When purchasing a trailer in Montana or elsewhere, stay within recommended capacity guidelines. When determining capacity, remember to include the weight of fuel and accessories in addition to the weight of the craft.
Trailers come with closed or open frames. Closed frames help protect the wiring, but problems can be more difficult to locate and repair. Open frames leave the wiring exposed, but make it easier to spot and repair potential problems. Open frames also drain water more easily and efficiently, so keep in mind that when you dip that trailer into lakes, or elsewhere.
Consider the method of personal watercraft (PWC) support, the frame strength and construction, whether lights and wiring are approved for marine use, whether rollers and bunks are properly positioned and attached to the main frame for proper suspension, and the durability of the finish. (Powder-coated or galvanized finishes are more durable than baked-on enamel.)
Purchase good quality tie-downs with the right hooks to attach to your trailer. Before each use of your trailer, check:
- Tires for wear and inflation
- Hitch and safety chain for signs of wear or stress
- Braking system to make sure you can stop with a load
- Electrical system for improper connections, corroded terminals, damaged wires, burned out bulbs, etc.
- Wheel bearings are properly packed with a good bearing grease
- Lug nuts and main nuts are tight
- Stops, rollers and bunks for wear or cracks
- Coupler and ball are compatible in size and are properly secured. Check for wear or stress
- Both bow and stern of your PWC are secured to the trailer. Use extra tie-downs in case one should fail
- Emergency supplies; carry basic tools, spare bulbs, bearings, grease, mounted tire and highway flares
Drive carefully. Give other drivers plenty of warning for any maneuvers. Allow for the extra length of the car and trailer when turning and passing, and allow extra time for stopping.
Pull off the road periodically to check the rig. Examine the tires and wheel bearings for signs of overheating, check the lights and test the tie-downs.
Before Leaving Shore
At the Launch Ramp:
- It helps to have someone in the car, and someone at the water.
- Prepare your PWC as much as possible before taking your turn in line. Remove the craft cover. Remove the seat for a few minutes to allow gas fumes to vent. Undo the stern (not bow) tie-downs. Unplug the trailer lights. Make sure the PWC drain plugs are in place. Visually inspect your PWC from bow to stern.
- Be courteous. Wait your turn at the ramp. Don’t rush, but don’t linger longer than necessary.
- Make sure the way is clear before launching. Look for other boats, debris, etc.
- Be prepared to ride clear of the launch area immediately and to secure the PWC out of the way of others.
- Never leave the trailer unattended on the ramp with only the parking brake set.