Boat Trailer, What's the Best Boat Trailer, Boat Trailer Review

Best Boat Trailer? Boat Trailer Review

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What's the best boat trailer?

Asking what's the best boat trailer in today's market simply comes down to your wallet. With the soaring price of different metals, some boat trailer manufacturers are scaling back on quality to make ends meet, which means a lesser product for you.  You'll find this method of business in some of your lower end boat trailers so resist the urge of going cheap, as this is where you will quickly learn that not all boat trailers are created equally!  

If you're just looking for a small trailer to get by on, or your boat is simply a beater to get you on the water, then by all means look at the lower end boat trailers, as there's no sense in your trailer costing more than your boat.  For those with boats of value, whether sentimental or monetary,  I would highly suggest you do your homework on boat trailers before jumping in blindly.  Many boat trailers are pretty to look at when they are new, but what material lurks beneath that shiny new exterior can quickly turn ugly. 

So what's the best boat trailer?  Before I get into telliing you what boat trailer I feel is the best on the market, let's take a look at some valuable considerations that you need to be aware of before purchasing a boat trailer. 

BOAT TRAILER MATERIAL

Boat trailers come in a few basic design configurations that dictate durability and longevity. There are tubular box frames, which are the most solid design; aluminum I-beam trailers, which are lighter, yet have the best strength-per-weight ration, and C-channel trailers, which are the least expensive and designed for light boats. The first thing I look at is the material that the boat trailer is made of.  I have owned many boat trailers in my life, and in my earlier years the majority were galvanized. This is a steel trailer either electroplated or hot dipped in zinc.  Hot dipping produces a thicker matte coating that is unmistakably gray in color, while electroplating is a much thinner coating that often has a reflective coating and can look like stainless or aluminum.  Electroplating is the cheapest and last the least of the two.  No matter what you do, galvanized boat trailers will corrode, and many do within the first year or two. 

Personally, I do not like galvanized trailers because they can quickly look like the metal roof on your granddads 60 year old country barn.  Aluminum on the other hand has won my heart over as of many years ago. I have had three aluminum boat trailers over the last 15 years and my trailers see a lot of saltwater.  Each trailer has held up extremely well in every aspect.  My first aluminum boat trailer, though lasted and was strong until the day I sold her, she aged in the form of pitting and turning white from corrosion, partly due to my lack of maintenance.  Keep in mind that not all aluminum boat trailers are created equally either, so ensuring that your trailer is made from good grade aluminum will be on you to figure out.  My current aluminum trailer has been with me for six years and was purchased new. Again, I really don't put a lot of maintenance effort into my trailers, but the Rolls Axle I have as shown in the picture above is almost as good as the day I bought her.  I have very little if any pitting and no white corrosion anywhere after six long years of heavy saltwater use and just a simple light spray of freshwater after use.  More on the Rolls later.

BOAT TRAILER WEIGHT CAPACITY

When considering boat weight consider the wet weight. You'll need to know how much your boat weighs dry, the approximate weight of any gear on board including fuel (wet weight = 8.5 lbs per gallon of fuel), and add 3-5 percent to the weight for water in hull, wet gear, etc. Also keep in mind of the weight for bateries, T-Top, motor and anything else not on that spec sheet. You'll need a trailer that has the ability to tow that weight, not the weight you read from the spec sheet.

BOAT TRAILER HULL LENGTH.

This is not your boat length as on the spec sheet. A properly fit boat trailer measures longer than your boat. When determining boat length, do not include the extended swim platform, as boat trailers support the hulls running surface that it sits on. Remember to include the bow pulpit in your length calculations if the boat has one.  The trailer bunks should come to the edge or within a few inches over the hull.

