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TOPIC: Restoration help gator trailer in Michigan

Restoration help gator trailer in Michigan 8 months 1 day ago #133626

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Hi, I have a 50's era alumacraft boat with gator trailer that belonged to my grandfather. I think he bought it new, and he used it his whole life. It's probably been about 15 years since it was last in the water. I'm going to fix it up and get it back in the water again.

Anyway the first problem is the boat is in Michigan and I'm in San Diego, CA. My family still lives in Michigan so the plan is to drive out there, visit with them, and then tow the boat back.

To do that though I need the trailer to be in good enough shape to make the trip. The trailer looks pretty rusty, don't know how deep it goes. So, I'm trying to find someone that could go over the trailer, figure out if it's salvageable and if it is restore it either completely or enough to make the trip. I just want to use the boat and ideally keep it pretty close to the original look. But I'm not looking to take it to boat shows.

I don't have enough towing capacity to put the boat and trailer on another trailer, so if I'm going to keep the original gator trailer - which I really want to - it has to be good enough to tow before it leaves Michigan.

Does anyone know of a place in Michigan that would be able to restore the trailer? The boat is at my brothers place near Chelsea and my parents are in Holland so anywhere in that area. Unlike me they have a truck and trailer so delivering it to a shop isn't a problem.

Thanks

Byron

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Restoration help gator trailer in Michigan 8 months 23 hours ago #133629

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I would bet if you took it to Lloyd Bridges Traveland (your local camper/trailer place, they should easily be able to inspect, clean and install new bearings and fresh grease pack. It might take some conversation to see if you would want those "buddy Bearing" grease fittings. They are trailer pros and should know how to get you in good shape. As far as rust goes...I would think unless the trailer suffered some special damage, the gauge of old steel trailers was likely pretty thick. We have a trailer from Sears from late 60's...t has been left outside al that time...thought I only use it in the yard (though rusted on outside) it is WAY more solid, heavy and think compared to my new galvanized trailer I use on the road. They should also be able to tell you if there are structural problems. Perhaps you could talk them into doing an inspection and report to you the estimated costs of bearings, checking lights (repair cost estimate) and if it had structural integrity before you have them fix anything (might likely pay an inspection fee...but maybe they would put that towards a repair bill. I think of preventative costs compared to being stranded overnight for hotel, cost for repair of a destroyed old bearing, possible accident or blown tire due to a seize up on a bearing which might require a flat bed towing...using a chisel on the roadside and file and having a spare bearing kit you didn't put in usually would be way more of cost and hassle. I would think you could keep that trailer. Maybe you have wiring skills that could fix lights and wring to save some money. Often a hardware or auto parts has those temporary light kits you can clamp to a trailer so you can re-wire it later...quick fix to get on the road....I am no pro, but I have been messing with trailers and long trips for about 40 years...lots of 400 mile trips. Good luck. Maybe others have better ideas.

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Restoration help gator trailer in Michigan 7 months 4 weeks ago #133660

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Thanks. I'd never heard of Lloyd Bridges, I'll check them out. The major problem we were worried about is the rust. Especially, is the tube frame rusting out from the inside too, where we can't see it. A bearing seizing on the road is bad enough, if the trailer is only holding together by a rusty thread I really don't want to find out a thousand mile from home.

New tires, bearings, and lights either we can do ourselves or find a trailer place to do that. But there's no way I'd be able to strip and paint the trailer or do anything that takes welding. Not likely I could DIY that at home either so I thought since I have to hire it out one way or another why not do it in Michigan. Then I know for sure the trailer is in good shape before I even leave San Diego.

I just don't know what shop would do that and obviously I want someone reliable since I'm not there.

Byron

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Restoration help gator trailer in Michigan 7 months 4 weeks ago #133670

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If it is rust that is the big concern regarding structural integrity, if someone who is family that can do some testing, maybe you could do a small test with a wooden mallet. If you could tap along the trailer tubing (not hitting hard enough to dent) and listen to the sound you get sound tones back that you could compare from place to place. Likely if you tapped on inner areas that you don't normally see (if you would accidently make a dent), you could compare what should sound and feel firm and similar sound. certainly you will get different tones on shorter pieces and areas near sharp curves...but I would think you could eventually tell if you had funny dull or muted dull sounds rather than stronger and more consistent sounds. If you still had questions, you could resort to also using a small metal head hammer to get a metal feedback sound. I know this is not using an x-ray machine for when they inspect welds, but it likely could give you some feel for it. Also, it would help to have normal tongue weight instead of really excessive tongue weight where it would put more stress on the frame between the tires and tongue. I have seen people put so much extra load inside the boat (like wood , furniture, or camping equipment), that the tongue weight is so great you can see the trailer flex. you also could have someone hitch it up and put a couple of adult inside as far front as possible. Have someone stand along side to watch for flexing that does not return and then have them bounce a bit...your empty load would likely never put stresses like that on the trailer when towing. Also, and Aluminum boat is lighter than Fiberglass for the same size usually. If you knew the weight of boat and motor and compare to trailer rating (if known), you would likely fall much less weight than rating...also there is a safety factor built in so a trailer would not collapse if one pound overweight. I know I am not talking professional structural engineer stuff, nor professional metallurgical analysis, nor professional metal fabrication shop stuff...but most older metal had quite heavier gauge builds. I still would bet that camper trailer place could even give you an opinion on the structural , but likely would not likely give you certainty or anything in writing due to liability issues. I think it is great that you are looking at safety and integrity (not only for you, but those who travel along your route). Maybe others have much better ideas. If any of those tests caused damage or failure, at least it happened in a driveway before you hit the road. Best of luck no matter what you end up doing. Last note: if the boat has an outboard motor that could be removed and placed in a tow vehicle, you just reduce load of 100 or more pound...however, if that results in excessive tongue weight, then perhaps best to leave on.

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Restoration help gator trailer in Michigan 7 months 4 weeks ago #133676

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Another note: checking for replacing badly rusted bolts in structural areas is likely as important (if not more important) than checking the tube structure itself.

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