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  • OUTDOOR EXPOSURE-Boat Trailer Maintenance

    Now that fall is here, have you thought about general maintenance on your boat trailer before you put the boat up for the winter or take that last trip? If not, then you may be on the side of the road waiting on a wrecker if this is not done.

    General maintenance on the trailer should be done just like maintenance on your boat and motor. Standard maintenance is to check the lube and the bearings every 2500 miles or every six months depending on how much you trailer your boat.

    It is as simple as checking the bearing seal. If the bearing is slinging grease, then you know that you have a bad seal. If grease comes out, then water can come in. It only takes two feet of water to put enough pressure to push itself around the seal. Also if you see smoke coming from the tires, then you know that you have a problem.

    If a bearing seizes, the tire will lock down and will blow. You may not only have a blown tire and a bad bearing, but if the bearing seizes to the spindle (part of the axle), then you may not get the bearing off the spindle. Then you have got a real mess.

    To repair the bad bearing, you will need marine grade trailer wheel bearing grease and a new bearing. The grease and bearings may be bought at your major retail outlet, auto parts store, marine dealer, or the bearings may have to be ordered depending on the trailer. Make sure to check that the inner bearing is the same size as the outer bearing.

    While you are checking the bearings, check for tire wear. Slick tires can hydroplane which means that it will sway, and you could lose control of the trailer. This is no fun if you are traveling 70 miles an hour down the interstate or even 55 on a major road. Also double axle trailers need to have the tires rotated every year like a car.

    Since most trailers have surge brakes, check the brake fluid, plus the shoes and pads on the brakes. Do you have a least a 2 1/2-ton bottle jack to jack up the trailer? Did you check to see if you have a lug wrench that fits the nuts on your trailer and tools? And of course, you are just asking for trouble if you go out without a spare tire.

    If all this information seems too complicated or you just don't have time, ask your boat mechanic or marine dealer to check this to while he is winterizing your motor. A little maintenance now can save you from sitting on the side of the road waiting for a wrecker now or later in the spring.

    SC Sportsman Field Representative
    Capt. 'Teach' Corley