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How to Avoid Boat Trailer Frame Damage

Before and After badge for author, Don Stec, myoutdoorbuddy.com

ne of the most common damages we see to a boat trailer is caused by “jack knifing” the trailer. This is usually when the trailer is being backed up and the turn angle becomes too severe. The trailer cannot turn farther and the tow vehicle driver is unaware that the turn limit has been reached. Continued backing up will force the trailer draw bar (tongue) to come in contact with the tow vehicle. Damage will often occur to both the trailer and the tow vehicle.

The front draw bar/tongue of the trailer will bend usually at the main body of the trailer or at the ball coupler. This results in a trailer that when towed, does not follow the towed vehicle directly behind but to one side. The trailer will shimmy and sway, often running over curbs or the center dividers. Backing up now becomes much more difficult.

Caption: Photo shows setup on a frame machine. Tongue of trailer was bent to the side from a jack knife when the trailer was backed up into a severe angle. Don Stec
Photo shows setup on a frame machine. Tongue of trailer was bent to the side from a jack knife when the trailer was backed up into a severe angle.

The towed vehicle usually gets rear corner sheet metal damage and broken taillights. If the driver is inexperienced we have seen bumper, hitch and frame damage to the tow vehicle.

 Another angle showing damage. Note twist to tongue of trailer in relationship to the boat.
Another angle showing damage. Note twist to tongue in relationship to the boat.

Many boat trailers are considered a total loss if sections are damaged and require replacement. In these cases tracking will be affected because the main body of the trailer is often out of square. I have never heard of a welding shop with a frame-straightening machine. The typical automotive frame machine may be too short for a boat trailer and the personnel not experienced in welding heavy metal.

Coachmaster has the largest frame machine in Northern CA. Because of this we can often straighten the trailer without removing the boat, saving money for the owner. We also have large welders, power cutting tools and a plasma cutter for heavy metal. We can straighten trailer axles for owners that complain of unusual tire wear patterns, including severe tire wear.

Bent axles are often the result of poor road surfaces. Many owners do not realize this is often an insurance claim!

Coachmaster is a full service collision repair shop. We specialize in complete vehicle geometry collision repair. We have the largest frame machine in Northern CA. utilizing laser beam technology and 3-D imaging for the most accurate repair possible. Contact us at 6851 Eastside Road in Redding or call at 530-243-1310 or out of area 1-800-731-1310.

Don Stec is the owner of Coachmaster of Redding. Coachmaster is a full service collision repair shop also specializing in the repair of recreational vehicles, trailers and boats. The company works with all the major insurance companies and has a great reputation in the North State.


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