Trailman Bob's Tips

Tip # 1      Tattle-Trail vs. Tire Pressure Monitors

At a recent show, I was asked by a current user of a Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM) system why Tattle-Trail would have value to him. My response was anyone who tows something -- a car, a trailer, or anything -- wants to know FOR SURE  that everything is really OK back there.   

An alert of air loss in a tire is very important. Both Tattle-Trail and TPMs will notify you of a blown tire. But there are many other things that can go wrong that don’t involve losing air in a tire. Shimmies, weaving, separating tire tread, wheel bearings, broken tire rims, broken suspension components, hitch problems – so many problems that tire pressure sensors alone do not monitor.  

And that’s where Tattle-Trail gives added benefit!  

Tattle-Trail senses those out-of-the-ordinary vibrations and bumps that are the pre-cursor to trouble. It detects hundreds of anomalies that present themselves through excess vibration. Through reliable, constant, wireless two-way communication you know something might be wrong and you know it immediately  (1/100 of a second). It also has fail safe alarms if the receiver loses contact with the towed vehicle. Even the towed vehicle’s battery is continuously monitored and Tattle-Trail warns of a low-battery condition. 

Then there’s the added benefit of monitoring your towed vehicle when it’s parked. Set in “Park” mode, Tattle-Trail will alert you if someone bumps or tries to break into or steal your car, truck or trailer. Or maybe it’s a prankster removing hitch pins? How often have you stopped overnight in unfamiliar places without a clue as to how safe it is? 

Traveling without towing? Tattle-Trail is portable and can be used with any vehicle. Take it with you. Park near your motel room, monitor your vehicle parked outside, have some added peace of mind, and get a good night’s sleep. 

Tattle-Trail is easily installed. It has two compact little boxes about the size of a cell phone, and is packed full of the latest in engineering, computer, and wireless technology. Nothing else in the market place has its features, versatility, and reliability. 

The following chart shows how Tattle-Trail differs from Tire Pressure Monitor Systems. Tattle-Trail monitors more things and it sends/receives 100 times/second.  

Yes, it’s very important to monitor tire inflation. And Tattle-Trail takes care of monitoring for separating treads, blown tires and most everything else; giving you the added peace of mind knowing your towed vehicle is always being watched over.  

Use Tattle-Trail and tow with confidence!  And get a good night’s sleep with your towed vehicle attached or parked nearby.

 Compare Table TPMS



Tip # 2      Sensitivity is good!

Several Tattle-Trail users have asked what is the normal setting for the sensitivity knob. Well my answer is: “There is no normal setting.” If you follow the Tattle-Trail instructions, the sensitivity knob setting you end up with when the notification alarm just turns off is what we call the alarm threshold. Either shock or vibration levels that are greater than this alarm threshold will cause Tattle-Trail to generate both audible and visual alarms.

So, is there any importance to where the alarm threshold ends up being set? Well……. Yes! Let me explain. The sensitivity knob setting corresponds to a specific level of vibration. A knob setting of 10:00 o’clock represents an alarm threshold of significantly less vibration than a knob setting of 2:00 o’clock . The reason that Tattle-Trail has adjustable sensitivity levels is that the level of vibration can vary greatly between towed vehicles. Car baseline vibration levels are relatively low due to the compliant suspension and shock absorbers, while trailers and camper are typically higher since they are not designed for passenger comfort. Since Tattle-Trail is looking for incremental vibration above the alarm threshold (that the user establishes with the sensitivity knob) the actual alarm threshold levels will vary depending on the towed vehicle. However, the further clockwise the sensitivity knob is moved, the more difficult it may be for Tattle-Trail technology to discern problems that could be masked by the high levels of baseline vibration.

Many customers have commented on their high levels of baseline vibration on their 5th wheels and campers. Over time, this high level of baseline vibration eventually manifests itself with cabinetry falling apart and potential structural problems. One customer decided to address this issue by using Tattle-Trail as a diagnostic tool. By moving the transmitter around in the 5th wheel, he was able to determine that he had a tire problem. When he fixed the tire, the baseline vibrations were reduced.

