Crank Handle Repair
|The vast majority of the time, most drivers raise and lower a trailer's landing gear without any problems. Here, Mike Simons adjusts the height of the landing gear on his truck's trailer.|
|This trailer has a crank handle completely detached from the landing gear. It's hanging from a wire that's hanging from the edge of the trailer.|
|The shaft from the landing gear that the crank handle fits over is completely empty. The only thing worse than an empty shaft with a crank handle nearby is an empty shaft with no crank handle at all!|
|Mike inserted a screwdriver through the holes in the crank handle and landing gear shaft to act as the bolt that normally connects them. In this particular case, he used a Phillips head screwdriver as the tip of its shaft is narrower than that of a slotted head version.|
|This is a different view of the screwdriver being used in a temporary fix for crank handle repair. Chances are good that with the torque being applied, the screwdriver will not fall out, but watch for it nevertheless.|
|The bottom side of the crank handle through which a screwdriver has substituted for a bolt when the bolt is missing.|
|The top side of the crank handle through which a screwdriver has substituted for a bolt when the bolt is missing.|
|A new bolt, about 3 inches long, has been inserted through a washer and then through the holes to connect the landing gear shaft with the crank handle, and then fastened in place with another washer and then a nut. This is the view from the head of the bolt.|
|This is the view of the new bolt inserted through the holes to connect the crank handle to the shaft of the landing gear from the shaft end of the bolt. Notice that there is plenty of shaft left on the bolt. Perhaps a bolt with a slightly shorter shaft would work just as well.|
|Here is the side view of the new bolt-washer-washer-nut assembly used for crank handle repair. The two washers were inserted, one just under the head of the bolt, the other just under the nut, to keep the bolt from slipping out of the holes. Instead of just hand-tightening, Mike used tools to tighten the assembly.|
Mike visited a chain hardware store to obtain the nut and bolt assembly as well as two washers. All together, the cost to make this crank handle repair (apart from his time) was about $0.97.
One advantage of having a longer shafted bolt is that the nut is not as likely to work itself off as it would a shorter shafted bolt.
Mike says that in all his years of driving, he has had to make a crank handle repair like this very rarely.
For what it's worth, we have never seen hardware like what was used here for sale at a truck stop.
Money saving tip: There's a trade-off between carrying and not carrying rarely used hardware with you in your truck. The former allows you to make repairs such as a crank handle repair quickly and easily. The latter means that you'll probably have to stop somewhere along your route and buy it. For smaller repairs like this, it makes no sense to call a service truck and rack up the charges associated with that.
It pays to carry some basic tools and equipment with you. What if Mike hadn't had even a screwdriver with him?
For those times when the crank handle is missing altogether, you may be able (although we don't recommend it) to slowly and painstakingly rotate the landing gear by turning the screwdriver when inserted in the holes in the shaft. This is especially difficult if you are lowering your landing gear in preparation for dropping your trailer.
Don't strain your back. And remember that the shaft of a screwdriver wasn't meant for horizontal applications, only rotating vertically. We've never heard of a screwdriver snapping from being used in this way, but it is a possibility. Beware of potential injuries from doing this.
Another temporary stopgap is "borrowing" the crank handle from another trailer temporarily -- as long as you put it back when you're done with your immediate task. Get permission from whomever you need to get it before doing this.
Finally, if other drivers are nearby, you may ask them if they have the kind of hardware you need to make this repair. If they do and the cost is not too expensive, you may choose to pay for that. You just might have made a new friend in the process.
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