Boy have the last few days SUCKED!
If you own any kind of trailer( boat, atv, utility, etc... )take a minute now and then to inspect the axle, your tires, and the bearings. Don't assume they are ok. Double check and triple check any trailer you borrow or rent for signs of neglect and failed items. If you come up with any kind of problems with any of those areas DON'T TOW with it until fixed! I was VERY LUCKY Friday when I had a massive trailer failure. I could have hurt/killed myself or someone else or damaged my boat or the new Jeep. My trailer is beyond repair( reasonable financial investment )and was totalled.
I have taken really good care of my boat trailer over the years but the axle failed anyway. I planned on replacing it late this summer before waterfowl season arrived as it was getting rusty but an $1100 repair to the motor put it on hold as it "seemed" to be ok to make it another year. I knew better and should have replaced it but with money so tight I FOOLISHLY tried to get by. NEVER AGAIN!!.
I was out in the boat Friday and the engine alarm went off. I wasn't happy as I just spent all that money fixing it a week ago. So off to the marina to see what was up. It had a bad rectifier( part of charging system )that was actually replaced free under a recall so I was actually pretty happy as I drove home. The last 2 trips there for engine work were $1400 and $1100 so FREE is always good.
The drive home was uneventful until I was about 100 yds from home then BANG!
Thought I hit something so I slowed and looked back but everything was ok. Off I go again towards home. 1/2 way there a bigger BANG
and then WHAM!
WTH???? The vehicle almost stopped itself following the bang with a violent jerk( I was only going about 10 MPH anyway ). My stomach just dropped as I looked back and saw what I did.
My boat was sitting on it's side like this( photo is at marina after it was towed )...
I noticed the wheel was actually laying in the road as I got out and went back to see what happened. I figured I had a bearing failure and the wheel came off but to my horror it was much worse....
This is what happened( again, photos at the marina )...
The entire end of the axle( where spindle is welded on )literally tore off taking the entire spindle/hub/wheel & tire assembly with it. No way to put the wheel back on to get it out of the road or to fix it without an axle. My boat is HEAVY( 1200lbs +/- w/ motor and gear )so no way to even manually get it out of the way wiithout a lot of people. I dragged it on the one good wheel and the spring about 20 feet to move it over as best I could then called a flat bed.
Took the driver, myself, and the local Mensa Chapter( you know, well meaning neighbors with a collective IQ of 2 who like to drink beer and have NO clue what they are doing )a good hour+ using various jacks and dollies to get it loaded without doing any more damage to it or god forbid the boat. The driver was great and did not rush or pressure me. He worked really hard to do it right which I was very thankful for.
We finally got it to the marina where a guy waited for us so we knew where to drop it( closed at 5PM - we got there at 5:45 PM - really nice folks there ). At least unloading the trailer was easy and took less than 5 minutes. As it was coming off the flatbed I was able to see the side with the failure better as I had time to actually look without rushing like I was while loading it. As I walked by I noticed the trailer frame took a pretty good blow and obviously was toast.
The trailer had fenders on it with built in steps( front and rear of wheel )to help you into the boat when it was on the trailer. Under each step was a welded on support platform. When the axle failed, and the wheel came off, the weight of everything came crashing down. It caused the rear support to bend up( welds broke and trailer frame ripped open )causing a kink and kick to the frame. The rest of the damage could have been fixed with replacement parts but the frame damage is just too much. It's also right where the leaf spring mounts. The axle mounts to the springs so everything has to line up or it won't track right going down the road. Just not a mess I want to deal with.
So, the moral is even if you take care of your trailers you have to be vigilant with keeping an eye on the tires, the bearings, and even the axle( includes shackle bolts and leaf springs ). If you see them starting to fail don't put off fixing them. DO IT! I didn't and as a result I had to buy a new trailer today to the tune of $1200 instead of just $400 to replace the axle and springs!
Luckily they had a trailer in stock that will work. Very similar to what I had. A little less weight capacity but still plenty( 1500lbs vs 1700lbs )plus it comes with some modern improvements( new hub desing that is more waterproof, some fancy new waterproof tailights, and torsion suspension so no springs to rust and fail ). I should have the boat back around 2PM tomorrow. Everything is paid for so now I am just waiting for them to get the new trailer prepped, swap over some stuff from my old trailer that is still good( tongue jack, guide on bunks, spare tire mount, transom saver ), and then transfer the boat.
I am so LUCKY to have got out of this without injury to myself or others( or worse ), no damage to the new Jeep, and no damage to the boat or motor. Just the trailer. I live maybe 10 minutes from where I got off the highway. I was doing 60-65 MPH on the highway mere minutes before the wheel tore off. Had this happened out there, at those speeds, when the wheel came off and the trailer dropped, it would have dug in and probably rolled. Who knows what would have happened then? The what if's on this are just scary.
This was in the morning at the boat launch before heading to the marina. Imaging that trailer failing, with that boat and motor on it, while going down the highway at 60-65 MPH. Then imagine what it could do after coming off and getting thrown.
So check your trailers guys. As I said I was lucky. VERY LUCKY!