While driving around in your car, you can determine exactly how much vibration your towed vehicle is experiencing by operating both units simultaneously. Attach the “Transmitter” to the windshield and plug in the power cords for both units. (If only one cigarette lighter exists, then get a “two into one” adapter.) Set the Tattle-Trail “Receiver” sensitive knob to the same position that you normally tow at. Now, while driving around, take note of what level of bump (pot hole) it takes to set off the alarm. If you are operating at a3:00 o’clock setting, you will be surprised at the amount of shock it takes! No wonder your cabinet doors are falling off!



Tip # 3        Portable or Permanent mount system?

“Which Tattle-Trail system do I need?” is often the question that is asked by potential customers when they call into the home office. The simple answer is that the portable system provides the greatest flexibility of use but mustnever be exposed to the weather. Therefore, if the transmitter that is mounted to the trailed vehicle can’t be protected from the weather (rain, snow, mist, etc.), then use the permanent mount (weather resistant) system. Both systems operate identically, so there is no difference in performance. 

If you need the permanent mount (weather resistant) system, then the following guidelines may be helpful. 

  1. Mount the transmitter to any flat surface (trailer/boat) above the axle(s) centerline (but not to the axle) in a manner that prevents the unit from vibrating or rattling on the mounting surface. 

  2.  If using on a trailer, attach the “+” wire from the Tattle-Trail transmitter to a fused 12VDC source on the trailer. An excellent selection is the breakaway battery. Since the Tattle-Trail system monitors the trailed vehicle’s battery, a measure of additional safety can be had by ensuring that the breakaway battery voltage is above 10.8 volts. 
  3. If mounting in a boat, select a location in the boat that is above the trailer axle(s) (when the boat is sitting on the trailer) and out of the bilge area. Attach the “+” wire from the Tattle-Trail transmitter to a fused 12VDC source connected to the boat battery. Never attach a Tattle-Trail permanent mount (water resistant) transmitter to any trailer that is intended to be submerged in water. 
  4. Always attach the Tattle-Trail transmitter (-) wire to the hard wired (-) circuit that connects the breakaway battery, the trailer and the tow vehicle. Never rely on the trailer ball connection for a reliable (-) source.
  5. If no +12VDC source is available on the trailer and connecting into the +12VDC auxiliary power of the tow vehicle is not possible, the Tattle-Trail “+” wire may be connected to the trailer running light circuit. In this wiring configuration, it will require the operator to turn on the running lights (both day and night) to use Tattle-Trail. 



Tip # 4      Boat thieves beware! Remote monitoring works with boats on davits too!

Thieves often target boats on davits behind homes of unsuspecting owners.Recent Tampa Bay area accounts suggest that boats are not only being broken into, but are being stolen right off the davits. The crime transpires in this manner. The boat cradle lifting cables are cut dropping the boat to the water. A small (quiet) boat then takes the stolen boat in tow. Once safely out of range of suspecting neighbors, work begins to hot wire the stolen boat’s engines and drive it off to locations unknown.

How can Tattle-Trail prevent these crimes? Well there are several ways that Tattle-Trail can notify the owner that is sleeping in the house that a crime is transpiring on his dock. Let’s assume that the boat owner had the foresight to install a Tattle-Trail 550wr transmitter in the boat. In his bedroom, he has the Tattle-Trail receiver powered by a 120VAC adapter. While in the “Park” mode, this system is vigilantly monitoring the boat. As the crime transpires, there are several ways that Tattle-Trail can catch the crooks red handed:

1.  Motion detector: 
If the crooks try to board the boat, it is likely that their movement on boat will cause enough boat movement to set off the motion alarm.

2.  Shock monitor: 
If the crooks try to force open cabin doors or remove an outboard motor / outdrive by hitting them with a hammer or pry bar, the Tattle-Trail system will detect the shock force and immediately alarm in the house.

3.  Tilt angle: 
If the crooks cut one of the support cables and the boat angle shifts more than 5 degrees, once again the attempted theft is detected.

4.  Communication alarm: 
If through some “Houdini” feat, the criminals get on board undetected and turn off the battery power, they are foiled again, since the Tattle-Trail receiver in the bedroom monitors for communication with the transmitter every second. If power to the transmitter is interrupted, the receiver will alarm.

