Rusty rim

Maintaining a boat trailer

Having a boat that you transport by trailer to and from the ocean, as opposed to having a permanent mooring in your local yacht basin, adds a different element of maintenance to your plans.

For example a  boat on a permanent mooring has different requirements for cathodic protection, requires an anti-fouling coat of paint on the hull, and will need to be removed at least once a year for inspection, cleaning, and so on. Fresh water flushing of the cooling system doesn’t happen and the boat needs to be checked frequently for leaks, mooring line chafe, and so on. The plus side is you can step on the boat in the morning and be ready to head out to sea in a few minutes.

A boat that you haul to and from the ocean does not need a fancy hull paint, the standard engine protection in the form of sacrificial anode is more than adequate, and you get to wash the boat and flush the cooling system in your own garden. Hull inspection, running maintenance and the like is easily taken care of while the boat sits on the trailer in your driveway.

Rim looking ropy
Rim looking ropy

The trailer and its requirements that are often neglected, however. Not everyone neglects the trailer, but it is easy to overlook some of the basic items and then end up with an excruciating problem. I have had such a problem: on one occasion I put off changing the wheel bearings for a little longer than I should have, and on the day I decided to change them I had a failure on the way home. The bearing disintegrated, the wheel came off, wrecked the fender and left me stranded by the side of the road. It’s not fun. The potential for disaster is high and should the wayward wheel hit and injure someone you could face prosecution.

Rusty rim
Rusty rim

The moral of the story is check the wheel bearings frequently, and change them as soon as they feel or sound rough or there is excessive free play. Some advocate stripping them, washing them and repacking with fresh grease every month or two, and some prefer to fit a ”bearing buddy”. This can help diagnose the conditions, i.e. if the grease inside the cover goes white there has been water in it, and if it goes black it is tired and needs changing.

Having settled into an excessive routine of checking the bearings I noticed that the wheel rims were showing a lot more rust than I was comfortable with. I took them of for a clean up and repaint but discover that some of the pitmarks were so deep they were possibly just too risky. It was time to replace them.

Fortunately the option of galvanised rims is available and the cost is not too prohibitive, so that’s what we fitted. They should last longer than rims that aren’t galvanised, and will fight off the rust a bit better.

New galvanised rims
New galvanised rims

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Tony

Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals

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