How to maintain the trailer axle? Trailer maintenance advice

Regular Checks & Maintenance

Check tyre pressures including spare and inflate if necessary to pressure shown on rating plate or side-wall of tyre. Examine tyres for damage i.e. cuts, porosity and tread wear, replace with equivalent size and type of tyre where necessary. This should be checked on a monthly basis.

Apply grease to tow ball and cup of coupling head after cleaning each item. Grease the moving parts of an un-braked coupling. Apply grease via the Grease nipples on a braked. This should be applied on a monthly basis.

Your trailer is fitted with Knott Avonride axle(s), which feature Waterproof bearings.

It is recommended that you carry out regular checks on the bearings i.e. check for excessive play (loose).

Have the brakes, including the hand brake, checked, adjusted and maintained via a competent Trailer Center. This should be checked on a monthly basis.

Check and tighten (if necessary) all wheel nuts and other fixing nuts and bolts. All fixing bolts are fitted with Nyloc nuts to prevent loosening from vibration.

Un-Braked Trailer Models

Un-braked models are fairly simple to deal with as they have few moving parts.

First, wheel bearings should be stripped out and checked for any signs of rust or pitting, if marked or rusting, they must be replaced completely, removing the shells from the hub can normally be done quite easily, using a metal drift and knocking out from the opposite side of hub.

Refit the new shells, using a socket from your socket set or a piece of a steel tube fractionally smaller in diameter than the shell, taking care to knock the shell into place squarely and ensuring that it is seated firmly against the shoulder of the housing.

The rear roller race with oil seal should then be well greased in between and over the rollers and fitted into position on the stub axle, place hub onto axle, grease and fit outer roller race, fit washer and castle nut.

Castle nut should be tightened, using light spanner pressure, then slacken off one or two castle-actions, until wheel runs freely with barely perceptible end float, remembering that slightly loose is better than too tight . Refit cotter pin. Repeat this procedure for other wheel, refitting and pumping grease in through nipple. If original bearings are o.k., use above procedure for refitting.

Whilst wheels are off, check tyres for splits, cuts or excessive wear, bearing in mind that regulations are the same for motor vehicles, 2mm. minimum tread over at least 2/3 of tread width, if found to be faulty replace with same type of tyre, do not mix radial and cross ply on same axle. Check tyre pressures.

Coupling should then be checked to see it operates correctly and is relatively tight on the ball, if wear has taken place, fit a new coupling or ball, whichever is worn. The coupling cup should be greased and all other parts lubricated.

All other moving parts on the trailer, such as winch and jockey wheel should be greased to ensure easy operation, using a suitable marine grease, such as "Aqua lube" available at most dealers, this can also be used to smear threads on bolts and U bolts etc, to ensure free operation should the trailer need to be adjusted later to suit a different boat.

Finally, check all nuts and bolts for tightness. Then pick up and safely block wheels clear of the ground to keep the weight off tyres and bearings throughout the winter. Check winch rope for signs of fraying, if found, replace the rope.

If the trailer has been immersed in salt water during the season, wash down with soapy water to remove salt deposits.

Braked Trailer Models

Bearing and tyre procedures remain the same as for un-braked models, also frame maintenance.

With regard to the braking system, once you have the manual, jack up each wheel in turn and follow this procedure.

Remove grease cap, cotter pin and castle nut, slacken off brake adjustment to allow the brake drum to be drawn off, if tight tap the back with a rubber hammer or use a hub extractor tool, which can be hired from most auto accessory shops. When the brake drum is removed check that the brake linings are in good condition and thick enough to last the following season, if not replace.

Return springs should be in good condition, if stretched or rusted, these should be replaced.

Brakes should be rebuilt onto the back plate with new parts where necessary and the actuator lightly greased with "Aqua lube" or similar, never use oil on brake parts, this could run onto the linings, check with the manual to see that assembly is correct, then pull on cable or brake rod to see that the brakes expand.

Inspect bearings and oil seal for any corrosion or rusting and follow procedures as for un-braked or instructions in service manual. Refit bearings and hub as per manual instructions.

The coupling head should operate smoothly and lock firmly onto the ball, if not, replace.

All moving parts of the coupling should be greased or oiled as per the manual, taking care to grease shaft via the grease nipple, normally on top of the coupling body, make sure that the grease oozes out of shaft bearings underneath the coupling.

Too much grease cannot damage anything.

Readjusting brakes can be quite simple, provided the manual is followed to the letter, noting tolerance and clearances where indicated, all moving parts of the trailer should then be lubricated as per unbraked trailers. The underside of the coupling can be liberally sprayed with WD 40 or equivalent to protect the damper shaft etc.

Finally, check tyres, winch, jockey wheel etc, for free movement and lubrication check winch rope for signs of fraying or cut, replace with new.

Check all nuts and bolts on trailer, taking care not to over tighten wheel nuts, 40lb should be adequate.

Jack up the trailer to take the weight off the bearings and tyres throughout the winter.

Bearing in mind that most trailers are over £1000.00 to buy, these few hours of maintenance can save a lot of money in the long run, peace of mind can cost so little, breakdowns can be very expensive and ruin a holiday or a weekend's boating.

If in any doubt whatsoever regarding maintenance, take it to a dealer or garage for professional help.