RL24, RL28, and RL34 Trailable Yachts
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I have almost completed a major refurb of AWOL's Nathan tandem boat trailer. I've struck a seemingly minor but potentially major problem.

The axles, along with everything else on the undercarriage, needed grinding back, anti-rusting, and fish-oiling and fishplates and U bolts were replaced. The axles were about 40mm square but after descaling rust and grinding back they are now about 36 -- 38mm where the U bolts attach springs to the axles. The U bolts are 40mm internal consequently there is a gap of a few mm between the U bolts and axles. I'm told they should be flush to prevent movement.

I do not want to replace the old axles with new axles especially having treated them, replaced bearings etc and having refitted them. Additionally, on the cable operated, disc brake, front axle, a new axle would require brake attachment modification to suit my 25 year old brake system.

A trailer manufacturer / repairer recommended axle replacement. Although they relied on my sketch and description rather than a physical examination, they gave a few reasons against my suggestions of either accepting the gap (and consequences), or stuffing shims or spacers into the gaps and, as a supplementary strenghtener, welding the bottom spring pad to the old axles. (That's the little pad seated between springs and axle with a hole in which the spring thru-bolt seats).

A major objection was that Dept of Transport might not like my solutions and if the repairers did the modifications then they might be liable. This consideration may have affected acceptance / rejection of my various solutions. This may well of been a factor in their recommendation of axle replacement; a quick and safe, but expensive solution all round.

I expect that not a few sailors will suggest that I take the trailer manufacturer / repairer's advice and it may well be that I will do that. However, as much time, money and effort has been expended to date and as zero sailing has been done for months (including my much discussed Mooloolaba 'outside trip') I am eager to find a quick fix.

Even if it was a short term rather than long term fix I would consider it as it would allow me to get out for the big trip and also allow me time to save the pennies for 2 x axle replacement.

I'm in need of advice! As I have little competence in mechanical / engineering matters I am sure that any comments or contributions will assist me greatly.

Best wishes
Toyota Landcruiser HJ45
(Which weighs twice that of the boat and trailer and can effectively tow without trailer brakes)
Terry30-Jan-2006    Edit    Delete 
You haven't said whether you have a round axle or a square one. If it is square, you could weld 2 peices of angle iron where the U bolts are located in opposing direction forming a new square. If it is a round axle replacement is probably the best option. Good luck
Martyn30-Jan-2006    Edit    Delete 
As the RL24 is not a heavy boat and has been transported on single axle trailers I think your axles although down to about their minimum acceptable size would be OK. I would be looking to replace them in the near future and certainly before traveling long distances. To overcome the U bolt clearance I would cut some short pieces of appropriate size tube and slip them over the U bolts before assembly this would reduce or even eliminate the clearance problem.
The inside of the tube should be filled with grease to minimise corrosion.

Kingsley White
Kingsley White31-Jan-2006    Edit    Delete 
Posted on Trailer Sailor Place

Well, I was quite overwhelmed by the responses to my Ďhelpí call. I was really impressed with the quality of information and I would like to thank everyone for their time and effort in assisting me. Iíll post a copy of this message on the RL24 site as a few members there gave me some additional valuable information.

Previously I said that I donít have much mechanical/engineering competence and the following admission will confirm it. When I bought the U bolts and fishplates from a large Toowoomba based trailer/caravan accessories supplier I was unaware that axles came in three sizes. I took the old items with me and purchased all replacements off the same supplier. Whilst there I tried to fit a new U bolt into a new fishplate. It would not fit however the manager told me that it was OK and that the fishplate was a universal type, that my old fishplate was no longer made and that I could spread the U bolt a little. This of course increased the gap between the axle and U bolts.

I have just finished much enquiring around Ipswich, Toowoomba and in between and have rated technical knowledge and professionalism in descending order as: No 1, trailer manufacturers/repairers, No 2, general engineering workshop, No 10, trailer/caravan accessory suppliers. I will confine my few comments to the No 1 category.

