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Owning and maintaining a boat trailer: Questions and Answers


Trailer Types | Bearings | Brakes | Hitches | Lug Nuts | Maintenance | Parts | VIN Info

Trailer Types

How do I determine the correct capacity trailer for my boat?
You must start with the exact length of your boat measured horizontally from the bow eye to the drain plug. Figure out the beam of your boat. These dimensions will determine the length and width capacity of your trailer.
After you do this you will need the dry hull weight, weight of any outboard motor, fuel capacity, water capacity and batteries, T-top or hard top if applicable. You multiply fuel by 6.1 pounds per gallon and water by 8.3 pounds per gallon. You then must add all of these together and multiply the total number by 1.1 for a 10% gear (coolers, food, electronics, etc.) allowance. This number will establish the weight capacity of the trailer you need. Always go to the next heavier available model.

What is hot dipped galvanization?
Hot dipped galvanized parts are received as raw steel. The steel is then drilled, cut, bent or machined as needed. It is then sent to a galvanizing facility and is absorbed in a molten zinc solution. This coats the part inside and out. Hot dipping leaves a thick, durable coating.

What is the difference between hot dipped galvanized steel and aluminum finishes?
Both finishes provide exceptional corrosion protection in fresh and salt water. Aluminum trailers, on the other hand, provide a more lightweight trailer for a given load capacity.



Bearings

What type of grease for bearings does Venture recommend?
This is based on whether your trailer is assembled with bearing buddies, Sure-Lube, or Super Lube hub systems. Venture Trailers uses a Sure-Lube hub system with Castrol Pyroplex red grease. Castrol Pyroplex red grease is a high temperature EP, lithium complex grease that meets the highest performance standards of automotive (particularly Disc Brake Wheel Bearings) fleet. Formulated from selected base stock and containing unique oxidation inhibitors, this grease possesses outstanding thermal stability. Castrol Pyroplex red has excellent rust protection, mechanical stability and
compatibility with other greases.

Where can I purchase grease for my trailer bearings?
Most any marine, hardware, automotive, and surprisingly enough, convenience stores, provide an accordant grease available in tube form.

When is the best time to check and add grease?
The hub is almost always subject to water infiltration when at operating temperature (warm) and placed in ambient water while launching your boat. This will most likely happen while launching after an over-the-road tow. The ambient water will quickly cool the grease reservoir and cause the hot grease to reduce. Water infiltration by siphon will ensue. Add grease to displace water on all BUT bearing buddy equipped models. If towing long distance, monitor hub condition at each rest or gasoline stop. Add grease as necessary.

Do I need to add grease again at the end of the day when retrieving my boat?
Commonly no you do not need to. Quite frequently the trailer has sat at the ramp and cooled down in order to match ambient temperatures. A very small amount of water will infringe into the bearing cavity under these conditions. But, if you must store your trailer more than a few miles from the ramp, it is recommended for you to add grease again after retrieval.

What do I look for upon annual hub disassembly?
Once thoroughly cleaning all of the hub and bearing components, you should efficiently check each bearing cone and cup (race) for rust, bluing, or pitting. If you see any of these three things, you should replace them right away. You also need to clean and check each spindle for bluing, pitting, or heat induced cracking. You must remember to always change the inner seal and outer locking clip at each hub removal.

What size bearings are on my trailer?
1 1/16" x 1 3/8"- All 5 bolt hubs on trailers with brakes
1 1/4"x 1 3/4"- All 6 bolt hubs



BRAKES

Do I need brakes on my trailer?
Brakes are advised on all axles. But remember that laws are different with each state. Talk to your local DMV for further information.

Can I get brakes on any trailer?
Venture Trailers have brakes available for all of the models that surpass 3,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Brakes are also available for lighter models if requested.

What are surge brakes?
The majority of hydraulic trailer brakes operate on the surge principle. The coupler assembly is known as an actuator and it includes a master brake cylinder comparable to that in an automobile. When the brakes are utilized in the tow vehicle, the trailer "surges" against the tow ball, this forces fluid through the trailer hydraulic system.

Will my trailer be equipped with drum or disc brakes?
Venture Trailer models commonly come standard with disc brakes, excluding utility trailers, water vehicle models, and pontoon trailers, which are all supplied with drum brakes where they are suitable.

How do I bleed my brakes?
Bleeding trailer brakes is the same fundamental as bleeding brakes on a tow vehicle. You must first detach the trailer from the tow vehicle and block the trailer, making sure the master cylinder is full of fluid at all times. Open the bleeder screw that is furthest away from the actuator. Apply force to the actuator slide, hold it, and then tighten the bleeder screw. After this, release the actuator slide. You should repeat as necessary until all air is cleared. Continue to the next furthest bleeder screw and repeat until the entire trailer has been bled. Be sure to check the master cylinder fluid level frequently during the operation. Also, if a new actuator is installed, it should be bench bled, or pre-bled, before it is attached to the hydraulic line at the rear.

