by Jack Hathcoat
image of Diana Mastepanova’s blue trailer from Fotolia.com
Most trailers that are built for consumer use have steel tube axles. They bend easily during an uncontrolled skid or collision. Fortunately, there is no need to replace the axle unless it is badly damaged. With welding skills and attention to detail, shaft repair is possible. However, it is important to weld the shaft after straightening it step by step to avoid warping. Repairing less durable square tube shafts is not recommended.
Raise the trailer and support the trailer bed with jack stands. Remove the tires and loosen the U-bolts with a socket wrench. These bolts hold the axle to the shackle springs. Once removed, lower the axle and support it on two additional jack stands.
Place an 8-foot level on the axle and locate the low area where the impact occurred. This indentation is the point of stress created during impact. Rotate the shaft, rotating it several times and take accurate readings with the level. Make sure the point of impact is correct. Put a mark with the chalk at this point.
Rotate the shaft 180 degrees (opposite) to the mark at the impact site. This is the “bulky” side of the curve. With a grinder that has a thin blade for cutting metal, cut the bulge halfway down the shaft. Place a block of hardwood over the cut and use a heavy hammer to close the cut. This requires several strong blows to achieve it. Continuously use the level to make sure the shaft is straight.
Spot weld the closed cutout in several places with a wire welder. (The shaft will not shrink and will re-create a bend.) Allow spot welds to cool. Re-confirm that the shaft is straight using the level at all points around the shaft. Make any necessary modifications before welding the cut completely closed.
Weld the cut closed when the level readings are good. Finish the weld by polishing the metal until smooth. Spray a durable black paint that will withstand the elements. This step will prevent rust from forming on the shaft repair.
Articles will need
- Jack stands up
- 3/8 inch socket set
- Electric grinder
- 8 foot level
- Hardwood block
- Heavy workshop hammer
- Wire welder
- Black spray paint