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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 sets 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 the 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 simply 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 park them as fast as possible, lock up the truck, and go with them now soaking wet with Saltwater...

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 even 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. And then quickly, spraying off what got wet in the hopes, that it would slow down the process of killing your trailer lights, axles, etc. 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) just 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 them and hopefully, you will not get broken down on your trip to or worse (from) the ramp when simply exhausted and now all sun-baked on your trip home.

1. Check your tire pressure and have them balanced. Yes, those tires also spin (the same laws of Physics apply) and can set up vibration that is also pulling against those wheel bearings that are tiny in surface area yet, carrying 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. You might not even have half that much weight on each tire.

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 on the market and some, just 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 a recommendation from 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 are maybe 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 be they either mounted on or of the takeoff type. Either way, UV can break them down over time and they will look much better at the same time! 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 and 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 I wrote up and expanded upon years ago... And that is the use of a sprinkler head attachment on your garden hose that you de 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 simply 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 run for several minutes on each overlapping coverage section. 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

And just 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 Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you just cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:

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

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Tight Lines, and God Bless!


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