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PostPosted: 22 Dec 2006, 22:43 
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Location: Central Indiana
I wanted to share this post about some trap modifications I do, for some of the lesser experienced trappers to get an idea of what some of them are & why they are done. Most all of these mods are applicable on coil springs as well as single/double long springs.

Please note, that the information I give, will be strictly my own opinion, and should not be taken as "gospel". Also, anyone else is more than welcome to add their own ideas, thoughts & opinions. Also, in the process of this thread, I may have omitted something, feel free to add whatever I may have missed.

I also am a firm believer that we owe it to out catches to treat them as humanely as possible, from the time they are caught in our trap, until the time they are either released, or dispatched. It is also my belief that many of these modifications assist in doing so.

Thanks!
Smitty
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I remove the springs from the trap before I do any welding. Some don't, but for no longer than it takes, I'd rather be "safe than sorry". I'll explain this later.

I use a MIG (wirefeed) as I have tried TIG, but feel it adds more heat than the MIGs do. I have read where others use a stick welder (arc), but I won't. Again, my opinion only.

I guess one of the first places to start is at the bottom, with baseplating. Those I make, as well as the better quality commercially produced, are 3/16" thick. I have seen some 1/8". They should come with a D-ring (which MUST be installed over the baseplate before it is welded to the trap. The D-ring will be where your chain & swivel assembly attaches to the trap base.
Image

The baseplate will serve a couple of purposes. It will move your trap chain to the center of the base of the trap, called center-swiveling, and it will also add alot of strength & support to the trapframe. It will prevent the frame from bending, twisting, and bowing, which if bent enough, will allow the jaws of the trap to dislodge & permit the escape of your catch.

Be sure to use the proper size baseplate for your trap. If it's a 3/4" frame, use a 3/4" baseplate, 1" frame requires a 1" baseplate. Also, you want it to run the entire length of the trap frame.
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If you decide to baseplate your traps, you need to be aware of where the levers ride on the frame. The ears on the levers will pivot on the spring pins, so be sure that your welds don't interfere with this action. Notice the 2 smaller welds on either side of the "V", where the D-ring is. I weld here, then about 1/2" weld out towards the ends, and entirely across both ends of the baseplate of the trap. Best thing to do, would be to have an assembled trap in front of you that you can use for reference, until you become familiar with the process.
Image

On my smaller traps, say #1.5 & smaller (or #2's that will serve as mink traps on drowner wires/cables), I'll use a 1/4" round center-swivel lamination. It will add some rigidity to the frame, but not like the baseplate. As a rule, on the smaller traps, you are targeting smaller catches which won't be as hard on a trap as say a coyote. My main purpose for this modification id simply to center-swivel the trap.

Image
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Chain & swivel arrangements, lengths & materials will be to your own design, and depending upon your target animal. I use a minimum of 3 CP (Crunch-Proof) swivels.

For chain, I use #2 & #3 machine chain. Some like the kinkless chain, some don't, again, you'll have to decide these things for yourself. The larger trap & target animal, the larger chain size you'll want to use. For example, you don't need #3 chain on a 1.5 coon trap, nor would you want "porch-swing" chain on your #3 coyote traps. As a rule, on new traps, you can reuse the stock chain, but increase it's performance by adding swivels to it.

On my larger traps, I'll weld the rivets (J-hooks) closed. Many deem this unnecessary, but it only takes a second to do. Shock springs, again, is preference. Some do, some don't. I do on my #2 & #3 coyote traps simply because I believe it helps absorb the inertia of a lunging animal. This is strictly my opinion.
Image
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I won't get into staking systems, but will mention it simply because you'll notice most of my traps have nothing on the end. I run cablestakes, and use a splitring to attach the chain to the stake. Again, use what suits you best.
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Jaw Laminations:

There are too many variables & opinions to delve too deeply into jaw preferences, square vs round, offset vs regular. Again, that isn't the reason behind this thread. There are also varied opinions of if these laminations require 4-coiling due to the jaw lams. Much of this would depend upon current spring condition (strength) of your traps. I don't 4-coil every trap I laminate, but if I decide to replace springs, will usually use music wire springs.

