Thursday, October 30, 2014

Boat Trailers Used In A Saltwater Enviroment Need Special Care

If you have a boat trailer that is used in a saltwater environment; then you should take special care to keep from having issues down the road, leaving you on the side of the highway.

All boat trailers require maintenance; checking to make sure that the lights work properly, tires are good and are inflated to the proper psi., wheel bearing have been greased and on larger trailers making sure the braking system is working. Trailer used in an saltwater environment need all these same things, but a couple extra steps will keep you from having issues only saltwater trailers seem to have. The paragraphs below will each address an issue and some of the steps to hopefully keep you from spending time and money to get your rig off the side of the road.

If you use your boat in saltwater; it should have an galvanized or aluminum frame on the trailer. If you have a painted trailer you are asking for big problems going down the road. Painted trailers age very quickly in the harsh saltwater environment, lights quit working, brake systems and couplers corrode, even their frames and their welds fail in time. If you use a painted trailer in saltwater, wash and rinse it thoroughly using soaping water every time you put it in the water. Painted trailers are not made for saltwater use in general. Galvanized and aluminum framed trailers should also be washed after every use, but they will hold up for many years to come.

Lighting on a saltwater trailer is an ongoing issue that never seams to end. Most of these issue with the trailer lights are due to corrosion in the wiring harness and especially with the light grounds. Every light will have a power from the harness and a ground to the trailer frame. These connections should only use high quality connectors and stainless steal fasteners. All connections should be either shrink-wrapped or at a minimum be covered in liquid neoprene, No electrical tape PERIOD. Check the lights periodically and take the time to repair them correctly so they are not a ongoing issue.

Tires, wheels and hubs should be check every month or so depending on the amount of use. Any of these items will leave you on the side of the road. Underinflated tires will not have the capacity necessary to carry the weight of your boat, causing a tire failure. A tire that is 5 psi low could cause a blowout on your trailer. Wheels and hubs need to be checked to assure that they are tight and damage free. Hubs should be visually inspected to make sure that seals are not leaking grease which could cause a bearing failure. Everyone has seen a boat trailer sitting on the side of the road missing a tire and wheel, this is caused by lack of maintenance in most cases.

Trailer brakes, especially on larger boats are important to keep you safe on the highway. Some boats that are towed weigh in at over 10,000.00 lbs. It takes a lot of brakes to stop your tow vehicle, now add 10,000 to that. Saltwater trailers brakes have an big issue with corrosion, trailer brakes should be checked at least once a season to make sure that they are working properly. Brake hardware if drum brakes are used or slides if using disc brakes should have anti seize applied to ensure that the brakes continue to function correctly. Trailer brakes should be rinsed off while you are cleaning your trailer after use to help prevent this issues.

Now we will talk about an issue that have arisen on newer saltwater trailers that you might not have thought about. Many new saltwater trailers are now coming with aluminum wheels. They look good for those that want them, but they have started causing some unique issues if not maintained. The aluminum wheels have fused to the steel hubs on the trailers, this issue is cause by two dissimilar metals interacting with the saltwater. I have seen incidence where the wheel and to be cut off the hub to get them separated. Destroying the hubs and the aluminum wheels. Can you imagine having a flat on your trailer on the side of the highway and you can't get the wheel off even with the lug nuts off. YIKES. Talk about a bad day!!!! The solution to this issue is to remove your wheels at least once a year to clean away any corrosion. I have added anti seize to the hub face on my trailer to alleviate this issue, however you MUST constantly check your wheels lug nuts to ensure that the wheels remain tight if you take this measure.

I know that these precautionary maintenances seem like a lot of work and hassle, but they are nothing compared to being on the side of the highway on a Sunday afternoon with the family. A little care will ensure that it is not you we see on the side of the road with a wheel missing.       


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