Great Lakes Scuttlebutt — Summer Issue 2013 Online
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Shorline's Captain Weekend
Loye Futch

5 Steps to Boat Trailer Bilss: DIY Article #2 in a Four-Part Series

YOUR BOAT TRAILER IS WHAT CRADLES, transports and stores your pride and joy, and yet it’s one of the most neglected pieces of marine equipment I run across.

Captain Weekend can help you achieve boat trailer bliss with these Five Trailer Tow Tips. Use these as the foundation for creating your own basic trailering checklist to keep you safe and legal on the road.

Step 1: Do it before you go!

Make sure your trailer bearings are greased and all lights are working properly and your trailer tires INCLUDING trailer spare are properly inflated. Make sure to check pressures cold before driving—even driving short distances can give you a false pressure reading and properly inflated tires on both your trailer and tow vehicle will improve your gas mileage.

Step 2: The life links; safety chains, and tie-downs

Be sure your safety chains are secured to the hitch and that they are not dragging on the ground. Really important: make sure that your boat is securely tied down to the trailer—walk around it twice for extra measure. Also check that your load does not exceed the maximum load capacity of your trailer. Next, give a tug on your tie-down straps and make sure they’re all secure and not worn—when in doubt, replace.

Step 3: Lights! Lights! Lights!

I cannot say this enough: triple check that your trailer lights are working properly as non-functioning trailer lighting is extremely unsafe and the fastest way to get you a personal meeting with your local highway patrol. Lighting problems can range from simple problems like a blown fuse, loose or burned out bulb, or more complex problems such as wire corrosion or a bad ground wire. A simple, easy way to check if you are getting power to your trailer lights is with an inexpensive circuit tester which will quickly help you identify where the problem is. If you have to replace your lights because of corrosion or damage make sure seal all the connection with a liquid electric tape to protect your wires from corrosion.

Step 4: It’s the law

Be sure to check local, state, and country requirements regarding trailer brakes and any for any other additional equipment that may be required to transport your boat legally and safely. These can usually be found online from your state or province website.

Step 5: Let it cool off

When you get to the water, allow at least ten minutes to pass between actually arriving at the ramp and backing your boat into the water. Let your bearings and hubs cool down gradually as extreme temperature change will lead to premature bearing wear or failure. If you have conventional trailer lights that are not sealed, it’s important to unplug those lights so they do not pop when entering the water due to change in temperature. We recommend that you switch conventional trailer lights to submersible lights.

Safe & Happy Boating from Loye (Captain Weekend).