I would add though, be sure to know your State Regulations. Here (Indiana) any #3 trap & larger set on land, must have offset jaws. You may also have jawspread limitations, which could play a role in whether you choose inside or outside laminations.

Jaw laminations serve a couple of purposes. One is you strengthen the jaw. Mush similar to baseplating, you help eliminate flex in the trap, which makes for a stronger trap. Another reason, is it gives you more "surface" area on the trapjaw. This helps to reduce discomfort in the animal, as well as lessening the chance of injury of non-target (free-roaming domestics) or for those who sell to the live market.

Trap style & design may also play a roll in choosing to laminate inside or outside. Some traps have little clearance between the panpost.shank to the inside of the jaw. Be sure you have room for the lamination before welding.

I prefer 3/16" & 1/4" roundstock for jaw laminations. You can use flatstock, but I feel that 1/2 of flatstock serves only as dead-weight, since you're only concerned with the contact surface of the materials. When installing laminations, be sure you keep them flush with the jaw-faces.

I roll my laminations ahead of time. This is done in a ring-roller to match the radius of the (round) trap jaws. Then, as needed, I determine the length needed & trim to size on a bench shear. I can get 3-5 lams out of a "ring" usually, depending upon trap size.

Image

Here are a couple of round jaw traps with outside laminations:
Image

Image

Square jaw with outside laminations:

In the top pic, I filled the gap on the jawface with weld, then ground smooth. This isn't a requirement of doing jaw lams.
Image

Image

Inside Laminations:
Image

You can also add both inside AND outside laminations to a trap if so desired.

A couple of related note while on the subject of jaws. You can do jaw "swaps" if you so choose, say you prefer an offset round jaw, as opposed to a regular square jaw. The possibilities of combinations are only limited to your imagination, and what parts will "fit".

Here are a couple of examples:

A #2 square jaw Vic, converted to round offsets.
Image

Here's a #3 Bridger converted to round offset jaws.
Image

If you'll notice in the above pic, I "bubble-welded" the jawtips. This is simply placing a small "bubble" of weld on the jawtips, outside of the trapframe. The reasoning behind this is to help prevent the tips from being pulled back through the frame when a large animal is working against the trap. I prefer this over bending-up the jawtips. I have worked-on traps where removing the jaws was required, and had the tip break-off of the jaw in the process. By bubble-welding, with alittle grinding, I can remove the weld without stressing the metal of the jawtips.

Another important step, whether modifying or just preparing your traps, is to deburr all sharp edges on the trapjaws with a file. This also will reduce discomfort & injury to an animal.

I have offset some regular jaws so they could be used as land traps. I had someone bring me some old #3 Pioneer longs he wanted modified for use as coyote traps. Since he is also in Indiana, to be within the regulations the jaws needed to be offset.

Since the gap is usually around 1/4"-5/16", it requires roughly 1/8" (or alittle more) of material be removed from each jawface. This can easily be done on a belt sander. Below is a pic of jaws I had ground an offset into, followed by laminating them.
Image

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Longsprings:

Most of the above mention information applies to longsprings as well. There are a few things however that apply to longsprings, but not to coils.

Chain clevis location on single long is one. In the following pic, you'll see the factory location of how the chain clevis is located on a trap. When caught, and an animal is pulling against the chain, he is pulling away from the spring, towards the "weaker" end of the trap (with no spring).
Image

In this pic, the chain clevis has been relocated to end of the frame, opposite the spring. Now as an animal pulls, he will be pulling towards the spring and the stronger side of the trap.
Image

Some of the old humped cross-frame traps have very sloppy/loose pans. There isn't a way to set pan tension or to eliminate all of the side-to-side play from the pan.
Image

One "fix" I did for this, was to remove the pan, flatten-out the hump, fabricate new panposts, weld them on, and re-fit things, now with a brass panbolt. This was a great improvement in the trap, but alittle time-consuming.
Image

After alittle more "tinkering" I designed a complete new 1-piece crossframe assembly with panposts. It's simply a matter of drilling-out the 2 spotwelds in the bottom of the frame, removing the old cross-frame, and bolting or welding-on the new crossframe. The existing pan & dog are kept & re-used in this modification.
Image

