Trailer Renovation – Rust to Shine

When purchasing SWEET PEA I was very aware that her trailer, built by Trailrite (update: Trailrite is no longer in business as of 2015), was needing renovation. All parts were heavily rusted. I did check to confirm that the frame was still sound.

I sling-launched SWEET PEA at Des Moines Marina (Des Moines, WA) a few days after her purchase (NOTE: this sling is no longer available.) With the boat on the water I focused on the needed trailer maintenance and repair.

First I removed the bunk boards. As expected the bolts holding the wood to the metal frame were rusted. Using a hack saw I cut off the nuts and removed the boards. The bunk carpet needed replacing. I ordered this from Trailersailer.com (update: they no longer sell trailer bunk carpet). Removing the old carpet I found both boards in good condition. One of the boards was original to the trailer, and still showing a ‘M17’ designation from the builder –

bunk board

I removed scale and rust using a scraper and wire brush. I had no expectation I would return the frame to a smooth ‘like new’ finish. My intention is only to remove all loose rust and most of the scale, and then repaint the trailer.

rusty
The affect of years of saltwater dunkings with little preventative maintenance.

My paint choice was Rust-Oleum. I used the ‘rusty metal primer’, and finished with a coat of ‘Satin Hunter Green’. To assist in aligning the boat onto the keel roller the the top of the rear cross-beams were painted with white/cream colored ‘almond protective enamel’ to assist in boat retrieval. This light color is easily seen in the dark Puget Sound waters and proved very helpful in aligning the boat onto the keel roller.

The bunk boards were covered with new carpet and re-attached to the trailer.

better looking
Looking good!

The taillights had been replaced a few years prior to my purchase of SWEET PEA. The wiring is in good condition, and the taillights LED type. After re-running the wires I tested the system … the lights didn’t work! Thinking things through I realized that I had just painted the trailer, and there was no longer a electrical ground connection. The lights ground through their hanger bolts. I sanded away the paint at the attachment points and re-hung the lights. Everything now worked!

I purchased two yellow and two red reflectors backed with super-sticky tape. Red rear bunk board frames facing aft, yellow are forward of the axle on the trailer frame.

The trailer rims and tires are only two years old and in like-new condition. The spare tire would not hold air and the rubber was cracked. My guess is this tire was original from 1983. The rusted covered rim looked questionable so I had it checked at the local tire store (Les Schwab. 758 Central Ave N, Kent, WA), and they stated it was poor looking, but still sound. Happy I didn’t need to buy a new rim I purchased and had mounted the new tire.

UPDATE:  after all this work I had thought all was well with the trailer … until October ’09.  See what happened! –> CLICK HERE <–


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