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Question for the Trailer Gurus

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Question for the Trailer Gurus
Just as coastal ducking gets good and I want my boat in the water, my trailer has failed. I can't complain--I got it with the boat and motor for $1500 almost 20 years ago.

I was hoping I could milk it along for another year or two by replacing bearings or wheel hubs, but the axle is also rusting out, as are the mud guards over the wheels, and the rest of the trailer is not long for this world, so I'm going to bite the bullet and buy a new one.

If the duck gods smile, another 20 years out of a new one will likely get me to the point I can't boat anymore.

The boat is a 14' Lowe, with a 15 hp motor, so all I need is something basic. Total weight probably 500-600 pounds. Even with a load of wet cork decoys in the boat and 6" of snow in the boat, still under 1000 pounds. All I need or want is a basic trailer to get me to and from the launch, and I am not planning to do any cross country trips.

I've got a few local quotes for new galvanized trailers at about $1200-1500. More than I'd like to spend, and I'll keep looking around, but that's about what I expected.

Questions:

(1) At least half my use is in the salt. Should I be considering aluminum, or other protecting of a steel trailer beyond galvanizing? And if so, how much might that cost.
(2) I will also put on a fair number of miles on gravel roads, of which Maine has many. 100 miles RT on gravel to access a remote lake is not out of the question, and some of those gravel "roads" are pretty rough. Any special considerations for that?

"At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant."
— Aldo Leopold
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Jeff,
I would think a good quality hot dipped galvanized trailer would be best for the salt. I have an aluminum
I-beam trailer that I use in the salt every week. The issue I see with it is all the dissimilar metals and salt. It?s not holding up as I expected after 3 years. My old galvanized trailer looked better after 15 years.
As far as it goes for the dirt roads you may consider a torsion axle. The torsion axle should provide a more comfortable ride for the boat and no springs to rust or break. Just my .02


Gunning from the FOWL HOOKED
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
I have owned trailers with all 3 types of frames (aluminum, galvanized and painted plain steel) and used them extensively in Saltwater. Painted Plan Steel will rot before your very eyes (but I understand you are not even considering this option, which is wise of you). I owned the Aluminum-frame Wesco trailer for 17 years or so--U-bolts needed replaced at around 14-15 years plus an aluminum Crossbar or two needed replaced in same timeframe. This was because anywhere a plain steel U-bolt contacted the Aluminum Crossbar there was extensive loss of Aluminum from the Crossbar. According to the trailer specialty shop that did the rebuild, with Stainless U-bolts (which this trailer fortunately did not have) erosion of the Aluminum Crossbar will occur even more rapidly than if plain steel U-bolts are used. The trailer shop had a huge stack of Aluminum Crossmembers corroded beyond use--ready for scrapyard. I have had this smaller Load-Rite Galvanized trailer for about 4 years and the frame shows no signs of corrosion thus far. BTW I rinse my trailers thoroughly with a garden hose immediately (or within a day or so) of each Saltwater trip--even in winter. In 2005 I bought a marshfront house in Coastal NC where the owner left a small galvanized-frame trailer hidden in brush in the marsh. Kind of a hidden gift to me. When we pulled that trailer out of the marsh there wasn't much left of the trailer except for the frame. I would guess that trailer went through dozens if not hundreds of high/spring tide cycles but it was in pretty good shape frame-wise. The fellow I gave that frame to sure was happy to get it. I agree galvanized is your best bet.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Biggest problem i,ve seen with aluminum trailers are everything except frame is standard steel. Going to rust away if not kept fresh water washed rather quickly in salt water use. Good galvanized trailer with galvanized fasteners at connection points would be my recommendation. Even then a fresh water rinse off after salt immersion is what makes them last a long time. Largest tire/wheel combo you can get on your trailer for ease of pulling on those long trips and absorbing shock on rough roads/trails.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
I'm hearing a consensus. The freshwater rinse is a problem when most of my saltwater use is in December. No hose at the house then, and I can go to a carwash, but then drive home on salted roads!

Summers I just find a freshwater boat launch on the way home and back everything in for a short soak and short run of the motor.

"At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant."
— Aldo Leopold
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Galvanized trailers are the way to go, as has been mentioned aluminum doesn't last at the contact points with steel.

In northern states the winter road treatment salts/sand are about as destructive as the salt water IMO. The constant sand blasting breaks through the metal coating and provides a starting point for corrosion. Same thing goes for the NMW in summer, my galvanized drift boat trailer has never been anywhere but the Big Eddy and East Outlet but has the sand blasted damage.

What I look for in a trailer for a small boat is wider wheel stance than the boats chine, larger tire sizes and long, wide-side up bunks for support on bumps (no rollers in NMW!). With light boats, there isn't enough weight to benefit from expensive suspension as they tend to bounce as a unit if the boat is properly strapped down. Do yourself a favor and adjust the axle a touch more rearward than you would with a larger boat, consider keeping at least a 100 lbs of tongue weight when loaded. The general rule of thumb for tongue weight is 10-15% of total load, a touch more works best for small stuff. It will tow a heck of a lot better and won't chatter as much on the washboards. Invest in a jack stand, your back will feel better.

Hope you find a good trailer and enjoy the rest of the season.

Last edited by:

SJ Fairbank: Dec 9, 2021, 3:40 AM
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Another vote for galvanized.
And the largest tires you can get away with. I run 4.80x12s on mine, I would go no smaller than that.
An axle with the grease zerks in the end of the axle are great too for keeping the bearings properly lubed. Much better than bearing buddies, which can overpressure the rear seal.


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Carl wrote:
An axle with the grease zerks in the end of the axle are great too for keeping the bearings properly lubed. Much better than bearing buddies, which can overpressure the rear seal.


