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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Building A Sail Boat Trailer


Loading this boat for the first time met with disaster
Someone recently asked me if rebuilding a junkyard trailer to suit HideAway was a good idea. I can tell you that on the surface we saved more half the cost of a new trailer. The trailer we chose was for a much larger boat and in retrospect is considerably over built for its current use.

Three years down the road we have replaced two of the four tires and the other two are not safe to take on the highway. Incidentally the cost of a proper trailer tire for this load is over $1.00  in boat dollars.  The lug nuts on one of the wheels are so badly rusted they will have to be cut off at some point. 

The brake shoes on both wheels have rusted to the point of extinction.  Have a look at my video "Rusted Boat Trailer Shoes".  I've changed a lot of drum brake shoes in my time but nothing prepared me for this!  Stainless steel disc brakes are the most likely answer.  Be prepared to spend at least $1.50 boat dollars per wheel.

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The bolts that hold the entire suspension have been replaced after I discovered some of them were rusted half though. See my blog post "The HideAways Lose Their Nuts".  

During that project I couldn't help but notice other future projects such as:  How the springs have rusted, not to mention the axle and trailer cross members. The bunk support tubes are new but in just three years several have a thick coating of rust.  The heavy fenders are now covered with rust bubbles like a bad rash.  

I should mention here that all trailer parts are hot dipped galvanized metal.  I thoroughly wash all trailer components after each outing.  


Has This Nice Morgan Cruiser Met Its End? 

The bunk support bar just behind the forward wheel has punched a hole in the hull and penetrated the interior of the boat.




After building our trailer the next step was determining how high to make the bunks.  On our trailer the keel rests on a 2 x 12 and the bunks function is to keep the boat from falling over.  

I took many and careful measurements of three other Compac 23s on trailers at our sailing club resulting in three different sets of bunk heights whether measured from the top rails of the trailers or from the ground.  


No Method Produced Accurate Results  

Each trailer was constructed just a bid differently and the heights above the ground varied from tire size and inflation to the variances of  the parking lot surface.   


Bunk Support - Don't Make One Like This 


The 2 x 4 used as the bunk support is directly mounted on top of a 2" pipe.
I eventually came up with a measurement that I was confident in using. Then I semi-tightened the pivot points on each bunk leg so they would conform to the hull as the boat loaded and made sure the the mid bunk would follow the curve of the hull. I fully tightened the bolts controlling the vertical movement of the bunks and kept the wrenches close at hand.

HideAways trailer has 2 x 6 bunks 



HideAway's bunks are made from 2 x 6 pt wood with a pad bolted to the metal swivel on the bunk leg.  The bunk cannot slide off the support leg.

Stopping several times to inspect the general fit of the bunks and guide on rails, we pulled HideAway slowly up the bumpy ramp.   Just when I thought all was fine someone hollered with obvious fear in his voice.  I raced to the starboard side and found that bunk a good six inches down from the hull while the port side was perfect.  

Only HideAway's fat keel kept her from falling! 

  

The 2 x 4 mounted directly on the bracket with only two small screws slipped off the post and broke through the hull up into the cabin. 






So is building or rebuilding, as was our case, really a good value?  The best I can say is that we have a stronger, longer trailer than standard and that it fulfilled its purpose at the time.  

However, I believe the life span and cost of maintenance of the older trailer is significantly lower in the first case and higher in the other.  All in all, if I had $3,500 to spend on a new trailer at the time I would have done just that.     


HideAways junkyard trailer rebuild
To see close up views of HideAway's trailer construction click on the link below.