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April 2, 2009
Trailers and outdoorsmen are constantly linked. Whether towing a skiff to a lake, ATV to the woods, duck boat to a marsh, or a camper to deer camp, hauling trailers is as much a part of the outdoors as guns, tackle and dogs. The following trailer checklist is a quick guide to getting things in order before hitting the highway. Over even the short haul, these things can save time, trouble, money and insure a fun outdoor weekend. 1. A sturdy turnbuckle is a good idea for preventing trailer items from shifting. Connecting at a boat bow eye, or front end of ATV, hunting cart or other piece of equipment is good safety insurance.
2. Before traveling, be sure the trailer winch is tight and locked, and the strap is in good condition. Many outdoorsmen use a winch for many trailer items in addition to boats, such as ATVs, snowmobiles and other equipment.
3. Trailer bunks should be in good condition, with no dry-rotted wood, and adequate carpeting to prevent hull damage. Adjust bunks sung to a boat hull, making sure bolts and nuts are tight.
4. A motor locking lug should be engaged to prevent unnecessary torque against a boat transom during trailering. Put the motor in gear, too, to prevent the propeller from turning and damaging the prop seal.
5. Check that the trailer spare tire is secure, in good shape, and full of air.
6. Look over trailer tires, making sure each is in good condition and inflated to manufacturer specifications.
7. Be sure your lug wrench fits trailer tires, and all lugs are snug.
8. Grease trailer bearings with fresh lubricant, and place protective caps on bearings to help keep them clean from debris.
9. Trailer straps should be in good condition, fit well to boat or ATV, and be sure they're tight before traveling.
10. A good trailer jack is imperative for carefree traveling. One of the best axel types fits most outdoor trailers, and is a simple, lightweight "drive-up-and-on" style.
11. Tighten the tow vehicle hitch ball with adjustable wrenches.
12. "Draw-Tite" style hitches are very popular and work well. Be certain the cross-bolt is tight, and a locking style bolt insures against slippage.
13. Trailer light connectors should be clean and snug. A bit of light oil on metal leads inside can help conductivity.
14. Once a trailer is seated on a tow vehicle hitch ball, check that it's secure. A latch padlock adds safety during a trip.
15. Trailer chains should be in good condition and secured well to the hitch. Not too much slack should be allowed in chains, so crossing them to hitch rings is often wise.
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