How do I adjust my drum brakes?
Since the brakes do not self adjust, there is a certain method to be used regularly. First, you must elevate the subject wheel and access the adjuster by removing the rubber plug at the 6 o'clock position on the rear of the backing plate. Next, with the wheel rotating in the forward direction of trailer travel, you must tighten the adjuster until the wheel stops and cannot be rotated by hand. Then release the adjuster tension until wheel spins one full revolution after a rotational spin force is applied by hand. Repeat the procedure for each wheel on the trailer equipped with brakes. It is critical to adjust the brakes on a regular basis.

How do I adjust my disc brakes?
Disc brakes adjust themselves and do not require manual adjustment.



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HITCHES

What is the correct height for my tow ball?
The tow ball on your vehicle should be 17" to 21" off of the ground to the centerline of the tow ball.

What is the difference between LED and incandescent lights?
LED, or "light-emitting diode," converts electric energy directly into light of a single color. LED's are described as using "cold" light generation technology, which means that most of the energy is delivered in the visible spectrum, so they don't waste energy in the form of non-light producing heat. To compare, most of the energy in an incandescent lamp comes from the non-visible portion of the spectrum, which is the reason that other types of lamps produce a significant amount of heat



LUG NUTS

How often should I check the lug nuts for tightness?
Lug Nuts on the wheel should be checked before and after every trip. It is also highly recommended to check at each stop.

What is the proper way to tighten my lug nuts?
It is extremely important to apply and maintain proper wheel mounting torque on your trailer axle. Torque is a measure of the amount of tightening applied to a fastener (nut or bolt) and is expressed as length x force. For example, a force of 90 pounds applied at the end of a wrench one foot long will yield 90 lbs.-ft. of torque. Torque wrenches are the best method to assure the proper amount of torque is being applied to a fastener.

Wheel nut or bolts must be applied and maintained at the proper torque levels to prevent loose wheels, broken studs, and possible dangerous separation of wheels from your axle. Failure to perform this check can result in a wheel parting from the trailer and a crash, leading to death or serious injury.

Be sure to always use the fasteners matched to the cone angle of your wheel (usually 60" or 90"). The proper procedure for attaching your wheels is:

Start all bolts or nuts by hand to prevent cross threading.
Tighten bolts or nuts in the following sequence

The tightening of the fasteners should be done in stages. Following the recommended sequence, tighten fasteners per wheel torque chart below.
Wheel nuts/bolts should be torque before first road use and after each wheel removal. Check and re-torque after the first 10 miles, 25 miles, and again at 50 miles. Check periodically thereafter.

MAINTENANCE

What can I do to assure that my boat trailer is properly maintained?
Venture Trailers advocates frequent maintenance during the boating season. Maintenance should be performed as follows:
1. Wiring, lights, coupler action, winch cable, safety cables, and lug nut torque need to be checked before each use.
2. Recommended lubricant, NLGI #2 EP lithium complex based high temperature wheel bearing grease, should be applied via the grease fitting on the hub bearing cover after each submersion in water of a warm hub, or monthly, whichever comes first. The rapid cooling effect of the water could promote water permeation past the wheel seals. Application of grease at this point is intended to displace any water drawn in upon cooling.
3. Drum brakes should be adjusted. With the wheel rotating in the forward direction of trailer travel, tighten the adjuster until the wheel stops and can not be rotated by hand. Then release the adjuster tension until friction shoe contact with the brake drum is barely audible. Repeat the procedure for each wheel on the trailer equipped with drum brakes. It is very important to adjust drum brakes "regularly". Given varying amounts and types of use it is almost impossible to define "regularly" by a mileage or elapsed time designation. Common sense and precaution are good rules of thumb in this instance.
4. All fasteners should be checked for proper tension. All roller assemblies and winches should be checked for free movement and lubricated as necessary.
5. Disc brakes require no adjustment.
Recommended annual maintenance is to include all of the above in addition to the following:
1. Annual maintenance should involve the disassembly, cleaning, inspection, and repacking of all wheel bearings with the recommended lubricant, NLGI #2 EP lithium complex based high temperature wheel bearing grease. It is recommended the inner seal and retaining hardware be replaced any time the hub assembly is removed from the trailer.
2. All moving parts within the brake drum and sliding points on the brake caliper should be inspected for wear and free movement, and lubricated as needed. Brake shoes or pads should be inspected to assure they are clean, dry, free of any contaminants, and not worn below their serviceable limit. Serviceable limit is commonly considered 3/32" from top of rivet to pad surface.
3. Brake fluid should be thoroughly bled annually and replaced with fresh DOT 3 from a previously unopened container.
4. All fasteners should be checked for proper tension. All roller assemblies and winches should be checked for free movement and lubricated as necessary. Bunk boards should be checked for internal integrity.
Frames and axles should also be examined for damage, fractures, and rust.

