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  • Writer's pictureDave LeGear

Better protect your trailer from salt water effects.

Not all of us have what is designed as a "Dry Launch Trailer," which is one that,, in most cases and tides, you can roll the Skiff off without having to get the water much higher than the sidewall of the tires...

Dry launching a Skiff

Dry Lauching a Skiff

This type of trailer is set lower, uses a drop axle, and usually has more rollers mounted so one can push her off and then jump onboard. Ramlin and my personal favorite AmeraTrail (more on them later) design and build some awesome trailers with the dry launch intent in mind.

Open trailer bunk carpet

Trailer rollers

By simply not having to dunk the trailer in Saltwater, they last so much longer. And they are not setting out in the hot sun all day long with Saltwater residue eating them alive. Those are the ones in time that you see on the side of the highway missing a whole Tire and Rim combo or worse, with a broken frame!

Now comes the flip side of that coin... You still, in many cases, must dunk them deeper into the water when you get back and recover the Skiff. This, or you have a Larger Skiff or Bay Boat where dry launching is not possible... And you want to get on the water quickly (I get it) and not have to drive around and wash the trailer all back off again, if that ramp even has such? All the while, the Boat is tied up back at the ramp/dock, in some cases slowing down other launching traffic or, just as bad, out of direct sight with many thousands of dollars of gear and tackle onboard! So, we parked them as fast as possible, locked the truck, and went with them, now soaking wet with salt water all day long...

I have tried many ways over the years to help prevent or negate the effects of saltwater from eating on my trailers. Everything from coating the entire trailer components with waxes and paint sealants. And that process is not always easy to accomplish either with a Boat setting on top of it! From installing flushing systems on the trailers to filling plastic weed killer spray cans with a mixture of fresh water and various commercial or home-brewed salt-removing chemicals. Those like one would use to flush the Outboards after running. Then, quickly spray off what got wet in the hopes that it would slow down the process of killing your trailer lights, axles, etc.

Now granted, these mentioned above will help some (had my share of failures even employing them), and again, not everyone can buy and use a Dry Launch Trailer. This or as in some cases as I found out the hard way... Some trailers were so poorly designed that I had to dunk the truck up to the driver's seat (not really, but not far from it) to get the Skiff off of it! As such, it all got dunked up to the hitch... What a pain and mess that became over time to address such $$$

So, what can we do to combat such problems and keep our trailers in good shape or at least last longer before major work or replacement is needed? Here are a few things I have found to help extend their life and appearance. Hopefully, you will not get broken down on your trip to or worse (from) the ramp when exhausted and now all sun-baked on your trip home.

1. Check your tire pressure and have it balanced. Yes, those tires also spin (the same laws of physics apply) and can set up a vibration that is also pulling against those wheel bearings that are tiny in surface area yet carry the entire weight of the BMT on them! Oh, and be mindful of the Tire Pressure max PSI recommendations... Those readings are for X amount of weight / Tire Pressure (cold) that one single tire is designed to carry.

2. Spray on some electrical contact protection on the connection and grounding points. Even sealed LED trailer lights will not work if they are not getting any current. Several good brands are on the market, and some seem to work better and stay on longer. I have personally become a fan of Corrosion X HD, which has received some great reviews and was recommended by a colleague in the marine market space. You can also use it on the various fasteners on your trailer at the same time. These include the bolts, nuts, lock-washers (which you may be missing a few of since they were never installed), and, naturally, the lug nuts/stud threads.

3. Make sure that the trailer bunk carpet does not cover the entire surface area of the bottom of the wood. Space was not left open because someone was being cheap with the carpet. It is intended so they can dry out after getting wet.

Trailer bunk carpet

4. I apply some protection on the various straps used to hold the boat onto the trailer, whether they are mounted on or of the takeoff type. Either way, UV can break them down over time, and they will look much better! I have found that "Adam's Silica Infused VRT Tire & Trim Dressing" works well for such, and I made that little discovery while dressing the tires on the boat trailer one day. Naturally, other things can be done to really "Detail" the trailer and make it Pop, but I will save that for another article for those Boat OCD types like myself!

5. Lastly, we have all heard we need to rinse off our trailers after use after dunking in Saltwater, and I agree! However, even with the use of a pressure washer from above (again, you just got back home and tired, I understand), do you want to dig that equipment out and hook it all up? Try this method that was shown to me and that I wrote up and expanded upon years ago. It is the use of a sprinkler head attachment on your garden hose slid under your trailer to really wash everything down, including the hull!

Now, some use the spinning star type, as I like to call it, but I found the coverage is not as targeted nor covers it as well over and over (adjusting the water pressure as needed) as this type pictured below, which you might already have at home, that can get it all rinsed off from Bow to Stern. This is as you slide it down the trailer and let it run for several minutes on each overlapping coverage section. As a matter of fact, start that process and then go inside and take a quick shower to cool off yourself; that helps!

Garden Hose Sprinkler

I also discovered a newer version of this type of sprinkler that (might) even work better due to the design of the base and the control options it gives, and that is this one.

Garden Hose Sprinkler

Click on any of the product pictures to have them delivered to your door and try them for your needs.

So, I hope these little tips help you get back and forth to the ramp with fewer failures and stress. Nothing worse (been there, done that) than breaking down on the side of a busy highway in 90-plus-degree heat while helping keep both your trailer and boat hull in better appearance and value at the same time!

In the meantime,

We invite you to take in a few other Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:

Our main podcast page works great for your mobile device since it will stream right on your phone/tablet. It can be found by clicking Here

Our new Flats Nation YouTube Channel can be found by clicking here and sharing it with family and friends if you find it entertaining and educational! We have some great guests in the works and planning stages on a wide range of topics and product coverage soon.

Also, The "Flats Nation" Merch and Swag collection, if you like our content, has some new works, from T-shirts to our newer Technical wear, which can be found Here.

Tight Lines, and God Bless!

Dave and the Team

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