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06 Jan

Trailer Tech: Importance of Wheel Balancing

Welcome back to Trailer Tech

Today, we’re taking a look at the importance of wheel balancing, the different types of balancing and how this applies to your trailer. It is sometimes thought that there is no need to balance your trailer’s tires, but we’ll show you why it’s a good idea to do so.

Wheel balancing is a critical aspect of any vehicle’s correct operation at speed, as doing so will reduce tire wear and component wear caused by vibrations in the running gear. In extreme cases, tires can bounce down the road due to excessive vibration. It is important to note that not all trailer’s wheels come balanced from the factory or dealership.

Wheel balancing generally comes in 2 forms. "Off-vehicle" wheel balancing is the most fundamental in that the rim and tire are removed and mounted on a balancing machine, then reinstalled on the vehicle. Off-vehicle balancing is certainly more common and a necessity in any tire shop as an unbalanced tire greatly reduces tire life. This method does not balance the axle and hub assembly to the rim and tire assembly and is thus more suited to short distance and low or moderate speed as well as off road usage.

The minimum requirement in wheel balancing

Balancing the tire to the rim as well as the rim to the hub assembly requires "on-vehicle" balancing, generally performed after, and in addition to the off-vehicle wheel balancing described above. Even though on-vehicle balancing often requires a shop with special equipment and training; it can help reduce running gear vibrations coming from inboard sources with most noticeable gains visible in long distance and highway driving as well as in longer axle and hub assembly life.

Balancing heavy hub assemblies to the rim and tire can improve ride quality

Please contact us with your Trailer Tech questions, we're happy to help. Thanks for reading!

14 May

Trailer Tech: Aluminum Billets

Welcome to Trailer Tech!

Today, we're going to be kicking things off with a topic that we've discussed among ourselves and was subsequently submitted to us from an anonymous reader. We're going to be talking about why we use the kind of aluminum we do and why we don't pursue alternatives.

Billet Aluminum Trailer Blocks group image

Our lineup of signature 6061-T6 Aluminum Lift/Lowering Blocks

Since we started production, our aluminum lift/lowering blocks have been from 6061-T6 aluminum billets. Although we stand by the use of billets, there has been something of a debate as to whether or not it's worth investigating the possibility of using cast metal instead. After careful deliberation, we ultimately found far too many potential issues that can arise from a cast metal block and the stability of a solid billet was unparalleled for our use. Structural defects are more likely to occur during the casting process; such as the presence of inclusions (foreign materials cast into the metal), lower elongation and shear strength as well as random soft spots along the finished product, leaving the final block more brittle as a result. It goes without saying that a brittle product has no business being attached to your trailer, so we actively avoid using cast parts in our process.

Billet aluminum, on the other hand, is far more effective at keeping inclusions or other potential errors at bay. As its being created at the mill, the billet is continuously cast using rollers which help ensure a uniform size while keeping the metal effectively free from inclusions or other defects. We wanted to go one step further ensuring the block's overall strength, so we decided on the T6 aluminum mainly due to its tempering process. T6 is tempered via a method known as "precipitation hardening" which increases the yield strength of the aluminum. As it's been allowed to settle uniformly, the precipitates in the metal impedes the movement of dislocations which are generally where deformations are found, Upon completion of the hardening, the finished product (billet) can be nearly twice as solid as cast aluminum. In the end, we're left with a more stable product to use and craft.

We've also noticed that many lift/lowering blocks being used today tend to have large, milled out sections in them, often in the name of reducing overall weight of the block. While there might be some merit to this method, we have found that cutting out sections of an aluminum block reduces the overall structural integrity and undercuts its potential strength far more than it's worth. Lift/lowering blocks need to withstand tremendous force and weight at all times of use and we feel that there just isn't a call to cut corners where it doesn't need to happen.

Ultimately, using the 6061-T6 aluminum billets for our blocks makes the most sense as it is a strong, uniform metal that ensures a better product and reduces the potential risks that come with alternative methods.

We hope you've enjoyed this entry of Trailer Tech and the insight into our metal choices. If you have any suggestions for topics or any feedback, feel free to send it in to: contact@trailerblocks.com

Thanks for reading!

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