PARTS

Where can I purchase parts?
You can purchase parts from your dealer. Make sure you have your Model and VIN number available for your trailer.

Why is it important that I supply both my model and VIN number when requesting parts?
Model numbers may be the same, and trailer components may be sourced from different suppliers at different times. Tracing the VIN will generate an exact date the trailer was built. Having this information will help to accurately supply replacement parts.



VIN and CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN INFORMATION

Where can I find the VIN on my trailer?
The VIN is located on the left frame of the trailer just behind the tongue to frame junction.

Can I get a duplicate VIN sticker for my trailer?
Duplicate VIN stickers are available to an individual or dealer who can produce a Certificate of Title or other proof of legal ownership. Please contact us.

What is a Certificate of Origin?
A Certificate of Origin (C.O.) is similar to a Certificate of Title issued by your local DMV. A vehicle manufacturer issues a C.O. to the original purchasing dealer. The dealer endorses it to the new vehicle owner who then submits it to their local DMV upon vehicle registration. Sometimes the dealer will handle this transaction. The local DMV then issues a Certificate of Title or some other ownership document to the new vehicle purchaser.

How can I obtain a duplicate Certificate of Origin?
A duplicate Certificate of Origin (C.O.) can only be issued by the vehicle manufacturer to the original purchasing dealer. This is rare and usually occurs only if the C.O. is in some way accidentally defaced in the transaction process.

What do I do if I cannot find the VIN for my trailer and I need to get a VIN sticker and/or duplicate Certificate of Origin?
Unfortunately if you are unable to locate the VIN on the trailer or any paperwork you received with your trailer the manufacturer will not be able to identify exactly what VIN belongs on that trailer. In order to register that trailer most DMV's will issue a title as if it were a "homemade" or "custom-built" trailer. For more information please contact your local DMV.

Can I buy my trailer from the factory?
Venture trailers distributes and delivers exclusively through our dealer network. Visit the dealer locator at our website or e-mail city and Zip for a dealer referral.

How long will it take to receive my trailer once ordered?
There are many variables to this question. Type of trailer, time of year, and geographical location all influence delivery times. In general, trailers are built on an as-ordered basis and require 7 to 10 business days for shipment from the factory. Transit times can add five to seven additional days.

Is there any optional equipment available for my trailer?
Yes, many options. First, consider a spare tire and spare tire carrier. That is a universal option every trailer owner should consider.
Other options depend on trailer model but may include any number of the following: tongue jack (standard on models with brakes), brakes, brakes on the second or third axles, aluminum wheels or fenders, plastic bunk covers, keel rollers, side guides and a longer tongue.

I have a "bearing buddy" equipped hub. What is the correct way to add grease?
Bearing buddy-type grease caps are commonly clear plastic so the grease level is noticeable. They are designed to be used in a "captive lubricant" hub assembly. Bearing buddies cater to grease fitting in order to top off the lubricant. Grease should be added whenever the sight disc drops below the marked minimum fill line. However, the only way to cancel out contaminated grease is to remove the hub and implement a thorough cleaning, inspection, and repacking of the bearings. It is best to always replace the inner seals and outer retainer while doing this procedure.

I have a Sure-Lube hub. What is the correct way to add grease?
The Super-Lube system is non-pressurized. Lubricant can be added at any time without fear of over pressurizing the hub. The system is identified by a one-piece cap with an exposed grease fitting. The cap may be all metal, or plastic with a metal grease fitting. Add grease using a standard pistol grip style grease gun. Contaminated grease will be expelled out the front or outside bearing. Top off with five or six strokes of the grease gun lever.

What is the regularly scheduled maintenance interval for wheel bearings on a boat trailer?
Boat trailer wheel bearings should be regularly maintained as per the above recommendations based on the particular system in question. Also, at the end of each season, each hub on a trailer should be disassembled and examined for wear and contamination, regardless of trailer age.

Is it OK to use a weight-distributing hitch with my boat trailer?
We do not advocate the use of load distributing hitches on boat trailers. Part of the problem is the concern with brake interference. If improperly adjusted, brake performance could be degraded. The basic premise with a weight-distributing hitch is to transfer load between the frame of the tow vehicle and the towed unit. In effect, it can serve to lock the two frames together. The wishbone design of a boat trailer, in conjunction with the use of a load distributing hitch, places a disproportionate amount of stress on the tongue member of the boat trailer frame. The tongue, already the most highly stressed boat trailer frame member, is then required to perform above its design parameters.