Trailer Tips - information provided by ShoreLan'd
Fitting the Trailer to the Boat
A boat's trailering weight, width and length are the basic factors used in selecting a proper trailer. When calculating a boat's total trailering weight, remember to include the weight of the engine (if outboard), fuel (approx. 7 lbs./gallon) and all of your gear. When calculating a boat's length, measure the centerline but DO NOT include extensions such as swimming ladders and bow pulpits.
On many trailers, the bunks and the winch post and even the axle can be adjusted to accommodate different types of boats. Proper adjustment makes for easier launching and loading.
Bunks vs. Rollers Most trailers are available with two different types of support: bunks or rollers. Ask your dealer or check with the boat manufacturer to see which they recommend.
Selecting the Right Finish
Painted trailers look great, but they are recommended only for fresh water use. If you are planning any salt water use, galvanized might suit your long-term needs better.
When purchasing a trailer, keep in mind the type of tow vehicle that you plan to use. Refer to your vehicle Owner's Manual for instructions and recommendations. Check to ensure that the hitch ball on your tow vehicle is the same size as the coupler hitch on your new trailer.
Before every trip with your trailer, be sure to check:
- Tires are properly inflated - Inflate to the PSI recommended on the side of the tire. Under-inflated tires cause more blow-outs on the road than anything else. Also remember when buying spares or replacement tires, to check that the tow rating is the same as the originals.
- Coupler is latched
- Safety chains are secure - Always crisscross the chains under the tongue. This prevents the tongue from dropping to the road if the coupler or ball hitch should fail.
- All lights are working properly - It only takes a minute to ensure that running lights, stop lights and turn signals are working.
- Lug nuts are tight
- Boat is secured to the trailer - Make sure the bow eye safety chain is secure and use a transom tie down or gunwale tie down to hold the boat solidly on the trailer.
Once you get out on the road:
- Avoid sudden stops and maneuvers - Remember that your tow vehicle not only has to slow itself, but also several thousand pounds of boat and trailer. Leave plenty of room ahead, behind and beside you when on the road.
- Don't cut corners too tight - Running over curbs or cutting corners can damage the sidewalls of your tires.
At The Ramp
Always remember to check the boat's drain plug is secure before launching. Get some assistance when backing down ramps or parking. Having an extra pair of eyes behind you can eliminate potential scrapes and dings. When backing a trailer, put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and use your mirrors. Then all you have to do is move your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go. Practice this in the driveway a few times and you'll get the hang of it. On average ramps, a good rule of thumb is to back the trailer into the water until the front of the fender is at water level. On extremely flat ramps you usually need to back in further; but on steeper ramps, not so far. Keep in mind that the type of boat could make a big difference here.
Keep it Clean
Be sure to rinse your trailer thoroughly after each use. If you own a painted trailer, use a good car wax to help protect the finish. Your dealer should be able to provide touch-up paint for repairing minor rock damage.
Follow your Owner's Manual instructions for regular maintenance and remember to:
- Check and pack wheel bearings yearly.
- Check the coupler for any unusual wear or damage. It is also important to keep the coupler clean and lubricated with a light coat of grease in the ball cavity.
- Regularly check all nuts and bolts to see that they are tight.
- On roller trailers, keep all rollers clean and lubricated.