Going to disagree with you on that. Bearing buddies have a spring plate which controls the maximum pressure exerted. The designers have chosen a spring tension which is appropriate for a properly maintained rear seal.

If the seal or sealing surface is worn out, the seal will leak with either system regardless.

Take care, Huntindave McCann Smile SHELL ROCK IA. ,,,,,, "As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats." Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
And don't forget to get galvanized in a brand that's hot dipped & not cold dipped w/axle & hubs of same treatment if possible. Going to be a bit more expensive but worth it in long run.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Huntindave McCann wrote:
Carl wrote:

An axle with the grease zerks in the end of the axle are great too for keeping the bearings properly lubed. Much better than bearing buddies, which can overpressure the rear seal.



Going to disagree with you on that. Bearing buddies have a spring plate which controls the maximum pressure exerted. The designers have chosen a spring tension which is appropriate for a properly maintained rear seal.

If the seal or sealing surface is worn out, the seal will leak with either system regardless.


I'm ok with either system and have trailers with both, as well as one of the permanent oil filled setups. I have seen the rear seal blowout as Carl describes, my guess is that it's the result of continuing to pump grease after the spring plate is all the way out in the full position. Not that I would be guilty of that. Whistle I haven't seen bearings fail as a result, what I have observed is brakes coated in grease. My beef with the axle mounted zerc is that it requires a simple bearing cap that costs $22.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to

Quote
I'm ok with either system and have trailers with both, as well as one of the permanent oil filled setups. I have seen the rear seal blowout as Carl describes, my guess is that it's the result of continuing to pump grease after the spring plate is all the way out in the full position. Not that I would be guilty of that. Whistle I haven't seen bearings fail as a result, what I have observed is brakes coated in grease. My beef with the axle mounted zerc is that it requires a simple bearing cap that costs $22.


I'm not really sure why the rear seals on the one axle blew out, may be have been my fault. Either way, the bearings were fine, just made a mess on the backside of the wheel.

But I like the axle mounted zercs on my new axle better, the caps with the removable rubber center were pretty cheap at our local marine supply store, like $5 each??
Either one, bearing buddy or axle mounted zerc, is better than no way to add grease!


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Carl wrote:
I'm not really sure why the rear seals on the one axle blew out, may be have been my fault. Either way, the bearings were fine, just made a mess on the backside of the wheel.

But I like the axle mounted zercs on my new axle better, the caps with the removable rubber center were pretty cheap at our local marine supply store, like $5 each??
Either one, bearing buddy or axle mounted zerc, is better than no way to add grease!


Interesting that you got them for $5. I thought $22 was nonsense when I bought it a month ago. Probably got the sku mixed up, or just wanted to rob me.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Another add for galvanized over aluminum for the reasons mentioned......
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
I would check craigslist and face book. Haven't bought a new trailer ever. Put Cabela hot dipped guide on's to keep the lights out of the water and have never replaced a light. Works great when it's dark, raining and blowing getting the boat on by yourself.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
https://tamahoney.com/collections/products/products/2-717-posi-lube-cap-with-plug


Correction, less than 5$


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
Capt Rich Geminski wrote:
I would check craigslist and face book. Haven't bought a new trailer ever. Put Cabela hot dipped guide on's to keep the lights out of the water and have never replaced a light. Works great when it's dark, raining and blowing getting the boat on by yourself.

Those hot dipped guide ons and mounting your lights on them are the best add on you can do for a boat trailer especially if you unload in ice or salt. Saves a lot of repair down the road.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
 Don't buy the plated galvanized cheaper one's. They will rust through in three years. I have one set that is about 20 years old, still works.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
I have a hot dipped galvanized trailer that was made in 1973 still going strong. I finally replaced the winch this year as a gear tooth was worn. All the original hardware was replaced with galvanized which I also painted. I painted the trailer with a product that I think was called "alumacote" but maybe ask Steve Sanford if that's the right name. I only have the first roller, bunks with fire hose and the bow snubber. I put bearing buddies on galvanized wheels and never had a failure but replaced the hubs and wheels recently as a precaution. Painted wheels with tires this time ( cheaper and I am in freshwater now), I put a product called No-Oxid on the painted springs and solid painted axle. You can heat it up and brush it on and it hardens up. I touched up any scratches or corrosion on the trailer with rust reformer and rustoleum zinc rich paint. Bearing buddies has ( I think there still available) a rear seal for use with bearing buddies to keep water out. Would never buy anything except a galvanized trailer even for freshwater and I'm in the market for a covered utility trailer and would gladly pay more for one with galvanized metal but I don't know if anyone makes one like that.
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Re: Question for the Trailer Gurus In reply to
I have had a galvanized trainer including the wheels for 15 years and it shows no signs of rust. The only metal on it that is showing corrosion is the tongue jack. I used to hunt the salt probably 10 times a year. I would also mention that I have oil filled hubs and they have been great. I wouldn't go back to greased hubs by choice. I put about 3000- 4000 miles a year and have changed the oil in the hubs once and it took about 15 min. very easy to do and only requires an allen wrench. As for the gravel roads I go on my fair share of those as well and I just go slow and don't put a lot of pressure in the tires. My boat is not heavy enough for the leaf spring to really adsorb the shock so I rely on the tires to help take some of the shock. The only problem I have had with it is a short that showed up this year when I turn my lights on. Brake and blinkers work fine but it blows a fuse when I turn on the lights. As far as wiring goes, after dealing with grounding issues on a couple steel trailers before this one I started hard wiring the ground from the lights to plug with soldered connections instead of going through the chassis. A little work up from but saves frustration later.