Trailer Wheels – Who’d Have Thought It ?!

There was a little discussion in the Club Bar about a member who had to stop on the motorway only to find one trailer tyre virtually scrubbed away. It turned out that the tyre was a fractionally different size to the original on the other side and basically the trailer had sort of crabbed all the way down the M4 and scrubbed one tyre smooth.

Wind the clock forward to Flying Fifteen trailers. Jeremy kindly just bought 4011 from me, which has been resident at the club and not towed much for ten years including lock-down. When he checked the inner faces of the road wheels, which I had never done(!), he found the tyres looked cracked and not at all healthy. I’ve no idea why a life of weekly Thames water dips ands short drives from the ramp to the boat park would cause that! So replacements were in order.

Being of sound mind, Jeremy thought to replace the entire wheels and tyres. When they arrived and were fitted, Jeremy somehow noticed that they were very slightly different in size to the (unused!) spare wheel. So presumably if he ever needed to call the spare into duty, one or other tyre would then have scrubbed smooth. He managed to get a new matching tyre for the spare wheel.

Trying to think what the key learnings are:-

  • check the tyre dimensions carefully before replacement. Not all FF trailer wheels are the same!!
  • if you’re going to do complete replacements, consider getting three wheels at a time.

The best way to take half a dozen FFs to the Europeans at Garda….!!

Garda is a fabulous spot – have you been?  It’s spectacularly lovely …. but a blinking long tow.  Plus I think you have to have one of those stripey square signs on the back.

Anyway – is there a better way to do it?  Well think about the joy of towing from Ireland !!  This is how the Irish are doing it – click here to read

Waples Wines Northern Travellers Tip 6….Travelling for the First Time !!

“When travelling for the first time or as part of a new team here are a few tips to make packing the boat up and rigging run smoothly:-
  • Owners are fussy and like things to be carried out in a certain way, take time to work out how they like things done, then commit them to memory and try to follow the routine every time.
  • Work on opposite sides of the boat – and work methodically through everything coming together for the two person jobs, such as taking the rudder and mast out.
  • Have proper straps and padding for everything not an assortment of bits of string of indeterminate length.
  • Leave as much as possible on the trailer (tied out the way) so you don’t have to find it later”.
Helm, Keith Jamieson ƒƒ3903   

More on Trailer Boxes….!!

Regarding trailer boxes, there was a Spanish boat (3796 ?) around a few years ago that had some large diameter pipes fastened to the trailer frame.  A bit like the things you see on the plumbers vans, but probably a foot or so in diameter with screw on ends.  You could easily fit a main and genoa in each side.

Adrian Simpson

(from the Editor – I attach a photo of my Dragon ready to tow to show what you can get up to with trailer boxes once you decide not to submerge it for launching.  Maybe our crane-lucky colleagues in Australia are already doing more with trailer boxes…??

Dragon Trailer Boxes

You’ll see that we had boxes moulded specifically to the trailer – the long side boxes for sails, and the parallelogram box under the bow for other kit….)

How to Tell the Age of a Trailer Tyre….!!

How to age a trailer tyreTo date a tyre, first find the code DOT then some letters/numbers then in an oval four digits, in the photograph DOT 4TM9 YAM1 (3513) this indicates the tyre is 2013 tyre. This will be easy to find if the tyre has been properly fitted with the DOT markings on the outside! If your tyres are over 5 years old then they will likely perish, let water in and the steel bands will break causing the fault in the previous pictures. The best outcome is vibration and a tyre change, the worst outcome is a blowout and an upside down flying fifteen!

Keith Jamieson

Trailer Tyres Have a Five Year Limit ….!!

K Jamieson Tyre failure

A new problem showed up with the trailer on the way back from Grafham, a really bad vibration started about half way home, thought the trailer was going to shake itself to pieces. So we pulled over on the hard shoulder and took a look, nothing doing, no problem with bearings we could see.

We proceeded, slowly, to Stafford services, and stopped to have a proper look; we took a wee while to notice but just on the inside of the tyre we could see the tyre had become deformed. With the wheel off and it looked really bad, the spare was fitted and home we went.

I took the wheel to our local tyre and towing centre, David Greenbank in Kendal, our man said “ah the tyre is out of date, they only have a life of 5 years this is. 2001 tyre”.

Apparently the tyres perish, water gets in and the steel radial bands deform; “been launching your boat in salt water” our man said, “might have” I said looking sheepish! “Oh that makes it much worse” he said. Any way we could have had a blow out!

Moral of the tale, change your tyres every 5 years even if they have tread on, and you can check the date by reading the code on the side.


Keith Jamieson

FF Insight Zone – Easy Launching and Recovery……

If you are new to Fifteens, or thinking of buying one,  we find that most people are slightly wary about launching and recovery – especially if they are moving up from Dinghies.

