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6.2.6 – Trailer Air Tanks

Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more air tanks. They are filled by the emergency (supply) line from the tractor. They provide the air pressure used to operate trailer brakes. Air pressure is sent from the air tanks to the brakes by relay valves.

The pressure in the service line tells how much pressure the relay valves should send to the trailer brakes. The pressure in the service line is controlled by the brake pedal (and the trailer hand brake).

It is important that you do not let water and oil build up in the air tanks. If you do, the brakes may not work correctly. Each tank has a drain valve on it and you should drain each tank every day. If your tanks have automatic drains, they will keep most moisture out. But you should still open the drains to make sure.

6.2.7 – Shut-off Valves

Shut-off valves (also called cut-out cocks) are used in the service and supply air lines at the back of trailers used to tow other trailers. These valves permit closing the air lines off when another trailer is not being towed. You must check that all shut-off valves are in the open position except the ones at the back of the last trailer, which must be closed.

6.2.8 – Trailer Service, Parking and Emergency Brakes

Newer trailers have spring brakes just like trucks and truck tractors. However, converter dollies and trailers built before 1975 are not required to have spring brakes. Those that do not have spring brakes have emergency brakes, which work from the air stored in the trailer air tank.

The emergency brakes come on whenever air pressure in the emergency line is lost. These trailers have no parking brake. The emergency brakes come on whenever the air supply knob is pulled out or the trailer is disconnected.

A major leak in the emergency line will cause the tractor parking valve to close and the trailer emergency brakes to come on. But the brakes will hold only as long as there is air pressure in the trailer air tank. Eventually, the air will leak away and then there will be no brakes. Therefore, it is important for safety that you use wheel chocks when you park trailers without spring brakes.

You may not notice a major leak in the service line until you try to put the brakes on. Then, the air loss from the leak will lower the air tank pressure quickly. If it goes low enough, the trailer emergency brakes will come on.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #337 (1 of 2)

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It is important that you do not let water and oil build up in the air tanks. Each tank has a drain valve on it and you should drain each tank:

  • Once a week
  • Every 150 miles or every two hours, whichever comes first
  • Several times each year
  • Every day
It is important that you do not let water and oil build up in the air tanks. Each tank has a drain valve on it and you should drain each tank every day
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Question #336 (2 of 2)

Give a brief explanation of the problem:

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Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more air tanks. They are filled by:

  • The service line from the tractor
  • The pressure from the foot brake
  • The emergency (supply) line from the tractor
  • Pulling out on the round yellow knob
Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more air tanks. They are filled by the emergency (supply) line from the tractor
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