General Trailer Maintenance and Operations

Topic

 

Introduction

Top Ten Maintenance Items

Scheduled Maintenance

Before You Tow Your Boat

General Checklist

Detailed Steps

General Maintenance Procedures

Winterization - Storing Your Trailer
Removing Your Trailer from Storage

Troubleshooting Guides

NOTE. This guide outlines basic maintenance procedures.  These procedures should only be completed by someone proficient in mechanical maintenance and repair.  Trailer owners are strongly encouraged to use their dealer for any repair - especially with the components that effect safety (such as brakes and bearings), we urge trailer owners to have that maintenance completed by their dealer. 

Top Ten Maintenance Items 

We are often asked for a condensed version of maintenance tips that every trailer owner should know.  This is our list:

1.  Wash your trailer after dipping in saltwater.  Saltwater is incredibly corrosive.  Rinsing off the trailer will greatly prolong your trailer’s useful life. This includes flushing your drum brakes.

2.  Check your tire pressure.  Trailer tires are different from car tires so check the tire sidewall for correct tire pressure (often 50-65 psi - much higher than your tow vehicle).

3.  Check your tire tread.  Use the penny test by inserting a penny into the tread.  The tread should touch the top of Abe Lincoln’s head.

4.  Check the lights.  Have someone depress the brake pedal and use the turn signal while you stand behind the vehicle and ensure the correct lights illuminate.

5.  Use tie down straps.  These inexpensive straps help secure your boat to the trailer.  Every boat should be secured with several tie-down straps.  Your winch strap is not a tie down strap.

6.  Check to make sure all of your fasteners are tight.

7.  If you are storing your boat be sure to block and cover your trailer tires.  Remember rubber degrades when exposed to sunlight and also rots when exposed to the ground.  You may wish to shade your tires.  Moving your trailer periodically or jacking your trailer off the ground will help reduce dry rotting of your tires.

8. Use safety chains correctly.  Chris-cross the chains below the tongue.

9.  Do not put too much weight on your trailer.  Gear can add a lot of weight - even if your boat can handle all of the gear, look at the weight rating on your trailer and do not exceed the maximum weight.

10.  Grease your bearings.  You can learn more about this procedure in the manual but remember if you do not have good grease in your hubs, your trailer cannot roll.

As you do with your car, we strongly encourage trailer owners to carry some equipment in the event of an emergency.  We always recommend that you carry a trailer kit. Contents can include a spare wheel and tire, lug wrench, wheel chocks, bearing grease, extra hub assembly, extra line (for the winch and tie-down straps), replacement light bulbs, wheel bearings and road flares (or road markers). 

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Scheduled Maintenance 

The following chart serves as a basic guideline for scheduling your trailer maintenance.  Your maintenance may be different based on your local conditions, type of trailer and frequency of trailer use.   Your dealer is the best reference concerning any unique maintenance needs you may have.

 

 

 

Periodic

 Maintenance

Initial

Maintenance

Special Maintenance

 

 

Before Each Use

After Each Use

Quarterly

Annually

 First 50 miles

 300 miles

 600 miles

Before Storage

 After Storage

Overall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freshwater wash

 

x

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

Coupler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ensure proper fit

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lubricate

x

 

 

 

x

x

Tongue jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grease jack

 

 

 

x

 

 

 

x

 

Winch assembly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oil gears

 

 

 

x

 

 

 

x

x

 

Inspect cable, rope or strap

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wheels and Hubs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check lug nuts

x

 

 

 

x

 

 

x

x

 

Grease bearings

 

 

x

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

Repack bearings

 

 

 

x

(x2)

 

 

 

x

 

Tires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check tire pressure

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

x

 

Visual Inspection

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

x

 

Tread life check

 

 

x

 

 

 

 

x

x

Brakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check brake fluid

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

x

 

Check line

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

Freshwater flush

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verify Actuator travel

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjust brakes - drum

 

 

x

x

x

x

 

 

 

Check pads, rotors, cylinder 

x

 

 

 

 

 

Electrical

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check tail lights

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

Check brake lights

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

Check ground

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(x2): Semi-annual (every 6 months) check. See detailed procedure (on repacking bearings).

  
Before you tow your boat

Please contact your authorized dealer for service, parts or maintenance needs. 

 

CAUTION.  Failure to follow proper maintenance procedures or use of the trailer for

purposes other than originally intended may void your warranty.

