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Boat trailer maintenance - Road Ready

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Boat trailer maintenance - Road Ready

Postby allingeneral » Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:18 am

Some quick tips for preparing your boat trailer for the road this Spring. Regular maintenance is required in order to keep your trailer in tip-top shape. Here are a few key points:

Boat Trailer Maintenance Is Critical In The Marine Environment

Here’s what to do:

Keep your trailer clean.
Wash your trailer after each use, especially if it was in saltwater. Do this every time! Rinse every part of the trailer with fresh water, especially the suspension and behind the wheels. Flush out the brakes if your trailer equipped with a flush kit. Saltwater is very corrosive and leaving it on your trailer will cause problems down the road (no pun intended!). This step is not as important if you only boat in fresh water, but it never hurts.

Protect from corrosion
Protect your tailer hardware with Corrosion X spray (available at some boating stores.) Spray the nuts, bolts, leaf-springs, winch gears and all other hardware items.

Use tie down straps. These inexpensive ratchet-type straps help secure your boat to the trailer. Tie down the transom and the bow (even if your winch strap is already connected.) Your winch strap is not a tie down strap. Surprisingly enough, most boats will tow better with the straps than without. Straps help keep the boat secure to the trailer and reduce swaying and bouncing that happens every time you trailer your boat.

Grease wheel bearings. Check this every couple of weeks. Remove the hub cover. Locate the "Zirc" grease fitting--it's the "nipple" that fits into the female end of a grease gun. Some hubs have a grease fitting on the inside of the hub. Still some use bearing buddies or similar with a grease fitting right there in the center of the hub cover. Squeeze a couple of pumps of grease from the gun until bearing are full (but not too full.) You don't want grease coming out of the grease seal on the back of the hub. If grease exits from there, you have too much grease in your hub. Be sure to use the same kind of grease that's already in the hub. Mixing grease can lead to the grease breaking down and ceasing to function properly.

My dealer recommended using heavy duty DISC BRAKE grease on the trailer. Others have suggested using heavy duty marine grease. It’s important that the grease doesn’t degrade in water. Try out Kendall Super Blue grease.
Feel your hubs for excess heat when traveling. They should not feel any hotter than a cup of coffee.
Use Bearing Buddies or other such bearing-saving devices.
Milky grease is a sign that it has been compromised by water. If this happens, repack all bearings.
Repack wheel bearings once per year as part of your beginning of the year scheduled maintenance.

Lubricate your wheel lug bolts so that you will be able to loosen them to change tires. This is especially important if you have to fix a flat by the side of the road. Lug nuts tend to rust easily. Use "Never Seize" grease, Boeshield T-9 or frequent applications of WD-40, penetrating oil or silicone spray. Replace steel lug nuts with stainless steel.

Check your tire pressure. Trailer tires are different from car/truck tires. Check the tire sidewall for correct pressure (usually 50-65 psi.)

Check your tire tread. Use the penny test by inserting a penny into the tread. The tread should touch the top of Abe Lincoln’s head.

Check the lights. Have someone depress the brake pedal and use the turn signal while you stand behind the vehicle and ensure the correct lights illuminate.

Check fasteners and all trailer hardware to make sure they're tight.

Use safety chains correctly. Chris-cross the chains below the tongue. Position the hooks to your tow vehicle in such a way that they won't easily "bounce off." Even better, use a closed-end fastener.

Check the tongue and hitch assembly for any excess wear. Ensure that all moveable parts move freely and do not bind.

Do not put too much weight on the trailer. Gear can add a lot of weight - even if your boat can handle all of the gear, look at the weight rating on your trailer and do not exceed the maximum weight.

If you are storing your boat be sure to block and cover your trailer tires. Remember rubber degrades when exposed to sunlight and also rots when exposed to the ground. You may wish to shade your tires. Moving your trailer periodically or jacking your trailer off the ground will help reduce dry rotting of your tires.

As you do with your car, carry emergency equipment for your trailer. Make a trailer emergency kit that contains a spare wheel and tire, lug wrench, wheel chocks, bearing grease, extra hub assembly, extra line (for the winch and tie-down straps), replacement light bulbs, wheel bearings and road flares/markers.

Good luck out there this year. May you have an accident free boating season!
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Re: Boat trailer maintenance - Road Ready

Postby RACN35 » Sat Mar 29, 2008 3:13 pm

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