The Trailering GuysPublished: Summer 2013
Who You Calling "Wide Load"?
Q I'm considering a boat with a 10'6" beam. Can you provide me with info for obtaining the permits so that I may legally tow in Florida? How much will the permit or permits cost? Is this a one-off application, or does it have to be renewed yearly? The LOA is 31 feet, and the dry weight is 10,500 lbs.
Ted: The maximum dimensions of your towing configuration in Florida, without a permit, are 65 feet in length for both the vehicle and trailer, 8'6" wide, and 13'6" high. You can find information on the permit requirements and fees online at: www.fdotmaint.com/Permit. BoatUS members can also get assistance from Mercury Permits, plus a 30-percent discount at www.mercurypermits.net/boatus-members
I'm replacing the tires on my tandem-axle trailer. Is it a good idea to have the new tires balanced? The tire dealer says it's not necessary.
Ted: I've heard arguments for both sides. If you're going highway speeds, especially with larger tires, I would balance them. It doesn't cost much and I can't help but think that by having a smoother rotating tire and rim assembly, they will last longer. Bouncing up and down excessively has the potential to break down sidewalls and the general tire construction. Some will argue that the tires will dry rot before they wear out, but I'm just not buying it.
What's Jerking Me Around?
I've bought a new Glastron GXL 205 with dual-axle trailer and surge brakes but noticed a jerk when accelerating from a stop. I had similar experiences with my other boats but not to this degree. I know that if this jerk is in the receiver/hitch, there is a product to take up the slop in the hitch and/or hitch pin. Do you know where I can get it?
My other concern is that the slop could be in the surge brakes. If this is the case, is there a fix? My wife pictures the back end of the truck or the front of the boat being torn free in some cartoon-type scenario.
Ted: You can obtain a cushioned hitch pin through your local U-Haul dealer for around $20. You may want to get one regardless. If it is the brake actuator, and in your case it sounds like it may be, your first step should be to bleed the system. If you're unfamiliar with the trailer's history and maintenance, you may want to run through the entire system: Check the brakes for wear, check the brake lines and fittings for leaks, change and bleed the brake fluid, check the actuator for leaks around the master cylinder plunger, and replace the brake fluid reservoir cap.
Jack Of All Trades?
I have a 2003 Shoreland'r tandem-axle trailer. What is the best way to jack up a trailer to remove a tire or replace a bearing? Is a car jack safe to use? Or should I use a different kind of jack?
Ted: The first thing to consider is the weight of the loaded trailer and the capacity of the jack. Next, you will have to see if you have the clearance under your axle to insert the jack. Many folks carry a small floor jack that is rated for the job. Place the jack under the axle and as close to the edge as possible. Keep in mind most axles are hollow and may rust from the inside out, causing weakening. If the pad of your jack isn't very large, place a block of wood underneath the axle to spread the load across the jack pad. Avoid using your trailer's frame as a jack point. You might bend/twist the frame. With a tandem-axle trailer, you could carry a small ramp that you could drive up onto with the good tire, giving you the clearance necessary to change your flat.
Stop Spinning Your Wheels
My tires spin when I try to pull the boat out of the water. The ramp has no grooves in it and I was wondering if you have any advice to make this easier?
Dustin: Try to be conscious when distributing the weight inside the boat before you pull out of the water. Any weight in the front of the boat can help. Also, when you put your vehicle in gear, make sure you are using the lowest gear offered. If the vehicle is automatic, use first gear, and if it's manual you may actually try second gear to get more traction to your rear axle. When all else fails, get the family and all your friends in the back of the pick-up or in the front of the boat.
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Got A Question?
Ask The Trailering Guys
Ted Sensenbrenner, of the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, has been pulling, fixing, and studying boat trailers for years. Dustin Hoover, of Legendary Trailer Repairs (www.legendarytrailers.com), is a service provider for BoatUS TRAILER ASSIST in the Annapolis, Maryland, area. Between them, they're familiar with almost everything that can go wrong with a boat trailer and are ready to answer your questions. Email Trailering@BoatUS.com; or go to www.BoatUS.com/Ask