BOAT TRAILER BUNKS- Trailer bunk material is often overlooked when purchasing a boat trailer, as the core material is hidden under some type of carpet padding.  It isn't until the carpet wears off or you take note of a sagging rotted trailer bunk that you begin the search for a suitable trailer bunk replacement material.  In most cases, I'd have to say that the most common trailer bunk replacment material is standard pressure treated lumber from Home Depot wrapped in outdoor carpet.  Unfortunately, there are several things wrong with going this route.  First, the chemical, what used to be Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) (pre 2003) is now amine copper quat (ACQ) and copper Azole (CA), which merely helps prevent insects from attacking and helps keep mositure out.  It does not protect against weathering, nor is it meant for the harsh applications of this nature, and therefore will dry out fairly quick and split each time it goes through a wet to dry transformation, which then opens the door to rot.  Continuous wetting and drying actions will cause warping, cracking and splintering.  This wood is meant to be coated with a preservative.  Furthermore, the chemicals mentioned can cause corrosion of aluminum and galvanized trailer parts. 

Another material used for trailer bunks is Trex, a "green" material made from 50% recycled plastic and 50% recycled wood.  The problem here is that Trex is very flexible decking material that warps and is not meant for the weight of a boat hull. Trailers do not have the support that a wood deck has, so think twice before using this material as the main support.  It can be used as a topper, but be aware that it becomes very slippery!

Trying to break into the market is the aluminum trailer bunks.  I do not have any experience with aluminum trailer bunks, but I've seen them around.  There are some aluminum replacement trailer bunks available on the market for a very heafty price.  My thought are that it seems like a good idea, but I would worry about corrosion, surface padding, and the misfortune of making direct contact with my hull at some point.  If anyone has something to add on aluminum trailer bunks please chime in via the comment box below. 

In my opinion, nothing beats a beefy trailer bunk made of Cypress.   Cypress trailer bunks give you guaranteed strength and durability that will last the life of the boat.  It is readily available in the Southeast, so if you live up north you're going to pay a premium price above what we do in the South.  Cypress grows in the swamps and has natural antifungal and rot resistant features that make it ideal for boat trailer bunks.  When the Cypress sapwood dies it becomes what is known has heartwood, thus it gets it incredible properties to withstand rot, insects, warpinf and splitting.  If you plan on keeping the trailer for the life of the boat, spend the extra money, do it once and enjoy never having to replace them again. Be sure to wrap them in a quality marine carpet.  

BOAT TRAILER WHEELS

There are few people that really pay attention to this aspect when buying a boat trailer, but this may be one area that you really thank me. First and foremost, bigger tires wear less due to less rotations per mile, and also wear less on your bearings so go bigger if you can. Try to find a tire that is common in size in case you need one when you're out and about. Take it from me, as I had 215 15's all around on my trailer and blew 1 tire only to find another ready to fall apart at the treads. After stopping at 6 different tire shops along a long stretch of country highway out of Tallahasse, I realized these tires weren't common in certain places, thus leading me to finally drop a 205 tire on just to get home.

BOAT TRAILER BEARINGS & HUBS-In progress

BOAT TRAILER LIGHTS-In progress

BOAT TRAILER COUPLERS

BOAT TRAILER HAND WINCH

Trailer winches are not created equally, and if you've owned a few trailers I'm sure you've found that out at least once, if not several times.  Winches take a beating, as they are constantly under stress, wet, and trap salt, dirt and other debris between the hub and cable or strap.  It seems the boat latch hook is one of the first parts to rust, followed by the bolts that anchor the winch to the trailer.  To be continued...

BOAT TRAILER FENDERS

BOAT TRAILER JACKS


In a nutshell, the boat's weight, sum length, width, center of gravity, engines and many other other factors decide what boat trailer you can go with so take all this into account before you buy.  The best place to start is to Google "boat trailer reviews, best boat trailers," or something to that nature and do your research as you are doing here on Florida Inshore Angler.   

Now on to my review of the Rolls Axle tandem boat trailer, of which I feel is the best boat trailer available hands down.   To be continued...

Comments 

 
+1 #1 Tim P
Well write the review already FIA! I'm looking for a new trailer in a few months and judging by your other reviews this should be a good one to. I'll check back. Great site BTW :-)
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FIA replied:
Hi Tim, thanks for the kind comment regarding the site. I will be writing the review before the year end, so keep checking in!
 