There is a "step-by-step" post on my site on this modification. The end-result is an old trap which sets, adjusts, and fires like a new one.
Image

For weak springs, you can add "helper" springs which can be purchased that simply fit inside of your existing springs, or you can make your own by cutting the eyes off of them & making your own. You can also place the end (where the spring bends & returns) over a large round pipe or rod, and "smack" it on the end with a hammer. This will help to spring the metal back-out some, adding alittle strength back into the spring(s)

There are about the only things I can think of at this time which are alittle different than the coils.
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Trap Tuning/Adjustment

I've seen & worked on alot of traps for trappers who know better, but for whatever reason, they've let their traps become extremely out of adjustment (lol, and they shall remain nameless ;))

It's not hard to do, and can be done usually in 5-10 minutes per trap.

We'll start with panbolts. Most manufacturers improperly size the holes in the panshank and panposts to the panbolt used. Most often, a 3/16" drill bit & #10 panbolt will be the best fix.

Remove the old panbolt & pan, clamp the trap in a bench vise, and (keeping the drill straight, and not letting it wobble) re drill the holes in the panposts. Then using a flat file, deburr the inside of both panposts, as drilling will leave a burr on them.
Image

Now place the pan in the vise & re drill the hole in it. Deburr BOTH sides of the panshank in the area of the bolthole until you end-up with a flat surface on both sides.
Image
These steps will go a long way in providing you a smooth operating pan.

Pan-shimming:
Most panposts are wider than the panshanks. what happens in this situation is that the tops of the panposts are "pulled" together at the top once the panbolt is tightened (to set tension). This will "pinch" the panshank, and not allow it to operate smoothly. You want your 2 posts to be as parallel as possible.

1 way is to move the brass flatwasher to fill the gap between the inside of 1 post & the panshank. Just be sure the washer isn't too thick, or you'll end-up with the same problem, just in reverse (posts running like a V).
Image

Another way is to place the panshank between the posts, & squeeze the posts together with a pair of visegrips. Place the visegrips down "low" on the panposts before squeezing them together.
Image

Bridger is bad about using even larger holes. Many of them require #12 panbolts. I tuned some #11 Bridgers recently which required the #12's in order to eliminate any "play" between the bolt & posts,shank.

Dog Adjustment-
The eyes on the dogs need to be closed tighter in order to eliminate "pan-creep". If you set a trap, start to pull the pan down, you'll see the dog "follow" it for a short distance, until it hits the back of the eye on the dog. By crimping this closed some, you eliminate the amount of travel in the dog.
Image

You'll not be able to eliminate 100% of it though. So when setting the trap at a set, I'll push the dog forward (towards the pan) setting it forward and eliminating any "creep". You'll need to take this into consideration when leveling the pan initially.

Coyotes can be tough on trapdogs, from bending them-up, to completely chewing them off a trap. "Top Dogs" are about 2-3 times the thickness of regular dogs, and can have the eyes welded closed after installed.

I've also laminated dogs with 1/8" rod.
Image

In addition to the above, take a file & square the end of the dog (where it fits into the pan-notch), and run the file across the top end of the dog, there's usually a pretty nasty burr here from manufacturing, which will "scrape" the top of the pan-notch, as the pan is depressed.
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Pan Leveling- You want the pan to be as level as possible with the crossframe of the trap & the top of the jaws. Be sure to make any dog adjustments as well as panbolt repairs prior to pan-leveling, as they will both affect it. Level the pan 1st, then make the other adjustments, and you'll be re-leveling your pan a 2nd time.

If the pan sets too high, GENTLY bend the end of the frame (at the dog) in the direction of the pan. If the pan sets too low, bend the frame away from the pan. Go slow as alittle goes along way here. Once you do a few, you'll get the hang of the amount of movement it requires.

