Introduction: Trailer Swing-away Jockey Wheel Mounting Bracket.

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Mount a Swing Up jockey wheel to an old trailer.

My old jockey wheel has to be taken off manually, every time I use my trailer. This is a pain in the the lower back sitting organ. So, I got a Swing-away Jockey Wheel instead.
Now to mount it.

I have seen U-Bolt mounting brackets used, but I could not at the time, find the size and type I wanted.
Being the King of Re-using old bits and bobs, I thought I would make my own.
The plus part, it would be fun, and of my own design.

I looked around for ideas, by looking at many commercial and industrial mountings of jockey wheels, eventually coming up from those ideas, with my own version.

Here is how I did it.

Step 1: Parts Used.

2 - 45mm x 45mm Angle iron. 2 pieces each cut to 230mm in length. (used - an old bed frame).

4 - M10 x 45mm High Tensile Bolts.

4 - M10 Serrated Locking Nuts - High Tensile.

2 - 45mm Angle iron triangle pieces.

1 - Can of Grey Primer paint.

1 - Can of Black Gloss paint.

1 - Banana - it's going to take some time. You'll get hungry.




Drill press (use a hand drill if you don't have one) and 5mm and 12mm drill bit, and a centre punch.

Welder - Mig , Arc, or TIG if you are rich. :)

Cutoff Wheel Saw. (Hack saw, or angle grinder with cutoff disks will do)

Wire brush and welding hammer.

Safety gear - Mask, eye protection, ear protection, gloves (welders, and leather for grinding, cutting, etc).

Grinding wheel - hand held grinder. with grinding disks, and wire brush attachment.

Safety stop switch. (see my Safety Cutout Switch build).

Files - Bastard and Fine.

Sand paper - 80 grit and 120 grit.

Cleaning fluid - for de-greasing and paint preparation Isopropyl Alcohol or paint pre cleaner.

Spanners. Ring and Open Ended.

Clamps - G-clamps, Welding Magnetic Clamps, Pinch Clamps.

Scribe tool and Red Felt Tipped pen.

One Supervisory Dog (Except when Welding or Grinding - don't want to blind or set fire to said dog)

Broom. (You have to clean up after, you know!)

Step 2: The Build - Measuring and Cutting.

The Jockey Wheel base plate measured 150mm height x 210mm width.

The trailers A-Frame beam, on which the jockey wheel was to be mounted, measured at 65mm high.

I needed to accommodate the trailer beam, the height of the brackets, and to allow the correct distance between the jockey wheels mounting holes and trailers cross beams, to allow the wheel to swing up out of the way, and back down freely.

I placed the jockey wheel on the beam, and held it in place temporarily with clamps, to find the best position, so that, it could move freely, and hold up the trailer as well. At this point, I marked it's position with the steel scribe and red pen.

From this, I worked out I would need to have mounting plates at least 40mm to 50mm in height.

I had some old angle iron left over, from a bed frame, that I have used before, in other projects.
It's 45mm x 45mm x 1.5mm thick, of mild steel, and is reasonably strong.

I used this, cutting it into two, 230mm lengths.

I then cut 4 x triangular pieces, to strength the brackets, from more of the same angle iron.

Though listed on the picture, at 45mm, these Triangles, are slightly shorter at 1.5mm less on the back and bottom edges, so as to fit into the inside of the angle iron brackets. I also rounded off the bottom corner, as the angle iron brackets are thicker at the 90 degree angle, thus the inside is not exactly a flat 90 degree turn.

Step 3: The Build - Holes and Corners.

Next I measured the distance between the holes, from the holes centre points, at 185mm.

The jockey wheel holes where 12mm in diameter, so I would be drilling 12mm holes to accommodate the bolts.

As the angle iron is slightly longer than the jockey wheel base, I used the hole to hole distance, as the guide to drilling the holes.

I measured half way along the angle iron bracket, and then marked the drilling points each at half the 185mm distance, so at 92.5mm from the mid point.
Before drilling I checked these measurements against the jockey wheel base plate.
As they say, measure once, cut twice! Or was the the other way around??

Having checked the measure twice, I marked the spots with a centre punch, mounted the iron in a vice, and then started a pilot hole with the 5 mm drill bit.

Then I drilled the 12 mm holes, making sure to keep the drill bit lubricated with a mixture of water and oil. You can make a simple mix using, water, machine oil, or light grease, and dish soap.

This keeps the drill bit cool, and stops it from wearing out too quickly, keeps the thing being drill, cooled down as well. This also make the drilling smoother and easier.

At this stage, you will note, the Angle Iron Brackets will still have sharp corners.
We will now grind down those corners off, with the angle grinder, and finish the rounding off, with the hand files.
I rounded not only the corners, but the edge of the corners also. So as to make a non-sharp end.
This will reduce any damage done to banged knee and legs, that often goes with using a trailer.

Step 4: The Build - Prepping, and Mounting.

Before welding the plates on, I needed to clean off the old paint on the trailer beam, and off of the bottom, of the angle iron brackets, and around the weld edges.