 

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General Checklist

Never tow before you check the following:

1.  Coupler securely engages your hitch.  The coupler and hitch ball must be rated for the same size. The size should be imprinted on both the ball and the hitch.

2.  Safety Chains are safely secured to trailer and tow vehicle in a chris-cross fashion under the tongue.

3.  Jack is fully cranked up (and parallel to tongue if swivel jack).

4.  All fasteners / bolts are properly tightened.  Pay particular attention to the lug nuts (tightened to 85 ft-lbs).

5.  Boat is securely tied down with tie-down straps.  Your winch strap is not a tie-down strap.  A winch controls your boat in a horizontal direction.  Tie-downs control your boat in the vertical direction.  You must have bow-eye and transom tie down straps securely attached whenever the trailer is in use.

6.  Tires are properly inflated- read the tire sidewall to determine the correct tire pressure required.   This rating will be different than your tow vehicle.  Also check for tire wear, cracks, bubbles or foreign objects imbedded in the tire.  Bias ply trailers are not designed for speeds in excess of 65 mph.

7.  Brake lights and other trailer lights are working.

8.  If the trailer is equipped with brakes, make sure they are functioning by lightly testing before getting on a major road.

9.  If the trailer is equipped with brakes, connect the breakaway cable (located on top of actuator) to the tow vehicle.
 

CAUTION. Do not exceed the maximum weight rating on your trailer. 
Exceeding the maximum rating voids the manufacturer’s warranty and may
lead to premature failure of the trailer causing damage to the boat
and creating an unsafe towing condition. 

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Coupler

There are generally two types of couplers.  One, the lever type is currently being used in production.  It has a lever on top of the coupler that engages the pawl & secures the trailer to the hitch ball.  The second type of coupler is a hand-wheel type.  On the top of this coupler is a small hand-wheel that is turned to engage / disengage the trailer from the hitch ball.

1.  Visually inspect hitch, ball and coupler for signs of wear or damage.  Replace any parts that are   worn or damaged before towing.

2.  Be sure the coupler is secured to the hitch ball and the lock lever or hand wheel is down and tight and locked.  Clamp hand wheel couplers hand tight only.   When properly engaged, the tongue jack will not be able to lift the trailer off of the hitch ball.

3.  Verify that the ball is properly inside the coupler and the coupler is not sitting on top of the ball. 

CAUTION. Use only the ball diameter indicated on your coupler - any other ball diameter will create an extremely dangerous condition that may result in separation from the coupler or ball failure. 

4.  Secure the safety chains.  Chris-cross the safety chains under the tongue and then securely attach the S-hooks to the tow vehicle.

5.  Recheck tightness after initial 50 miles. 

 NOTE.  When attached, your boat and tow vehicle should be parallel to the road surface.  It you have questions concerning the load, see your dealer. 


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Tongue Jack

1.  Before each use, check jack for grease.  Grease as necessary with wheel bearing grease.

2.  Ensure that the jack is completely raised before towing.  If your trailer is equipped with a swivel jack, make sure that the swivel jack is in the folded position - jack parallel to the trailer tongue. 

 

 CAUTION. When placing a swivel jack in the down position (positioned to support the weight of the tongue) ensure the swivel pin is engaged BEFORE adding weight to the jack or removing the trailer from the tow vehicle. 
Not verifying that the swivel jack pin is engaged could cause the
jack to collapse under the weight of the tongue. 

 
Winch Assembly

1.  Visually check the strap, rope, or cable and hook before each use.  Never use any strap, rope or cable that is worn, damaged, frayed or kinked.  Replace with parts from your authorized Magic Tilt parts dealer.

2.  Make sure the winch strap is securely attached to the boat’s bow eye.

 NOTE.  The winch / winch strap is not designed to be the only line securing a boat to a trailer while towing.  Tie-down straps (bow eye and transom) must be used to properly secure your boat while towing. 

 

CAUTION. Failure to properly secure your boat with tie down straps can cause damage to your boat trailer, boat and boat contents.  In addition, an improperly secured boat can create a dangerous road condition.  In many states, towing a boat without tie down straps is illegal.  See your dealer to get the proper tie down straps and learn their correct use. 

 
Wheels and Hubs

Lug nuts

1.  Check for loose or missing lug nuts & tighten all lug nuts to (in most cases, check your manual) 85 foot-pounds.  Replace any damaged or missing lug nuts.  Use the correct size wrench when tightening lug nuts.