I guess it is obvious, but I think it’s worth mentioning that all the above monitoring aspects of Tattle-Trail will also monitor the boat in event of a davit/lift system failure such as a broken cable or sagging support system.

In summary, you can sleep soundly knowing that Tattle-Trail is keeping your boat safe!

Oh, I forgot to mention that Tattle-Trail also monitors the boat battery voltage level and notifies the owner if the battery drops below 10.8 volts. Nice to know that the boat is ready to go when you are! 





Tip # 5      Talking Horses!  

In a recent conversation with a potential distributor for Tattle-Trail in the equestrian market, I was told that horses have the intelligence of a 4 year old human. However, it seems that horses are very intuitive to problems that occur while trailering. And how do they sense when there is a problem? Well the most obvious would be that the horse feels vibration or movement in the trailer that he is not familiar with. Horses routinely shift their weight in response to acceleration and braking motions, but can get easily spooked when vibrations from a flat tire or separating tread interrupt their normal trailering routine.

Since most of us are not trailering “Mr. ED”, the horse has no direct way of communicating to the tow truck driver that he senses a problem. This is where Tattle-Trail comes to the rescue. Just like the horse, Tattle-Trailsenses any vibrations that are different from the norm. However, Tattle-Trail can talk! And it does, alerting the driver of a problem with the trailer by activating both audible and visual alarms in the tow truck. Catching problems early is key to protecting your animals during transit. A horse that becomes spooked or falls down can easily progress into a financially costly and potentially life threatening event.

Protect your horses while in transit with our version of “Mr. Ed” andTow with Confidence using Tattle-Trail!   

Click on the following link to read about Tattle-Trail's horse trailer evaluation.


Tip # 6 What is the “one” ?

“It won’t happen to me!” was a common response I heard at a recent RV Supershow. The only more common response we heard at our booth was: “We had "one"  just like that recently”.  

Well, the “one” they were talking about was a trailer tire on display with tread separation and about 10 inches of tread missing. It was hard to believe the number of RVers who had experienced a similar tread separation in the last month!  I bet you can guess which group stayed around to hear about the benefits of Tattle-Trail and which group kept on walking. Since we intend to be in this business for a long while, it will be fun to see how many of the “It won’t happen to me” people will be back at the next show with a story of an expensive towing failure. I don’t know of any nationally distributed data that relates miles between towing failures, but our experience averages out to about 1 problem every 15,000 miles.  

Yes, I am very meticulous with my maintenance program, do a walk around (checking tire pressure and temperature) at every rest area and replace the trailer tires every three years (even though the tread is hardly worn). Still, we have unforeseen failures and I’m glad that Tattle-Trail is on the lookout, so small problems don’t grow into big ones! Remember, catching a problem early on your trailer or toad, prevents expensive repair costs and the nuisance of having to deal with insurance claims.

Stop by our booth (#1307) at the upcoming show in Bowling Green, OH, and see the actual “one” that Tattle-Trail gave us an early warning on. While you are there, ask “Trailman Bob” about all the other features that a Tattle-Trail provides.



Tip # 7 “Death wobble”

At a recent FMCA rally, I met an enthusiastic outdoorsman named Fred. He asked me if I had ever heard of “death wobble”? I said “no”, but the name harkened me back to my youth.

 Mini-bikes were all the neighborhood rage then, so my friend and I decided to build one out of an old tricycle and a discarded lawnmower engine. After several weeks of work, we were ready for the test run. We drew straws for the “opportunity” to be the first rider and I lost. Oh well, I would stand down the road and observe. Well my friend Rick headed towards me at nearly 30 mph, when all of the sudden the front wheel started to wobble. Now, we had not anticipated this problem when we mounted the throttle lever. There was only a short throttle cable attached to the scrap motor and that dictated that we mount the throttle lever at the center of the handlebars. This mounting configuration required you to steer with just one hand while adjusting the throttle with the other. Well, you can imagine Rick’s dilemma when the handlebars were shaking so violently that he couldn’t steer using only one hand. Being the bright individual that he was, Rick headed for the grass and bailed off. The mini-bike continued on (with the front wheel wobbling at an accelerated pace) until it hit a tree!  We decided to build a boat later that afternoon!

