2023.03.26 - Sort of Bad News and Good News

One of the myriad things that I am concerned about, especially when it comes to Naiad, is the state of the trailer. As Tina will tell you, the wheel bearings have been worrying me for several years now and with good reason.

The trailer is old enough that the wheel bearings themselves are not a modern captive bearing sealed unit but are two bearing races with loose ball bearings and if you take off the castellated nuts, the ball bearings fall out.

This in itself is not a problem. The issue here is that there is no adjustment left in the bearing and I cannot tighten up the nut anymore to take up the slack in the bearing caused by wear. This means that there is now play in the bearing and the wheel can wobble a little on the axle. Whilst a little play is necessary, if the bearing is too tight then it will not turn, and whilst the play at the moment is acceptable, the indication is that the bearing is past its end of life and should be replaced. However, it is so old that this is not possible and I cannot take it off as one part of the bearing race is welded to the axle.

I was mulling over the problem recently since Naiad will soon go back on the trailer and I noticed something that raised more and bigger alarm bells in my mind

This is what caught my attention. There is a darker ring on the inside of the tyres indicating that something is rubbing on the tyres as they rotate.

Both tyres show this wear and although it is not bad enough for me to worry about the integrity of the tyres themselves, it does indicate a bigger problem.

The only way that this rubbing could come about is if the tyre is touching the mudguard support bracket. On this side the gap between the tyre and the bracket is quite small, but it is not touching.

On this side that gap is a lot larger and this means that when Naiad is on the trailer both wheels are tipped inwards at the top enough for the tyre to make contact with the supports on both sides.

This should not happen and the fact that it has indicates that the rubber suspension is wearing out. This is not that surprising when you consider that the trailer is at least 25 years old, possibly more.

The other oddity about the trailer is that the unit mounts sideways whereas modern units mount at 90 degrees to this.

There isn't anything obviously wrong with the axle & suspension on either side, but they are wearing out of this there is no doubt.

Fortunately for me, the whole axle and suspension unit has not been welded to the trailer bed itself so when it comes time to replace it, it can be removed fairly easily.

However, I am very reluctant to transport Naiad the 80 miles down to her mooring until this issue is resolved. The last thing I want is for a wheel to come off during the trip and cause an accident or destroy the boat.

A quick search on the InterWeb showed that replacement trailer wheels and axles number in their hundreds of different types and I was able to buy a compatible set that should arrive later in the week including mudguards. I also bought a length of 50 mm square galvanised box section tube on which to mount the new wheels but I was unable to find the dimensions I needed to buy the eight square u-bolts to hold everything together, so i'll have to wait until the wheels arrive and I can measure them myself.

In the meantime, I can still put Naiad on the trailer so that I can work on the remaining jobs that require her to be the right way up and I'll just put her in the stropps and leave her hanging take the trailer out when I need to complete the modifications to the trailer.

I'm not going to remove the old set of wheels, instead I'm going to have two sets for my peace of mind. I suspect that with the load shared between the two sets of axles the tipping of the tyres inwards will be far less and if they still touch the mudguard supports, then I'll bend those a little so that they don't.

When the old axles finally need replacing I'll get a matching pair to the ones I've just bought and mount those. Having two axle sets will make manoeuvring the trailer a little more difficult by hand but this is a small price to pay for the safety of the boat and my peace of mind.

So, the bad news was the trailer needs to be fixed before I can take Naiad to her mooring but the good news is that it isn't going to be a hugely difficult job to accomplish nor will it take too long even though it was money that I didn't really want to spend right now.

Time for a cup of tea.