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Author Topic:   Trailer Springs - DIY project?
whaleryo posted 07-03-2001 09:31 PM ET (US)   Profile for whaleryo   Send Email to whaleryo  
When I hit pothole with my trailer, I hear a scraping sound followed by a chirp. I'm thinking that this is a leaf-spring problem. If it is, how difficult is it to replace them and how would I determine which parts to buy?
whale123 posted 07-03-2001 10:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for whale123  Send Email to whale123     
only problem would be is getting the bolts off after you have the trailer jacked..most the time these bolts a corrided..but replace with stainless if all possible
triblet posted 07-04-2001 04:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
A buddy of mine who isn't the most mechanical
guy in the world (but not completely
incompetant either) replaced them on his
ski boat.

But I'm not sure it's a leaf spring problem.
Sounds a bit like the tire rubbing.


GAwhale posted 07-04-2001 09:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for GAwhale  Send Email to GAwhale     
I replaced leaf springs on a utility trailer years ago. There was/is this really great shop called Salem Leaf and Truck Springs in Salem, Massachusetts. They replace leaf springs on big stuff like dumptrucks. I brought in an old spring and they custom made me one. I had to make a second trip there to buy new u-shaped bolts.

It was not a bad job. Of course this trailer had never been backed into water. I flipped the trailer completely upside down to make it easier to work on. I painted the new springs with yellow bare metal primer, so they looked really cool when I was done.

I agree with Chuck for starters. Check if one of the fenders has been bent down. Maybe someone stepped on it?

whaleryo posted 07-09-2001 05:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaleryo  Send Email to whaleryo     
Triblet - Thanks. I checked the wheel well and there is a bolt that is too long. There is only about 1/4" clearance at rest. When the trailer hits a pothole, the bolt comes in contact with the tire, hence the chirp. I'm going to replace the bolts (and maybe reverse them so that the nut is on the outside.
simonmeridew posted 07-09-2001 07:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
I broke a leaf spring(we're talking the main spring, the longest part, not the smaller leaves which sit on top of the main one, these had already broken) on my 1988 Bronco (Vermont winters and hunting cammp roads are hard on steel) The shackle bolts were rusted together as if joined at birth. Ditto the U-bolts. I priced springs at NAPA, then called a Spring shop in Barre. Their price, installed, was the same or a little bit less than if I had bought them myself and installed them. There's NO way to loosen the shackle nuts and bolts on a vehicle, and I assume a trailer that's been backed into the sea a few times will rust tight too. Sometimes the nuts are so rusty they don't even look like a nut anymore, just a piece of brown metal with loose flakes covering it. They started by cutting them off with a torch--whole job took them 15 minutes, start to finish out the door.
Bottom line: can it be done by the average homeowner shade tree mechanic, absolutely. But realistically you need torches and/or air impact wrenches or you'll be all afternoon doing it. Before you decide to do it yourself, put a socket on a nut and see if you can turn it.
PS: I read the latest post about the bolt end rubbing the tire. Besure to check the tire carefully for gouges or torn plys or belts. Flats on a trailer are no fun.
lhg posted 07-09-2001 07:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Trailer springs are one of those preventive maintenance items that are worth their weight in gold. If you've ever had one fail on you, (I have) you'll know what I mean. You can't tell from inspection when a leaf is about let go.

If your trailer is 10-15 years old, or older, and the springs are original, REPLACE THEM ALL. They are not expensive. You'll feel much better whan you take the boat out on the highway, and your risk of failure will be gone. And be sure you use the standard 9/16" grade 8 shackle bolts when you do it. For some crazy reason, most boat trailers are made with standard 1/2" plated bolts. The extra play causes these to wear abnormally.

I'm so paranoid about failures in this area, that I also had the axles replaced on my 25 Outrage trailer, for $100 each. These can also fail, and the rust is often on the inside, and can't be seen. Best insurance policy you can buy, casue if you have a roadside failure, you'll really pay!

Finally, I've seen a lot of used Whalers on really neglected trailers. If you buy a used Whaler with one of these, SELL IT and get a new one exactly as you want it. There is huge market for used trailers for some reason, and you'll make out just fine. Most are not worth the cost of repairing, fixing up, or modifying to properly carry your Whaler. I saw a guy this weekend with a real nicely kept Montauk, sitting on a painted EZ Loader roller cradle trailer. Didn't have the heart to tell him what a piece of junk it was, and about probably damage to his hull. Dealer sold it with the Whaler when new, so when he bought it used, he kept the trailer.

FISHNFF posted 07-09-2001 11:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for FISHNFF  Send Email to FISHNFF     
Anyone replacing trailer springs, of purchasing a new trailer, should consider Monoleaf springs. As the name implies, it is a single spring manufactured to be thicker in the center, tapering off thinner to the ends. This allows for the progressive flexing. The best thing is that these are galvanized. Cold as opposed to hot dipped to protect the tempering. Where conventional springs will creak and rust together, the Monoleaf will spring freely. I have had mine on a Galvanized Pacific for 3 years with greasable bolts and have no complaints.
Tom W Clark posted 07-10-2001 01:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
whaleryo, if it's a leaf spring problem then it should be obvious that it's broken. Just look at it.

As to replacing a spring (and you should always replace both of them, they're inexpensive) it is not that difficult but do get the boat off the trailer first.

It is true that the nuts and bolts are almost always rusted solid. I rarely even try to budge them with a socket wrench any more. But you do not need a torch to get them off. I use a nut splitter which does not cost much and should be in everybody's wrench set. Or I simply whip out my Milwaukee Sawzall (reciprocating saw) and cut them off in ten or twenty seconds.

When reassembling do use the appropriate bolts. Not everybody understands the difference between standard grade, grade 5 and grade 8. Stainless will perform well too; it is typically about the same strength/hardness as grade 5.

flwhaler posted 07-12-2001 08:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for flwhaler  Send Email to flwhaler     
Has anyone sprayed thier leaf springs or u-bolts or anything trailer related with bedliner spray? Am I on to something? Or is it a bad idea? (saltwater use)


whaleryo posted 07-16-2001 04:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaleryo  Send Email to whaleryo     

I replaced the bolts and reversed them. There was some improvement, but the problem remains. I removed the fender and took a look at the underside and found definate evidence that the tire is rubbing against it.

The trailer is a 1995 according to the registration. The springs don't appear to be broken - could they be worn out? Does anyone know what the typical clearance is between the fender and tire?

tbyrne posted 07-16-2001 05:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for tbyrne    
Whatever you do, don't get under a trailer that still has a boat on it. In the last two years here in Connecticut, I have heard of two tragic accidents where Whaler owners were killed when their boats somehow fell on the while they were working underneath. If you don't have the proper expertise and equipment, leave it to a professional.

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