Well, I managed to get the boat trailer down to the local trailer centre a mile away. A tank with tracks on a tarmac road makes less noise! Those bearings rumble and are clearly shot.
Chris and Jason, two experienced trailer service engineers came out with clipboards and tape measures. They crawled underneath, walked around several times, did a lot of sucking in air between teeth and gave each other furtive looks.
Having taught for over thirty five years I have become adept at reading body language. This was not going well.
"You sure you want to look at refurbishing?" queried Jason.
"Yup" I replied, already well aware of the futility of my position.
Chris merely shook his head in disbelief.
The upshot. It can be refurbished but the trailer needs a complete new axle assembly. Two keel rollers are semi collapsed and need immediate replacing. The forward keel roller is shot completely and a new adjustable one will be required, along with a new winch. The Jockey wheel is fine. The tyres are good - the wheel hub/rims are shot. Easiest option - two new wheel/tyre set. The wobble rollers all need servicing and resetting.
Throw in labour charges as well and it will be close to £900.
Split in decision - One goes for refurbishment. The other thinks its best to just invest in a new trailer. They will price it all up more accurately over the weekend and get back to me early next week.
Overall judgement...can I drive it five miles to the local marina to do a launch and then bring it back - safely in its current state?
Their conclusion - "We've seen worse but the support suspension arms on the axles are bad; but driving sensibly and taking it easy, then yes, it can be done but not often".
So, I risked it, drove sensibly and managed to get to the marina and back without mishap. The boss accompanied me and we went for a short boat trip when the wind light, the sun bright and the temperatures 30C+. But this is the subject of the next post......for I am digressing.
In the meantime, back to trailers, I have now been busy researching new trailers.
Which proved to be far more time consuming than I was expecting.
Four companies got back to me with suggested trailers after I sent them details about Arwen. Four just didnt bother to reply or answer my messages left on answer phones.
I sent initial emails expressing interest, giving a web link to an article about the navigator design (see end of this post), some photos of the current trailer set up I had and the problems it is causing and then a list of tentative thoughts and requirements for a new trailer that would better fit Arwen's hull configuration. I included her dimensions, my driveway dimensions and restrictions and the measurements of my current trailer.
Two got back to me the same day with phone calls. Four didnt reply at all to email or phone message. Two replied by email.
Initially I was drawn to a tilt chassis trailer with a good spec. However through six or seven emails it began to emerge that the two trailers suggested to me had problems, from my viewpoint. The first was just too light - taking a weight of only 380 kg. It also wouldn't accommodate the bowsprit being left on without a rear overhang of at least 1200mm. It didn't matter how I did the measurements or configuration of the trailer, Arwen would not be going onto that trailer, despite the dealers reassurances it would. His second trailer was too big for the driveway and was a roller or bunk configuration and very heavy.
The issue that dealers seemed to be struggling with, and that was despite having photos, videos etc to see, was that Arwen's existing trailer is 5.30m long and she fits on it perfectly with an overhang on the back under 600mm. The driveway space available is 5.90m length and 2.0m width. Walls and steps are the restrictions here. Arwen's overall length from end of bowsprit to end of outboard bracket is 5.89m. these figures they just couldn't compute for some reason.
One dealer could adapt one of his trailers but insisted wobbly rollers were best not keel rollers ad 8" wheels would be better.
Two dealers had read all the email, examined the photos and both agreed they could design something bespoke that would better fit Arwen's planking configuration. They both discussed options and the pros and cons of each - support rubber chocks or carpeted bunks; wobble rollers or extra keel rollers; fixed or adjustable height rollers. They discussed lighting board attachments as well.
Only one however, immediately homed in on the issues to overcome though.
- setting the boat up on keel rollers but having enough height so that the hull sides clear the mudguards
- having sufficient end clearance between bowsprit and coupling end so that the car rear window doesn't get broken
- looking carefully at side support so that rollers, chocks or bunks don't cross overlapped plank seams and cause stress points so that dings and flaking paint occurs.
