Thursday, April 24, 2008

Boat Trailering

It is said about 70% of all boaters keep their boats on a trailer. The trailer that your boat sits on is the last thing on your maintenance list and the last thing on your mind. I have seen several rigs, boat and trailer, leave the hitch and, come to a grinding stop on the boat ramp.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when getting ready this season.

Inspect:Inspect the frame for any signs of cracking, weld failures or loose or missing bolts. If there are signs of rust or corrosion, clean with a wire brush and paint with a primer.

Trailer Coupler: Make sure the trailer towing ball is the same size as the coupler. Also, be sure to check the locking mechanism on the coupler and lubricate it with light oil.

Winch: Unroll the winch cable or strap and inspect for any signs of fraying or other wear. If you happen to find any, replace it. Do not put your face or head anywhere near the winch handle.

Bunks and Rollers: When your boat is off the trailer, check to make sure that all bunks and rollers are in working order. Non-functional bunks or rollers can do some bad things to the bottom of your boat.

Tie-Down Straps: Remember, your winch is NOT a tie down strap You need an additional chain to hold the bow in place. Also vital to have are either transom tie downs or gunwale tie downs.

Wheel Bearings: Because trailer wheel bearings are submerged in water frequently, they are prone to failure. Be sure to repack your wheel bearings. When you stop to check your load or at a gas station, touch the wheel hub. It should be warm, but not hot. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated. Too much or too little pressure in trailer tires can cause major problems.

Lights: Check your trailer lights before leaving. Work the vehicle's turn singles and push on the break pedal to make sure that all the lights on your trailer are working. Note: Before you back down the launch ramp, disconnect the trailer lights from the tow vehicle. If you don’t do this, the thermal shock from submerging the hot lights into the colder water, will probably blow out the light bulbs.

Safety Chains: Make sure the safety chains are crossed under the coupler. If you use “S” hooks (they are not legal in some states) make sure you attach them with the open end of the hook facing toward the trailer.

Tongue Weight: Have you ever followed a vehicle towing a boat trailer that is “wagging” back and forth behind the tow vehicle? That occurs because they have too much weight behind the trailer axel (wheels) and have created negative tongue weight. The tongue weight of the trailer on the ball should be between 5–15 % of the total weight of the trailer and boat.

These are just a few tips on trailer maintenance and how to have a safe boat trailering.