Tattle Trail Monitor – Know what your Trailer is Up to
I tried the TTK 550 wireless Portable Towing Monitor System with my 3-horse gooseneck trailer. The receiver (left) is next to my radar detector and CB. Tattle-Trail uses a three-axis accelerometer to detect movement, vibration or shock. An accelerometer is a device that measures non-gravitational accelerations, like the gyro in my camera to prevent shake and blurry images. In a previous life, the engineers at Tattle-Trail developed kidney dialysis instrumentation. These guys tow trailers with their RV and could see the problems their experience could solve with early detection of trailer tire tread separation, broken suspensions, wheel bearing problems, loose lug nuts, and coupler malfunction.
I use Pressure Pro to monitor my trailer tire pressure, but there is so much more that can go wrong back there. I tow my trailer across the country, and often at night when the wind blows less and I can get better fuel mileage. At night you really can’t see much other than clearance lights and you can’t whip your trailer in the daytime to see much either. Cameras can be part of the answer; I have those too. But imagine knowing you have a tire coming apart before it tears your fender off or knowing a wheel bearing is going out or your trailer brakes are set too tight. Even when the horses act up and get into serious trouble, you’ll know it’s time to pull over and fix the problem before it gets worse.
This is sophisticated equipment with 30,000 lines of software code reading movement 100 times a second. It is easy to set up with a wireless transmitter attached by suction cups for your trailer. The TTK 550 uses a 12-volt plug for power, but you can get them with batteries and waterproof if you want to put the transmitter with the horses above the axles.
This is easy to install in a Living Quarters using a 12-volt outlet, in a horse compartment using the battery option, or a 12-volt outlet wired to clearance lights.
First, I wanted to test how sensitive the unit was. Using cruise control at 70 mph, I did a 44-mile loop on Interstate 76 with low traffic. I turned the transmitter in the trailer on first. The accelerometer self adjusts. I dialed it all the way counter-clockwise and the red light was on at maximum detection. On the road you turn the dial to the right, (clockwise) to dial in sensitivity, and when it stops beeping and flashing, you’ve found your baseline for where normal trailer movement is. After I had a baseline and things were too calm, I’d drive over the right median and let the trailer ride the rumble strip. That brought Tattle-Trail to life. This is what I need, rumble strips and an alarm telling me to pay attention on those long cross-country trips. Over bumps, the red light would flash and one beep.
Then it was back to the barn for my 10,000-mile trailer axle greasing. Lifting one axle at a time to grease, mine are Dexter EZ Lube axles with a grease zerk in the end of the spindle where a hole goes to the middle of the spindle in-between the axle bearings. I rotated the wheel as I pumped the grease gun five times. Then back to my test road.
I was very surprised that Tattle-Trail could tell the difference before and after greasing. After the greasing, I was able to turn the dial counter-clockwise half a notch toward max sensitivity.
Then off to the next test, the horse. My volunteer was a 11-year-old Paint gelding, (Tonto). He had a bad experience in this trailer the last time I loaded him, as I got stuck in deep sand in a pasture and stuck in a mud hole near a corn field doing another project and rocked my way out. Tonto loaded well but pawed the floor intently to let me know, that he remembered his last experience. This trip was smooth so hopefully all is forgiven.
With my horse I only had to drop 1/2 notch clockwise for less sensitivity for a little more movement. Like a loaded truck rides better, it is the same with trailers ” with horses, they ride better. Since most horse trailer don’t have shock absorbers, the horse absorbs some of the shock and rebound settles down bounce.
If the Tattle-Trail has more alarm to it when braking, your trailer brake controller may be set too high or the brakes are too tight.
Road bumps are simple to adjust for, just one beep, one flash; if the problem is more severe, a lot of beeps and flashing light with elevated alarm. With battery model receiver, when battery is low, a yellow solid light tells you to recharge.
Another feature of Tattle-Trail is when you’re parked or at a motel, with the optional AC/12 volt adaptor, you can take the receiver with you and keep track of movement in your trailer. Park mode works within 1,000 ft. of your trailer. It will detect motion, and if your trailer is stolen.
I travel around the country with my horse trailer to major horse expos. Sometimes the only hotel left is in a bad neighborhood. I’ve been surprised in the morning to find the car next to me with all four tires slashed and the windshield busted. Now with Tattle Trail I can monitor my truck or trailer in Park mode from my hotel room. I just plug the monitor into the 110 adaptor and see how the night goes.
I just got back from Pomona, California, from the Equine Affaire. I used Tattle Trail up and back. Now, if I can just learn not to lock my keys in my truck.
I haul heavy steel displays in my horse trailer around the country to horse expos. Using trucker cargo bars to tie the stands to still allows things to bounce around on our beat up Interstates. Using Tattle-Trail tells me when a stand falls over and when I’m taking curves too fast, or the load is leaning and about to fall over. I can tell by the beeping that I need to slow down on the mountain roads that follow the rivers. I made it home and didn’t tear up the trailer lining.
For more info: http://www.tattle-trail.com/.
Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site, http://www.mrtruck.net.