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Changing Trailer Brakes – It Is Easier Than You Thought!

This morning the weather was beautiful, it felt like spring was near. But this afternoon I will be changing trailer brakes.

I have a tree job scheduled today but it is calling for rain in the afternoon, so we aren’t sure how much work we will get done. In the afternoon while its raining I will be changing trailer brakes.

This short story is a peek into the life of an Arborist. There is always tree work to be done, and a never ending parade of equipment to repair or service!

The Tree Job To Work On

We had a crew of 4 men and we took 3 trucks to the job. Our job location was on top of a hill with a great view to the south. By the time we got there it was starting to get cloudy.

It was not a big job but this is what needed to be done.

  • Remove the dead limbs and trim a pin oak tree in front of the house.
  • Trim the Kwanzan cherry tree that was overhanging the driveway.
  • Cut the lower dead limbs from a hedge of pine trees.
  • Remove a pine tree from near the hedge.
  • Grind out the stump from the pine tree and grind out tree roots that were above ground from the cherry tree.

Pruning The Trees

We laid out ground protection mats, so the truck tires would not leave ruts, and drove the bucket truck to the tree. We needed to get about 20 feet from the driveway to reach the tree. Wheel chocks come in handy when the truck is parked on a slope.

I used the bucket truck to work on the oak tree, While the others trimmed the cherry tree and picked up the branches that were cut off and fed them though the chipper which blew the chips onto the dump truck.

After I was done with the oak tree and the lawn was raked clean beneath the tree, we moved the chipper and chipped the pine tree we had cut down. The dead limbs from pruning the pine tree hedge were the last to be chipped.

Grinding The Stump

We used the 3 point stump grinder attached to a compact John Deere to grind out the stump and roots. This stump grinder is almost always attached to the rear of the tractor. It goes with to all jobs that are take downs and need the tree stump ground out.

When I was grinding the stump the sky was noticeably darker, the rain was coming.

Dumping The Wood chips

Sometimes the customer wants the wood chips from their tree, so this time we dumped them under the pine tree hedge and scattered them with the tractor and by hand.

We got everything loaded and tied down and it started to rain just as we were ready to leave! We all went back to the shop and had pizza for dinner!

Changing Trailer Brakes

changing trailer brakes

After dinner, I began changing trailer brakes. They are drum brakes, so there are several steps involved to do that.

  1. Jack it up and remove the wheel.
  2. Remove the hubcap from the end of the axle.
  3. Remove the safety cotter pin that goes through the nut holding the wheel hub in place.
  4. Remove the nut, it should have been finger tight.
  5. Remove the washer and bearing behind it.
  6. Now the hub will come off and there is another larger bearing behind that.
  7. Cut the 2 wires that provide electric to the brakes.
  8. Finally, we are at the brakes, there are 5 nuts to remove, then the brake drum comes off.

Now I Am Ready To Install The New Brakes

changing trailer brakes

  1. Fasten the new brake drum with the 5 nuts.
  2. Connect the 2 new wires from the new brake drum to the existing wires.
  3. Put on the larger bearing and put the hub on after it.
  4. Put the other bearing on and the washer after it.
  5. Tighten the nut until it is snug.
  6. Put the safety cotter pin through the nut so it can not back out.
  7. Make sure there is grease on the bearing, add more if needed.
  8. Put on the hubcap.
  9. Fasten the tire to the hub, make sure the lug nuts are tight! Then lower the jack and pull it out from under the trailer.

changing trailer brakes

One side is done! Now repeat the steps for the other side. When the other side is completed wipe off any dirty tools and return all tools to the toolbox so they can be found next time!

It is always a good idea to check the tire air pressure and tread wear at this time. If everything is good, you are ready to take the trailer back on the road!

2 thoughts on “Changing Trailer Brakes – It Is Easier Than You Thought!”

  1. Changing trailer brakes is a skill everybody that owns a trailer should know how to do. While that would be nice, it is an unrealistic expectation. Simply because some people don’t have the tools or the time to do this. And service stations are more than happy with their job changing trailer brakes for you!
    Drum brakes like the above described are often found on small to medium trailers. They are affordable and easy to purchase online or at a trailer dealer.
    These drum brakes are powered by the 12 volt system from the truck pulling the trailer. There is a trailer plug that attaches to the truck and that is how it receives the 12 volts to operate the brakes. The same plug also supplies power to the trailer brake lights and turn signals!


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