Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Batboat Rebuild: trailer improvements.

In late November through early December I worked on the trailer coupler. Most of the time was waiting for layers of paint to cure, finding spare time and good weather.

While mounting it, I found out what NOT to do if one decides to paint a trailer coupler.

I hope you learn not to make the same mistake I did.

First, however, the package with the new safety chain set from had arrived; Seasense brand Stainless Steel Trailer Safety Chain, Class 1, 2000lbs.

I am extremely surprised, happy and impressed with the set. Heavy, shiny and high quality. Most importantly, they are made of stainless steel that will never rust and the safety links won't come undone while on the road. Well worth the $28.

A "Trailer Jack Wheel Stop" was added to the order. With the Batboat on a paved driveway now there is a problem with the trailer moving when I'm in it, sometimes causing the jack to collapse, slamming the front end into the concrete. Problem solved for $2.90.

All the stuff

After a week of shopping around I had a new coupler.

For some reason, all of the big box retailers in this area carry the Reese couplers but oddly only WalMart had them with extras and $10 lower in price.

WalMart had the 1 7/8 ball couplers with a tethered pin and spacers to accommodate my 2 inch channel; things to keep an eye out for. Other places carried Reese and other brands but with no extras. Lowes, Meijer, Gander Mountain, Handy Andy, Menards, and more. I don't get it.

Also, while the competitors priced Reese couplers at $20+, WalMart stocked them at $11.86.

Spacers that reduce the 3 inch channel coupler to fit 2 inch channeled trailers.

I wacked the tounge into shape to clamp the coupler on it square to enable the drilling of the bolt holes.

Clamp held it and the spacers into place.

Important information about installing a coupler!

The two holes on the top are NOT for mounting but are there for manufacturing. They anchor the raw steel plate in the forming press to make everything symmetrical.

An iboats forum member explains "Without an anchoring system the dies could pull the plate off location giving a ill formed product. Like too much material on one side of the ball socket, not enough on the other for example."

Use all four side holes.

I had already paid $2 for its stainless steel fittings so one rear top hole was also used.

Before mounting it, I painted the coupler.

To property paint this I did the following. The oily factory coating was removed by scrubbing with Acetone and a rag. The metal surface was scuffed up with coarse grit sand paper and cleaned with Acetone. The next day, White Krylon primer spray paint was built up in many thin coats followed by thin layers of Sunshine Yellow Krylon and left to cure for several days.

Why yellow, you may wonder? It was left over from making my trusty Batman utility belt! lol

The coupler turned out nice.

When time and weather permitted, it was mounted to the trailer.

One thing I never considered was the fragility of Krylon paint, sadly. A little chipped under the pressure from the washers as I tightened the bolts on top and also on several spots while handling it.

The dings aren't visible unless one looks closely for them but I regret doing the spray paint job. I strongly recommend that if you want to color the coupler, dismantle the locking mechanism first and take the main body into a professional shop to get powder coated!!! Put the locking part back in and leave it bare. The act of locking it down digs into paint if painted.

I hope you learned not to make the same mistake I did.

However, considering that the Batboat is the main priority and the trailer is at the bottom I am not that worried about it too much. Perhaps I will take it off, remove the paint and have it powder coated in the future.

$6.75 worth of various stainless steel 3/8 inch bolts, washers, lock nuts, nuts, and more prove this coupler is never falling off! :)

The chain looks great on it and is the right length for my hitch set-up.

At last a coupler mounted square on the tounge. I will finally be able to back the Batboat into the water without it veering off in strange directions. lol!

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