by bj max
Sugar Booger and I are dedicated trailer trash and have been for years. We have a 1994 Bushtec Turbo II that we bought new and if it had an odometer it would no doubt be closing on seventy thousand miles. It came with a mounted spare tire but so far no flats and that’s a good reason to carry a spare. If you carry a spare you will never have a flat unless of course the spare is flat too. But if you don’t carry a spare you will have a flat before you get outta’ town and that’s a given. Our trailer also came with a leather garment bag that snaps into the inside lid where we can store formal clothing, you know, in case I get invited to some black tie moto-journalist event somewhere, sometime.
There are issues when towing trailers though. I have to really watch Sugar Booger when we’re packing because she tends to overload. When I caution her she argues that if we can’t fill up the trailer then why did we buy it in the first place. She thinks if country hams are on sale we should be able to ride out to the farm, fill the trailer to overflowing with this sugar-cured delicacy and be on our merry way. Women have absolutely no concept of GVWR guidelines and could care less about such silly decrees.
A few weeks ago I started getting our trailer ready for a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains and since I hadn’t pulled it since last fall, I thought it might be a good idea to hook it up and give it the once over. Mysterious things can happen to stuff left idle very long and a little preventative maintenance now might save me some grief down the road.
Something you really have to watch are the electrics, of course, so I fired the bike and began cycling through all the flashers, stop lamps and such. All was well until I tried the brake lights. They came on all right, but wouldn’t go off so I tapped the lever a time or two and out they went. But when I applied the brakes again, the lights continued to burn. I fiddled with them for a few minutes with no success, so I tried my standard electrical fix. I cussed and stomped and threw a hissy fit but all I managed to do was sprain my little finger. We were scheduled to leave the next morning, so now what? The only solution I could think of on such short notice was to blow my brains out but that was such a permanent fix I decided against it and called Buck instead, a friend who actually understands the jumbled circuitry of electrical systems.
Buck didn’t hesitate. He informed me with the confidence of experience that it was the isolator relay. Now I was familiar with this isolator relay thingy because I had installed this plug and play devise myself when I first set the bike up for towing. Buck said not to worry. Said he would ride behind me on our trip and would inform me when the brake lights stuck and I could toggle them off with the brake lever. Why didn’t I think of that?
Our first day on the road was uneventful with the exception that not only were my brake lights sticking but now my turn signals were sticking too. So we decided that first chance we got we would open up the bike, pull the brake light and turn signal fuses from the isolator and leave the running light fuse in place. This way, I had running lights and the bike’s brake lights were high enough to be seen from the rear despite the trailer. This would get me through the trip and then I could order a new isolator harness.
On the second day, new problems cropped up but not with me this time. About noon we pulled into a gas stop and that’s when I learned that Buck was now having problems with the air ride suspension on his Bushtec, an old problem that had given him fits on a trip out west back in the spring. Since then he had installed new shocks and now they were leaking and of course the suspension would eventually collapse if left unattended.
Unlike me, Buck makes decisions on the spot. I would have stood around, pulled my hair out and wondered what in the world the air shock Gods had against my trailer. But not Buck. He made his decision in about thirty seconds and decided to ride to the Bushtec factory in Jacksboro, some forty-five miles distant, and get his suspension fixed once and for all. Said they would meet us later that night at the hotel in Lenoir. And with not so much as a wave of the hand, they were gone.
At this point our route changed from curvaceous roads to deadly crooked byways with blind curves and this really slowed our progress. Those blind curves were scary and the citizenry in that area seemed intent on driving with their left tires over the yellow line. We wondered how they got away with it but a head on collision in one of those curves near Greasy Creek proved that they didn’t. Adding several miles via a backwoods detour slowed us even more by. By the time we reached our motel, Buck and Donna were already there with a freshly factory-repaired trailer. While at the factory, Buck was thoughtful enough to pick up a new relay for my bike and saved me a few bucks in shipping charges.
We had no problems on our final leg home other than riding in the rain for a couple hundred miles. But Buck wasn’t so lucky. As they entered Memphis and were circling around the 385 loop, the right spindle on his trailer snapped off as clean as a whistle and the wheel and tire went sailing off into the underbrush.
Buck said that amazingly the bike handled it well and he hardly noticed the missing wheel as he brought the rig to a stop. Some folks in a pickup pulled over and offered to help. They drove Buck back to where the wheel had left the trailer but it had already been stolen according to witnesses. Buck said five minutes had not passed between the time the wheel came off and his return. Memphis thieves are competent and quick. So on Monday morning, the trailer was loaded into a pickup and hauled 450 miles back to the factory in Jacksboro. This time it was completely overhauled and is now basically a brand new trailer.
Let’s see now – on this one trip we piled up almost enough trailer trash to build another trailer. Checking that pile I find an isolator relay, an isolator harness, four fuses, two air shocks, a coil of air lines, a wheel, a spindle and two tires not to mention two trips to the factory and a complete chassis overhaul. If we continue to insist on hauling everything we own everywhere we go maybe that old suburban staple, the station wagon, would be in order. At least we wouldn’t have to worry about the wheels falling off.