Skip to main content

Be Careful What You (Don't) Wish For

Before this, I had only heard an adult woman scream -- really scream -- once in my life. It was a college girl having an argument with her boyfriend. Then she started running down the sidewalk, with him chasing her. As luck would have it, I was the first person on the sidewalk for them to encounter.

"Pass" would be a better word than "encounter", since the latter implies a confrontation. I had decided, with only a second or two to think about it, that I wasn't going to confront the boyfriend, despite being a young man at the time, and therefore, a bit of a fool.

But I always wondered how I decided to keep out of it. Was there something about their body language or her scream that suggested a harmless lover's quarrel? Can a woman's scream be broken down into a language as a dog's barking can?  Dog owners learn the language of their dog's barks (plural) after a couple years of practice. There is something charming and Saturday morning cartoon-like about my dog's raven-bark. But her coyote-bark is completely malignant. (I guess it is analogous to a mainstream RV wife's assessment of bachelor boondockers.)

As part of the homework needed for buying a new tow vehicle, I don't find too helpful. It is just a male pissing contest about whose pickup truuuuuck is rufffer and tufffer than the other guy's. 

People with a lightweight trailer are better served by, even if you have no interest in that particular type of trailer. What matters is that their towing forum pertains to 3000 pound trailers, of whatever type.

One day was discussing the need for electric brakes. My cargo trailer has a GVWR of 3000 pounds and is not legally required to have electric brakes. I worried about whether I should buy a trailer with brakes or just take a chance. After all, new tow vehicles all have anti-lock brakes as standard equipment, and that is a big plus. But if you want to downsize your tow vehicle, 3000 pounds is still a load to brake, and if you lack electric brakes on your little trailer, then you will just wear out the brakes on your tow vehicle faster. Thus it probably will cost you money to not have brakes on your little trailer, regardless of safety.

The good news is that you needn't decide this in advance. Most single axle cargo trailers on the dealer's lot (3000 pound GVWR) will probably not have electric brakes, just to keep the price low. But it is easy to have brakes put on after-market at trailer repair/welding/hub greasing shops.

But I had decided I would forgo brakes on my little cargo trailer. Besides anti-lock brakes on the tow vehicle, I had no reason to tow during rain or snow. I don't even tow at night, nor on windy afternoons. Case closed. Simplicity, minimalism, frugality, and all of that.

There is such a thing as being too high up, too close to the big peaks when you are camping in Colorado. Mountains are cloud makers. I got fed up with the fog and rain of Crested Butte and decided to retreat to 7000-8000 feet near Gunnison.

In fact I fled during a morning rainshower. Didn't I just get done saying that I never tow when it is raining? I slowed down for a small tourist town.

Then I heard the woman scream. It was different than the one mentioned above. Once again it seemed like I only had a second to "do something."  Then a large white dog came trotting out of the yard. He crossed the highway, while being completely unconcerned about traffic. I hit the brakes and swerved, but didn't overdo it. I just missed the dog, and so did the other cars.


I took this as a significant and lucky warning. My arguments about not needing brakes on my trailer were a little like the bullshit people gave when seat belts were new: "I'm only driving to the grocery store, so I won't put the silly thing on. I'll "save" the seat belt for when I go on long drives."

The next day I made an appointment for installing aftermarket electric brakes on my little cargo trailer.

Adding brakes to a small trailer is a bit expensive ($600) because of all the parts and wiring. But it will cost a lot less to maintain the brakes, because the entire plate (brake shoes, springs, electric actuators) is replaced as one modular unit.



edlfrey said…
I'm glad that you added the breaks for a lot of reasons.
Among them are different state laws. "My cargo trailer has a GVWR of 3000 pounds and is not legally required to have electric brakes." Your state of registration may not require brakes but there are 7 states that have weight limits of less than 3,000 pounds. Some of them you probably will not travel in but CA, NV & ID are states that you might be in and those three states have a 1,500 pound requirement. Oregon and WY have stopping distance requirements that you may have been able to meet without the electric brakes, but then again maybe not.
Wayne (Wirs) said…
Peace of mind. A lot of people only factor the $$$ into decisions (mental values), but most don't take into account the emotional value also. That peace of mind will be remembered and "active" far longer than the $600 hit to your wallet will.

Glad that dog "serendipitously" wandered by. :)
Although I'm too lazy to look it up, I just assumed that the weight limits of different states apply to vehicles registered IN THAT STATE, not to vehicles merely driven through the state, and registered out-of-state.
Well that's OK, Wayne, but you know this blog is dedicated to a brutally utilitarian and rational approach to issues, all based on the concept of Diminishing Returns. (grin) Surely you don't expect an emotio-centric world view!
edlfrey said…
You need to be in compliance with the law of the state that you are IN.

The chances of you being stopped to check for compliance are rather slim but IF you are stopped for any other reason (ie exceeding 55mph in CA) then you may pick up an additional citation. Or if you are involved in an accident, even no fault, the chances are you would be cited if not in compliance with the laws of that state.
edlfrey said…

You should have waited for this:

The complete opposite to what you built. The "tractor" could be in your future however. HA
Sure, I'm game. Where can I get a sub-prime loan that works out $199 per month? I don't care how many years it takes to pay it off. (grin)
Holly JESUS your leaf springs are already rusted out, better keep a spare set in your truck. Soon your trailer will bounce like a ping pong ball going down the road. Well you can always upgrade to torsion axel next.