This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 19th, 2003

And the Nuts are off the Buggy Wheels

Well, not exactly, just one wheel. Some years ago my husband, JC, took off with his friend on a fishing trip up the road about 50 miles to Port Angles, WA. The salmon were in large schools just off the harbor and a boat was absolutely necessary. The friend had a nice center-console boat which he had rigged for fly fishing. About 10 miles from their destination a pick-up shaking 'clunk' and a shower of sparks stopped the trip cold. The boat trailer lost a wheel! Disconnect the trailer, drive to town, find a place which sold wheels...nope, a replacement was not possible. Friend would have to buy a new trailer. And rent a wrecker to take the boat off the old crippled trailer and place it on the new. And dispose of the old trailer.

Do I have to tell you - the fishing trip was over?

Besides the inconvenience, the expense was large and unplanned. Probably put a crimp into the budget for a while. The friend drowned his sorrows with some adult beverages and also suffered a massive hangover the next day - and still had to explain the whole thing to his wife.

It could have been avoided.

Regardless of where you fish, if you use a boat and trailer there are simple, do-it-yourself tips to keep your boat trailer in good working order.

    * Keep it clean. Be sure to rinse your trailer thoroughly after each use.

    * With painted trailers, use a good car wax to protect the finish. Your dealer should be able to provide touch-up paint for repairing minor rock damage.

    * Regularly check all nuts and bolts to ensure they are tight.

    * Inspect and lubricate the wheel bearings and coupler at least yearly. Look for any unusual wear or damage.

    * On roller trailers, keep all rollers clean. It's not often that bunkers or rollers need replacement, but a quick inspection will show any problems.

    * Check tires weekly for unusual wear. When on the road, don't cut corners too tight. Running over curbs or cutting corners can damage the sidewalls of your tires and damage your axles.

    * Check tire pressure before every trip. This is one of the most important factors in tire life. Tires should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer for the load.

    * Remember when buying spares or replacement tires, check that the GVWR weight rating is the same as the originals.

    * Check the lights and electrical components. Hook the trailer to your vehicle and make sure all lights are working - both running lights and turn signals.

    * Check the lenses for cracks and breaks and replace if necessary.

    * Spray the connections with contact spray to keep the connectors clean and corrosion free (especially important around saltwater.)

    * Last, but very important, cris-cross the safety chains when you attach the trailer to your vehicle.

How many times have you seen a boat on a trailer pulled off on the side of the road? Could it have been avoided? Paying attention to these simple tips will result in years of trouble free trailer use. It will keep the wheels on your buggy! ~ The LadyFisher

Credits: Our thanks to the experts at ShoreLand'r Trailers for these tips.

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