Interestingly, he was the only dealer who also said "Look why don't you come up one morning and let me show you the components and lets look at some plans and configurations".
He was also the one who sent price lists, spec sheets and options details by return email.
Regarding prices - the highest one I was quoted was £2020, admittedly for a tilt chassis and ALKO axle. High spec stuff.
Other prices were £1695, £1495 and £1071 (and then optional extras but with everything on e.g. better winch, wobbly rollers, spare wheel and storage bracket £1300).
You can guess who quoted the lowest price...the man who invited me to visit!
Here are three examples of his trailers we can look at next week and decide which is best for Arwen.
He is suggesting a T frame arrangement with a 500kg payload rating.
Four keel rollers rather than three. The foremost keel roller being height adjustable.
Subsequent discussions will focus on black rubber chocks, wobble rollers or carpeted bunks as additional supports and the pros and cons of each.
Another issue is the coupling arrangement and whether this will cause grounding issues as I transfer the trailer from the road onto the steep driveway. My hunch is the bottom tubing and possibly the jockey wheel will ground.
If you have a view as to which would be best - chocks, bunks or wobbly rollers, please let me know your thinking and rationale. Your thoughts would be most appreciated. Drop me a few lines in the comment box at the end of this blog post.
Today we went for a walk, coffee and read of the papers in Salcombe. My wife's suggestion not mine.
As we were walking through the town, she said "Isn't there a boat storage yard further along by the car park by the launch ramp?"
"Yes there is darling" I replied, my ears perking up.
"Show me what you are thinking about regarding a new trailer then"
Whoa there - who are you - what have you done with the old missus?
It was a fruitful trip because fortune shined. The first trailer we came across was the smaller version of the one I am seeing next week. And we got to talk to the owner for ten minutes, who, as it happens, was fulsome in his praise of the company.
This is the smaller version of one of the trailers being proposed to me. However, it would have three or four keel rollers and then the option of wobble rollers, bunks or side support chocks. There would only be four sets of wobble rollers, not the six shown here. Initial thinking is the rear most ones would be closer to the trailer centre line and so directly under the flat bottom of Arwen and her skeg would be resting on the keel roller.
He sent me along to the storage yard to see the Salcombe Yawl owners, several of whom were rigging their boats. Their boats all sat on launch trollies, made, by you have guessed it, the same company I am seeing next week.
Although they are launch trollies, it was interesting to see how they had solved keel roller issues and side supports. Lots of photos, quick discussions and I am armed with some interesting material for discussion next week.
I have reservations about this coupling and jockey wheel arrangement but I can't articulate why - other than I foresee a potential 'grounding' issue on the driveway as it raises up from the pavement.
A launch trolley which supports the weight of a 380 kg Salcombe yawl.
Would something like the above but as flat black tubular rollers be a better support arrangement to stop lateral movement of Arwen on the new trailer?
And, would that rocker keel roller system be a better arrangement as the rear most keel roller set up?
Most importantly, they were all fulsome in their praise of this company as well. "Go talk with Tony" was a common refrain!
Armed with my measurements of Arwen and her trailer and a list of questions and issues to discuss, I am looking forward to this road trip next week.
You know how you put things somewhere safe and then can't remember where?
I have done that with Arwen's plans. I had one sheet out, but where I put the rest I cannot for the life of me remember. So I had to start out again with a vague memory from studying them two months ago for something else. Then I remeasured her on her trailer - three hours of my life I won't get back. Joel Bergen kindly offered me to send photos of Ellie's plans but by that time I had done most of the drawings. Just wish I had had the intelligence to ask him in the first place (thanks again Joel by the way). In the meantime, I know sometime next week, I will remember where I've put them!
The most important measurements? The driveway ones, because if I get a trailer which is too big and doesn't fit on.....'I'm a dead man'...... She phrased it far stronger than that and so I paraphrase but you get the gist!
So, refurbish or new trailer?
Lesson learned? Trailer maintenance is as important as boat work!