Saturday, August 19, 2017

Trailer and solar boat

I'm glad I've decided to change out the bearings on the boat trailer. They aren't in bad shape, but the inner seals are gone. I've compensated by keeping everything well greased. The downside of that is that grease leaks out and splatters all over the wheel.

As it turns out the local auto parts place has to order the new seals all the way from Ohio. I'm glad I'm not stuck on the side of the road while waiting for parts to come in. Even though the bearings look good, I'm going to change them anyway. Might as well since everything is all apart. The old bearings look good enough to save for emergency spares.

Some years ago I built a wooden box to act as a sort of lazarette on the sailboat. It held a 6 gallon marine gas tank. The gas motor is long gone and I've been using an electric trolling motor to move the boat. I'm thinking of mounting a second battery in the box along with a charge controller. My 50 watt panel would just about fit on top of that.

The boat currently has just a 30 watt panel. That's been sufficient to run the boat's electronics and the trolling motor. If I use the motor a lot it may take a few days for the battery to charge up. That's not a problem here on the lake. It might be on the ocean.

That's why I'm putting in a second completely separate solar electric system. Both the trolling motor and the boat's electronics are connected to the battery with jumper cables. It would be easy to switch them from one battery to another.

The trolling motor moves the boat at about half the speed of the gas. That's sufficient for moving in and out of anchorages and marinas. In a pinch, it will move the boat for quite a few miles. While not as fast as gas, it's a whole lot more convenient. The motor is quiet and I'm not hauling gas around. Plus, the batteries are charging from the sun.

The best part of this project is that I do it without spending any more money. No, the best part is that it will actually do the job. The money thing is bonus.



  1. I'm kind of surprised they didn't have the seals in stock, most trailer bearing set ups are fairly standard.
    It's really surprising that they had to go clear to Ohio to find some.
    I think I'd have gotten a couple of sets if that was the case.

    Having two solar set ups is way cool and you are indeed double fortunate cost wise.

    1. I was surprised too. They only had one bearing in stock, but the others were in their local warehouse.

      No idea why the seals were such a big deal.

      The solar electric systems aren't big, but my needs are small so it works.

  2. Replies
    1. I think so. Solar works great on the boat. No overhanging trees and the sun reflects off the water.

  3. Better safe than sorry, right?

  4. Electric trolling motor are handy. Yet they sure limit where you can go.
    One day you should do the Okeechobee waterway and it's just not possible without a fuel type motor.
    The Shark river is also another must do trip back into Hazard bay, the heart of the Everglades. Gotta have an outboard for many of those narrow waterways or locks.

    1. I hear you. I know the limits.

      I've been up the Little Shark but not too far. The mosquitoes were fierce.

      Also went into the Lostman River.
      Pretty tricky to get in and out of there.

      I'm going to do some more experiments here on the lake with electric motors and push the limits a bit.

      I could always get a gas outboard in FL if I needed one.

  5. Trailer parts are usually easy to get. If your local shop can't, you can get em via Amazon, usually. Likely cheaper too.

    As cheap as bearings are, I'd buy new and keep 'em in a ziploc with a wad of grease. (and in another bag, a hammer and punch to drive out the old race from the hub).

    Pretty much all you need on the side of the road.