Its that time of the year again to go through your pre-season trailer check list. There are several things to check or maintain on your trailer on an annual basis before the heavy usage begins. These things help to ensure the trailer is in tip top shape and most importantly safe. Most of the things that have to be done are easily over looked because they don’t seem important or maybe they seem redundant or hard to do. Here’s a simple check list to go through before each season that will help pro long the life of the trailer and help make it safer.
Trailer tires are constructed differently than a standard passenger car tire and have to be treated differently. After sitting all winter it is good to check a couple different things with the tires. First thing to check is the tread of the tire. The tread of the trailer tire should be even depth across the width of the tire. If this is not the case it is usually an indication of an issue with axle or suspension (More on this to come). Side walls should also be checked to ensure there isn’t any cracking or deterioration. Next check the tires PSI, it is suggested to run ‘ST’ and ‘LT’ trailer tires at the maximum PSI listed on the tire. Finally check lug nuts to ensure none are loose.
There are several different types of trailer hubs as well as lubrication systems available on the market. The best thing to do would be to remove hub/drum/rotor to repack bearings and check seal. This can be a lot of work depending on the set up so it’s often over looked. If this is something that is not going to get done that doesn’t mean nothing should be done. Most of the time (except drum brake applications) the rear seal can still be checked for leaks without removing anything. Also take advantage of the lubrication system being used to lube up (check owner’s manual or call us for specifics) and check old grease for any contaminants that could indicate an issue.
Electric Drum brakes should be checked to ensure that they are properly adjusted. Also check that the magnets are still functional and the best way to do that is to use the breakaway kit. Pull the pin on the breakaway kit and listen for the magnets. Once the pin is pulled you should hear the magnets humming. If this is not the case, then check out “Electric Brake Troubleshooting”.
Short of bleeding the brakes and adjusting the (drum) brakes there is no fancy way to test them until you hit the road. What you can check is pad/shoe wear to ensure that they are still at safe levels. Also check for any leaks in the system and make sure master cylinder is full.
Lights are probably the most simple to check although it is easiest with help. With trailer plugged in to the tow vehicle check the running lights, brake lights, turn signals, and all marker lights. If there are broken or non working lights it might be a good time to up grade to LED lights.
Well, now that the warmer weather is starting to make it’s move into the central and northern parts of the country many folks are thinking of getting their towable boats & RV’s ready to roll for the season. There are many things on the “to do list” in order to get a trailer ready for the season. One of the most over looked things on that list is the trailer leaf spring, and there are a few reasons for this.
It is easy to over look trailer leaf spring maintenance because it is not something that needs to be done very often. Just because something does not require often or annual maintenance does not mean it should be over looked. Trailer leaf springs should be checked often to ensure that they are always in safe working condition.
Things To Look For:
Rusty Spring and Hardware
Broken Leaf, Exposed
Broken Leaf, Internal
If all of those things check out fine then your leaf springs should be good to go. Just make sure to go through the same check next time trailer maintenance is done. If there was an issue noticed and the springs need to be replaced, that job is probably easier than you might think.
Replacing Leaf Springs
First thing to do is to identify which type of Trailer Leaf Spring you have and the proper way to measure it. Once you have the correct replacement spring and all the proper hardware on hand its time to begin the job. Remove Weight from springs and axle by jacking up the trailer (All trailers and situations are different so please use the safest way to do this, Jack stands and Wood Blocks work great).
With the trailer in the air and the axle lightly supported, remove the U-bolts being used to attach the leaf springs to the axle. Keep in mind that gravity will come into play if the tires are off the ground they will drop to the ground when those bolts are removed. The shackle bolts can now be removed from the hanger and spring which should now release the spring. Reverse process to install new leaf springs, bushings and shackle bolts.
- We always like to stress safety so it goes with out saying that most of this job should be done without putting any major extremity under the trailer.
- It is a perfect opportunity to replace the Tie Plate Kit ($20-$30 Well Spent)
- Get a Helper, It can be a one man job but it is a lot easier with help.
- If you have a question, Call Us, Don’t Guess!!! 1-800-453-7379
- Amount of Leafs does NOT automatically dictate weight capacity. Always pick your Springs based on the weight cap. and not the amount of leafs
Tire Storage Tips
A few simple winter storage procedures can go a long way in adding years of service life to your trailer tires. Quite often overlooked while performing winterization of Boats or Campers are the trailer components that keep your rig going safely down the road. The rubber trailer tires are especially susceptible to premature weather damage if not properly maintained during long periods of inactivity.
Check out all of our trailer tires & tire accessories online at: TrailerTires.com
Here is a ‘Short List’ of some tips to consider for proper trailer tire storage:
1) Keep tire pressure at or slightly below the rated maximum PSI listed on the sidewall
2) Place a 10 x 7 or similar concrete paver under each tire if it is to be stored on non-paved surfaces
3) Make sure the valve stem interior is free of dirt, and always use a valve stem cap
4) Cover the tires with Storage Covers to keep out damaging UV sunlight
5) If practical, jack up trailer so that tires are just off the ground and support under frame rail (not under axle)
Metric Trailer Bearings
Trailer Parts Superstore is now offering a selection of
METRIC sized trailer axles, wheel bearings, grease seals, dust caps and complete hub kits.
