Rebuilding Your Boat Trailer – Doing The Prep Work

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Have you bought an old boat trailer in need of restoration and don’t know where to begin? Is your existing trailer starting to look a little worse for wear? This series provides a step-by-step guide to upgrading and restoring your boat trailer.

The first in the series runs through a plan of action for your boat trailer restoration. This includes determining what needs to be done, what tools you will require and what you might leave to the professionals.

If your boat is still on the trailer, you’ll need to find a way to ‘park’ it somewhere else – either move it onto a makeshift platform or launch it into the water for mooring.

Assess the extent of the repairs

Salt water is never kind to boat trailers, especially if they haven’t been rinsed thoroughly after each use. So don’t assume any part of the trailer has escaped damage; give it a thorough inspection to see what should be replaced and what can just be cleaned up and painted.

  • Rust: Even galvanised trailers will eventually show signs of weakness due to corrosion or minimal boat trailer maintenance. Chip at any spots you find with a screwdriver to see how deep it goes; this will determine whether you have to completely replace that section or just repair and repaint it.
  • Running gear: If you’re towing a heavy boat on a larger trailer, you might consider upgrading the existing suspension and braking systems, while you’re at it we suggest that you check the wheels, hubs and tyres to see if they need replacing.
  • Rollers, skids or bunks: Whichever you’re using, these need to be in top condition to prevent damage to the boat; if they’re cracked, worn or hardened, replace them.
  • Lights, winch, coupling, jockey wheel: Check if these are intact and working; if not, you have the choice to repair, replace or upgrade. Take extra care to thoroughly test every inch of the electrical wiring and the winch webbing.

What you’ll need

The parts for your boat trailer restoration can be sourced online or through your local dealer who is also likely to give some invaluable advice on the best suspension, rollers or skids. For safety and reliability, choose genuine replacements or reputable aftermarket components that comply with Australian design rules.

The tools you’ll need depend on the work to be done, but you could start with the basics:

  • Screwdrivers, hex (Allen) keys.
  • Mallet, tyre lever.
  • Socket or ratchet set.
  • Torque wrench, line wrench, pliers.
  • Clean up and safety gear (eye protection, fire extinguisher, jack, stands, oil-spill collector, gloves, rags).

Like some help with that?

Unless you’re a hotshot mechanic, you might want to give part of the boat trailer restoration work to the professionals, particularly any welding or electrical re-wiring.

In the next of our series on boat trailer restoration we look at rebuilding the trailer body and running gear.

Want to know more about what trailers are suitable for different types of boats?



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