There are benefits in owning a trailer imported from the USA but there are also downfalls. Don’t get me wrong, this is the best trailer I have ever owned and one of the best that I have ever towed. It is dual axle, aluminium I-beam construction, 1600psi electric over hydraulic four wheel disc braking system, tows like a dream and only weighs 406kgs. The downfall though is that although this particular trailer was built for export to Australia, it was still built to U.S. standards.
I recently had an experience where 3 out of the 4 brake calipers had seized pistons. After closer inspection and a little research, I realised why. These UFP brand calipers are made from aluminium, the piston made from stainless steel while the brake pad backing is made from mild steel and has no galvanised or substantial protective coating. To add to the effect of 3 dissimilar metals reacting when regularly being submersed in saltwater, I also noticed that where the brake pad sits against the caliper piston there is only a very small clearance for any saltwater which may be trapped in the cavity to escape. Couple this with the fact that the rubber dust boot on 3 of the calipers had been damaged and allowed saltwater to seep in between the body and piston, failure was imminant.
Typically, I stripped down the calipers to find that I would need to hone out the calipers, install new pistons and overhaul kits to repair them. Again, I turned to the internet for these spare parts in the U.S. only to find nothing.
A little more research and it was clear why – for less than US$280 plus shipping (when the Australian dollar was at $1.05+) I bought 4 brand new calipers delivered to my door in less than 5 working days from www.trailerandtruckparts.com. As far as I’m concerned it was an awesome result. It was the ‘swap and go’ of trailer brake calipers.
My next challenge is to actually find some piston and overhaul kits (which I’m sure if I look hard enough in the U.S. somebody will have something), rebuild them and I can put them away as spares. I can just imagine people may be asking themselves, “Why would you want to use these calipers when there is a chance may fail again?” The answer: these UFP calipers are made from quality components and are a respected product. They may fail again but I believe it will be more cost effective to continually change out these parts if need be than do a complete swap of two axles to locally available products.