2.  When on a trip, visually check the wheel hubs each time you stop. 

 CAUTION.  The following are signs of bearing failure or other wheel problems:

a)   Bearing grease splattered on the rim.  This could be a sign of rear   seal failure, bearing lock-up or loss of grease in the bearing.

b)  Smoke from a wheel.  This could indicate a dragging tire (possible brake lock-up).

If you experience any of these problems, stop your vehicle in a safe, secure area.  You should immediately contact your dealer, a local trailer repair
facility or the nearest automotive repair facility
.  Continuing to operate
your trailer can cause damage to your trailer and your boat and
creates an unsafe driving condition. 

 

 WARNING. Maintain proper torque on lug nuts.  Failure to do so may cause serious injury or damage.

Hubs

1.  Perform visual inspection of hub, bearing buddy (optional) and bearing protector or grease cap.  If any parts are damaged or missing replace before towing your trailer.

2.  If equipped with buddy bearings or posi-lube spindles, apply grease if needed (see procedure in Maintenance Procedures).   

 

 WARNING.  Keep wheel bearings properly lubricated and in good condition. Failure to do so may cause bearing failure and possible wheel loss resulting in serious injury and / or property damage. 

 
Tires

1.  Always check tire pressure prior to each use (when tire is cold).  The proper tire pressure is listed on the tire sidewall.  Please realize that trailer tires often require a higher tire pressure than the tow vehicle.

 WARNING.  Keep tires properly inflated.  Failure to maintain correct pressure may result in tire wear, tire failure and loss of control resulting in serious injury or property damage. 

2.  Ensure that tire treads are visible and there are no slick surfaces on the tires.  The penny can be used to verify remaining tread.  Insert a penny into the tread, if Abe Lincoln’s head is not touched by the top of the tread, there is not enough tread life on the tires replace the tires before towing your trailer.

WARNING. If your tires have bubbles, deep cracks, insufficient tread or show signs of tread separation DO NOT OPERATE YOUR TRAILER until replacing all defective tires. 


Brakes

Brake System (general)

1.  Before each use check brake fluid in reservoir on brake actuator. Refill as necessary using DOT 3 heavy-duty brake fluid to 3/8 inch below the top of the reservoir.

2.  If your trailer is equipped with disc brakes, ensure that the solenoid wire is securely attached to the tow vehicle’s brake wire.  The trailer’s solenoid wire is a separate wire at the front of the trailer (near the actuator).  You need to attach this wire to a wire from the tow vehicle.  The wire from the tow vehicle operates off of the tow vehicle’s reverse lights.  When you put the tow vehicle in reverse, the power that illuminates the tow vehicle’s reverse lights also applies power to the solenoid (releasing the brakes).  Improperly (or not) engaging the reverse solenoid will result in brakes locking while backing-up the trailer and could cause damage to your trailer and your tow vehicle.

3.  If the trailer is equipped with brakes, connect the breakaway cable (located on top of actuator) to the tow vehicle.

4.  Immediately after hook-up, always test and confirm that trailer brakes are operating properly before attaining normal road speed.

 NOTE. To prolong the life of your brakes:  after you back up your trailer to park the trailer --ease forward approximately two inches.  This will pull the actuator forward, relieving the pressure on the brake components 

 
Electrical

Lights

1.  Ensure both the wire harness connector from the tow vehicle and from the trailer are free of debris and water.

2.  Verify that the white ground wire on the trailer is securely attached to the trailer frame.

3.  If your trailer lights have an independent grounding circuit, verify the grounds from the trailer lights are securely attached to the trailer frame.

4.  Properly secure the wire harness from the trailer to the wire harness connection from the tow vehicle.

5.  Check to ensure the brake and turn signal lights correctly illuminate.

6.  Check for burned out or broken bulbs, cracked or broken lenses, etc. Replace any non-working or damaged parts through your Magic Tilt dealer.  A small amount of electrical socket grease on plug contacts and light bulb bases can be used to prevent rust and corrosion. 

 

NOTE.  Disconnecting the wire harness connections prior to
 submerging the trailer may reduce the risk of light bulb failure,
fuse failure or other electrical problems. 

 

 WARNING.  Operating a trailer without working lights is both
dangerous and illegal.  Always ensure your lights are working
before taking your trailer on the road. 


- Back to the top -

General Maintenance Procedures

Refer to the schedule LISTED IN THE INTRO for frequency

(Ask your dealer if you should deviate from this proposed schedule.)

