Trailer Axles… Uhhhggg
Hello all of you fellow boaters. Recently I joined the bent trailer axle club. Luckily I caught it before it was a problem for me on the road, but just barely. This past fall, I towed my boat up to Destin for some water time with a bunch of friends. Before I left I checked all of the main things on the trailer. Brakes, bearings, tires, bunks, couplers, etc. All looked fine. I made it to Destin and back no problem with the exception of the back left tire on the trailer. It had a bald spot on the inside half.
I’m not sure how much farther the tire would have made it before it blew, but I can’t imagine much more than 50 miles. I had a spare tire with me along with a floor jack, lug wrench, spare bearings and grease, so I wouldn’t have been stranded if the tire did let go. As I was trying to figure out why the tire had a bald spot on it, it dawned on me. I have had the trailer for 13 years and had not replaced the axles or springs. I’m not sure if I bumped something with that tire or if something bumped into my trailer or if the axle was just sagging from 13 years of supporting the weight of the boat. No matter how it happened, I had to fix it.
As I was adding up all of the costs of replacing the axles I realized that this procurement was going to need the approval of the Admiral, aka. wife. I also added a set of new Kodiak stainless steel brakes to the procurement list so that I would have a high ball offer to her in order to make sure I could get the new axles with a lot less fuss. I mustered up the courage to bring up the subject and dove head first into it. After my sales pitch to her, she just said, “Okay.” I sat there bewildered for a second and then tried to play it cool. Well, a couple of days later I removed the axles from my trailer and took them to American Discount Marine to have the new axles made. The guys there are always super helpful. They had all of the axle mounting hardware and springs onsite and only took three days to build the new axles. I was well on my way after the visit with them.
When I first started this project I wanted to go with torsion axles, but I didn’t want to lose any overall ride height. If I went with torsions I would have lost two inches of height on my already a little low riding trailer, so I went with spring axles. After I installed all of the new hardware, including new springs I was happy to see that I gained about an inch and a half of altitude on the trailer, with the boat on it. Now, I know I could have used spacers and what not to increase the height with torsions, but I got to thinking, I have had the old axles 13 years when they started screaming for replacement. The rule of thumb that I have seen for torsion axles is a ten year life span. I chose the cheaper option of the two because to me it made sense.
Anyways, after another trip to Destin and back, the axles are working great and I couldn’t be happier. My new mission… getting the Admiral’s approval on a bigger boat.
Wish me luck, and as always, stay safe on the water.