Why you should rebuild the trailer before launching your "completed, ready to test" boat project...
(Reevesville, SC, USA)
After years of reading and looking, I bought my first boat in 1986, an early 70's Cobia Centaur runabout, inboard outboard with sraight 6 chevy motor.
After about six months of clean up and fix up, I thought the boat was ready to test.
I had worked on the winch, replaced the wiring and lights, the bunks.
But what I didn't know...
With the help of neighbor/good friend and with my 4 year old son along, we launched at a public landing in N Charleston.
When we returned from a short cruise on the river, the tide was out.
Unaware that the ramp dropped off, I backed my trailer (an old Murray dual axle tilt trailer with an odd configuration, single long springs upside down, connected to the axles) down the ramp.
We tried to retrieve the boat, but could not winch it onto the trailer, even with the trailer tilting, the winch did not have enough mechanical advantage.
I backed the trailer a bit further down the ramp and the rear wheels dropped off the ramp.
With the trailer deeper in the water, we were able to load the boat.
But when I tried to pull up the ramp, no go.
My little '82 Dodge Caravan 4 cylinder couldn't get the rear wheels up onto the ramp.
I didn't know that that odd undercarriage was the real reason, not lack of power.
What to do??
To our rescue came a stranger who was parked up in the landing, people watching.
In a pickup with huge tires, 4 wheel drive, a hitch on the front and the back, he pulled down the ramp and hooked up to my trailer.
He was inebriated, "No problem," he assured me.
I should have had second thoughts.
I should have launched the boat, lifted the trailer up onto the ramp, then reloaded after the tide came in...
Should have, would have, could have...
With a roar of the engine, he put the truck in reverse to back up the ramp.
The trailer went up the tramp, the wheels and axles stayed behind!
The adventure got worse...
I left the boat at the landing overnight; thankfully, no one stole it.
The next day, I removed the undercarriage from the trailer, but could not repair it as stores were closed (Sunday).
With the intention of mooring the boat at the public marina overnight, I drove downriver to Charleston.
In route, the torque coupling spun.
On an inboard/outboard, that means that the boat does not go any further.
I had to be towed into the marina.
Monday morning, as I was in a marine store buying a hose for the bilge pump and looking for springs, my wife called (this was pre-cell phone days), told me that the marina had called, was told that "the boat was sinking."
When I arrived, I found the boat awash.
Another twelve months, engine & wiring replaced, trailer rebuilt, she was good to go.
Even though my ignorance led to a few other break downs, we enjoyed that boat for 12 years...
Moral of the story, when you work on a boat project, rebuild the trailer.
No matter how good it looks, unless it is new, at least tear it down, inspect, rebuild if necessary.
Especially springs, hubs, axles, winch cable, rollers, bunks.
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