Overall - General Appearance / General Care

Freshwater wash

Your trailer will look better and last longer if you wash it off with fresh water several times a year.  If you boat in salt water, rinse the trailer thoroughly after each use. 

 

Coupler

Ensuring a proper fit

1.  When engaged the coupler should not rattle against the hitch ball.

2.  Adjusting the fit
    - Hand-wheel type couplers are adjusted by turning the hand-wheel.
    -
Lever-type couplers should never need adjustment provided that you are using the correct  hitch ball.  Only a dealer should attempt to adjust a lever-type coupler. 


Lubricating mechanism

1.  Prior to using your trailer, apply a light coating of bearing grease to hitch ball.

2.  Engage the hitch ball and the coupler.

3.  Tow your trailer to ensure grease adheres to all surfaces 

 NOTE. When parking or storing your trailer, keep the coupler off the ground so debris will not build up in the ball socket. 

 

WARNING.  When jacking up the trailer, ensure that all wheels are blocked in both the forward and reverse directions.  Failure to block the wheels can result in personal and property damage. 

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Tongue Jack

Grease jack

Some tongue jacks have a small ZERK fitting.  ZERK fittings allow you to easily use a grease gun to lubricate the part.  If your tongue jack has a ZERK fitting:

1.  Ensure your grease gun has wheel bearing grease (or equivalent).

2.  Secure grease gun to ZERK fitting.

3.  Pump grease until grease comes out of the jack - usually excess will come out of the bottom of the jack.

4.  Crank jack between completely up and completely down several times to allow grease to adhere to all surfaces.

 

If your jack does not have a ZERK fitting:

1.  Remove the black plastic cap on top of the jack.  The cap is usually secured by a small set screw on the side of the jack.

2.  Push grease into opening on top of tongue jack.  Reapply cap and secure with set screw.

3.  Crank jack between completely up and completely down several times to allow grease to adhere to all surfaces.

 

With swivel jacks.

In addition to the procedure for applying grease to the jack, you should lubricate the swivel surfaces.

1.  Apply a light coating of penetrating oil (such as WD-40) on and around the swivel surface.

 

 WARNING.   Special care must always be exercised when engaging or disengaging a swivel jack.  When removing your trailer from the tow vehicle always check that the swivel jack is engaged before allowing the jack to support the weight of the trailer. 

 - Back to the top -


Winch Assembly

Oil gears

1.  Verify the winch assembly is free of dirt and debris.

2.  Apply a light coating of household oil (e.g. 3-in-1 oil) on the gears only.

3.  Operate the winch to ensure proper adhesion of oil onto all gear surfaces.

 

Inspect strap, cable, rope

You should inspect your winch strap, cable or rope every time you launch and recover your boat.  Stowing your winch strap, cable or rope evenly and neatly will also extend its useful life.

1.  Verify the bow eye hook is secure to the strap, rope or cable.  If necessary, re-tie bow eye hook to the rope.

2.  Completely extend the rope, cable or nylon strap.

3.  Check the entire length of winch strap, cable or rope for cuts, burrs, rust, tears or any other damage that would degrade the performance of the securing strap.  Replace as necessary.

4.  Ensure the end of the strap is secure to the winch assembly.

5.  Rewind the winch.

 

Wheels and Hubs

Check lug nuts

1.  Before each use, check torque on all lug nuts.  With trailer wheels blocked to eliminate the chance for accidental movement, tighten each lug nut to 85 foot-pounds.

2.  If replacement nut/nuts are required, ensure you replace with the correct size and type.

 

Grease bearings

There are three widely available types of bearing covers.  Some trailers have a cap (painted or galvanized) on the end of the hub that protects the bearings.  To add grease to this hub assembly, you must disassemble the hub.  With this system, a semi-annual inspection and repacking the bearings is recommended. 

 

The second type of bearing system is a Posi-Lube spindle.  On the end of the spindle is a small ZERK fitting which allows grease to enter the spindle and get routed to the bearing surfaces.  To lubricate this bearing, perform the following steps:

1.  Remove the dust cap from the hub exposing the ZERK fitting.

2.  Using bearing grease, secure the grease gun to the posi-lube ZERK fitting.

3.  Gently add grease.

4.  When grease comes out around the outer edge of the bearing, stop pumping grease.

5.  Reapply the dust cover.

 

The third type uses Bearing Buddies to easy lubrication of the bearing assembly.  Bearing Buddies keep a positive pressure of grease on the bearings limiting the potential intrusion of water and debris into the bearing assembly.  To correctly lubricate a bearing equipped with Bearing Buddies, complete the following steps:

1.  Remove the protective bearing cover from the hub exposing the Bearing Buddy.

2.  Attach a grease gun (with bearing grease) to the ZERK fitting at the center of the Bearing Buddy.

3.  Gently add grease.

4.  When the center plate of the Bearing Buddy starts traveling forward, stop adding grease.  With experience, you will be able to feel the additional pressure against the grease gun when the Bearing Buddies are close to being filled. 

