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Mar 11, 2021

Boat and TrailerBy Glen Konorowski

There is nothing worse than your boat trailer breaking down while on the way to a great weekend. Over the years I have towed a lot of items big and small and have owned a few trailers, and have been lucky enough to not have anything real bad happen to me with a boat on the trailer. Unfortunately some of my friends have not been as lucky, including the one who had his trailer and boat stolen from the side of the road due to a flat.

One of the first things that needs to be done on a regular bases is greasing the wheel bearings on your trailer. If you are in and out of the water with your trailer grease can wash out over the season. This is something that should be done on a yearly basis. Some wheel hubs even have grease nipples in them making things even easier. If your boat is not going to move for a while this isn’t as necessary, but when you do start moving it make sure it is done.

Trailer TiresSitting in the sunlight, trailer tires will over time dry and crack on the sidewalls. In some extreme cases you may even have tread separation, which can also cause tire failure. In other words check your tires at the beginning of the season for any signs of fatigue.

If you store your trailer outdoors and on dirt, it is helpful to put the tires when parked on 2X6 boards to keep the wet soil away from the rubber to get a little more life out of them. Wheels can be covered as well to prevent the sun from drying them out as well. Keep in mind that your trailer spare tire as lack of use can cause it to crack and lose air.

A friend of mine who has had his trailer for many years found out that his springs started to rust while sitting. For the most part springs are not painted and will rust. Most people think that due to their thickness and size springs are fairly robust. That is not the case, as springs flex the open themselves up to moister and in time rust. You may think that just because they are not on salty roads they will not rust; well you’re wrong.

On the topic of rust, your trailer does need to be checked from time to time in areas like the frame, welded areas, bolts and, if you have steel wheels, on the seams where they are welded. It is also recommended to tilt you trailer slightly even if your boat is on it. The reason is that if there is rain or snow in it will roll off or on a warmer day snow will not sit but will drop off.

Split Loom Tubingsplit loom tubing

Another thing that happens with time outside is electrical issues. Wiring that is exposed to the sun will eventually start to dry if not covered. I have found installing a wiring cover where I can on exposed wire. This includes shrink-tubing, black electrical tape and the split loom covering. This covering comes in different sizes so get the right size to cover what you need. As the loom covering in not water resistant and depending on where you are covering leave it loose if it is exposed to the water so the water will drain. If you have electric brakes, check connection there as well as they can seize if the trailer is not used much.

If you do have to replace a light in the system it is best to use shrink tubing, as the connection is almost waterproof once shrunk. Shrink tubing comes in different sizes as well and can be bought in multi-sized packages allowing for different sized wires you are trying to cover.

SUV and BoatElectrically related problems for me over the years have been the braking, marker and stop/running lights. This happened to me when I had my trailer in storage where the person next to me banged my trailer a number of times. In fact this happened to me so often, I was going to install guards near the taillights. So, check your lights in the spring if you store your boat and trailer.

The hitch area is fairly rust resistant and short of using some spray oil or grease it is fine. In the past I have thrown a plastic shopping bag over the whole area to cover it from the snow and any other mechanism like the hydraulic brake unit in the area as well (if you have one).

As the boating season is fast approaching, is the time to give your trailer the once over for safety.

Glen KonorowskiGlen Konorowski is a life long automotive enthusiast and automotive journalist for 35-years. He also claims to be former Commodore of the Monty Carlo Yacht Club!