Time To Put the Toys AwayBy Pat Piper
Published: Summer 2013
Maintaining your trailer in the off-season is as important as doing so
when it's in use.
Park the trailer on concrete if possible. Parking on grass will result in moisture that can harm the trailer frame. If grass is your only option, park the trailer rig over plywood.
Pull The Plug
Place a block of wood under the trailer jack to raise the bow. This will help rainwater and melting snow drain out.
Spare The Tires
Removing the tires deters theft, but it also helps avoid flat spots on tires caused by sitting in one position for a long period of time while holding the weight of the boat.
If tires are removed, place jackstand(s) under the axle(s) as close to the wheels as possible. Do not place stands in the center of the axle because this could bend it.
If you can't remove the tires, cover them (there are trailer tire covers available at most marine centers). The sun's UV rays can harm tires over a long period of time.
To Wrap Or Not?
Shrinkwrapping will keep your boat dry, meaning less chance of mildew. You can buy DIY kits for smaller boats or have a boatyard do it for you. Like covers, it needs to be able to withstand heavy snow if your boat's outside. The downside is you won’t be able to work on your boat during the winter and it can be expensive. For tips on reusing shrinkwrap, www.BoatUS.com/Magazine/shrinkwrap
Be A Detective
Inspect the trailer frame for any beginnings of rust. If you see evidence, then wire-brush it off, clean the surface, and paint and spray a rust/corrosion inhibitor on the area. Spray this on roller brackets and leaf springs, too.
Wrap Up Well
Cover the boat. Or construct a frame using PVC pipe and cover that.
Pay A Visit
Just as important, inspect the boat and trailer as often as possible. If you’ve had heavy snow, ensure it has not built up, causing the cover to collapse.
If you want to park the trailer inside but it’s a tight fit in your garage, consider a swing tongue to shorten the trailer length. Remove the tires and set jackstands under the axle(s) close to the wheels.
Be A Bloodhound
Inspect the floor of the garage for grease or brake fluid. That’s a sign you have a problem.
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Keep Your Boat Safe In Storage
- Face the trailer tongue away from the street.
- Remove all electronic gear and, if possible, the outboard from the boat.
- Remove one or more of the tires and store them inside with the lug nuts. Support the trailer with jackstands.
- Remove the license plate from the trailer. A trailer without plates should attract the attention of police if your boat is stolen.
- Have photos of the trailer and etch your initials or address into the trailer frame for identification when police recover it.
Chances Of A Boat Being Stolen*
10 PER 1,000
2 PER 1,000
Cruisers (with cabins)
8 PER 1,000
3 PER 10,000
2.5 PER 10,000
*Based on a 10-year study of the BoatUS Marine Insurance claim files