by Pat Goss
So the weather is warm and you're ready to get the boat in the water and have some fun. Well, not so fast. There are a few things you need to think about before taking the plunge. One of the first things is to make sure your trailer has not been neglected by looking for signs of wear and tear. Pat Goss has the official trailer maintenance check list, starting with the wheels and tires.
Trailering can be a lot of fun, but I have to warn you, if you don't take proper care of your trailer, it can go from brand new like this, to old and decrepit like this a lot quicker than you would ever imagine.
What are some of the things you have to do? Well, the wheels and tires on a trailer take a real beating because the trailer tires turn more revolutions per mile than the tow vehicle. So a good way to be absolutely safe is to buy a wheel bearing kit for each wheel on your trailer once every season. Now, that will include a grease seal, two bearings, a dust cap and a cotter key. That does it, and it keeps you safe. But, make sure that when you pack the bearings, you use a high quality grease, and to be on the safe side, use a marine grease.
Something else that you have to be concerned with is something that most people never pay any attention to, and that's the axle. The axle on a trailer is usually hollow, it's not solid, and they rust. Like this one rusted to where the wheel fell right off the trailer. So, what you have to do is not look at just the top of the axle, you have to look at the bottom of it, where most of the damage usually occurs. And if there's any damage at all, replace the axle.
All right, now, lighting on trailers. Big, big issues there because they get moisture in the lamps, the lamps corrode, your lights go out and then you're a hazard. All right, how do you prevent that? Well, if you have a boat trailer, you always disconnect from the tow vehicle before you back into the water.
Additionally, any electrical connection that you have on a trailer will benefit from dielectric grease. You just pack the connections with it, it prevents corrosion, and it prevents moisture intrusion. If you happen to have a trailer like this camper over here, it has seams that can leak, so caulking them periodically is very important, especially before lay-up. You have a real mess if you don't do it.
Now, here's a biggie, and nobody pays any attention to 'em: safety chains. Before every trip you look at your safety chain.
You're looking at the middle of 'em for any signs of wear where they might drag on the pavement. If there's any signs of wear, replace them. There are two types, the ones that have the screw, like this one, and the basic hook type. I prefer the screw type because it can't come loose. So it's just a little added safety.