 

NOTE.  If your trailer is not equipped with Bearing Buddies, you can purchase these components at your dealer.  Never apply Bearing Buddies over Posi - Lube Spindles.  The two systems are not compatible when used together

 

CAUTION.  Never use a pneumatic grease gun.   The force of the grease gun can damage or destroy the rear seal.  If your rear seal is damaged you must get it repaired before using the trailer.  Even without a pneumatic grease gun, too much pressure could damage the rear seal. 

 

WARNING.  If you destroy the back seal of the hub assembly and have
drum brakes.  The grease can enter the brakes and erode the
performance of your brakes. 

 

Repacking bearings

At least once a year when equipped with Buddy Bearings or Posi-Lube spindles (and semi-annually when these lubrication systems are not installed) your trailer should have the bearings repacked by your dealer.  Your dealer will perform the following:

1.  Remove the tire.

2.  Remove the dust cover or cap from the hub.

3.  If present, remove the Buddy Bearing.

4.  Remove the cotter pin from the spindle.

5.  If equipped with a tang washer (some torsion axles and posi-lube spindles), bend the ears of the washer and remove. 

 

 CAUTION.  Never re - use a tang washer.  Never use anything but an actual tang washer.  Reusing the tang washer or using a part other than a tang washer can cause the wheel to become separated from your trailer.  This could cause serious property and personal damage. 

 

6.  Back off the axle nut (the large nut on the threaded spindle).

7.  Remove the hub assembly from the axle.

8.  Disassemble the seals and bearings in the hub assembly.

9.  Carefully clean the bearings and hub with mineral spirits (or other parts cleaning liquid).

10. Clean the spindle where the hub is seated on the axle.

11. Perform a careful visual inspection of the spindle face, bearings, hub compartment.  If you notice any cracks, scoring or voids, replace the damage part.  If metal shavings are evident in the grease, replace all bearings and seals.  Magic Tilt strongly recommends replacement of bearings at this same time.

12. Replace (do not reuse) grease seal.

13. Reassemble hub assembly with repacked bearings.  Grease should be applied liberally to all surfaces.

14. Place hub on spindle and secure with axle nut.  While making sure that the bearings properly seat, never over-tighten axle nut.

15. Insert new cotter pin or new tang washer.  Do not reuse either cotter keys or tang washers.  Bend securing device to lock axle nut.

 

WARNING.  By failing to use or improperly using an axle nut securing device (cotter pin or tang washer) you jeopardize your property, your safety and the safety of others.  Always ensure that cotter pins or tang washers have been properly applied. 

 

16.  Re-apply Bearing Buddy and protective bearing cover.

17.  Secure tire to wheel (with 85 ft-lbs of torque per lug nut).  Tire should spin but not wobble when bearings have been properly packed.

This procedure may have to be slightly modified if the trailer is equipped with brakes.

 

 - Back to the top -

 

 

Tires 

 WARNING.  Keep tires properly inflated.  Failure to maintain correct pressure will result in tire wear, potential tire failure and possible loss of control of your trailer.  Improperly maintaining tire pressure will void your warranty but more importantly creates a very dangerous road condition. 

 

 NOTE.  The most common cause of tire wear and tire problems is under inflation.  Verify the tire manufacturer’s requirements by reading the tire sidewall.  Even tires of the same size can have different recommended tire pressures.  Always check tire pressure prior to each use (when tires are cold). 

For tire maintenance remember the acronym PART:

Pressure: Under inflation is a tire’s #1 enemy.  It results in unnecessary tire stress, irregular wear, loss of control and accidents.  A tire can lose up to half of its air pressure and not appear to be flat.  Tires do allow for some leakage of air to occur, especially when stored for extended periods of time.

Alignment: is your vehicle pulling to one side or shaking?  A bad jolt from hitting a curb or pothole can put your vehicle out of alignment and damage your tires.  Check your alignment periodically to ensure your vehicle is properly aligned.

Rotation: promotes uniform tire wear - only required on very large trailers.