The good news is that it’s all a piece of cake.  The majority of clubs use jetty launching – and the whole routine is surprisingly easy and DRY !!   You just need to know a few tips on setting up your trailer, and the new video on the FF Insight Zone will show you the basic ideas you need to get going.

You’ll find the video in the Members area of the BIFFA website.  Go to the website home page and click UK Association/Members/FF Insight Zone.  You’ll need your members password to log in first.

Another Take on Undercovers…..!!

I must say that it had never occurred to me before that there could be more than one way to skin this particular cat – hull protection while towing.

Undercover 2


The ‘normal’ style undercover can be a bit of a fiddle to get on and off, but this idea goes at keeping the spray away from a whole different viewpoint.

Undercover 1


Undercover 3Photos © David Williamson


Modifying a Sovereign….!!

hitched upI find the new Sovereign trailer fantastic.  I have made a few mod’s but out of the box (or container in my case) I have been very happy with it.  I am used to a Shand trailer made here in Victoria. It was certainly a more heavily built trailer, but hindsight would suggest over built.  It was heavy to wheel around by myself in the yacht club yard, it always required a rear prop to stop it tipping if I was in it and from memory had quite a bit downward load on the towball, but it did tow well.

natty waterlinenew trailer stepsMy new Sovereign balances beautifully.  Its tow ball weight, while seeming light, proves ideal when towing.  To this point I haven’t felt the need for a rear prop while un-hitched when I may be in the boat.  I am currently building a stainless keel clamp to do away with the two blue webbing straps as seen in the attached photo.

Apart from thinking to myself, “those yellow mudguards have to go!”, the first thing I did mudguards in bluewas order & fit some alloy checker plate side step extensions.  When wet, those as supplied are ideal to slip off and skin your shin’s.  The next was to order a blue mesh trailer bag.  I also have a stainless keel clamp on the go to replace the two heavy blue webbing tie down straps.

David Williamson


(Take a close look at that double waterline …..  I’m a big fan of double wateriness, I admit …. but if you look closely, I think the top colour is chrome!!  Must find out how David did that !! – Ed.) 

More on the New EU Sovereign FF Trailer…..!!

A new Sovereign FF Trailer turned up at the Midwinters at Datchet and we were able to grab a closer look.  It was very nicely finished by the way.
Sovereign slide out number plate holder

The number plate bearers were capable of being drawn back, but not to within metre of the transom.  Of course, the trailer was homologated without an FF loaded on so who would know.  I would guess these will get discarded and we shall all stick with our transom light boards until the EU Police catch up with us!!

You can just see the protective keel rollers at the top of the photo.

Sovereign Side Step

The trailer’s sidesteps were great! A good non slip surface and attached to a horizontal bar given effectively increased stepping surface.

Sovereign adjustable mast support

I think the sidearms were shorter than the old model, so correspondingly for mast-roof clearance adjustment, you need some adjustment of the front mast support which you can see here.  Clumsily, I should have taken this photo from the other side, but you can just make out the forward socket unit where the permanent wiring on the trailer meets the temporary wire running to the car.

Sovereign permanent lightsBlog readers will have seen these permanently wired lights before.  Seems a leap of faith in submersible electrics at the EU office….

By the way, overall weight seemed at the same kind of level as the previous model.  It looked like the axle beam may have been generous inverted U section instead of box section, which would have helped.

Sovereign Trailer Comparisons…..

Many thanks for all the information and photos on the new Sovereign trailer which looks to be a well designed piece of kit with lots of interesting details.

I have an ‘old style’ Sovereign trailer and comparing it with the new one there are a couple of points which I would be interested in further information.

Firstly the keel rollers (great idea) have displaced the loops for the ratchet strap much further out, so will this mean the angle of the strap is now too shallow to get a good downward pull to lock the keel in place? I like to strap the keel rather than the boat so as not to put pressure on the hull.

Secondly, my trailer is very nose heavy, placing a lot of load on the ball hitch. Whilst some load is necessary for good towing stability, I wonder if the new design is a bit better balanced with a more moderate load on the jockey wheel and ball hitch whilst retaining enough weight to stop the boat tipping up when launching down a steep ramp?

Graham Lamond

David Hume on The EU Trailer…..!!

lightbaord arrangementThe lighting board shown in this picture is attached to the rear protection system of the trailer. This protection system is both adjustable and demountable, the latter being essential if you intend to launch your boat from the trailer and not use a crane. The Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 stipulate that any rearward overhang from a trailer lighting system must not exceed 1Metre. Therefore if the rear protection system , with lighting board attached, cannot be adjusted to meet that stipulation then a lighting board will require to be fitted on the transom of the towed boat, or bow if it is being towed t’other way about.

David Hume