Bass Boat Trailer Tips – Getting You to and From the Water
By Marc Rogers
If you are one of the many anglers who strive to keep your boat in tip-top shape, ready for your next outing at the drop of a hat, you may be forgetting one important item. Your boat trailer must be maintained as well, it is also an important piece of equipment for getting you back and forth to your favorite waters. Below are some items you should check before hitting the road and at regular intervals during use.
Secure the Chains
Ensure your safety chains are connected. Not just making the connections with an open hook, but securing them with a link that will not accidently come loose during traveling on the road. Links that can be secured with a closeable device are the best way to ensure you safety chains stay connected to your tow vehicle. Also, when making the connections, cross the chains to create a place for the trailer tongue to rest in the event of the coupler disengaging from the ball.
Raise the Jack
When securing your safety chains, turn around and make sure your trailer jack is completely raised or folded up to keep it from contacting the ground during travel. If the jack’s wheel or stand were to contact the ground during travel it will place excessive pressure on the ball and coupler. Enough pressure could cause the uncoupling of your trailer tongue or cause damage to your jack rendering it inoperable.
Make the Connection
While still near the front of your trailer, check the receiver hitch pin making sure it is secured and not worn. Always use a pin or lock on your trailer coupler to prevent it from coming loose from the ball. If your trailer is equipped with brakes, now is a good time to ensure your brake safety chain/cable is secured to your tow vehicle.
Securing Your Boat to Your Trailer
Check the winch on the front of your boat trailer, making sure it is locked, strap is not worn, and hook is connected to eye on the bow of your boat. In addition to the winch, check your front tie-down at this time. If you only have a winch securing the front of your boat, I recommend you add a front tie-down. Winch straps, hooks and ratcheting mechanisms have been known to fail. Check, and replace as necessary, the rear tie-downs connecting your boat to the trailer.
You Cannot Get There With a Flat
It is important to check the pressure on your trailer tires. Visual checks are not enough; many tires do not look low when they are under-inflated. Under-inflated tires cause excessive wear to the side-walls and create heat which will cause tires to fail. Tire failures never seem to occur at convenient times or locations. Pay attention to tire checking for cracks in the sidewalls. Trailer tires will become dry rotted long before the tread indicates significant wear. Remember to check the pressure in the spare tire as well.
Light It Up
While conducting your walk-around inspection, make sure all trailer lights are operable. Check for tail and side marker lights, brake lights and emergency flashers. If any of these are not working, fix them before hitting the road. Most common causes of light failures are bulbs. Many bulb failures occur when the lights are submerged during launching or taking out your boat. Water-proof lights do get old and the seals break. The hot bulb is submerged in colder water and cause the glass to crack. Remember to visually check your trailer light connector while making the connection to your tow vehicle.
Tighten the Wheel Nuts
Visually inspect the lug nuts on the wheels and make it a routine to check the torque with a torque wrench. Set the torque to the manufacturer’s recommend requirements. Over-tightening can damage wheels and make changing a flat tire nearly impossible. In addition, over-tightened lug nuts will put undue stress on wheel studs.
Grease the Bearings – Not Too Much
Grease the wheel bearings. Wheel bearing failure is often the result of not enough lubrication and/or bearing contamination and water will contaminate a bearing causing failure. Excessive heat will also cause bearings to fail. Well lubricated bearings seldom fail Often times, when a bearing fails, the trailer axle shaft will be damaged as well, leaving you and your equipment stranded. Use water-resistant grease along with bearing protectors with grease fittings to make the process easy.
For those who think if a little grease is good, a lot is even better, beware. Excessive grease will cause the rear shaft seal to fail allowing grease to escape and water to easily get into the bearing. If you are seeing excessive amounts of grease on the inside of your trailer wheels, you may have a defective axle shaft seal. If you have a newer trailer you may have oil-bath hub and bearing assemblies. Oil bath hubs do not require greasing. However, check the oil level through the sight-glass on the hubs.
During stops along the way, give each wheel hub a quick touch checking for excessive heat. If any of the hubs are too hot to touch, you need to give the bearings special attention. The least needed is more lubrication while you may have a damaged bearing needing replacement.
Check the Brakes
Trailer brakes are both necessary and required by law for some trailers. Most state laws vary and are set according to trailer weight. You are responsible for knowing and abiding by the laws in states where you travel.
If you have trailer brakes, check the brake fluid reservoir for proper fluid levels before starting out and visually inspect the brake rotors. Also, when safe to do so, while traveling at slow speeds, apply tow vehicle brakes hard enough to actuate your trailer brakes making sure they are functioning properly. Finding out they do not assist in stopping when you need them most will never produce good results.
Use these tips for keeping your travels uneventful while towing your rig to your favorite fishing hole. If you have some additional tips you would like to share feel free to leave them in the comment section or use our contact form and we can update this article.