Category Archives: Maintenance

Winterizing Your Trailer: Storage

There’s no reason not to keep your boat on a trailer during the summer, when you’re heading to nearby bodies of water every weekend for fishing or water sports. During the winter months, however, it’s best to get both boat and trailer out of the elements, especially if your region experiences harsh winter weather.

It is not unheard of to park your boat outside, leaving it on a trailer and simply covering it for the winter, or you could do the same with your trailer if your boat is in dry dock storage elsewhere. You could also put your trailer in off-site storage, but it’s probably not worth the expense.

Whether you elect to store your trailer inside or out, it’s imperative to winterize it in preparation for months of sitting and potentially withstanding the cold season. This starts with a thorough inspection and ensuring all elements are dry. Then there are a few things you’ll need to do to ensure safe storage throughout the winter. Here are a few strategies to prep your boat trailer for seasonal storage.

Make Space

The best way to ensure the longevity of your trailer is to protect it from harsh winter weather, and this is most effectively accomplished by keeping it an enclosed space such as a garage or shed. If you’re able to clear space for storage, you have the best chance of avoiding ongoing issues like rust and corrosion, or other problems caused by moisture.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that you won’t have moisture and freezing temperatures in your garage or shed, but at least your trailer won’t be totally exposed to the elements. Provided you perform proper maintenance and repairs prior to storage, your trailer should emerge intact and ready to use next summer.

If you’re storing your trailer outside, you also need to choose an appropriate storage space. Select a spot in the driveway or yard that isn’t under eaves or trees that can dump water, snow, or ice on your trailer (especially if the boat is on it).

Park Properly

It’s always best to choose ground that is as level as possible when storing your trailer for several months at a time, and this is doubly true if you have a boat on the trailer. Level ground will help to prevent runaway incidents, as well as potential damage from placing too much weight on one side.

If you’re parking your trailer in the driveway, it’s a good idea to point the tongue toward the garage (instead of the street) and add a lock on the trailer hitch to prevent possible theft. An even better option is to put your trailer on blocks.

Put It on Blocks

There are several good reasons to put your trailer on blocks when it will be out of commission for an extended period of time. For one thing, taking the wheels off makes a trailer in the driveway much harder to steal.

Whether it’s indoors or out, though, blocking up your trailer allows you to safely remove the tires. If your trailer sits, unmoving, for months, the tires can get flat spots and suffer damage from the weather, even if the trailer is covered with a tarp.

By putting your trailer on blocks you can remove tires to store them in the garage or shed (if the whole trailer won’t fit). You’ll also have an easier time inspecting and repairing your trailer prior to storage once it’s up on blocks.

 

Winterizing Your Trailer: Drying

Ideally, you want to store your boat trailer in a warm, dry, and fully enclosed indoor space, but unfortunately, this may not be possible. Even if you have room in your garage or a storage shed on your property, many of these structures are neither heated nor fully sealed and insulated.

In other words, the moisture and freezing cold temperatures that dominate the winter months could still affect your trailer, despite the fact that it’s safely indoors. What’s worse, you might not have the space available to provide shelter for your trailer, which leaves you paying for storage elsewhere or simply parking it in the driveway for the winter, on blocks and covered with a tarp for protection from the elements.

In any case, you’ll find that a little water left over on the trailer can cause a lot of damage before summer arrives. You need to get your rig as dry as possible in order to properly winterize. Since you should inspect and repair your trailer at the end of the summer season anyway, here are a few tips to help you find and remove any damaging moisture.

Find the Water

Rolling your trailer down watery ramps to load and unload your boat all season long can have some consequences. Although boat trailers are designed to resist the harmful effects of water, over time it can still do some damage.

A thorough inspection will turn up common issues like rust (steel), corrosion (aluminum), and rot (if your bunks are padded with carpeting or other textiles), for example. These parts will need to be repaired or replaced in order to stop further damage. A body shop should be able to help you deal with damage to metal parts in order to extend the usable life of your trailer – rust spots should be sanded, primed, and painted.

Don’t forget to check less obvious areas where water can get in, as well. Although your lights should be sealed tight, seals can break down and leak over time, and the last thing you want is moisture causing problems with your electrical components.

If you discover moisture in the lights, they’ll have to be removed, dried, and resealed. You should also check your connectors. Any electrical components affected by moisture may not only fail, but they could short out, potentially causing further damage or even harming people.

Proper Drying and Protection

Once you’ve discovered hidden moisture lurking in your trailer, you must eradicate it completely. A shammy will take care of the majority of exterior parts, while moisture repelling sprays will help to get electrical components totally dry.

Once light fixtures are dry they should be resealed so as to create an airtight compartment. Connectors can be treated with electrical grease to keep moisture at bay. You can also use double-duty lubricants on metal parts like roller assemblies and winch gears that are hard to get at. Look for sprays that not only repel water and dirt, but also protect against grime and moisture.