 Well, after hearing Fred’s description of “death wobble” occurring on (4-down) flat towed Wranglers, it sounds very similar to what happened with the mini-bike. I expect that when elevating the Wrangler to get additional road clearance (Fred showed me a picture of his Jeep climbing over a sea of boulders, some nearly as big as his Jeep), the front suspension geometry is changed. This geometry change makes the Wrangler susceptible to the dreaded “death wobble”. As Fred described it, once the front end of the Wrangler starts to wobble, it doesn’t stop until the Wrangler stops moving (either while still attached to the tow vehicle or when it breaks away and hits a tree!). Sounds a lot like our mini-bike!

Fred was ecstatic to find a monitoring system that would give him an early warning that his Wrangler was entering ‘death wobble”. When you flat tow, you should always have your Tattle-Trail turned on to monitor for problems with your toad. Whether it is a separating tire tread, broken hitch assembly or the dreaded “death wobble”, Tattle-Trail will stand vigilant as you travel down the highway.



Tip #8   The best value for protecting your “toad”

My 401k is now a 201k, so what product offers the best value for protecting my “toad”?

Although tire pressure monitoring seems to be all the buzz these days, does the data truly support their claims and will your money be well spent? I keep reading in the tire pressure monitor brochures that 90% of all tire failures are a result of low tire pressure. I believe however, that the 90% figure quoted reflects the entire population of vehicles and may not be a fair representation of tire problems experienced with towed vehicles. Additionally, tires are just a portion of the problems that can create havoc with your towed vehicle.

Sure, slow leaks can lead to tire overheating and failure, but we stop every two to three hours and do a walk around, checking the tire and wheel bearing temperatures. Interestingly, in over 350,000 miles of towing, I found only one tire that had a slow leak and was 8 PSI low. I have however had multiple blown tires from road debris, experienced failed wheel bearings and broken trailer axle springs, had the hitch pulled out of the receiver (malicious removal of pin), discovered a loose hitch ball and you name it! We do a safety check on our toad every morning (just before we leave) that includes thumping the tires (pressure check), suspension look-over and a total inspection of the hitch assembly. This inspection is critical to a safe day’s travel and should be performed every time you stop your vehicle (particularly, these days if it was left unattended).

Therefore, my personal experience would lead me to believe that 90% of all towed vehicle failures are far more catastrophic in nature. Whether it is a tire blowout resulting from running over some road trash, a hitch / suspension issue, or a towed vehicle in “death wobble”, immediate notification is required to prevent further damage.

OK, so you plan to travel this year and want to do it safely. Your 401K has turned into a 201K just like mine and there is only so much money available. What do you buy?

Well, purchase a Tattle-Trail towing monitor system of course. Not only does it monitor for blown tires, but it will also catch a separating tire tread (no pressure change!) as well as sway and hitch problems. When you add in Tattle-Trail’s toad battery monitor and the theft/intrusion alarm while parked, the purchasing decision becomes a “no brainer”!

And it’s portable, so you can use Tattle-Trail to monitor your bass boat when you go fishing and your toad when you go cross country. With a line of sight communication range of 1,000 feet, you don’t need a repeater either. So outfit yourself with a Tattle-Trail system, a good tire pressure gauge plus a tire thumper and enjoy your RV while you wait for an economic recovery. Heck by then, should you decide to add the additional convenience of a tire pressure monitor system, they will probably be even cheaper!



Tip # 9   Insurance rebates for Tattle-Trail users!

I have checked with several insurance companies about discounts or rebates for users of Tattle-Trail. Geico was the first to respond. They said that Tattle-Trail users would qualify for a 5% discount (based on Tattle-Trail’s “Park” mode anti-theft feature). There seems to be no across the board policy for all companies, but rather each company may have their own state or regional policies. Therefore, after you purchase a Tattle-Trail system for your towed vehicle (car, boat, motorcycle, trailer, etc.), contact your insurance agent to see what discounts or rebates you are entitled to because your towed vehicle now has a theft monitor. 


Tip # 10  Why do I always have tire problems on the right side of my toad?

