Veteran trailer boaters know all too well that boat trailer bodies corrode from the inside out, and that the best way to prevent that is frequent maintenance and rust protection.
Here are some helpful tips that will help keep your trailer on the road and away from the local scrap heap:
Clean Your Trailer Body Regularly
Salt, water, oxygen, and metal is a recipe for corrosion. You must make time to rinse your trailer with fresh water and dry it off after a day on the water, especially if you are boating in saltwater.
Keep in mind that mud against metal can also lead to corrosion. Depending on the roads you travel on, you may need to give your trailer another bath back at home.
And make sure the drain holes throughout the frame are open, allowing water to drain effectively.
Treat Rust Immediately and Properly
Remove any rust you find with a wire brush and treat this area with a galvanizing compound (75% zinc is best). Joins and welds are particularly vulnerable to corrosion, so pay careful attention to these areas as you inspect the trailer.
Maintain the Suspension
While it is easy to spot problem areas on the general body of the trailer, the not-so-obvious parts of the trailer (like the suspension components) need to be checked for cracks and corrosion, too.
Vibrations and friction during use can cause the protective coating on the springs to wear off, making them brittle and vulnerable to corrosion. Wash the suspension regularly and treat these components with a protective galvanizing compound when they are clean and dry; a few minutes of work can add years of life to this essential hardware.
Check and maintain the springs and axles at least twice a year, making sure to tighten all the bolts and U-bolts and replace any springs that are badly corroded.
Check the Trailer Coupling
A failure of the coupling could be disastrous. The ball should fit snugly in the hitch. Make sure the hitch is free of grit and is adequately greased (marine grease is usually your best option as it doesn’t break down when exposed to saltwater).
You’ll most likely need to re-grease it every six months (roughly) or when you can’t see any grease on the shaft. And don’t forget to check that the fastener pin is secure and the surrounding bolts are tight at the same time.
Maintain Hardware: Spindles, Rollers, Brackets and Split Pins
The moving parts of your trailer need to be checked and maintained regularly. Rollers that aren’t functioning correctly can drastically reduce the performance of your trailer, making you dread launching and retrieval.
Check that they’re rolling freely (without any grit between the spindles and rollers) – a thorough cleaning should prevent this.
Plan to replace any broken/worn ones you come across – with the correct tools; this shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours. Just do it – you’ll thank yourself when your boat slides in and out of the water with ease.
And of course, protect these moving parts from corrosion and wear with marine grease to prolong their lifespan.