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Handy Tips To Keep Your Boat Trailer Ready To Roll

November 2009

If you’re a fisherman or boater, unless you live in the southern tier, the winter months can be frustrating. There is only so many times the tackle box can be organized and by now the fishing shows on TV are all reruns.

In that case, a great winter project that only takes a weekend to complete is making sure your boat trailer is winterized so it’s ready to go next Spring. Simple maintenance is usually all that’s required and the experts at ShoreLand’r Trailers offer these simple, doit-yourself tips for trailer owners.

Inspect and lubricate the wheel bearings. This is one of the most important items to do on your winterization list. If your trailer has bearing protectors, which replace the hub’s dust cover with a grease fitting and reservoir, just pump new marine grease into the bearing until the spring-loaded piston is approximately 1/8-inch from its seated position.

Otherwise, lubricating standard bearings requires that you jack up the trailer, remove the wheels and tire. Next, take off the hub’s dust cap and remove the cotter key and axle nut. The bearings can now be removed, cleaned in a solvent and inspected for wear or damage. Do the same for the bearing races inside the hub. To finish, pack the bearings with marine grease and reassemble.

Check the tires. While you’re working at road level, inspect the tire tread for excessive or uneven wear. If less than a quarter-inch of tread remains, it’s time to replace the tires. If the tread is all right, take a look at the side walls to make sure there are no cracks or cuts. The last step is to check for tire pressure. Inflate to the proper level if necessary and don’t forget to check the spare.

Inspect the frame. The next step is to take a close look at the frame. Look for rust or cracks. A few rust spots are easy to fix. Sand down the rusty area with a wire brush or sandpaper. Reprime the bare spots and repaint with several coats of spray paint. Your local dealer can supply a matching paint and with a little patience the end result will look like new.

Cracks in the frame can be serious. Be sure to check with your dealer about proper repairs to be made and as to any warranties that may be in effect on the trailer. Check the springs for broken leaves. Depending upon the size of your trailer there can be two to five leaves. If you find any that are broken, take the trailer to a dealer for competent repair or replacement.

Bunks and rollers. It’s not often that bunks or rollers need replacement, but a quick inspection will show if there are any problems. On older trailers, the carpeting around the bunks can become worn. A marine dealer can provide new cover material, and it’s easy to install with a staple gun.

With the boat on the trailer, take a close look to make sure the bunks and roller are properly adjusted. If you’ve had trouble launching and retrieving your boat, misaligned bunks could be the problem.

Lights and electrical. Hook up the trailer to your truck or car and make sure all the lights are working — both running lights and turn signals. Check the lenses for cracks and breaks and replace if necessary. Spray the connections with contact spray to keep the connectors clean and corrosion free.

Winch and straps. Lubricate the winch mechanism if required and play out the entire length of the winch strap. Inspect for frayed edges or cuts and replace if necessary. Now is a good time to make sure it’s properly wound onto the winch spool.

Once your trailer is winterized, forget about it until next Spring. Or if hooking up your boat and heading for warmer water appeals to you, just take off. Either way you’ll have peace-of-mind in knowing that your trailer is ready to roll.