The 25mm trailer bearing is just a little smaller then a 1″ bearing, and is becoming more common on light-duty trailer applications in the United States. Initial uses were seen on little red Utility trailers imported from China by mass merchants such as Harbor Freight. More recently, domestic boat trailer manufacturers such as Venture Trailers have started to use Metric size axle spindles & bearings on some of their light weight boat trailers.
The 25mm metric trailer bearing is not readily available, so having a spare set or even a complete wheel hub on hand for roadside emergencies could save your day.
CLICK HERE to check out our selection of metric sized trailer axles, hubs, grease seals & wheel bearings.
Karavan Boat Trailer Parts
New product line announcement at Eastern Marine ~ Trailer Parts Superstore: KARAVAN Boat Trailer Parts including bunk & roller brackets, factory axles, fenders and a bunch of other KARAVAN brand name repair parts unique to their boat trailers now in stock!
CLICK HERE to see our offering of KARAVAN Trailer Parts
UFP Trailer Parts
New product line announcement at Eastern Marine ~ Trailer Parts Superstore: UFP Trailer Parts (Unique Functional Products) include the Trailer Buddy disc brake system, trailer brake actuators and a bunch of other UFP brand repair parts unique to boat trailers now in stock!
Check out the UFP Trailer Brakes at http://www.easternmarine.com/UFP-Trailer-Disc-Brakes/
Or CLICK HERE
view our entire UFP Product Offering
Trailer Stake Body Parts
Most flat bed trailers are used to haul lawnmowers, heavy equipment or other cargo that needs to be tied down safely. However, flat-beds are limited in their usage for general hauling of items that would not require tying down each piece of cargo. This includes loose items like cardboard boxes or even landscape refuse. To improve the flexibility of your truck or trailer, adding a stake body framework is a good idea.
The idea is to build “gate” sections that latch together to form a strong framework but are also quickly removable so the trailer can perform its other tasks. Stake bodies can be simple wooden structures or CAD engineered works of art designed to perform a specific task. If stake body is to be wood and the trailer has pre-installed stake pockets, the job becomes fairly straightforward and pocket position determines how the gates are constructed.
Important Stake Body Parts and Accessories
Starting on the long side of the bed, trim the appropriate number of 2×4 wood lumber, cut to the desired height and insert in the stake pockets on the frame of the trailer.
Bolt-On Stake Pocket, 3″ x 1-1/2″ ID #B2373G
The end of the wood being inserted in the pocket will have to be trimmed on all four sides to get a tight fit. Often, the wood is selected on its ability to withstand the elements, such as “treated“ lumber. These 2 x 4 boards will become the upright (or vertical) post assemblies for the stake body frame.
Select the length of the horizontal wood slats (such as 1” x 6”) that connects two of the uprights to make the first gate. The horizontal slat length should be set based on proximity to connect to the adjacent gate horizontal slats. Screw or bolt the horizontal slats to the vertical 2 x 4” stakes to complete each gate. For best results, be consistent in choosing the size and spacing of the horizontal slats for a professional appearance.
Each gate should be trimmed so that it lines up closely with the next gate. It will be linked to the next gate by specific interlocking hardware:
Straight Stake Rack Connector Set #6015
For improved stability of the gates and rigidity of the whole structure, the connecting hardware should be added to two different horizontal slats.
Corner Stake Rack connector sets can be used for mating two corner gates:
Corner Stake Rack Connector Set #6020
These types of connecting hardware will allow the middle gate of three to be easily lifted out of the way to load or unload cargo. However, the two outside gates of three will not be able to be removed unless the middle is removed. These can be set-up in different ways so that a specific gate will always be removed.
Or Stake Body Spring Loaded Latch w/Keeper #06035 can be used for easy removal of any gate. This is also a more safe option since it prevents gates from being jostled loose while traveling down the road.
Stake body conversions require a good bit of thought beforehand to determine the best configuration for your needs. The custom design approach will allow the proper parts to be ordered before the process begins.
Trailer Bunk Slicks
Many of our customers call Eastern Marine looking for ideas for easier loading and unloading their boats on their bunk trailers. These trailers are usually several years old and have the original carpeted bunk boards in place. Over time, the carpet absorbs dirt and contamination that causes increased drag on the boat hull. Hulls with greater weight will have greater drag. Their obvious choice is to replace the carpet or replace the bunk board. If the boards are solid, there are easier remedies for this problem.
1) ‘Liquid Roller Spray’ is a short-term fix that the customer can purchase. The bunk carpet should be scrubbed clean with detergent, rinsed and dry before use.
Liquid Rollers Bunk Spray Coating, 10 oz. #MK6810
2) A more elegant solution is the ‘bunk slicks’ product that can be fit over the un-carpeted 2×4 or 2×6 bunk boards. These bunk covers are made of a durable plastic, come with stainless steel mounting hardware and have received great customer reviews. They also assist in centering the boat while recovering. Be careful with these! Make sure the winch strap /cable is secured to the boat or it could slip off while backing down the ramp.
Self Centering Bunk Glide On’s for 2×6 Lumber (Black), #86295
Another similar option is the EZ-Slide Bunk Pads, also made from a durable plastic material. However, these have a lessor hull weight limitation.
EZ-SLIDE Bunk Pad Kit for 6″ Wide Bunks KIT4 #013.3
3) The last option would be to replace the bunk board and uses the same bolster/swivel bracket. They are only available in 4 or 5 ft. lengths and have a hull weight limitation of 1500 lbs per pair.
4ft Poly-Roller Bunk Assembly (1 pair) #86157
Check out the Trailer Parts Superstore to investigate these and other options to make loading / launching from a bunk style trailer faster and easier.
Rusty Trailer Parts
Owners of older trailers know that replacing the hardware like axle u-bolts, brake fasteners and lug nuts is a major chore. Boat trailers (especially salt water) are the worst- case scenarios. Below are some ideas on how to make this job easier.
The Trailer Parts Superstore carries 3 different brands:
CRC Freeze-Off 11.5oz #05002
CRC Ultra Screwloose® Super Penetrant, 11oz. #05330
B’LASTER® PB Penetrating Catalyst, 11oz. #16PB
The most recognized of these is PB Blaster.
While scanning through some related websites the other day, I saw a thread that referenced a study done by the magazine “MACHINISTS WORKSHOP” comparing several commercially available products. The study was based on application of commercial penetrants on similar corroded hardware with the test measurement being wrench torque required to loosen the bolt. Amazingly enough, a 50% mixture of automatic transmission fluid and acetone tested the best by far. Take your favorite penetrant and apply to hardware for several days in a row
The best thing to use is a long handled breaker bar with the appropriate socket. The long handle will allow more torque on the corroded hardware than a short handled ratchet. If the bolt will not release, it may be possible to snap off the bolt.
I have had success with a reciprocating saw (sawzall) but an electric or air grinder or cutting tool may be better and safer.
Try to use galvanized or stainless steel hardware to prevent premature corrosion.
These penetrating fluids and many replacement hardware items are available on Trailer Parts Superstore
Snowmobiles are extremely popular in the cold weather regions of North America such as the northern United States, Canada and Alaska. Caliber Trailer Accessories is a company that has devoted much development time to engineering products to make the trailering aspect of this sport easier for its devotees. Located in Burnsville, MN, many of the employees are Power-sports enthusiasts and this passion has driven product development efforts in this niche of the trailer industry. The company views itself as experts in Plastics for the Power-Sport market and actually modifies some materials for their end use. Caliber primarily deals with products for after market use but also participates in OEM applications and also has products for boat trailers.
Their products for the Snowmobile ATV trailer market are made from high-density polyethylene HDPE. They have tweaked their material to be “impact modified” for durability and therefore can offer a limited lifetime warranty on their products. These products are fastened to the decks and ramps of customer trailers and are classified as “Glide” for snowmobile runners and “Traction” for ATV and multi-use. Using these products will extend the life of the wooden trailer decks and make loading and unloading much easier for the customer. Below is a description of the Caliber Trailer Deck Products:
1) Designed specifically for snowmobile track traction
2) Leading product on the market – made from durable HDPE
3) Allows deck to drain and dry underneath
4) 18” wide and offered in 54 and 72” lengths
Track Grip System
1) Basic grip system for ATV and snowmobiles
2) Low Cost Option – older product – made from HDPE
3) Great for tilt trailers and trailer ramps
1) Made from HDPE; stainless steel mounting hardware included
2) Designed for ATV/Snowmobile Combination Trailers
3) Used as grips for ATVs and glides for snowmobiles
4) 9” wide for 14” ski stance variation
5) Holes in top to allow mud to clear the deck after washing
6) Sold in 30” lengths
1) Grips for ATV tires
2) Glides for Snowmobile wear bars
3) Great for 10’ tilt trailer
4) Lower cost option
5) Also available in a ramp configuration
1) Constructed from HDPE to protect the trailer deck from carbide wear rods
2) One of the early products developed by Caliber
3) For easy loading / unloading of snowmobiles
4) 6” or 8” wide to accommodate any brand of snowmobile
6) Wear rods ride on top of channels
7) Extension kits available
1) Constructed from HDPE for durability and most popular glide-only product
2) Snowmobile wear bars slide into the designed channel spacing
3) Designed to allow the snowmobile carbide wear bar to suspend above the plastic
4) Significantly reduced drag while loading / unloading
5) Channel spacing will work for approx. 95% of snowmobiles
6) Available in 6-1/4” and 8-1/4” wide
Caliber makes many other accessories with the same theme and makes a strong effort for Constant Improvement of its products. It is refreshing to see an American company study a small part of the trailer market and develop materials and products that make the difficult part of Power Sports (trailering) much easier. These and many more Caliber products can be found on the Trailer Parts Superstore