All of the three No 1 repairers declined to build up the axle. All said that Dept of Tpt disliked modifications and there might be litigation potential. Two insisted that a gap was not a problem provided I welded the bottom pad to the axle. Both stressed that the welds must be along the axle, not across it. Despite the fact that they sold axles, and knowing that I would have a local workshop weld the pads, they deliberately passed up a sale. I was impressed by their integrity and knowledge.

The third No 1 repairer made the same Dept of Tpt comment and pushed me towards a replacement axle solution. All in all, given the amount of repair and new work they had on their plate it was obvious that sale of two axles was more attractive to them than fiddly messing about. I recalled Yachtie Daveís advice: ĎNot to upset anyone , but 1mm wear from each side is nothing, it's an old sales trick I used myself as a mechanic. í
Thanks for the insight Dave.

So much for old 40mm fishplates being no longer made, as claimed by three accessory suppliers. I purchased four (new) from a repairer at $2.50 each, he buys them constantly and he did not hold accessory suppliers in high regard

Once again, thanks very much for all of the valuable information. Iíll stick it out with the old axles for the time being but Iíll keep a close watch on them. Also Iíll try tilt rather than float launching so that should help. It is a midnight motorway tow to Horizon Shores when I sail so towing conditions are good.

One last point. Whilst recognizing that a tandem trailer is perhaps an overkill for an RL24, there is one advantage. Years ago I towed a tandem box trailer to Melbourne when a hub disintegrated, wheel went over a cliff, and stub was wrecked. The trailer was full of valuables so I could not leave it to fetch help from the nearest town. A farmer stopped, jacked up the axle, tied a rope to the axle which he crossed over the trailer and with a truckers hitch suspended the axle midair. I drove to his farm on three wheels with the stub about 8 inches off the ground.

This has been a valuable exchange for me and Iím sure there will be many others who will have benefited.

Best wishes
Toyota Landcruiser HJ45

Terry31-Jan-2006    Edit    Delete 
I wouldn't stress too much about your axles getting a bit thin, but you realise that by continually dunking them the process will continue. I have a single axle trailer and try to avoid wetting more than the tyres. I think the trailer is about 23 years old and as far as I know, original.
A 40 mm axle is rated (I think) at about 1000 kg, so losing 10% on 2 sides should bring it back to about 800 kg. This is bush maths and if anyone thinks I have it wrong, please say so.
Assuming your boat and trailer go about 1000 kg, you should be OK if you have a load sharing axle setup.
If you keep floating the boat on and off, you will eventually need to replace axles, springs, brakes and probably some of the trailer frame.
In the meantime, a packer between the axle and the U bolt, probably something like a piece of 35 x 3 flat, should help keep things tight. The thinner axle (top and bottom) should be taken up by the U bolts.
To slow down the deterioration process:
Always wash salt water off your trailer every time you get home.
Take the time to give your trailer a spray down with liquid lanolin when the boat is off, about 6 monthly.
How are your springs? In my experience, they go before axles. Rust gets in between the leaves and it doesn't take long before leaves start to break. Lanolin helps postpone the end.
mike9-Feb-2006    Edit    Delete 

Thanks very much for the advice Mike.

I've just completed the refurb of the trailer which included rust removal, anti-rusting and fish oiling of springs and axles. Yes, the springs were badly rusted but were able to be returned to an acceptable standard. Additionally I've replaced all thru bolts, U bolts, bearings, seals etc.

The trailer has come up quite well and I would like to keep it that way. Consequently I am going to do away with floating the boat on and off and next time I'll try to launch/retrieve with the trailer's tilt mechanism. I've never used it before so it should be interesting.

I have always washed the boat and trailer down after use with the marina's high pressure hose and I'll continue to do so, but I agree that keeping the trailer out of the water is important.

Thanks again Mike.
Best wishes.

Terry9-Feb-2006    Edit    Delete 

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