the problem.
    Jim
     

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