Now that your trailer is fully dry and all maintenance issues have been addressed, you’re ready to move it into winter storage.

 

Winterizing Your Trailer: Inspection

If you’re getting ready to store your boat trailer for the winter, it’s important that you don’t leave any problems unattended, as they could go from bad to worse during the months your trailer is left sitting. In order to perform needed maintenance and repairs, you must first inspect your trailer from top to bottom in search of potential problem areas.

At a glance your trailer might not appear to have any major issues, but even a small problem could be exacerbated by cold winter temperatures, even if you utilize enclosed storage space like your garage or a shed. Just sitting for months could make small problems bigger.

You wouldn’t put your boat into winter storage without a thorough inspection and you should apply the same principle to your trailer if you want it to last for years to come. Here’s what you need to look for when inspecting your trailer before storing it for the winter.

High-Use Parts

There are several points to any vehicle inspection, and it’s best to start with the parts that are most likely to suffer the wear and tear of usage. On your trailer, this might include the bunks, guides, jack, tongue, winch, and so on.

Look for damage or wear that calls for repair or replacement. It’s much better to deal with these problems as part of the winterization process, instead of getting hung up when you’re all set to head out for a day of boating next summer.

You’ll also want to check any metal parts for wear related to the materials used, such as rust on steel parts or corrosion on aluminum. These issues can worsen with time, especially when your trailer is exposed to damp, cold winter conditions.

Tires and Assembly

The tires themselves may be worn or suffer from issues like slow leaks. You can easily spot such issues with a quick inspection that includes checking the air pressure. This way tires can be patched or you can think about replacing them before the next boating season.

You should, of course, check the entire assembly, spinning the tires to check for unusual sounds like grating. This is an ideal time to grease the wheels, as well. Even if there are no suspicious noises, proper maintenance dictates that you do this regularly to keep the bearings and assembly in good working order.

Lights and Connectors

Not everyone is comfortable dealing with electrical components, so you might want to hand this task off to an experienced professional. If you’re okay doing it on your own, though, there are a couple of steps you can take to winterize.

First, you should pull apart light fixtures to make sure no water has gotten inside. If there is moisture, you should dry the fixtures and replace seals. As for connectors, they should also be dried and treated with electrical grease, and then capped.

Nuts and Bolts

Your trailer can take some pretty heavy jostling, and this can loosen the nuts and bolts that hold your rig together. Check nuts and bolts from top to bottom to make sure they’re secure before putting your trailer on blocks for the winter.

 

3 Critical Winter Maintenance Tasks for Your Trailer

The days of summer are long gone, and with them the opportunities to haul your boat to the nearest waterway for a few laps on the water skis or lazy hours spent fishing. Before winter is firmly entrenched, you need to put your boat in dry dock storage or prep it for storage in your garage throughout the winter months.

However, you also have to figure out what to do with your trailer until next summer. Leaving it outside under a tarp all winter is a mistake. If you want to ensure the greatest longevity, it’s crucial to properly winterize your trailer.

Even rolling it into the garage isn’t enough. Before you let your trailer sit, you need to make sure it has been properly inspected and prepared. Here are a few critical tasks to attend to when it comes to winter maintenance for your trailer.

1. Inspection

The first step is to conduct a thorough inspection. If you don’t feel confident about your ability to perform a comprehensive inspection, you can always ask your mechanic or a knowledgeable friend to give your rig a once-over.

That said, if you’re relatively familiar with your trailer, inspecting it shouldn’t be too difficult, especially with the aid of online tutorials. You’ll want to check parts like the trailer bunks, the winch, the wiring harness, and so on for damage. These parts see a lot of use during the boating season and they can get dinged up pretty easily.

Naturally, you’ll want to check the tires, as well, by jacking up the rig and spinning the wheels to make sure they’re rotating freely and they aren’t making any abnormal noises, like grating that could indicate issues with the bearings, just for example. Even so, it’s probably best to grease the assembly at least annually, and this is an ideal time to do so, since you’ve got your rig jacked up anyway. You should also check tires for wear and make sure air pressure is appropriate.

2. Drying

Trailers are definitely going to get wet from hauling your boat, and especially from going down boat ramps into the water. The bulk of your trailer will probably dry on its own, but there are some parts that could easily get waterlogged and suffer damage as a result.

Many owners never think to check the lights fixtures for water, for example. Cold temperatures cause water to freeze and expand. If you leave sitting water in fixtures, it could cause cracks and electrical issues, along with attendant costs for repair or replacement.

You can easily prevent these common problems by opening up fixtures, pulling bulbs, spraying moisture repellent, and making sure everything seals tightly.

