Boat Trailers Deserve Attention
Inside the Outdoors, August 6, 2010

Many of you who have boats can identify with what I’m going to talk about today. Some will glimpse over the forthcoming paragraphs thinking they know everything there is to know, while others will read them just to see how accurate my story may be.

   For those who don’t know so, I used to have a boat, so I have a little knowledge about what I have to say. When I sold it, part of me went with it. But with that said, I am glad I had a topnotch mechanic look over everything before I put it up for sale.

   Today, however, I will not talk about the boat. Instead, I will discuss the trailer, something many boat owners overlook, I presume. I did, maybe because I wasn’t a mechanic, and I thought everything was in perfect running condition when I bought it. I never thought of looking into the matter. After all, I was not a mechanic; I was an angler who was told by a few friends that if I bought a boat and trailer, they would haul me around. So, I did just that, and it was through the mercy of God that I didn’t cause any major accidents because of what he discovered.

   No, it didn’t have anything to do with the tires, as may be one’s assumption. More so, the parts in question were the connectors of the axle to the wheels.

   Now, it’s obvious, I am by no means a mechanic, as mentioned, or even come close to knowing the different parts of what makes up the wheel and the axle. But when the mechanic told me my connections could have triggered an accident ready to happen, I wondered how many other boat owners ever think about that type of thing.

   Because a trailer is something you can’t leave at a garage, for it does take up tremendous amount of space, arrange with a garage mechanic to look at the boat wheels by first calling him and telling him what you have in mind. Then proceed from there. If you are gifted, to make the repairs yourself, do so, but make sure it meets state specifications, because makeshift jobs such as mine could lead to disaster.

   Second, make sure the lighting works concerning the taillights and the break lights.

   Third, see to it that the boat and trailer are companions, that is they go well together. That may be another way of looking at it, but I think you get the idea.

   Fourth, always ask yourself, will the vehicle be able to be backed into the water to launch the boat? Fifth, is the apparatus attached to the vehicle pulling the boat secured appropriately? Sixth, is the device that connects the trailer to the vehicle pulling the trailer the proper size? And seventh, do the tires have treads or are there signs of dry rotting. If you are going to buy a boat and move it to another location, it must be able to be transported according to code, so to speak, for things to go smoothly.

   Two things I hate to hear - “I’ll make it work,” “It doesn’t matter,” I’ll rig something up.” If it costs a little bit more, get the problem fixed before your next outing. Then when you go out fishing, drifting a worm along the shores of your favorite lake, you will know that when you take the craft in and put it on your trailer, all will go well on the way home. That, my friends, is a most comforting feeling.

   When my mechanic looked up at me, he asked where I bought the boat. Didn’t I inspect these wheels? Hey, I was a fisherman wanting to buy a boat to get out into deeper water. How little did I know that one really should have a mechanic look at the wheels of a trailer before the purchase of a boat and trailer, just as one does when he buys a used car?

   Every since I sold my boat, I still wish I had it. On the other hand, no one would take me out in it, so it sat there in my back yard. Now that I don’t have it, I can only wish that I had another one. However, I know the same thing would happen. But now I know what to look for concerning the safety of a trailer, and I hope you boat owners will be attentive to any foreseeable problems that might be on the horizon, and get them fixed. It’s definitely worth the trouble, and the peace of mind that goes with it is priceless.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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