Saved an old Bushtec Motorcycle trailer



Vetter Aficionado
Jan 27, 2016
Weaver, AL
About a month ago I stopped at a "Moving" yard sale to have a look at the offerings. The lady selling out was moving to a assisted living facility. She had a lot of Harley Davidson stuff along with the usual stuff people have but no longer need when they go to one of those places. She had a really nice Harley Davidson Factory Trike I could not afford even if I wanted it. She had several other Harley Fans that were in a bidding war over it anyway. She had all sorts of gear she was selling that she and her "Old Man" had. He was a big guy so nothing fit me and she was a skinny 1/4 size of my Wife. I found nothing I could use or wanted until I saw an old Bike Trailer covered is dust and crud under a shed with some other junk. I crawled over some stuff to get at it and discovered it was a Bushtec trailer. I asked if it was for sale. It turns out they were going to have people come over and clean out the shed for them just to get rid of it. I ended up paying some of her family members to help me dig it out. We had to move a Coats tire machine that weighted several hundred pounds to get the trailer out. I got the trailer and a receipt and headed home with it. It was in bad shape as would be normal for something 28 years old. It had a tag from May 2014 attached so I figure that's the last year they used it. It had many problems. The air lines for the air shocks leaked, The lower shock bushing had rotted away, and the problem that most likely caused them to "park" it was a shorted wiring harness. I'm sure it was blowing fuses on the Bike when they towed it. The first thing I worked on was the wiring harness. The harness was run inside the steel trailer tongue and due to it's age I knew that's where the harness would be shorted. I removed the tongue and sure enough found several places where the rusty metal inside the tongue had rubbed away the wire insulation on several wires. I repaired the damaged harness and tested the lights which now worked without shorting out and blowing fuses. I replaced the tongue and ran the wiring harness without running it inside the tongue and suffer that problem again. The next thing I worked on was the air shock suspension. I sprayed soapy water on all the air line fittings after putting 50 psi air in the lines. The leak was at the valve stem where you fill the system. I had already removed that fitting from the tongue and it's tubing that also had been routed inside the tongue. I was lucky that tubing had not been damaged. I pulled the core out and immediately figured out why it was leaking. The brass valve stem was slightly bent. Someone had dropped the tongue on something at some point. I wanted to save that brass stem because the new ones are made of plastic and suck really bad. I used one of those valve stem tools to take the bend out of the valve stem by running the ID and OD thread repair parts of the tool over the outside and inside threads. Then I used the valve seat cutter for the core to cut the seat. I then put in a new core, which fixed the leak. I also notice a gurgling noise coming from the valve stem when releasing air from it. I disconnected the air lines from the shocks and then used compressed air to flush the lines. Apparently they had been using a compressor to fill the air lines because some really ugly black oil came out of the lines. With the air shocks fixed I removed both shocks to have a look at the shock bushings. The top bushings were rubber and were fine. The bottom bushings are on the trailer and were gone except for a few remaining chunks of rotten rubber and nylon. The bushings were made of nylon with a thin metal insert and rubber washers attached to the side to make the bushing appear to be rubber to the casual observer. I purchased a couple of inches of 1 inch aluminum stock and made new bushings from that on my lathe. I should note here that Bushtec no longer supports this old trailer so no parts are available from Bushtec for it. From the serial number and info tag attached to the trailer it's a 1991 Bushtec Turbo Cargo Model # TC131. I would have ordered a new set of bushings for it if Bushtec had them available. I called and asked and was told I should buy a new Bushtec trailer because they no longer support my "old trailer".
Anyway I put the trailer back together. The air shocks held air for a few days while I made a new hitch adapter to fit it to my existing trailer hitch. After completing that job I took it for a test tow. You can actually forget you are towing that trailer! It tows like a dream. No vibration, pulling, pushing, or bucking. I can understand why people pay thousands of dollar$ for them! I've been using it for grocery runs and stuff like that.