Tread: measure it and inspect it.  Advanced and unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to grip the road in adverse conditions.  Visually check your tires for uneven wear, looking for high and low areas or unusually smooth areas.  For most trailer tires, Magic Tilt recommends replacement at least every five years.

 CAUTION.  Driving your vehicle in an overloaded condition is dangerous. 
This can cause excessive heat to build up in your tires.  This can lead to
sudden tire failure and/or serious personal injury. 


Brakes

Checking brake fluid

1.  Remove the brake fluid reservoir cap on top of the actuator.

2.  Refill as necessary using DOT 3 heavy-duty brake fluid to 3/8 inch below the top of the reservoir.

3.  Reapply cap.

 

CAUTION.  Brakes directly affect the safety of your vehicle and everyone else on the road.  No one should attempt brake adjustment, replacement or repair of brake components if they have not been trained in the repair and maintenance of braking systems. 

 

 WARNING.  Allowing your brake system to run low of brake fluid – or using fluids other than brake fluid - could degrade the brake performance and possibly lead to a dangerous road condition. 

 

Check line connections

1.  With your boat removed from your trailer, trace your brake line from the actuator to all brake clusters.

2.  Verify that the brake line does not have cracks, abrasions or holes.  Replace components as necessary.

3.  Verify all brake line connectors are secure and not leaking.  Replace as necessary.

4.  If you have had to replace line and / or connections, you must have your dealer refill the brake fluid and properly bleed your brakes. 

 

WARNING.  Improperly bleeding brakes could cause air to be trapped inside the brake line.  This air could significantly erode brake performance or even render your brakes inoperative.

 

Freshwater flush (Drum Brakes Only)

Freshwater flush is only for trailers with drum brakes installed with a flush kit.  Drum brakes without a flush kit cannot use this procedure.

1.  Secure the male adapter from a standard garden hose to the female adapter located on the trailer frame.

2.  Gently apply freshwater.  You should only apply a very gentle stream of water as more vigorous washing will not aid in removing the salt and debris from the braking system.  Too much water pressure can cause the flush kit connectors to separate and render the flushing system inoperative. 

3.  Drive the trailer around after flushing to dry the brakes.  This prevents the pads from sticking and causing a lock-up.

 

Verify actuator travel

Your actuator operates like a piston.  When fully extended it does not apply pressure to the brake fluid.  When your vehicle slows, the actuator is pressed in (toward the rear of the trailer) and applies pressure to the brake fluid.  The fluid in turn causes the brakes to engage.  Any item or debris that hinders the travel of the actuator diminishes the effectiveness of your brakes.

1.  Annually have your dealer verify the distance over which your actuator travels between fully extended and fully engaged.

2.  Your dealer will compare this travel distance to information in your brake owner’s manual or published brake system operating characteristics.

3.  Your dealer may also apply a lightweight oil to inhibit rust from accumulating on the actuator.

 

Adjust brakes (Drum Brakes)

Brake adjustments should only be done by a qualified mechanic.  Magic Tilt strongly encourages you to return to the dealer where you purchased your boat, trailer and engine.  Only this dealer understands the unique nature of your boating equipment as well as the local road conditions.  

 WARNING.  Failure to complete brake adjustments correctly can
result in diminished or loss of braking.  Brakes adjusted too tightly can
cause premature failure of the brakes. Any maladjustment can
lead to property and / or personal damage. 

Correct the adjustment of your drum brakes after the first 50 miles of operation, again after another 300 miles and then every 600 miles.  Regardless of the amount of miles you put on your trailer, Magic Tilt recommends a drum brake adjustment at least annually. 

Adjust each wheel brake assembly separately.  To perform this maintenance, the mechanic will have to safely jack up your trailer.  When scheduling your service appointment, you may wish to ask the mechanic whether they can remove your boat from the trailer or if you will have to make arrangements to have the boat taken off the trailer.   

To complete this adjustment, the mechanic will do the following:

1.  Locate the brake adjustor - behind slot at bottom of the back side of each backing plate. 

2.  Tighten adjustor with brake adjustment tool until you cannot rotate the wheel by hand. 

3.  Caution, only rotate the drum forward.

4.  Back off the adjustment ten notches (or ten clicks). 

 

Adjust brakes (Disc Brakes)

1.  There is not an adjustment procedure for disc brakes. If you suspect brake problems, take your trailer to your dealer immediately.

