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Rebuilding Your Boat Trailer – Skids, Rollers And Accessories

You’ve upgraded your boat trailer’s bodywork and you’ve replaced the winch, wiring and coupling, so now it’s time for the finer details – the bunks, skids or rollers that hold your boat, and some accessories you can add for the finishing touch.

Bunks, skids or rollers?

Since you’re rebuilding the boat trailer, you have the choice of whether to use bunks, skids or rollers to hold your boat in place during transit and facilitate its loading and unloading. Some trailers have a combination.

Bunks and/or skids work well if you usually float the boat off and onto the trailer while it’s submerged at a boat ramp. Skids are easy to maintain, spread the weight of the boat evenly and are generally less expensive than rollers. They don’t work so well when the tide’s low, so your boating day will always be ruled by that.

To make launch and retrieval easier, bunks can be coated with a surface such as Teflon, or covered using carpet (though this may hold grit and become sticky when wet), plastic, HDPE (high-density polyethylene) or PVC.

Rollers are a popular choice for when you’re launching in unknown or shallow water, such as on the beach or at a particularly shallow or steep ramp. They’re better suited to fiberglass hulls as they offer less abrasive contact than skids. On the other hand, maintenance of the rollers can be time-consuming.

Accessories

  • Self-centering keel rollers: When fitted onto the rear of the boat trailer, these will guide the boat into position and keep it aligned as it’s loading, making it easier to retrieve by yourself or in rough conditions.
  • Bumper covers: Whether you have skids or rollers, these covers can be clipped over the frame as extra protection for both boat and trailer.
  • Ratcheting hooks: Add a few hooks along the frame for latching the boat down on the trailer with rope or straps so it stays steady during transit.
  • Wheel clamp: Often required for marine insurance, a clamp will keep the trailer safe by acting as a visual deterrent and preventing movement or access to the wheels.
  • Bearing protectors: Extend the life of your trailer’s wheel bearings by sealing them from water and dirt with bearing protectors.
  • Spare tyre: The must-have accessory. Make sure it’s mounted securely and kept in top condition.
  • Safety chains: Trailers under 2.5 tonnes ATM must have at least one safety chain attached to the drawbar as near as practicable to the coupling. If it’s between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes, it will need two chains – one attached to either side of the drawbar.

Ready for the road

Now your boat trailer is roadworthy again, it’s time to get it weighed, registered and on the road. Make sure you have a registration label holder fitted securely on the left-hand side of the trailer and that there’s somewhere to attach the number plate.

That’s the final step in our series on rebuilding your old boat trailer. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind when organising insurance.

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