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Watercraft/Trailer Article

Research Machine Development Safety Device Prevents Boating Trailer Accidents

Date: 11/13/06
Tackle type: Watercraft (Trailer)
Manufacturer: RMD
Reviewer: Zander & Cal


When leaf springs break on boat trailers damage can be done to not only the trailer but the boat, and in worse cases to others on the road. RMD’s new Trailer Safety Device (TSD) addresses this issue with an innovative dedicated airbag system.


The new RMD "Trailer Safety Device"

About RMD: RMD has been in the machining business for many years...23 years to be exact. Research Machine Development (RMD) specializes in machined metal designs for recreational and electronics industries. Established in 1983, RMD is currently based in the heart of Silicon Valley in Santa Clara, California. Mr. Yonekura owner of RMD is a former employee of Hewlett-Packard and other local high-tech firms, and began developing safety devices to address a need that he observed while pursuing his passion...bass fishing.

The problem...broken leaf springs like this one


The "need": Boat trailers are built with leaf suspension systems. These suspension systems can be prone to failure when the spring snaps, and unfortunately some trailers make use of cheaper foreign made springs which are even more prone to failure. While there is not a lot of data available from the government or insurance agencies just talk to any tournament pro and they will know someone who has had a spring failure. One of our own editors had this very failure a few years ago during a lengthy tow.


The TSD installs right on top of each axle


A leaf spring failure can be very dangerous if the snapping occurs while towing at high speed. The damage can not only impact the trailer but the frame, fender, and even the boat itself. At very high speeds damage can extend to the tow vehicle, or worst case following cars.


The TSD is made in the USA

According to George Yonekura, inventor and developer of the trailer safety device, “Boating trailer accidents, due to leaf spring suspension failure, are increasing in frequency. You can see this on return trips home from a fishing weekend. Sometimes you’ll see some accidents, which could be a real hazard, but also for other motorists on the highway.” Yonekura’s comment on the current state of leaf spring suspension quality can be summed up as “The problem has become worse due to the increased use of low-cost imports and the associated decrease in quality. The new, low-cost leaf spring imports can snap in as short as two weeks after installation.”

Here at RMD headquarters the TSD is hand built from steel


The TSD (Trailer Safety Device) : To address leaf spring failures Yonekura invented the TSD (Trailer Safety Device). The TSD functions like an airbag for your trailer as soon as the a leaf spring snaps. The device functions as a sort of temporary suspension to protect both the trailer and boat. In the case of a leaf spring failure, the device is set off and an airbag instantly supplants the functionality of the broken leaf spring.


The very first TSD prototype was bigger, bulkier, and heavier


The device is designed to keep the trailer in the event of an emergency until it can be taken for repair. Yonekura recommends that a deployed device be replaced, and the trailer repaired, as soon as possible, taking extreme caution when transporting boat and trailer to a repair facility. Once the trailer is repaired, a simple replacement of the air bag canister can be made to return the TSD to a ready state.


On the left the newest housing version, which is slim enough to fit on all trailers


George has refined the unit from prototype to mass production. The final unit makes use of an advanced airbag that is designed by RMD and produced by Goodyear. Even if the airbag fails to deploy the TSD will still help keep your trailer axle in place in the event of a leafspring failure. Each unit weighs in at 20'lbs, with most of that weight coming from the reinforced steel housing.


TSD units await installation


When activated each TSD will support up to 3,000 pounds when inflated. This will keep your trailer running until you can fix your suspension system and replace the airbag core. The TSD is designed to get you home safely but not to replace the leaf springs exclusively. RMD's website has a computer simulation to demonstrate exactly how the system is designed to work. 


A close-up of the airbag core

Installation and maintenance: The RMD TSD is a fully self contained unit, and the airbag activates with pressure so there is no need to hook the unit up with your electrical system. The unit can be installed by trailer repair dealers or even by owners in less than 15 minutes per unit. A pair of screw in brackets hold the TSD in place. The TSD is designed to operate in any environment and weather condition, and no maintenance is required.

RMD stocks spare airbags to service activated units

Added Benefits: Because the TSD is partially inflated at all times it actually has the secondary benefit of being an extra dampener in addition to your trailer's leaf springs. The TSD also holds your axle flat to prevent your axle form twisting, and keeps it perpendicular to the frame at all times. The TSD took over 2 years to develop and the unit minus the inflation cartridges (which are built in Japan) are made in the USA. In fact the entire housing is made at RMD's headquarters in Santa Clara, CA.

The TSD bolts to both the trailer frame and axle


 Price and availability: The TSD was first introduced in January this year, and has been showcased at a number of events including the ISE and Fred Hall Shows. Response from anglers has been positive, but few trailer manufacturers and dealers offer it as an option currently. It is available from some trailer installers and direct from RMD. When we asked George why trailer manufacturers or boat brands don't yet offer the TSD he commented that the resistance from the industry to include these safety devices as standard or even optional equipment on trailers is because that would be an admission of fault....yet more and more leaf springs are breaking. George went on to say that when talking to local dealers they are seeing up to 15 boat trailers coming in every month with broken springs. 


Ready to roll...


So how much will a pair of TSD units set you back? The retail price per pair is $750. This will outfit a single axle trailer, 4 are required for a tandem trailer. This may seem like a lot of money, but like other safety devices the TSD is designed to pay for itself the very first time it is used. Who should be interested in the TSD? Any angler that tows a boat. But which anglers are in the most need of the TSD? Boat owners that tow over extended distances on a regular basis.


George Yonekura, owner of RMD shows Cal the TSD


Conclusion: The Research Machine Development TSD is truly innovative. RMD put two years of research and development into the product's design, and we commend the company for developing a product that not only is designed to protect your investment, but potentially save lives. To find out more about the "Trailer Safety Device" visit RMD's website or email the company for more information. 











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