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Trailer Maintenance: Small Steps to Avoid Major Problems

David McElwain

hauling a trailer

As gamekeepers, a very important asset that most people use is a trailer, and with most all things in life, they require maintenance and upkeep. With that being said, it is usually easy to maintain with a few important steps. Over the years, I have been involved with and seen several trailer issues cause problems in a number of precarious positions. There’s one situation where I wish I had known more about bearings on trailers. I was with a friend in Venice, Louisiana, coming home from a long day of fishing when a tire came off, catapulted itself 50 yards into the bay, and taunted us until the wind drifted it closer to shore. We ended up having to leave the boat and trailer on the shoulder of the road, and drive to the nearest town for parts, which inevitably they did not have. After that debacle, I learned it was much easier to maintain rather than repair a trailer. 

Some of the most common problems are caused by little issues that turn into much, much larger issues. A quick preliminary walk around the trailer can tell you several things, such as tire leaks, tread, and other issues. This is a simple check but very important. Other than checking external issues like the lights and fenders, you should dive a little deeper to notice things like the wheel bearings. It’s very important to check the condition of your bearings and keep them well-greased. To do this, you will need to use a jack to lift the trailer, and check to see if the tire will “wobble” on the axle. Another way to check the condition of the bearings is to take the tire off, remove the cotter pin, unscrew the castle nut, pull off the bearing cap, and check the inside to see if everything is in working order. If you want to ensure the longevity of the bearings and other working parts, a great item to invest in would be a bearing buddy kit. This keeps dirt and water out of your bearings and helps keep grease inside the hub.

Trailers are often overlooked when it comes to maintenance, but these tools help us transport valuable cargo from one place to another. Whether you’re hauling something down the road or across the country, no one wants to take the time to repair a problem that could have easily been avoided. It is easy to put off maintenance on things we use occasionally or think it can wait until a more convenient time, but with a few simple minutes, it can prevent us from having problems at the wrong time. 

For more on caring for your equipment, read “Winterizing Your Equipment: Performance For Years To Come.” “Winterizing” your implements and equipment is simple but very important. One of our main tools is our tractor. Make sure to inspect its hydraulic fluid, fuel levels and electrical systems. Now is the time to switch over to lightweight oil for winter.

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