Blue lights and traffic snarl ups 5KM long have taught many a keen mariner that perhaps they should have paid a bit more attention to the chariot that throned their pride and joy. Choosing the boat of your dreams doesn’t make sense if it is seated on the trailer of your nightmares.
Most of us get blinded by the boat which ticks every box and overlook the one thing that has the potential to methodically un-tick each box on one foul slipway.
Your trailer is one of the most important items to ensure is correctly suited to your boat, is properly set up and is kept adequately maintained.
So lets start with the most debated question; to skid or to roll? Well I must add a disclaimer here; I personally hate skid trailers, even though there are those who swear by them. I believe rollers are the stairway to heaven because they make launching in shallower water so much easier as the boat is always enthusiastic to vacate the trailer. They also greatly assist in centering the boat when recovering. It is imperative that the rollers are correctly set up, so if your boat doesn’t glide on and off easily your dealer needs to book you in for a couple of hours tuning. Skid trailers on the other hand need deeper water and a whole lot of muscle to float the boat off, which can restrict your launching options.
The most important thing for your trailer is that it is matched to your boat. It must be the correct size and all supporting areas must each meet the hull correctly. This is not always the easiest thing to achieve so specialist assistance can help.
The trailer should be visually inspected for corrosion and general robustness. Always unwind the winch wire or strap fully to check its condition. I prefer a strap to wire as I find the wires have a tendency to kink, tangle and corrode. Ensure the safety chains are securely attached and long enough for the job. Don’t forget you need a little slack in the chain between the trailer and vehicle, just in case there are any corners on the way home!
There is nothing worse than looking out your side window on the SH16 and seeing a very familiar looking boat overtaking you. The 2 main types of brakes are cable and hydraulic, the former being cheaper, the latter being more reliable. Whichever system you may opt for ensure they are serviced and maintained. There has been a recent introduction of electric brakes on the market, but the amount of times I have had to repair my trailer’s wiring connector has led me to the conclusion that I’d rather take my chances in Auckland Zoo’s Tiger enclosure with a pointy stick and a trusty pair of Reeboks.
Pretty essential for a trailer, so make sure yours are in good condition. The wheel bearings are what normally deteriorate due to the constant salt water immersion so to help you can add a ‘bearing buddy’ which are devices that you fill with grease and they constantly inject it as required into the bearings. Your WOF should pick up any trouble but at the first sign of a wheel wobbling, stop using the trailer immediately and get it sorted. It is also quite useful to have a spare wheel location on the trailer.
Check the trailer has sturdy mudguards as everyone uses these to hop into their boat so make sure they are of good construction and can take your weight.
When deciding what to cloth your sleek wheel rims with, it is wise to shun cheap tut tyres of the Chinese variety, there is too much at stake, particularly with a single axel trailer. Instead opt for a set of something reliable like Goodyear. As the French Goodyear factory only produces something like 7 tyres a year due to industrial action, you will take heart in knowing that each of your tyres have been meticulously laboured over and will withstand the harsh conditions.
Waterproof?? Many may claim but most are lame! Healthy doses of silicon like on a mid 1990’s weatherboard house may be required. Some modern led lights seem to be stacking up well in this regard though. Always pay attention to the main connector to your vehicle as this is quite a common source for failure, so liberal and regular sprays of CRC works wonders.
The best has been saved for last. Ensure you have the correct coupling for your vehicle and trailer. Attach a 7/8ths tow ball to the newer 50mm coupling and sit back and enjoy the sparks.
It really is worth spending a bit of time on your trailer selection and yet again it is true that you get what you pay for (although it is always possible to pay over the odds for junk).