 

Checking pads, rotors, master cylinder

Annually, you should ask a mechanic to complete a visual inspection of your brakes.  They will complete many of the same steps used to adjust your brakes, plus:

1.  Visually inspect all components, looking for uneven wearing, cracking, warping or corrosion.

2.  With brake pads, your dealer will recommend replacing the pads when they are approximately 1/8” thick or less (new pads are usually 3/8 inch thick).

3.  If your dealer discovers bent rotors, inoperable master cylinders or other defective parts, the dealer will replace those parts.

4.  At the conclusion of the inspection, the dealer will reassemble the brake system, fill the system with approved brake fluid, verify there are no leaks and bleed the braking system.
 

- Back to the top

Electrical

Check tail lights / brake lights / verifying ground

1.  Before attaching the wire harness from the trailer to the wire harness from the tow vehicle, trace the wiring system from the tow vehicle to the trailer and back.  Look for bare wires, cracked or chafed insulation and corroded or rusted terminals. 

2.  While tracing the system, verify the white ground wire is connected to the trailer frame.  Your tail lights may have an independent grounding system (evident from a short white wire from the tail light assembly).  Verify that this wire is also securely attached to the trailer frame.

3.  Replace any wires, wire harnesses or securing screws that are damaged, worn or missing.

4.  Attach the wiring harness from the tow vehicle to the trailer.  If equipped with disc brakes, also attach the single wire for the reverse lock-out solenoid.

5.  Have another person depress the brake pedal and the turn signals while you remain behind the trailer and verify that the correct lights illuminate on both the trailer and the tow vehicle.

 NOTE.  It is a good practice to activate your tow vehicles emergency
flashers whenever backing your trailer.  This will cause your rear lights
on your trailer to illuminate. 

6.  On trailers equipped with disc brakes - to verify the reverse solenoid works correctly, gently back the trailer.

 

7.  Replace cracked, damaged or poorly illuminating bulbs.  Replace crack, work or defective light shields and light covers.  Some tail lights have a removable insert that can be removed through the bottom of the tail light.  With these tail lights, you do not have to remove the lens cover to gain access to the tail light bulbs or their sockets.

 

8.  A small amount of electrical socket grease on plug contacts and light bulb bases will help prevent rust and corrosion.

 

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Winterization Procedures 

Storing Your Trailer

1.  Park in a protected area such as garage, carport, etc.  If you cannot park in a protected area, cover your trailer with a boat cover or tarp.

 

2.  Repack wheel bearings to remove any lingering water or debris.

 

 NOTE. If water stands on bearing surfaces for as short a time as several weeks without the wheel being turned, rust and bearing damage will begin.  Before storing the trailer for prolonged periods, bearings should be re-packed.

3.  Lubricate moving parts such as rollers, winches and other rolling parts with lightweight household oil.

 

4.  Tighten loose nuts and bolts.

 

5.  Block the wheels, or better, jack up the trailer so the tires do not come in contact with the ground.  If your boat and trailer are not protected in a car port, garage or with a boat cover, you should still cover the tires to protect against ultra-violet rays.

 

6.  Block the tongue and crank the tongue jack to the completely closed position. 

 

Removing Your Trailer From Storage 

1.   Apply lightweight oil to winch gears.

2.   Verify tightness of lug nuts.

3.   Check air pressure in tires.

4.   Check tread and general appearance of tires.

5.   Verify brake fluid levels.

6.   Check brake line for signs of rot or damage and replace as necessary.

7.   Complete a full electrical check (as defined previously).

8.   If equipped with Buddy Bearings or Posi-Lube spindles, apply additional grease. 

 

Troubleshooting Guide

Trailer

Boat loading - boat is difficult to load

1.  Verify that your trailer is partially submerged.  You should not be using your winch to forcefully pull your boat onto your trailer.

2.  Check for obstructions on your boat (hull or equipment).

3.  Check for obstructions on your trailer.

4.  See your dealer - they may be able to adjust your trailer for your unique boating needs. 

Boat unloading - boat is difficult to unload

1.  Verify that your trailer is partially submerged - your boat should partially float off your trailer.

2.  Verify you have unhooked winch strap and tie-down straps.

3.  Verify your motor is not impacting the ramp and / or ground.

4.  See your dealer - they may be able to adjust your trailer for your unique boating needs.

Overweight - trailer is overloaded 

 NOTE. Please pay careful attention to the selection of your boat motor and auxiliary equipment.  Today’s larger horsepower motors have greatly increased the weight placed on the boat’s transom.  In addition, larger fuel and water tanks, trolling motors, extra batteries and tee tops add considerable weight. 

