Boat trailers are robust pieces of equipment that are built to last, but these redoubtable trailers are not invulnerable, and after many years of heavy use and exposure to saltwater and/or freshwater, some components will begin to degrade. However, while the vast majority of boat owners check for signs of rust and electrical issues regularly, the rollers that enable easy launching and loading of your craft are often overlooked.
When these rollers begin to crumble, you will probably find yourself putting more elbow grease into loading and unloading your boat, and severely damaged rollers can even cause damage to the hull of your boat. As such, it's important to have your rollers professionally replaced by boat trailer repair specialists when needed, and choosing the right replacements for your old rollers is equally important. Ask yourself the following questions when choosing replacement rollers to ensure your replacements are suitable for the needs of both you and your boat:
Should I choose larger or smaller replacement rollers?
Boat trailer manufacturing is a niche business, and manufacturers have to keep the bottom lines in mind at all times; consequently, the stock rollers that came fitted with your trailer were probably the cheapest, and may not have been the best. Having them replaced allows you to choose a roller size more ideally suited to your boat's needs. As a general rule, larger boat rollers create increased resistance and make your boat more difficult to load and unload, but also provide more protection for the hull of your boat. Smaller rollers have opposing advantages and disadvantages.
You might consider choosing rollers larger than the originals if you own a delicate, relatively light fibreglass boat that would benefit from extra hull protection, or if you own a motorised trailer winch that makes ease of launching and loading a non-issue. Smaller rollers are handy if you have a heavy and durable aluminium-hulled boat and hull damage is less of a concern that being able to winch your heavy craft onto your trailer easily.
What material should my replacement rollers be made from?
Replacement boat rollers are made from a variety of different materials, each with its own pros and cons:
- Rubber: Rubber rollers are a cheap and cheerful choice, and provide excellent physical protection for your boats hull. However, they are relatively fragile and their usable lifespan is limited, and you may find yourself paying more for subsequent replacements down the line.
- Polyurethane: A soft, forgiving material ideal for protecting the hull of fibreglass boats, polyurethane rollers are ideal for fragile yachts and speedboats. They will last longer than rubber rollers, but only with frequent maintenance and cleaning to remove damaging salt deposits. They are too soft to deal with aluminium craft effectively.
- Polyethylene: Polyethylene rollers are the best long-term choice, as they are incredibly durable. They are slightly more expensive than rubber or polyurethane options, but will last much longer and represent a better long-term investment. They are, however, quite hard and unforgiving, and smaller polyethylene rollers may damage fibreglass hulls.