Under every good boat is a good boat trailer. But reversing your trailer into water – especially saltwater – to launch your boat opens up a whole raft of issues of reliability and maintenance. We look at the lighting and rear vision requirements for your boat trailer.
Waterproof LED lighting
It’s common for new boat trailers to feature waterproof LED indicators, brake and reversing lights in addition to sidelights. On top of the reliability and lower power usage of LED lighting, modern LED lights are often fully submersible. While the issue of corrosion isn’t completely eliminated, such lighting significantly reduces the level of maintenance required following the launch and recovery of your boat.
Reflectors support electric lighting by passively indicating the orientation of the boat trailer. As with lighting, all forward-facing reflectors must be white, all rear-facing reflectors must be red and side reflectors must be amber. In Australia, forward-facing and side-facing boat trailer reflectors are not permitted to be triangular in shape.
Boat trailer wiring is highly complex. It’s one of the most important lighting and rear vision requirements, given the nature of submerging electrical wiring and components in water. With multiple circuits piggy-backing off those on your tow vehicle, the reliability of your boat trailer’s wiring is paramount and is often a point of failure.
Wiring junctions should be rinsed of saltwater after each launch and treated with a water dispersant. You should conduct periodical checks of the wiring insulation. For safety’s sake, this is one area of maintenance that you should never overlook.
Despite it having some corrosion resistance, copper wiring that is exposed to air and repeatedly submerged in water will still corrode over time. Tin-plated or tinned copper wiring is sometimes used as an extra measure against corrosion. Tin has superior corrosion resistance against oxidisation. As an added benefit, tin also improves on copper’s excellent electrical conductive properties.
An alternative to mounting extra lighting on the boat trailer is to use a light board. A light board is a length of metal or plastic with electrical lighting mounted to it. Light boards are particularly useful when replacing the electrical lighting of an older boat trailer, eliminating the need to fault-check the old existing circuit.
Extendable rear-view mirrors
In addition to being seen, it’s important to see well when you’re towing your pride and joy. Whether you’re towing a small or large boat, chances are the boat itself heavily or totally obscures your view of what is happening at the rear.
Extendable rear-view mirrors are a great alternative to bolt-on or stick-on towing mirrors. When extended, they can add up to 10cm of wider viewing over standard mirrors. Some extended models also offer electric mirror adjustment.
With lighting and rear vision requirements to consider, there’s a lot more going on with a boat trailer than the average person realises. Modern boat trailers are equipped with technology that makes owning them somewhat easier.