Sometimes the best thing to do when your boat trailer breaks is to fix it yourself. You can also buy boat trailer parts to upgrade, or perhaps you want to change your brake or hitch system all of these things can be done yourself if you buy the parts separately. This is generally much cheaper then upgrading at a dealership and you can put exactly the specifications you want on your trailer. The other thing that you can do is build your own boat trailer out of a kit or one of your own design. Then you just order your parts like brakes and rollers from a trailer part store and off you go.
The boat trailer is made up of several different parts. Listed below are most boat trailers parts you could need:
>Fender and frame
>Couplers & Chains
>Bunks & guides
>Lights & wiring
>Hubs and bearings
>Tires & Wheels
>Brakes – Hydraulic, electric, air
Tie downs are probably the last thing you will purchase for your boat trailer, but they are still very important parts. You have several options with tie downs: rings, hooks, and bolts will help with places to put the tie downs. Also, if you get ratcheting ties, you will be able to cinch the straps much easier than if you just get winch ones.
Fenders and frames: The frame is the body of the trailer. You can buy every part you’ll need to make your own trailer from mounting bracket to cross bars to u-bolts. Each piece is necessary. Your pattern will help you decide what pieces you will need. Typically with frame pieces you will have a choice between steel and galvanized steel. Galvanized steel will usually be more expensive. It is up to you which you want, but if you are taking your trailer is salt water often, you will probably want galvanized steel so you don’t have a trailer falling apart due to excessive rusting. If you don’t get galvanized steel, it is always nice to paint the trailer. Not only does it help you stand apart from other trailers, but it will keep your trailer from deteriorating faster. With fenders you have a choice between plastic (polyethylene) which comes in a few different colors, galvanized steel, and aluminum. There are several styles as well just like on trucks.
Towing equipment: This includes the tow package, hitch mounts, balls, and other accessories like lock hitches and weight distribution systems. The tow package is the portion that is installed in the towing vehicle. The package you install is determined first by the capacity of the vehicle and second by the size of the tow. Hitch locks are always a good idea when you are traveling around in areas you don’t know well, and weight distribution systems are a great safety measure.
Couplers & Chains: A necessary part of your trailer. The coupler is the part of the trailer that sits on top of the hitch ball which will allow the trailer to be pulled. There are A-frame, straight tongue, and fold-away straight couplers. The fold-away couplers are nice because when they are not in use, they can be folded down out of the way.
Leaf springs are necessary for the suspension of the trailer. For a great article on how to figure out what size leaf spring your need, visit http://www.easternmarine.com/em_store/leafsprings/.
Bunks & Guides help in launching and reloading the boat. These are only needed if you are building a bunker trailer. However, new trailers have been developed that are a mix of bunker and roller trailers. You may be interested in building one of these yourself. They are the best at both ease of use and maneuverability in launching the boat. Boat trailer bunks are not always sold carpeted, so it may be necessary to buy carpet separately. You may also want to buy walk ramps for your convenience.
Axles and Axle hardware are very important boat trailer parts. These are what the trailer rides on. The axle is one of the main things that determines the GVWC of the trailer. Other than the weight capacity of the axle you can choose between a straight and drop down axle. For really great information on how to select the right axle visit http://www.easternmarine.com/em_store/tech_info/axles_tech_info.html. Axle hardware is very important and should be checked on a regular basis to be sure it is not worn through. When they show signs of wear it is best to replace them as soon as possible. If choosing the right hardware is too overwhelming for you there are several axle kits they are available for sale and will include everything you need with full instructions.
Lights & wiring: Now we come to the fun part; wiring for lights and brakes! Here there are some basic needs, lights, wire, and trailer to vehicle wiring adapters to make all the lights work. You get to have some fun with lights because there are so many options to choose from and each will make a big difference on the final outcome of your trailer. There are also lighting kits that you can buy that will provide everything you need plus instructions.
Trailer jacks have wheels and are on a fixed mount they are also electric or manual. The other decisions you must make are dependent on your tow etc. For instance, you must get a jack that can handle the weight, and you can choose between a fresh and salt water jack. Weight capacity depends on tongue weight.
Hubs and bearings are for the wheel hubs. They will come an a full axle kit, so no need to get them separately.
Rollers are for trailers that for the most part do not have bunkers (unless you have found a design for both). There are wobble rollers, keel rollers, bow stop rollers and v’s, and straight rollers. If you are replacing a roller, be sure to know all the dimensions of the roller you’re replacing. Also, with replacement, it is wise to replace washers and hog rings.
Winches help the boat launch smoothly. There are both electric and manual winches. One great winch is the manual Fulton with an automatic brake. This is great for the beginner or the boater new to a roller trailer.
Tires & Wheels. The bigger the better. Don’t under do it on your wheels. They are safer as they get bigger (to a point of course).
Brakes – Hydraulic, electric, air are the three different types of brakes available to you on a boat trailer. Air brakes are great because it is a coupling braking system. When the brakes in the tow vehicle are applied air is transmitted to the service brake and both are stopped or slowed. Hydraulic brakes work in the coupler area of the trailer. As pressure is applied to the hitch in slowing, the trailer brakes are activated and the trailer slows. Electric brakes are linked to the brake system in the tow vehicle and are activated when the brakes in the tow vehicle are. Be careful of dunking with electric brakes as they will short if they are submerged in water too much.
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