I like to use an adjustable wrench, but pliers work fine.
Image



Jaw Leveling- More times than not, the loose-jaw will set higher than the captured (under the dog) jaw. Alittle tweaking of the levers can solve this many times. Again, go easy.
Image

If things require more than "alittle" tweaking, a different solution may be required. On the Pioneer longs I used a an example earlier in this thread, tweaking the levers wasn't an option (since there isn't any). I ended-up doing what I call a "ramp-weld" on the captured jaw (the one under the dog, on this case it's a dogless) at the point where the jaw contacts the spring. The additional height of the weld pushed the springs down further, allowing the jaws to set level.
Image

Here's a coilspring with the jaws & pan leveled in a straight line across the top of the set trap.
Image
Alot of this will differ from 1 trap to the next, so they need to be treated on an individual basis. lol, and some will just flat make you say "bad" words :-X.

Overpowering a trap with an extra set of springs will only compound this problem.


Pan Tension- This will be the last step, and is preformed AFTER your traps are cleaned & treated. Again, this is strictly my opinion (wax vs dip), that I believe wax will speed-up (lubricate) a trap more than any dip will. I dye & wax my land traps, but dip my water traps (more for the quickness & ease of the process). I loosen all panbolts prior to treatment to allow more wax/dip into the area of the panposts & panshank.

Tension is simply a matter of tightening (or loosening) the panbolt. I use a screwdriver AND a nutdriver (or wrench if the nutdriver won't fit).

I use a Hal Sullivan Tension Tester ($12-14) merely for convince. For smaller animals, alot of trappers run no pan tension. Just tighten the nut enough so all side-play in the pan is eliminated, but the pan still falls freely.

You can make a few different weights of scrap lumber, (mark the weight on them) to set on the pan until the trap fires.

If you use a Sullivan Tester, fold-up the loose jaw & place the tester outside of it. This will prevent the trap from firing directly on the tester, eventually damaging it. Also, keep the tester in the center of the pan, as 1 way or the other will affect the leverage & give you inaccurate readings.
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Once you're traps are modified, adjusted & tuned, and treated, you need to keep them stored in an odor-free environment (atleast your land traps). Placing them in the shed with the lawnmower gas is a no-no, or in the garage next to the exhaust pipe of your Dodge diesel.

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I may add more to this, since I'm kind of "shooting from the hip" at the moment. If I've missed something, or anyone wants to add anything, feel free to do so.

I will close with one last thing. I talk to alot of younger trappers, as well as some more which are older. I'm shocked at how many don't know their States Regulations. PLEASE....young, old, or inbetween, get a copy of them & learn them, keep a few copies handy for reference. If there's any way possible, contact & develop a relationship with a local CO, than if you can't find an answer to a question, call him/her about it.

Violating trapping regulations, being an unethical (or "slob") trapper, poor judgment in types of traps & locations they are used, improper disposal of carcasses, posting "fuel" for the anti's... will only serve to hurt our sport, and the rights of future generations to carry it on. Plant a seed today for tomorrow & get a kid involved in trapping!

Thanks to all who make these sites possible, and to those who contribute their know-how & experience to benefit & help others. I learn more each day, and hope to put back alittle at the same time.

Happy Trapping!
Smitty

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PostPosted: 22 Dec 2006, 23:05 
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Great job That is The easiest mods explanation i have ever seen thanks a million :D

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PostPosted: 23 Dec 2006, 00:16 
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Smitty great post I read it last night on another site and was going to tell army medic about this thread.Once again great post very imformative!

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PostPosted: 23 Dec 2006, 16:01 
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Smitty-- Thank you, thank you, thank you! This one will be going in the archives. :D

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 Post subject: well done!
PostPosted: 26 Dec 2006, 20:39 
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Location: upstate ny
exactly what i was looking for, thank you so much...great info there, archives indeed!

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PostPosted: 26 Dec 2006, 22:02 
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Location: Michigan
Smitty Good Job
That was a very good refresher course for me,and thank you for all the detail.I liked the part about making offsets with a belt sander.
Hope I never have to convert all my traps to offset jaws,all my traps are pre the offset changes.
Had a bad day in the swamp today,had a slide wire fail to hook up and keep a nice beaver on the bottom of the pond.Slide wire replaced and will
now have to deal with a trap smart beaver.
This is my first post to this site and will talk with all you Guys & Gals later.
Griz


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