Saturday 5 May 2012

Trailer Refurbishment

With almost all the exterior of the yacht finished or nearing completion, its time to concentrate on the trailer and ensure its safe and fit for the road. Since purchasing Pelagic last year, I have done nothing to the trailer other than take the mudguards off to aid access to the keel area.

mudguards removed - showing the condition of the mild steel chassis

The front & rear axles

The front axle is braked via steel rods linked forward to the tow bar. Pressure on the tow bar (during breaking of the towing vehicle) forces the connecting rod to exert pressure on both the front drum brakes. 

The first thing to do was to jack up each side of the chassis in turn and remove the wheels and hubs for a good inspection. The wheels were easy enough to get off and the hubs where also easy to remove; which required taking out the split pin locking the castellated nut which holds the hub against the taper roller bearing and hub in place. The rear wheel bearings were fine with just a tiny amount of wear, well greased and requiring nothing other than putting back in place and re-mounting the hub with a little new grease. Note before I removed the wheel from the hub (with the wheel off the ground), I tried to move the wheel in and out to test for play in the bearings - there was none. The same could not be said for the front wheel, which was literally hanging off... I was lucky indeed that nothing happened  during the tow back from Kent. Inspection of the front (braked wheel) revealed no split pin and a loose castellated nut - which accounted for the excessive play. However, once again the taper roller bearings were fine if not a little worn. The break shoes and operating mechanism were very rusty and just about seized. I took everything off the hub, derusted, greased and put everything back. The shoes are worn so these will have to be replaced before an distance towing is undertaken. Two of the studs also need replacing as these were missing, replaced with standard bolts...

The wheels and tyres
3 of the 4 wheels had flat tyres; from slow punctures or poor sealing at the rim. I inspected each tyre of age, perishing, tread depth, uneven wear etc. If you don't already know tyres have their date of manufacture stamped on. This is useful, because trailer tyres, like caravan tyres, as a result of little use can look to be OK showing little wear and good tread depth. However they could be several years old, UV weakened and possibly quite dangerous. Guidance seems to indicate modern tyres are good for about 5 years max. Normally, car tyres wear out before five years so tyre ageing is not really a problem generally.

The trailer tyres had an age range between 2-4 years so I'm planning to start changing them next year. The slow punctures were a result of rusty rims preventing a good seal (the tyres were tubeless) so I needed to get them off to clean-up the rims before re-mounting the tyres. I took the tyres one at a time to the local tyre & exhaust centre where they gladly removed the tyres for me. I could not leave them to clean the rims because the tyre fitters are not allowed to have grinding/descaling machines because of H&S concerns. I found this a bit of a joke given the equipment they work with - but not surprised. So I descaled the rims using my 4" grinder with a descaling wheel fitted. This cleaned off the rust very quickly and some care was needed to ensure I didn't take any of the metal away, resulting in an uneven rim.

Rim descaled


After cleaning the rust of the tyres rim, I took them back to the tyre centre. The guy told me that this rim should have a inner-tube, so I asked for one to be fitted. Total cost for taking off the tyre, fitting a tube and re-assembly £13.56 which was the cost of the tube on its own. So for less than £60.00 I have 4 x good wheels, tyres (with tubes) - four less things to worry about...

I decided to paint the rims on the outside white and to fit wheel trims. This would enhance the look of the trailer and give it a newer-look.

Wheels & trims fitted -Tyres have new inner tubes.


Given I cannot lift the boat off the trailer in my garden I decided to derust what I could and paint it with a good quality marine primer until such time the boat is on the water and I can spend more time to properly finish-off the refurbishment. I fitted a new winch and cleaned-up the tow bar and break mechanism. The trailer is now ready to go, bringing the launch date for Pelagic one step closer.