 
0 #2 Dana
I haven't really heard of the rolls trailer other than seeing a few posts on the forums now and then. Curious to see why you think thet are the best. My way of thinking is that those that build lots of trailers like Magic Tilt and EZ loader seem to lead the way through experience and proven track records.
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FIA replied:
Hi Dana. While your thoughts are logical on experience leading the way to perfecting a certain craft, I believe Rolls Axle has been around since the 60's and have been hand-making trailers of very high quality. I've been to the facility where they make the Rolls and have spent some time with Dan, and I can honestly say that he has certainly perfected his art. I've owned a Rolls for 5 years and would not own anything else. I'll give much more detail in my review, from company history to current methods so stay tuned. Thanks
 
 
+1 #3 Jayson
Nice read and good overview on each part of a trailer. How long has rolls been around? Where are they? I've been boating for many years and I've never heard of them. Looking forward to a detailed review on the rolls axle. PLease detail it as much as you do the other articles. I can't find anything of value on this trailer. Thanks
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FIA replied:
Jayson, I believe Rolls has been making trailers since the 60's, but I'll confirm that at a later date. They are located in Plant City Florida. There isn't a lot of information in the form of reviews out there regarding the Rolls Axle, but I plan to change that. Detail is what I like to do, so you know I'll detail the review to its fullest, as I am going to breakdown each component on that trailer! Stay tuned!
 
 
+2 #4 Charlie
I've heard the name tossed around now and then and actually got to see one parked next to me at Bay Pines a few weeks ago. I must say the trailer looks well built and very durable. Nice breakdown of the parts FIA, looking forward to the review. I'm a year or two away from needing one, but no better time to start looking around. Happy New Year everyone.
 
 
+2 #5 Danny
Best trailer around hands down my friends. You'll buy one and that's it unless you get another boat b/c these badboys hold up! I've had mine for 10 years and it still looks new...just had to change the hand winch one time and that's it. I'll never own any other brand thats for sure.
 
 
0 #6 Mike in Maryland
Great trailer and hassle free. Top notch components at every turn. Price is on the high side but you get what you pay for.
 
 
+1 #7 Larry Moore
Looking forward to your review on this trailer. There are so many opinions out there on most of the major brands that it'll make your head spin, and some good and some bad. With what little I can find on Rolls, I have yet to find anything bad. A lot of comments on how nice the owner is, and general comments on the trailer, but nothing in depth. Hope you dig deep into the nuts and bolts like some of your other stuff.
 
 
+1 #8 Jason
No better trailer has yet to be made, and thats a fact. I've owned one for 9 years and not a single problem and it still looks pretty darn new. I've also gone through other trailers and the rolls pulls like nothing is behind you.
 
 
+1 #9 Bill
Only bad thing which I dont count as bad is that some say the ride is stiff and the boat bounces alot due to the suspension. If I had the money Id surely try the rolls axle. The replies to the stiff comment on the other forums is because the trailer wasnt set right for the boat and they should take it to rolls to adjust it.
 
 
+1 #10 scott
Looking at a Peterson trailer how do I get the best deal ?

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FIA REPLY:

Scott, I have no idea how to get the best deal other than shopping prices and bargaining as one would when buying a boat, car, etc.

Regards,

Fia
 
 
0 #11 Bob
If I didn't know better I would think that the author of this trailer article is w/out a doubt a principal at Rolls Axle. He seems to be quite biased towards a number of things. I happen to build my own aluminum
trailers and have Never has a problem with pressure treated bunks or Quality Trailer products psoilube torsion axles which are a fraction of the cost of the all aluminum "Rolls Axles" which cannot hold the weight of a galvy axle.
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FIA REPLY:

