For those of us who tend to keep our toys a long time, we have to experience things many folks have yet to endure. At our home, many of our toys and vehicles have some age on them. I have always been one of those folks who keep stuff for many years; probably more years than they were designed to last. This means making decisions like, do I buy new or do I just fix up or restore the older and paid for toys. My latest challenge, the boat trailer chronicles.
My current bass boat is 27 years old. Over the years it has provided solid dependable service, well, until the last few years. Recent typical motor issues caused me to really study and then decide whether to buy a new motor or endure another repair. I chose repair with the understanding one day a new motor may be likely. The repair wound up costing $4.5K versus $13K for a new motor. Fact is, it was more in line with my available cash resources.
A couple of years following the motor repair, it became painfully obvious my boat trailer was experiencing some stress. Surfaces were rusting, bunks were beginning to rot and there is an increasing amount of unusual tire wear being noticed. After a couple of flat tires and attempts to spruce up the bunks, I reached a decision to investigate purchasing another trailer.
The trailer replacement process began by researching possible sources for used trailers. This quickly revealed not many trailers were available and certainly not available in my general locale. I did locate a couple trailers, but upon inspection determined they really were no better than what I currently have. Besides, they seem to be rather costly. This is when I reached a decision to go ahead and buy a new trailer. Now all I had to do was find out where to get something to fit my old bass boat.
In my mind, I established what I believed to be an adequate budget. Unfortunately, I had no real data to establish my budget so I performed an anal extraction that became my first budget. I felt $2.5K was a reasonable amount, but I had not considered what I wanted versus what I needed. It turned out the extracted number should have been about $3K. So as I believed my new budgetary number the search began. I contacted some of the bigger names in the trailer business only to learn what I wanted was not really in their strike zone. Most of the trailer manufactures’ work through dealerships. I learned through the search process these dealers don’t have the knowledge nor prepared to have a rational discussion about the trailers. They could speak a bit about what was available but offered no other alternatives or customization opportunities. One company even stated they are just getting into bass boats and really did not have a product like what I was requesting.
Being somewhat frustrated by not finding a trailer source, I called Ranger Boats and was connected to their trailer department. They made it very clear they were not interested in building a trailer to fit the older hulls but would sell a trailer for their current production series. My reply was, “Thanks, but no thanks” and I continued with the search. My buddy Terry G observed my frustration and told me he has heard of a builder in Charleston, SC with a great reputation. I relented and give them a call. I was so impressed with my initial contact with them it became my first choice to begin the process to acquire a new trailer.
After my initial inquiry with Charleston Trailer, I was encouraged to take the next steps with them–begin to price out my specs for a new trailer. We went back and forth a number of times as we modified the total requirement and priced the options I wanted. Charleston Trailer was very upfront with what they did and didn’t provide and offered solutions or sources I might want to consider if they were unable to support an item. As the process moved forward we finally arrived at a trailer specifically tailored to my needs.
It was important for me to have 15” tires with disk brakes and supported by a 6000-pound torsion axle system. I wanted the construction to be capable of withstanding brackish water and I wanted all hardware to be stainless steel, aluminum or galvanized components. Above all, I wanted a trailer safe and compatible for over the road travel and not just the local jaunt to the river. I wanted the security of knowing if I wanted to tow to other lakes like Lake Norman, Lake Murray, Guntersville, locations in Tennessee and Florida, the trailer would be of the proper design to accomplish over the road situations.
I greatly expanded my requirements, but I was convinced if I was going do this then I’d get what I want. I did overspend my budget quite a bit. With all of the heavy-duty things I wanted, the price now was slightly over $4K. I agreed to the contract price and now had to rustle up the money to pay for my acquisition. After cashing in some dividends, I was able to have cash in hand, but it took about three weeks to make it all happen. During this time period, Charleston Trailer came to Myrtle Beach and measured my trailer and boat to order the raw materials. I sent my check to Charleston Trailer and the build process began.
Within a week of paying for the trailer they called and informed me they were ready for me to bring my boat to their shop. With my wife on board, we hooked up the boat and headed to Charleston. This was a one-way trip for the old trailer. When we arrived in Charleston we saw the new trailer on the build jig and I took a couple of pictures. I was truly amazed at how large the I beams of the trailer are and had to remember I wanted heavy duty and heavy duty is what they are providing.
Arriving back home, I was surprised to find some additional pictures had been sent via e-mail showing considerable progress since our morning visit.
Now I am really excited. The following day another picture arrived and now I am just beside myself with excitement as it begins to look like a boat trailer.
I received the final picture of the boat on the trailer and everything complete. Since this last picture only shows one side, I did have some questions for the builder. My first question, where is the spare tire and spare tire mount located. Hopefully, it is on the starboard side. If not, they have time to put it on. My other question concerned the guide length at the rear of the trailer. Okay, I know they put them on everything they build, but I really don’t need them or they need to be a whole lot shorter to clear the garage door. Granted, these are simple questions but still need answers. I have a hunch the guides are removable or can be shortened to the same height as the top of the motor cowling. Otherwise, the trailer turned out very nice. Until I see it in person I will just have to ogle the picture. I have since learned the spare tire is to be mounted on the starboard side as seen on the following picture. The tire had just not yet been mounted. Charleston Trailer is also cutting down the guideposts to 6.5’ above the roadway enabling entry into the garage.
In closing, I just wanted to let everyone know, I’ve have never worked with a more cooperative and knowledgeable organization than Charleston Trailer. These folks know their business and above all, they know how to treat a customer. They have gone totally out of their way to make me satisfied. Past reviews indicate this is their normal operating style. Everything about this build was documented immediately and sent to me via e-mail. Phone calls are returned in a timely manner and while visiting their shop they were more than happy to answer any of our questions and show us what would be taking place on our build. There were no secrets here and totally up-front communications. I am truly impressed. Thank you, Ron and Maggie Neilson, for your expert help. FYI, the old trailer is being chopped into pieces and properly scrapped, Charleston Trailer also handled this.