Shelter From The Storm

By Bob Adriance with Pat Piper

Here are some smart ways to keep winter away from your trailer.

If your trailer is going to spend the off-season outside exposed to the elements, protect your investment and spend some time to eliminate potential problems.

  • Avoid parking the trailer under a tree, thinking it will be "protected." Winter storms (and heavy snow) can break tree limbs and if the trailer is beneath, well, you may be cleaning up more than just broken branches. If the trailer will be in the driveway, face the hitch away from the street so it becomes difficult for potential thieves to pull up and take it away. Lock the trailer hitch. BoatUS Marine Insurance records indicate a boat on a trailer is far more likely to be stolen than a boat in a slip.
  • Trailer tires deteriorate in sunlight and can have their lives extended by taking them off the trailer and storing them in the garage (put blocks under the trailer frame and cover the hubs and brakes with a plastic trash bag to keep them dry). Removing the tires also deters thieves. If the tires must remain on the trailer on the lawn, position the trailer so each tire rests on a piece of plywood. This is done to avoid dry rot, which can occur when tires remain on grass in the same place over a long period of time. Cover each tire with a heavy plastic garbage bag to prevent exposure to the sun. Block each tire to keep the trailer from moving. Cover the hubs with thick plastic, such as the garbage bag referred to earlier, and secure it tightly. If the tires remain on the trailer during the winter, move the trailer from time to time so as to avoid "flat spotting," which is the result of a tire sitting in the same position over a long period of time.
  • Put a block of wood under the trailer jack to raise the bow and allow rainwater and melting snow to drain.
  • The plug: Rainwater and melting snow can't run out if the drain plug is attached. Some boat owners take the plug off the boat completely but many have told stories about not being able to find it when the season is about to begin. Other boat owners will attach it to the steering wheel, the throttle, or best of all, the ignition key, which should also be brought inside. It's your call; just be sure to remove it when winterizing.
  • Spray a lubricant such as WD-40 on the metal trailer roller assembly and, if possible, spin the rollers a few times. Do the same for winch gears and electrical connections to keep moisture away. If you have a galvanized-steel trailer, sand off any scratches, prime, and then repaint to prevent future rust problems. Don't skimp on winterizing your boat. Your owner's manual will provide specific steps that need to be taken prior to the first cold spell. If you're unsure about doing this, go to Winter/ or take the boat to the dealer where a professional can winterize it. 
This article was published in the November 2010 issue of Trailering Magazine.


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