3 things to be mindful of when towing a boat

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The following are previously unknown facts, unheard predictions, published stuff, and other outdoor goodies having to do with towing boats.

Every boater who tows his or her boat from home to lake and home again needs to have three things in mind at all times.

Actually, three is just a start. First is a serviceable spare tire for the trailer. Trailer tires typically go flat after tire shops close, during the night, and miles from the civilized world and a cell tower.

Along with a spare, one with air in it hopefully, is the need for a small jack and a wrench strong enough to break loose the nuts holding the spare in place.

Hint: Spring is the right time to check tires for unusual wear, check lug nuts for snug down, check spare for condition and ability to remove it from its rusty bracket, and all tires for air pressure.

Second, is the satisfying knowledge that the bearings and seals on the trailer wheel hubs have been serviced recently. A wheel that’s screeches, clicks or leaks grease is soon to fail.

Hint: Don’t assume that all is good since last summer’s towing was trouble free. Pull the wheels and do the dirty job. Seals are cheap and new bearings are relatively inexpensive. If you aren’t sure how to repack bearings and set seals in place have your local tire shop or your marine dealer do the job. You will be glad you did.

Third is the discipline to tow at a reasonable speed. Trailer tires are typically smaller than the tires on a tow vehicle and that means they will rotate at higher speeds. Most tire failures are due to high temperature, overload and impact abuse from highway pot holes, expansion joints, etc.

Hint: Never start out before checking the spare. Why? Because they just seem to hang out somewhere on the trailer waiting their turn. Too often, when called to service a spare tire is just a flat as the one that needs replaced.

Hint: It’s a very smart idea to prepare and carry a small emergency kit that should include the following items; flash light, spare trailer light bulbs, a few feet of insulated wire, screw driver, pliers, duct tape, electrical tape, tire gauge, two or three bungee cords, and a full, small grease gun.

Prediction

If one tows often, he or she will experience an occasional tire or other trailer failure. It’s not “if” but “when.” It just happens.

Be ready to fix anything from a broken spring to a blown fuse in the truck.

Hint: Find the fuse block now, not when you need it.

Facts

Trailer tires that are filled to the maximum air pressure printed on every tire will fail less often that than tire that are run with less air pressure.

Observation

Anglers and pleasure boaters who invest in road side assistance insurance plans are smarter, cleaner and more relaxed than those who don’t.

The frame of most boat trailers is typically closer to the ground than that of a truck or other four-wheel drive tow vehicle.

The importance of this fact is that the driver who straddles a road kill is often left with a stinky mess on his or her trailer and boat.

Most of us can attest to this fact.

Pillows and other light weight items should be stowed or somehow fastened down if a boat is towed uncovered.

Yes, they will and do blow out of a boat. Once arriving at the lake, remember to remove the transom tie downs before launching.

This rule helps cut down on ramp embarrassment issues. And too, take a look at the bilge drain plug. Now you’re ready.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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