Most of us who own trailer boats have encountered a boat trailer disaster or two—or three, of five—through the years. I currently have four different trailer boats in the yard (shhh, don’t tell my wife, because when we got married I promised to keep it to three), none of which are less than five years old and all of which I do the maintenance on. As I was repairing the lights on one the other day, it brought some of those disasters to mind. Whatever you, do, don’t let these boat trailer disasters happen to your rig.
- Pieces-parts breaking on the highway. This is, of course, a matter of simple inspection and maintenance. If you ever see anything like the bolt pictured above on your trailer, stop using it immediately. A corroded part like this led to the leaf springs breaking free on my hunting boat at 4:00 in the morning on a secluded and pot-holed dirt road, something we’d all surely like to avoid.
- Sinking into the pavement. Each and every time you park a boat trailer on asphalt during the summer months, you should place a board or a cinder block under the jack stand or jack stand wheel. Otherwise, as the asphalt gets hot it can sink in several inches. I have a two-inch divot in my driveway, to prove it.
- The boat shifting on the trailer, while on the road. This is usually from failing to sufficiently strap down the transom to the trailer. It may not sound like such a huge deal, but believe me, when you’re doing 60 MPH down the highway and the boat shifts to one side or the other (throwing the weight distribution out of kilter) trailer sway will become a very big and very dangerous issue. And you can’t fix it until you can remove and reload the boat. The solution? Tighten down those straps.
- Ripped brake lines. I’m a repeat victim (read: offender) of this disaster. Many brake lines are secured to the trailer frame with plastic tie-wraps. With age, these tie-wraps become brittle and break. The lines can then sag below the trailer frame, and the first time you run over a tree-branch, become snagged and rip. So it’s important to check and replace those tie-wraps every couple of seasons.
- Bent axles. I once slightly bent the axle on a trailer that was less than three months old, by jacking it up in the wrong place. If you don’t know where your trailer manufacturer recommends jacking your trailer, go check right now—before you get a flat, and have to do a roadside repair. Wait a sec, is “slightly” bending the axle really that big a deal in the first place? Unless you’re happy with the thought of ripping through a set of tires every 1,000 or so miles, yes, it is.
For more important info on boat trailers, read Boat Trailering Safety Tips and Tricks.