*Note: not shown here, but I moved a front cross trailer bracket, more forward, to allow the jockey wheel to swing up. The welding and painting is the same as the rest of the work mentioned here. I forgot to take photos of that bit of the work! :)

I used the angle grinder, with a grinding disk, and wire brush attachment, to remove all the paint, down to bare metal.
As we are going to seal the bracket to the beam with welding and painting, there is very low risk of rust occurring.
It will happen over time, but we can not weld onto a painted surface, safely and easily. So, a clean bare metal surface is the way to go.

Once the paint is all ground off, then all the surfaces are cleaned with the grime removing fluid. Make sure to clean both the trailer beam, and the angle iron pieces, including the triangular bits that you removed the paint off, along the edges. See the pictures, to see how much paint I removed.

Once the pieces are cleaned up, then I mounted the brackets, and began the welding process.

Step 5: The Build - Welding and Paint Prep.

Now the bits are "old paint" free (at least on their bottoms, trailer beam, and weld points), I clamped them down, checked the positioning, and began the welding.

I welded the top bracket down first, starting with tacking it into place with very short welds, double checking it's positioning, ie had not moved and was flush with the trailer beam, then cleaning up the slag, I ran beads of weld along each edge. Then I added the triangle pieces on, set at 110mm between each piece, or 55mm from the centre of the bracket, if you like, welding them into place.

Note, with the bottom bracket, I welded the Triangle piece on first, before I mounted the bracket.
It was hard enough, to have to weld upside down, as it was!

Once I had done the welding, cleaning up between tacking and running lines of welded beams on each edge, I moved onto, cleaning up the splatter, and grinding down the welds, to clean, smooth edges.
If any holes appeared, I went back and re-welded any missing spots after grinding back.
Thankfully, this was very few.
As I only have a gasless Mig (really it's just a wire feed welder, when you think about it), there was lots of splatter to cleanup.

I checked the strength of the welds with a very crude, but effective method, of hitting the brackets with a sledge hammer, to see if there are any breaks, or movement of the brackets.
There were none. Crude, but effective!

Yes, I can hear you say, you will weaken the welds, but, it is going to get a pounding over it's life, so one short set of hits, will not do much, if any damage at all.
If it doesn't break off, its' going to hold!

Step 6: The Build - Welding and Paint Prep.

Using a chipping hammer, the angle grinder, grinding disk and wire brush attachment, along with a wire brush, files, and finally, sand paper, I cleaned up the metal surfaces.

Mostly the cleaning of the metal, was to remove any sharp edges, and to have a flat surface for the Jockey Wheel's mounting plate, and bolts to sit on.

Once the metal was reasonably filed, and sanded smooth, I cleaned it up again, with the paint pre fluid.
Then I applied the first coats of primer.
Waiting 20 to 30 minutes between coats, I applied a light, even coverage about 4 times, of primer.
I made sure to get into, any visible holes, that I could see.
When finished, I waited 2 hrs, as it was a warm day, till I started the top coats.

Once again, using light even coats, I applied 5 coats of the Black Gloss, waiting 20 to 30 minutes between each coat, till it was touch dry.

I left the paint overnight to dry, before I put the Jockey Wheel on.

Step 7: The Build - Mounting

The next day, once the paint had set, I mounted the Jockey Wheel, on the trailer. Not a horse.

Winding the wheel down, to align the mounting holes, and holding the wheel in place by hand, I put the bolts into the holes, and hand tightened on the nuts.
I then tightened all the nuts down, lightly with a spanner, so I could align the mounting plate correctly.

Once I was happy of the position of the jockey wheel plate, I tightened down the lock nuts, to around 30 to 40 pounds torque.
You could use a torque wrench, I use best judgement from experience.
Over many years, you develop a best guesstimate for nut torquing. Though, I would use a torque wrench when it came to mission critical torque, such as tightening down an engine head.
For this, feel works fine.
For extra safety, I locked the nuts down with a little paint on the threads.
You can use locktight, but it was over $20 for a 30ml bottle! Paint will do. :)

Once again, I checked the clearance of the swing up and down of the jockey wheel (a bit late for mistakes at this stage!), and all checked out good.

Step 8: The Build - Clean Up.

Though I had mostly been cleaning up as I went, I still had to clean up the metal filings that had embedded themselves onto the concrete driveway from the grinding.

A bit of wire brushing and broom work fixed this.
Next time, I am going to put a wooden sheet down, before extensive grinding work.
Lesson learned.
I hope!
I did put plastic sheeting down when I was painting, so no paint splatters to worry about.

At this point, I checked getting the trailer on and off the car, and the jockey wheel in the lock up position.
All tested out OK, and I could now sit back and admire my work.

Yes, I could have bought mounting u-bolts, but it would not have the strength, and even be the same quality build. The plus is, I get the satisfaction of designing and building this mount, and then sharing it with you, so you too can build you own, and feel just as satisfied as me!

Thanks, and enjoy!

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