View Full Version : Boatless Trailer Towing Problem

Shoemaker Mobius
09-24-2004, 10:09 AM
Please note that I also posted this in the General section - I really need help.

Help!!! Last night, for the first time since we purchased our 2004 Mobius LSV, I trailered the boat to our normal launch and let my son and his friends take the boat out by themselves. Since I don't feel comfortable with my son's driving and backing abilities with the car and trailer, I drove to the launch ramp, helped him launch the boat and then I drove home with the empty trailer. The plan was that about 4 hours later I would drive back to the launch ramp and pick him and the boat up. So, I had never driven any real distance with the trailer empty. The trailer is the standard Boatmate trailer, single axle, no swing away tongue, just the straight one. Here's the problem. The drive from the launch ramp to my home is about 20 miles of highway/city type driving. On the highway, while the trailer felt a little loose, it was no problem. However, several times toward the end of my journey, when braking to come to a stop, from about the 20-10mph range down to the final stop, the trailer would begin to buck violently, enough to actually shake the entire car (a 2wd Ford Explorer). It scared the devil out of me and my wife. After it did it the first time, I began driving much slower and trying to ease into braking, but that seemed to actually make it worse. We were able to get home and immediately called the dealer to find out what to do. The service manager tried to be helpful, but basically he indicated that the trailers were not meant to be towed long distances without the weight of the boat on them; that the trailer brakes were activating and we were experiencing "brake chatter". He said he had gotten a lot of complaints about this. He said that the way the trailer worked was the trailer brakes were engaging as they were supposed to, but because the trailer was empty, the brakes on the trailer engaged as if they were stopping the fully weighted trailer which would then cause the trailer to buck. He indicated that there really was nothing that could be done, but suggested that I deinflate the tires approx. 10 psi below the psi posted on the tires, that that would help. I asked him if as I braked, if I released my car brakes would that release the trailer brake. His answer was no, that the trailer brakes are activated by the coupler on the tongue, that as the trailer pushes toward the car, the coupler closes and engages the trailer brakes (i.e., they are not at all activated by my car's brakes).

For the return trip, I did deflate the tires to about 50psi. I also decided that as approaching a stop, I would brake hard, then release and ease up to the stop. That seemed to be better. One thing of note was that when the trailer was bucking, I could see in the mirrors that the wheels were rolling - the first time it did it I was afraid that the trailer brakes had locked and the tires were just dragging and bouncing along the road, but that was not the case. Given that I was trying to control my car and praying the violent bucking was not going to just rip the trailer and my hitch off the car, I could not just constantly watch the tires to see if they were always rolling, but they did seem to be. I did not see any skid marks on the road and the tires did not seem to have any skid type indications on them. Also, I did verify that the hubs were still full of oil and intact.

So, has anyone else had this happen? Is this really just the way it is? If so, I will never tow this trailer any appreciable distance without the boat on it. With the boat on the trailer I have never had any problems at all. Please let me know.

09-24-2004, 04:50 PM
Try pulliung it without the trailer brakes activated?? This would avoid the brakes from engaging and disengaging which would seem to be the cause of the bucking action. Just remember to engage the trailer brakes again when the boat is back on.

Shoemaker Mobius
09-29-2004, 02:41 PM
Update - I spoke to Brian Raymond who spoke to Owen at Boatmate about the problem. It looked like there was a solution. Brian Raymond, if you read this, I had Brian from South Austin Marine (SAM) contact Owen for the solution. However, I spoke with Brian from SAM this morning and he indicated that my trailer already has the fix on it. He is waiting for Owen to get back with him - something to do with looking at the shock absorbers on the trailer. Can you contact Brian at SAM to see what gives? I asked Brian about the key others posted about that when inserted disengages the trailer brakes. Brian said they do not give them to customers because they do not fasten in and tend to fall out.

Shoemaker Mobius
10-04-2004, 09:07 AM
And so the saga continues. After I took my boat and trailer to the dealer, I spoke with Brian Raymond from Skier's Choice, who spoke to Owen at Boatmate. According to Owen, in early 2004, Boatmate realized they had a problem and added some type of mechanism that, when the trailer is empty, does something that makes the brake fluid flow slower so the brakes are depressed on the trailer much more gradually, thus not locking up the brakes. I was to get in touch with Owen last Monday and he would contact my dealer's service department to arrange to get the retrofit sent to them. I spoke with my service manager and he knew Owen and agreed to work it out directly with him. Sounds great, right? Well, after speaking with Owen, my service manager found out that my trailer already had the retrofit installed so there was some other problem. He and Owen were investigating something to do with the trailer shocks and he would get back to me. Last Friday, the service manager called and indicated that they found major damage to the axle and supporting pieces - so bad that the axle was actually moving several inches forward and back. He is waiting for replacement parts and will let me know when it is ready.

Here's my concern. This is a brand new boat and trailer in February 2004. We have approx. 65 hours on the boat. It has been trailered not more than 200 miles total on well paved roads only. Why is the trailer breaking down? I am concerned that the bucking we experienced with the empty trailer caused the damage and that when the damage is fixed, we'll still have the empty trailer problem. Any clues??

07-30-2006, 02:45 AM
I am having the same exact problem with my trailer...has anyone come up with a solution. Thanks

Shoemaker Mobius
07-30-2006, 12:52 PM
I haven't posted in a long time, but while the dealer and boatmate went out of their way to help, the problem still exists. After repairing the trailer, replacing both wheels with new wheels, tires and balancing the combo, there is just too much flex in the trailer. With or without the lockout key, the trailer is just too bouncy when it doesn't have the 3,000 plus pound boat on it. When it is empy, you can lift on the rear end of the trailer and with very little effort get it bouncing up to a foot in the air. I just don't believe there is enough cross member support in the trailer. I don't know if this is a problem with all makes of heavy boat trailers, but I thiink it is a very serious, safety risk, bad design on the trailer. I am guessing a tandem axle trailer does not have the same issues. The only solution I have is we don't tow the trailer without the boat anymore.