Trailer Maintenance Time

If you have been reading our newsletter for any length of time you are a well aware that I often put together or provide information through third parties on the importance of boat trailer maintenance. It doesn’t matter if you are rolling down the street to the neighborhood ramp or trailering several hundred miles down to the Keys for a family vacation; keeping a trailer in good working order is critical to ensuring a safe trip to and from the water with your rig.

I try to practice what I preach and typically spend several hours every spring doing a thorough inspection of my boat trailer and complete regular maintenance at the same time such as cleaning electrical contacts, replacing suspect hardware, greasing lugs and repacking hubs. I hadn’t had the opportunity to complete my spring check just yet this year and took the family out a couple of weekends ago after church on a warm sunny afternoon. Considering I just replaced the axles about four years ago, replaced the springs two years ago and just re-packed the hubs last spring I really didn’t figure a trip to the landing without an inspection would be that big of a deal and sure enough no problem running a few miles round trip.

While on the boat a motor overheating issue popped up resulting in me having to run the boat to Hanckel Marine the following week for diagnosis and repair. Fortunately the motor issue was very simple and was diagnosed and repaired in very short order by Hanckel’s technicians; however, imagine my surprise when the service manager called to tell me my rear axle had snapped while on their yard. What? Remember I had just replaced the axles within the last four years, they still had the labels on them from when I bought them and this boat trailer gets washed thoroughly after every trip. There was no way! I asked them to email me some pictures which are attached here.

I had always known that the joint between the axel and spindle was a weak point for corrosion to attack considering the hot dip galvanized must be removed for the spindles to be welded in; however, a thick layer of spray galvanize had been applied after the spindles were installed. At the end of the day steel that is spray galvanized or hot dipped is just no match for corrosion and a little bit of time. (Check out the back side of the galvanized hubs as well.)

Had I completed my spring maintenance and pulled the hubs to repack I would’ve been able to see just how bad this rust was on the ends of the axles and could have removed and replaced them prior to the failure. I was extremely fortunate in the fact that this occurred on Hanckel’s yard and they went above and beyond allowing me to bring the trailer home and complete the repair myself before re-loading the boat back on. I replaced both axels and all four springs as well as a suspect cross member to get the trailer back in top condition. Many thanks to the great team at Hanckel for going above and beyond with great customer service. I will certainly be conducting more frequent inspections and will think twice before making even a short trip before completing my spring maintenance.

Tight lines..
Captain Tim Pickett