SAFE TRAILERING

By Karel Vorel

Mark Quiniff is right, our getting to Lake Opeka. and the other mishap with Neil Robb's trailer really deserve an article on reviewing safe trailering habits. As a background for those of you who missed the early season opener, our family had a little trouble getting to Lake Opeka, Saturday May 17. Got up early, left Grand Rapids about 8 am Michigan time. Stopped at the first rest area about 40-50 miles out of Grand Rapids to see how the trailer was hauling. Everything seemed free so we continued on our way. For a change we didnít run into any traffic jams on the highway around Gary. It was about 10 am and just before we got on the toll road a gentleman passed us and pointed toward the trailer like there was a problem. Al and I both looked at our respective sides of the trailer and boat and the wheels were tracking straight and there was no smoke so Al decided to wait the 1-2 miles and stop at the toll area to check the trailer. We came to the Oasis first and decided that since the accommodations were better there I would stop there first.

Boy did we have a problem..

The wheel bearings had melted down to almost nothing. The only things left were the inner races (which were welded onto the axle) and the two outer races which, were worn down to two little quarter inch bands rolling around the axle. The rim of the wheel had gouged a hole , into the edge of the axle just next to the nut on the axle. The lugnuts were also gone and the bolts had turned the bolt holes into nice ovals. Needless to say we were not going anywhere any time soon. After putting the trailer up on the trailer jack and assessing the damage we decided to get some replacement parts and try and repair the trailer. While Mary and AI went to find the parts store, Christina and I set up for a few hours of waiting in the parking lot. Also, I tried reaching the Leeney's and Quiniffs to let them know we were probably not going to be there for the first race. Those were the only phone numbers I had with us for Des Plaines members. I ended up calling back home to grandma Pat and having her try and reach someone. Al and Mary returned and Al and I started the repairs. The new lugnuts he got didnít fit right so back to the parts place for replacements. We got the outer races off without too much trouble but the inner back race didnít want to come off. Also, Al decided we needed a metal file to try and fix a few real formed areas of the axle. So back off to the parts store again. We still had trouble getting that inner race off. Thankfully one of the employees at the Oasis had a larger hammer and a chisel because that was what it took to get it off. By this time it was almost 4:30 PM. Al and I finished rounding up the axle since the chisel had made a few more imperfections in the axle. Luckily, we still had the bearing grease and the bearing packing apparatus in the van so we didnít need another parts run. Al put a new wheel bearing on, the spare tire and new lug nuts and bolts and at about 6 PM we were hack on our way to Lake Opeka. Got to the lake and dropped off the boat and tried to find someone who hadnít already left for the dinner so that we could find out where the dinner was being held and if we could still get to the party. After stopping to get cleaned up at our motel, we finally arrived at the dinner party about 8 PM. The rest of our weekend had some great sailing and the trip home was uneventful.. Lake Opeka claimed Neil Robb's trailer axle the next morning when after launching the boat, the axle bounced off while pulling the trailer from the lake. Looked like some of the old cartoons. Luckily, his repairs took only about an hour after getting new bolts and nuts to reattach the axle to the trailer.

Trailering tips: