If you're new to boating as a pastime, you'll be learning as you go along. You may know how to operate the boat so you can spend many a long hour afloat, and you may have a trailer to help you travel from your home. Yet did you know that you have to book your trailer in for a service after a certain amount of time and that if you don't, you could be taking a significant risk? Why is this so crucial?
A trailer is quite a simple vehicle in and of itself and has relatively few moving parts. Your trailer may be equipped with brakes, and you will need to look at the pads or shoes from time to time, but there's something even more important to consider.
On each end of the axle are the wheel hubs. The road wheel will fit on top of these hubs, and an internal bearing will form the interface between the static axle and the moving rim. These bearings are very similar in nature to the parts fitted to your towing vehicle, but in this case, they will put up with a lot more abuse in normal operation.
This is because you will typically reverse your trailer into the water whenever you offload or load your vessel. In many cases, this is the only way to do it, but it means that your bearings may come into direct contact with salt water.
When you arrive at your destination, you will almost always reverse the trailer into the water right away. The entire axle will be hot due to friction from the trip, and it will suddenly cool down when it interacts with the cold water. As this happens, a certain amount of water will be sucked into the bearing due to the sudden contraction and may get into the grease cavity. Grease and water do not mix very well, and, over time, this can present a problem.
From time to time, you will want to disassemble each hub, take the bearing covers and caps off, and have a look at the condition inside. Clean out and repack the grease, see if the bearing itself is in good condition and make sure that the interior surfaces are okay. You should get into the habit of scheduling this service based on the number of times that you submerge your trailer in the water.
Don't underestimate the importance of this work, as in the worst-case scenario, a bearing could seize up, and this would cause the wheel to depart your trailer. Obviously, this could have serious repercussions if you were towing at speed at the time.
You will want to outsource this work to a trained professional with the right tools. It can be very difficult to remove all the bearing parts, and if you don't do it properly, you may cause more damage than you avoid.