The most neglected, but essential piece of equipment used to get a boat to the water is the trailer. If for no other reason than their application, trailers require constant attention.
Winter in Florida is not what our northern neighbor’s experience, but when the temperatures drop below freezing it does keep a few crackers off the water. And this is a great time toget catch up with those trailer issues you’ve been avoiding.
If you are loafing around this winter, staying warm, at least try to look busy. If not your significant other might spots you it trigger’s an instinct known only to them. They instantaneously realize this cannot be right; there is something definitely is wrong with the picture. Like magic she appears from nowhere with a sheet of paper in her hand. Cringing and trying to avoid eye contact; we finally realize we’re busted. She’s right in front of us with the “The List.” That’s right, it’s the honey-do or marriage maintenance list that seems impossible to accomplish in a lifetime and certainly not before spring.
However, as members of the”Anglers for Peace at Home Club” we know we can do it, we’ve done it before. After all winters a good time to get a few things done around the house and tune up your boat, fishing tackle, and other equipment hunting also needs tuned up, because springs just around the corner.
As we near the spring months, the woes of the ill prepared are evident along any highway. They’re sitting on the side with flat tires, burnt wheel bearings, broken springs or axles. Then again, those that did reach the ramp are sitting in a boat that won’t start or run. These problems really but a damper on an outing, but with minimal effort and planning, can be avoided.
Pro-active Preventative Maintenance is the key to preventing avoidable problems. It’s simply means fixing what needs fixing before it needs fixing. Proactive and preventative maintenance goes along way to preventing future repair cost while curtailing reciprocal damage to other parts. It will certainly make your life easier.
Two categories of outdoor persons exist today, the ones that have it done and the “do-it yourselfers”. Regardless of which group you’re in, waiting until the last minute to get something repaired is asking for trouble. Appreciably, some things happen at the last minute, but many others we know about well in advance.
For trouble free trips to the ramp, here are some easily preformed inspections you can do at home. It’s easier to inspect the trailer after you launch or before load, because the boats not in the way. Make notes for later repairs. Clean it after each use, particularly when used in saltwater. Rinse everything thoroughly; the suspension, frame, wheels, crossbar tubes, spare, hitch, inside of the wheels and flush brake assemblies thoroughly. Remember, boat trailers take a beating, so keeping it clean and repaired prolongs the inevitable.
Preventative Maintenance includes bearings, brakes, tires, lights, wiring, and hardware.
Here is a good tip for “Do It Yourself Types” The Digital Camera offers tremendous advantages to us do it yourself types. When you get into some new territory like cleaning and repacking a wheel bearing, cleaning a reel, shotgun or anything for the first time, take plenty of in-focus photos along the way. Now when it comes to putting it back together and you are not sure where something go just print the photos and there you are. (It also works great in identifying where all those wires go on televisions, disk players, VCR’s, and surround sound systems)
Bearings keep things rolling smoothly. They should be checked and lubricated every couple of weeks depending on usage. Use a hand grease gun (never a power gun) and apply grease until you see grease oozing out. Over filling may damage the rear seal. Milky colored grease means water is present and the bearings should be repacked. During your inspections look for an accumulation of grease on the inside of the wheel, if you find grease the rear seal may be damaged and should be replaced immediately. Preventative maintenance means cleaning and repacking wheel bearings every six months to one year depending on amount of use.
Brakes if your trailer has them should help stop your rig. Check the brake system for leaks, worn disk or pads and proper operation. Brake pads on boat trailers wear quickly, so keep and eye on them.
Tire Pressures & Treads on trailer tires are different, so make sure you maintain the correct pressure. It’s usually found on the sidewall in small letters. Check tread and wear patterns occasionally; rotating and balancing the tires periodically. When replacing a tire especially on an aluminum rim, make sure all the corrosion is removed from the bead contact area and always replaced valve stems. If you don’t carry a spare tire you should and remember to change a flat also requires a suitable trailer jack and lug wrench.
Lug Nuts become especially important when you have a flat. Inevitably they will rust and trying to remove them, without an impact wrench is next to impossible. However there is a remedy and it’s called “Never Seize” This anti-seize compound and extreme pressure lubricant is formulated with copper graphite, aluminum and other ingredients to protect metal parts against rust, corrosion and seizure. It’s found at most auto parts stores and when applied to your lugs and nuts can be a life saver, when changing flat tires.
Lights & Wiring take a pounding on trailers, so keep your eye on the wiring. Make sure it’s not cut or rubbing on the frame or hanging down. Have someone assist in checking the proper operation of brake lights, turn signals, and running light. Although subject to interpretation mounting your lights on the guide poles is an easy solution to water problems.
Highway Emergency Kit: Put together an emergency kit that includes a spare tire and wheel, lug wrench w/ extension handle, wheel chocks, flashlight w/extra batteries, extra wheel hub assembly w/ bearings, seals and lug nuts, marine wheel-bearing grease, spare winch strap, spare tie down straps, replacement light bulbs, replacement fuses, hydraulic jack to fit your trailer, and safety markers and flares.
If we do this before our major fishing season gets underway we’ll be well ahead of the game. Then should be experience an issue with our trailer, we’ll be prepared to handle it. Overall, it just makes our life simpler.
Captain Woody Gore is an outdoor writer, photojournalist, and speaker. He also guides fishing charters in the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas. Fishing these areas for over fifty years he offers memorable fishing adventures. Capt Woody’s website is located at: WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM or give him a call at 813-477-3814
This article is owned by Capt. Woody Gore and is copyright protected. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by Capt. Gore. firstname.lastname@example.org