 3. Storage

Before covering your trailer with a tarp to protect it from dust, pests, and so on in your garage, you should put it on blocks and remove the wheels to prevent the formation of flat spots. Don’t forget to cap your connectors after applying a bit of electrical grease (or petroleum jelly) to protect them from moisture.

8 Trailer Parts To Inspect Before You Hit The Road

Until you’ve had a blow out on a trailer while cruising at 70 mph on the interstate, it’s hard to have a full appreciation of a proper trailer inspection prior to your trip. Trailer safety awareness is best heeded prior to your trip, as opposed to a ticket by an observant member of law enforcement because your trailers wiring is messed up and your brake lights aren’t working.

A full inspection is time well invested prior to loading it up and hitting the road. Not only are trailer breakdowns expensive, they are dangerous for you, your passengers and other vehicles around you while on the road.

Check It Out – Thoroughly

There are several trailer parts that you need to check before taking a trip. Repair or replace broken trailer parts before you hit the road to ensure a safe trip.

1. Trailer Tires

Check the tires for dry rot, splitting and inflation. If you question their ability to make the trip, replace them. Make sure that you can remove and replace the lug nuts. It’s hard to change a tire if you can’t remove it.

Tire Wear Chart
source: www.boatus.com

2. Trailer Bearings

If you haven’t packed the wheel bearings recently, or don’t know when they were last serviced, this would be a good time to do that. A locked wheel bearing is like a blown tire, maintaining control of a trailer is difficult at speed in these occurrences.

3. Trailer Brakes

Not all trailers have brakes, but if they do, they also need to be inspected prior to taking off. Trailer brake systems can be either mechanical or hydraulic. No matter which type your trailer has, they need to be inspected for proper function. Because it’s great to finally get rolling, but you want to be able to stop safely, too.

Rusty Trailer Brakes
source: www.thehulltruth.com

4. Light it Up

Connect your trailer to the vehicle that you will use to tow it and make sure that your brake lights, turn signals, running lights and other trailer parts are working properly. Improper lighting is unsafe and can be costly if it is not working properly.

5. Your Tow Vehicle

What you tow with is as important as what you are towing. Make sure that your tow vehicle has the towing capacity to pull the trailer. The answer to this question is found in your vehicles owner’s manual your local trailer parts dealer or from your cars manufacturer. Check the trailer hitch where it is attached under the vehicle to make sure that it is secure. Check the ball on the hitch and make sure that it is the proper size trailer part for both the tow vehicle and the hitch. The wiring harness on the tow vehicle needs to be checked to make sure it works properly.

6. Trailer Hitch

Likewise, the trailer hitch on the trailer needs to be inspected and any loose bolts need to be tightened, and if the parts are rusty, oil them so that they work freely. Again, check that the ball size on the tow vehicle matches that hitch size of the trailer.

7. Chain it down

Those rattling chains aren’t for looks, they are there to catch the trailer if the ball hitch fails and they should be sufficient in size to take the weight, in that event.

8. Load it up

Now that you have checked your trailer from hitch to tail light, it’s time to load it. Refer to the trailer manual for the trailer you are towing for suggested weight distribution or your load and hit the road.

Get Your Trailer Parts at ChampionTrailers.com and Save!

Start shopping now at ChampionTrailers.com!

Trailer Tires & Rims
Trailer Bearings
Trailer Brakes
Trailer Lights & Wiring
Trailer Hitches

5 Costly Mistakes People Make With Trailers and How To Avoid Them

Champion Trailers is always striving to decrease trailer related accidents and maintenance costs. Ignoring routine trailer maintenance can quickly turn minor complications into major and costly trailer problems. That is why we have put together 5 costly mistakes people make when trailering and how to prevent catastrophic failure from occurring.

1.) General Yearly Maintenance

Keeping an eye on the overall health of your trailer at the beginning and end of each trailering season can greatly reduce costs and problems.

a.) Starting from the front of the trailer make sure your safety chains are intact and not heavily rusted. Surface rust is not a major concern but if there is any visible deterioration of the metal it is time to replace the chain. Also, be sure to use the correct capacity chain for the weight you are carrying.

b.) When dealing with a boat trailer make certain to check the brackets holding your trailer bunks. Bunks & carpet hold water and can cause the tops of bunk brackets to rust heavily. If these brackets collapse they can cause major damage to the hull of your boat.

c.) Springs Spring Springs! It is crucial to make sure your trailer springs are in good working order. A broken trailer spring will surely put you on the side of the road and cause significant damage to your trailer. Once again surface rust is not a major concern. You want to watch for separation between the leafs of the springs and rust that is eating through the metal. Wire brushing and painting your springs can prolong their life significantly.

d.) Tire shake & Inflation. We will cover both of these categories in further detail late in the article. Trailer tires are meant to be inflated to the max PSI at all times. Tire shake occurs when one or more of your bearings has or is failing which we will discuss in detail.

e.) While we may not always think trailer lights are important I assure you the vehicles around you would love to see those LED’s light up nice and bright. Lights are a matter of traffic safety and help reduce accidents on the road. Therefore we always recommend checking your lights before every tow!