1.  Remove excess gear while towing your boat

2.  Verify that the hull is structurally sound as this may be the first sign that the water has entered into the hull lining or is trapped in one of the holds.

3.  Contact your dealer.  Your dealer will work with Magic Tilt to determine if you trailer can be modified (with larger axles, different tires) to accommodate your unique needs. 


Coupler

Improper coupler fit

1.   Verify the hitch ball and coupler are the same size.

2.   Verify the coupler is free from debris.

3.   Verify that the hitch ball is securely fastened to the tow vehicle.

4.   For hand-wheel coupler only, verify operation of hand-wheel and attached pawl.

5.   See your dealer - You should not attempt additional adjustments to the hitch.

 

Winch

Fails to operate

1.  Verify handle is securely fasten to winch and engaged.

2.  Extend cable, rope or strap completely and verify that it is securely fastened to the winch barrel.

3.  Visually inspect gears for signs of wear and replace gears as necessary.

 

Wheels / Hubs

Excessive heat

Note. You should never attempt to touch any vehicles hubs - all hubs get warm during operation.  Only test with an appropriate tester (e.g. temple stick).

 After the hub has cooled:

1.  Try adding grease via Posi-Lube or Buddy Bearing.

2.  Verify brake fluid levels.

3.  Verify reverse solenoid (if equipped with disc brakes) is properly secured.

4.  Have your dealer inspect and repack your bearings.

5.  Have your dealer verify your brake adjustment.

 

Free spinning / cross-threaded / damaged lugs.

1.  Have your dealer replace damaged lugs and lug nuts.

 

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Tires

Tire wear / Uneven tire wear

1.   Check tire pressure.

2.   Check to see if an object (such as the fender) is rubbing against the tire when the boat is on the   trailer.

3.   Check to see that the hubs do not have excessive wobble. This could indicate improperly packed hubs or wear on hub components.

4.   Check trailer capacity versus towing load.

5.   Check trailer alignment. 

Brakes 

 WARNING.  Brake maintenance should only be accomplished by a trained mechanic.  Improper adjustment repair or maintenance voids the manufacturer’s
warranty and may cause serious personal and property damage. 

 Lock-up

  • See your dealer immediately.  Your dealer will investigate whether the problem has been caused by:

a.   low fluid and air in the system - replace fluid and bleed system.

b.   actuator malfunction - repair or replace actuator.

c.   cylinder malfunction - replace defective cylinders.

d.   individual component damage - repair or replace as needed.

e.   inadvertent backing without the reverse lockout solenoid hooked up - repair or replace as needed.

 

Poor brake performance.

  • See your dealer immediately.  Your dealer will investigate whether the problem has been caused by:

a.   brakes out of adjustment - adjust brakes.

b.   foreign material in brake line - flush and clean thoroughly, re-bleed system.

c.   low fluid level - fill and bleed brakes to eliminate any trapped air.

d.   broken or pinched brake lines - replace or repair as required.

e.   actuator malfunction - repair or replace actuator.

f.   residual pressure in brake line - the older hydraulic drum brake systems required that 10-12 psi residual pressure be maintained in order to keep the wheel cylinder piston seals seated.  To accomplish this, many surge brake actuators have a small diaphragm type check valve installed just inside of master cylinder output port. 

 

Unable to back-up (disc brakes).  Reverse solenoid valve is inoperative. 

1.  Check connection to tow vehicle back-up light circuit.  Connection should be free from dirt, water and debris.

2.  Check trailer ground connection (do not depend on hitch ball connection to provide ground).  Trailer should have dedicated ground wire (white) connected to grounding screw.

3.  Check tow vehicle back-up light circuit.  You should be able to hear a ‘click’ when 12 v. DC is applied to lead wire.

 

Electrical

Lights don’t work

1.  Verify wire harnesses are free of dirt, debris and water and are properly attached.  Verify that the two harnesses properly mate - are the same type.

2.  Check vehicle, that towing vehicle lights work

3.  Check ground on trailer and and ground on tail lights (if equipped with separate tail light ground circuit).

4.  Look for any pinched, frays or cut wires and replace as necessary.  Before replacing, disconnect the trailer from the tow vehicle and verify that there is no charge in the trailer circuitry.

5.  Check bulbs and replace as necessary.  Many trailers are equipped with snap-out inserts.  These inserts allow you to easily access the bulbs by removing the insert. 
 

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