Bob, I am certainly no "principle" of Rolls Axle...I have receipts to back that up. I have owned other trailers in the past, and none have held up close to the Rolls trailers. Have I owned them all...no. I am entitled to my own opinion, and my opinion is that I feel Rolls Axle makes the best trailer on the market. I've seen the material that goes into the rolls, and I've spent some time with Dan and know he is very picky about what material goes into his trailers, and how they are assembled, which is why he fabricates parts and builds the trailers in-house. I am not saying that other trailers are bad, but merely that I have had 100% satisfaction with all my Rolls trailers, and that says a lot, as I am rarely completely satisfied with anything, and always find flaws in products at some point. As for the weight, I'm not sure what you are referring to on that issue. Rolls makes trailers for certain weights, and they will certainly carry that weight with no problem. I haven't seen your trailer, nor used it, so I can not comment on it. I do know that the galvanized trailers I've owned in the past all rusted out, and had spring issues among other things. Aluminum is far superior to galvy trailers in my opinion.
Best Regards,

FIA
 
 
+1 #12 Jody frost
Real X Trailers in Miami are an absolute Joke!!!!
Joe is the head clown running the show. They built a trailer for my 36ft Catamaran, problem is they built the whole center frame to wide. I tore the left bunk of the trailer and gouged the hell out of the fiberglass underneath figuring that out. I live a 850 miles away so pulling it back made no sense. had it hacked and chopped at a local shop and now they are giving me the run around on paying for the repair. I have lots of pics if you want to see these idiots work.
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FIA Reply:

Sorry about your bad luck Jody. I can only say that I am certain you would never be treated badly at Rolls. Best of luck getting your issues fixed.
 
 
+1 #13 doug
I have had my rolls axle since 1978 and it is still working. Since it is older and has steel springs I have replaced them three times. I am due for a new rolls axle. Yes I have had the same boat for that many years as well. The kids grew up with it and it keeps on running also. I pulled my rolls axle to the keys every year for 21 years. I refurbished it before the trip every year. Now the aluminum after all these years is corroding where the old steel springs attach to the trailer. I am considering repairing it. I am comparing that to a new rolls axle. I can send pictures if you like.

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FIA REPLY:
Hi Doug, sounds like you got a lot of use out of it! That's a great life span for a trailer. Imagine how long the newer trailers without the steel will last...one time purchase for the rest of your boating days. If I were you, I'd give Dan a call at Rolls and see what he can do to help you out. He may give you a deal you can't turn down, or perhaps help you fix your old trailer. Best of luck, and thanks for the post.
 
 
+1 #14 doug
About axles I am on my third axle with my old rolls axle trailer. I have tried both galvanized and painted steel . I did not see any difference they both rust away after several years and have to be replaced. Also if you do not lubricate the bearings before long trips the steels axle will heat up and bend due to weight. If you use and keep a trailer you know that you have to replace springs and axles regularly along with wheels and tires. I am anxious to try rolls lifetime aluminum spring. Hard to believe it is a lifetime spring but willing to try it.
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FIA REPLY:

Hi Doug, it certainly sounds like you have some axle issues that are getting the best of you. I have yet to have an axle issue on any of my Rolls trailers, but they were, and are all aluminum axles. I did have a few old trailers that were another brand back in the days, and dropped an axle or two, along with other issues. I've pulled my boats to TN, the keys, etc., driving 5 hours at a time and never had any issues with bearings heating up, or bent axles on the Rolls. The only thing I have ever replaced on any of my Rolls trailers was a winch, tires, and a break light cover that got ripped of. I rarely ever do any maintenance on my trailers beyond washing them down. Now and then I'll get the bearings greased. Give Dan a call and see what he can do for you. Tell him you came from FIA and he might give you a discount. Thanks for the post.
 
 
0 #15 Richard
I am a Rolls owner, bought a 20' Wellcraft CC for my son in Maryland and the trailer came with it and that is what sold the boat to me. This is the absolute best trailer I have ever owned.
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FIA REPLY:

Thanks for the comment Richard. They are indeed awesome trailers that are built to last. I will never own anything but a rolls. Keep us updated on how things go with it. I'm not sure how long you've had it, but I am sure it'll be trouble free and get you to the water every time. Happy boating.
 
 
0 #16 Richard
Thanks for your comment my son and I have used it for near a year and it still looks like its new plus I am 78 years old and I can put the boat in and out myself, it load and unloads outstanding. Thank you