Hitches, Winches, Jacks
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For a safe and hassle-free trailering experience it is imperative that key trailering components like your boat trailer hitch, winch and jack be in serviceable condition. For those who are new to trailering, let’s go over the part each of these items plays in a boat trailering system.
Boat Trailer Hitches and Couplers
A boat hitch consists of a hitch ball located on a vehicle’s towbar that fits to a trailer coupler which is located at the forward end of a trailer tongue. After the coupler is lowered onto the trailer ball (they need to be matched for the ball’s diameter) a snap-down lever is activated with a trigger action release handle, which pulls up a clamping mechanism against the underside of the ball. This results in a tight and secure connection between the vehicle and the trailer and prevents the coupler from flying off the ball when the trailer goes over a bump in the road. When selecting a hitch ball, be sure to select one that is rated to handle your trailer’s gross weight, and that fits your trailer’s hitch coupler. For more help with selecting a trailer hitch coupler, please read our West Advisor article Sizing up Trailer Hitches and Couplers.
Boat Trailer Hitch Jacks
Boat trailer jacks are used for lowering or raising a trailer coupler onto or off a trailer hitch ball. Without a hitch jack, you’re left lifting the trailer onto the hitch by hand, which may not be your idea of a good time! For saltwater use, we suggest a jack that can withstand the corrosive saltwater environment. Examples include hitch jacks made of aluminum or galvanized steel models. Freshwater boats can economize with powder-coated steel jacks. When selecting a hitch jack, be sure to select one rated to handle the gross trailer weight. For more help with selecting a trailer hitch jack, read our West Advisor article Choosing a Trailer Jack for Your Boat.
Boat Trailer Winches
Trailer winches are located on trailer tongues forward of where a boat’s bow comes to rest against the trailer’s bow stop. They are indispensable for pulling a boat out of the water and on to its trailer. Manual and electric trailer winches are offered. When selecting a boat trailer winch, be sure to choose one rated to handle the gross trailer weight. For more help with making a selection, please read our West Advisor article Selecting a Trailer Winch.
Other Trailer Hardware
Other items required when creating or upgrading your boat’s trailer include a safety chain, tie-down straps, and a coupler pin to ensure the coupler does not accidentally release from the hitch ball. For a more in-depth guide to trailer maintenance and repair, please read our West Advisor article Do-it-Yourself: Safe and Trouble-Free Trailering.