2.) Grease cures headaches and empty pockets!

The majority of trailer related problems stem from not routinely greasing your bearings! An un-greased hub will overheat, destroy spindles, break hubs, send your tire flying down the road, rip your fender clean off the trailer, and much more!

Hubs should be greased once a year or every 3000 miles, whichever comes first. In between routine maintenance you should always check to make sure your hubs are not leaking and check for tire shake. A leaking hub will throw grease on the back of the rim and is easy to spot when looking. Be sure to also check the color of your grease. Grease that is a brown or grey color has water mixed in it and is a sure sign of a leaking hub. This exerpt from our forum gives a great rundown on how to check your bearings. Champion Trailers Forum can be found at (http://www.championtrailers.com/champion-trailers-forum/) and is a great place to ask our technicians questions.

“To maintenance the trailer hubs remove the dust cap/buddy bearing by lightly tapping it off with a hammer. Tap around the base turn the hub and tap the other side until it falls off. Remove the cotter key/tab lock to pull the hub off of the spindle. Clean the spindle and check for any scratches or scrapes, use emery cloth to re-smooth any small scuffs. If the scratches are deep the axle will need to be replaced.

Pull the back seal using a flat head screwdriver and remove the back bearing, flip the hub over and remove the front bearing. Inspect and clean both trailer bearings. Check to make sure there are no rough spots on the races inside the hubs (shiny silver rings inside the hubs), if the races are damaged they will need to be replaced.

After everything is clean and inspected go ahead and hand pack the bearings with grease (roll the bearings in grease) and then fill the entire hub with grease. Re-install a new seal on the back of the hub and put the hub back on the spindle. Tighten your spindle nut as tight as you can with channel locks, spin the hub 10-15 times and then back off the nut a quarter turn to re-install your tab lock/cotter key.”

If you have a spindle lub spindle, that is a spindle with a grease fitting already build in you can grease the hub without removing it. Whenever there is a bearing buddy installed we recommend pulling the hub completely down to re-grease it. Bearing buddys grease from front to back and can build up pressure inside the hub causing the back seal to push out and leak.

3.) My tires looked good!

A flat can ruin your day. A flat on a trailer doing 70 mph down the highway can ruin your whole week. Flat tires on trailers tend to cause more damage to the trailer parts surrounding them than we would expect. Trailer rims and fenders usually take the brunt of the damage during a blowout. Basic inspection can save a lot of trouble and money when dealing with trailer tires.

a.) Tire Inflation – Trailer tires are meant to be inflated to the max PSI at all times. If it says 50PSI make sure you have 50PSI. Under-inflated tires will wear heavy on the inside and outside reducing your tire life by over half.

b.) Trailer tires are very susceptible to dry rot due to the amount of time they sit unused. Check for small fractures in the sidewall of your tire, if you have any at all it is time to replace your tire before it blows. To prevent dry rot during the off-season spray your tires with cold water occasionally or store your trailer out of direct sunlight.

c.) Do not assume that the tires underneath your trailer are the proper size for the amount of weight you are carrying. Always check to make sure your load capacity does not exceed your tire capacity.

4.) Does this trailer look too small?

Often times boats are sold with a trailer that does not meet the length or weight requirement of the boat. Always check the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) on a trailer before purchasing. A simple rule of thumb is to have 2,000 pounds extra to account for fuel and tackle. If you already have a trailer you can check the GVWR by the registration or bill of sale. If the trailer does not meet the weight requirements you can always raise the trailers capacity by either changing the springs or the axles. Length on the other hand is much more complicated, if a trailer is too short the boards and winch post will need to be adjusted accordingly to equally distribute the weight. Boat adjustments should be handled by a professional.

5.) Fresh water works wonders!

Washing your trailer with fresh water after use will greatly increase its lifespan. Parts such as disc brakes, drum brakes, hub drums, springs, and multiple others are often either black painted or have a thin galv coating that is easily scratched off. These parts will rust fairly quickly even in water that is slightly salty. Simply rinsing your trailer with a fresh water hose will protect these parts from salt and rust build up. Rusted parts account for the majority of the repairs we do here in-house. While you cannot stop the rust, you can definitely slow it down with your hose. Once surface rust begins it is recommended to spray with fresh water to remove salt, wire brush the rust off, and either paint or cold galv the parts to prolong their life. Ten minutes of your time can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and the staff here at Champion Trailers wishes you safe travel whether it be to a dirt track pulling your 4-wheelers behind you or pulling your boat to your favorite fishing spot! Remember, if you ever have any questions our professional staff can be reached at 1-800-229-6690 or www.championtrailers.com.