Well of course most of you already know the answer. The right side tires are more prone to running over road debris that has collected on the shoulder of the road. Either the RV tires kick out the debris to be run over by the toad or both vehicles drift onto the shoulder and the toad tires always seem to end up with the blowout. Oh, did I forget to mention pot holes? They usually form in the right lanes, due to the additional loads created by trucks that nominally travel in that lane. Pot holes often cause right side tire tread separations that ultimately lead to blowouts further on down the road.

So how do I help prevent right side tire damage on my toad? Well the answer is: Use a Tattle-Trail system to notify you when you are drifting off the normal road surface. Most of us don’t realize how often we do drift off the road during the course of a days travel. I find that as the day goes by (and I become more tired), I am increasingly more likely to run onto the road shoulder. With Tattle-Trail operational, I have a watchdog that warns me when I start getting tired. If the system alarms several times within a relative short period of time, I know that it is time for the co-pilot to locate a campground. Now!

I have also heard from several Tattle-Trail users that they have adjusted their driving position on the road based on notifications from Tattle-Trail. Since the road prospective from the seat of the RV isn’t the same as from your family car, it takes some practice to make sure you are positioning the rig and your toad properly in your lane. If your rig is outfitted with tandem rear tires, it is often difficult to detect that the right rear has left the road because the load is carried by the inside right tire (that is still on the road). Tattle-Trail acts like a coach, reminding you not to drift (pun intended) into old driving habits.

How about the toad wheel base? When pulling a boat or car on a trailer/dolly, the toad wheel base is often wider than a typical car. Therefore, it is imperative that you compensate for the additional width or the right side wheels will often be running on the shoulder. With Tattle-Trail operational, you will know that you have properly adjusted your RV road positioning to accommodate for the wider toad wheelbase.

Oops, forgot to mention that you should avoid pot holes if you can. (No kidding! What RVer hasn’t hit a big pot hole and had a cabinet door open and dump its contents all over. Heck, as a passenger I even fell off the “john” once!) However, some are just not avoidable, so Tattle-Trail will notify you if your toad hits the big one. If a tread separation results, the Tattle-Trail alarm will then escalate in volume, thereby notifying you to take immediate action to prevent the eminent tire blowout and resultant toad body damage from the disintegrating tire.


Tip # 11 Double Towing . Will Tattle-Trail work with multiple towed vehicles?

(Sometimes called: “double towing”, “dual towing”, “tandem towing” or “triple towing”.

However you want to describe it, having two vehicles in tow presents real problems when trying to keep an eye on the second vehicle (caboose). Most often, the “caboose” is not visible from the towing vehicle and it is very difficult to determine if you are encountering a problem with the “caboose”. This is where Tattle-Trail comes to the rescue!!!!

Because Tattle-Trail was designed to be the most comprehensive monitoring system available for towed vehicles, it is especially useful when trying to keep track of double towed vehicles. Since Tattle-Trail monitors for movement of the “caboose” in all three axis (up and down, side to side, and front to back), most any failure you can think of can be detected by Tattle-Trail’s motion sensor. Additionally, since motion is sensed 100 times a second, Tattle-Trail will immediately report a problem if an out of tolerance condition is detected. Therefore, if Tattle-Trail detects a tire tread is separating, a wheel bearing is failing or there is excessive sway at the “caboose”, you will be notified so you can take immediate action to minimize damage and personal risk.

With a wireless communication range of 1,000 feet, there is no need to add any amplification to effectively receive the signals from the transmitter mounted in the “caboose”. Merely connect the transmitter to +12VDC in the “caboose” and connect the receiver to +12VDC in the tow vehicle and the system is ready to go.

Double haulers would probably also appreciate the “theft prevention monitor” that is incorporated into Tattle-Trail. While parked, if the “caboose” sensor detects movement, impact or change in tilt angle, an alarm will sound at the receiver notifying you that someone is messing with your “caboose”.   

Hint!  If the Tattle-Trail “Park” alarm goes off at night, activate your tow vehicle key FOB alarm to scare away the would be thieves.


Contact & Ordering Information

Tattle-Trail LLC.

8076 114th Ave N. Suite 200
Largo, FL 33733

Phone: 727-510-2903

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