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I took the wheel to our local tyre and towing centre, David Greenbank in Kendal, our man said “ah the tyre is out of date, they only have a life of 5 years this is. 2001 tyre”.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

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.) 

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

EU Trailers – 2…..!!

lightbaord arrangement

One of the key differences about the shape of the new EU compliant road trailer is the shape of the A frame.

Can you see here that the arms of the A run parallel as they go forward to the nose.  I believe this is to meet the EU requirement that the lightboard (which you can see here in the compact position) needs to be capable of being drawn back to be near rhe stern while towing in Europe.  The parallel arms that the lightboard sits upon can be slid inside the parallel arms of the A frame when you’re not towing.

lightboard arrangemenyt 2

First EU Trailer Breaks Cover….!!

A couple of months ago we had a fair amount of chatter about how new EU Trailer laws would effect how we tow and launch our FF’s in future.

FF EU Trailer Sovereign

Thanks to Chris Bowen for spotting this example – the new EU trailer from Sovereign.  The picture is pretty revealing:-

  • side supports inside wheelbase
  • A-frame now has parallel sides to accommodate lighting bar?
  • mudguard upgrade to enclose the wheels more
  • it looks like the integrated lighting bar slides back so that lights are near the stern
  • lighting looks permanently fitted (?)… not sure
  • lights or reflectors along the side
  • stable pricing

You can find out more by clicking here

If you’ve been to look at it, let us know what you think…….


First Flying Fifteen ? Towing It Home – Part 3…!!

In the last two blog posts, we looked at securing the boat neatly to the trailer – what else is there to think about??  Mast and Light Board….

Mast first – there are a whole selection of mast mountings very often based upon a bridge in the centre of the boat, and the normal mast support at the front. For years we towed our boats like that, but with mast foot facing forwards, you do find that the rear end (top of the mast) whips around a lot over the bumps. The solution interestingly is to do with modern FF covers. They now have a loop at the back so can be supported by the two ends – thus reducing the whip problem.

I have a car with a high roof (Land Rover speciality), so I need to have a bit of rear overhang. Remember that by law now the most this can be is one metre – you dont need that much on an FF, so you’ll be alright.




We often tie the mast centre to the cross-over strap if we have one to stablise the centre of the mast as well.

Now what of the light board. Again the answer lies in the cover. For many years we all had a light board based on a GRP moulding of a transom which fitted it over the stern of the boat – only needing to be secured forward (somehow).  I hated it and and have had two jump off – one near Northampton (God works in mysterious ways) and one towing to the Europeans at La Rochelle. “Never again”, I swore… I don’t have a photo of it – I gave the whole thing to Phil Tinsley …… who collects just anything for his personal FF Fleet.

The answer on newer covers is to have two loops on the back upon which you can mount a standard light board. (see photo above) It works a treat as you can see in the photos. Go this way if you can.

First Time Fifteen ?? – Securing the Trailer….. Part One

So you have just bought your first flying fifteen and are thinking about the long tow homeward??

If you’ve only had dinghies before you might be tempted to make sure this heavy brute is well tied down.  Actually, if you’ve only towed big boats before, you may think the same. So what do we do??

Well, lets deal with the basics. Ratchet straps are great, but you only need two, or three maximum. Straps, specially made for FF’s and available from sailmakers are a great idea too. We shall deal with the light board later, but lets figure out how the pro’s tie them down.

First – the bow is dead easy, but you will either want to go through your mooring eye, or maybe have a little bit is string attaching the tie down strap to the mooring. Otherwise, the strap wriggles forward and slackens off as it goes – you don’t want that.

We shall deal with the securing the boat at the wheel axles in the next blog post.

EU Trailers – A Reading of the Rules….!!

In regard to the most recent Blog, I have had a brief review of the first attachment which appears to be complete E U regulobabble, clearly MEP’s who serve on these regulatory panels are really worth the money!!!!
The second attachment seems quite easy to understand. Post 29th October 2012 small trailers are now to be considered road vehicles. UK medium/large volume trailer manufacturer/suppliers need to have their products type approved by UK’s Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) and ‘e-marked’, prior to sale and use on the road.
Low volume UK manufacturers and those who manufacture/produce specialised low volume type trailers will need to have their product assessed individually, after build and before customer delivery and road use, by the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) – the latter organisation control and monitor the UK MOT road vehicle testing system –
So low volume manufacturers will have the option of having their product inspected and certified? by VOSA, prior to release to the customer and use on the road.
What is not clear is whether a Flying Fifteen road trailer will be considered as a low volume specialist product by VOSA or as a medium volume trailer, and therefore it may have to comply to VCA certification already applied to ‘type approved’ Flying Fifteen road trailers, produced by other manufacturers. ie will all flying fifteen road trailers have to comply to VCA criteria?
Of some significance is the requirement for notification and record keeping for all small trailers manufactured after 29th October 2012. This will be seen as a step towards registration – more expense – and annual testing will then be just over the horizon! 
I think I’ve got it?
best regards

Trailer Hub Caps…. YEAH !!!

Quite possibly most FF Hub caps are the slightly flexible black plastic type.

Just recently I have been noticing a switch to little metal hub caps as you can see in the photo. The issue here is that they don’t have the little pinhole in the front. So as you pack the grease in, you only get to know they are full when the grease shoots out of the seal at the back of the wheel.  Not very good and my new hubs fall into this category.




The thing to look out for is Bearing Buddies. Pointed out first on the Blog by Wayne Henderson in New Zealand the idea is that you have a small indicator to let you know if it’s time to get the grease gun out.

Take a look at this video

Here is one point of UK supply – you have to be very careful about the hub size.

LED Light Boards…..!!

I think we’ve seen a couple of LED light Boards at Datchet now – the most recent was bought by John Hanson for his trip to Garda.

The advantages are not so much the low voltage, or the fact that they are allegedly waterproof, … but if you are fed up with popping old bulbs, these should last a whole lot longer.

John got his from Amazon – £86.  I think this is the Amazon link for it but as I type they are out of stock.  Take a look as you read it and see if they are selling again.

EU Compliant Trailers – a Glimpse into Our Future……

Have you been following the very interesting thread of conversation about new trailer regulations started by David Hume and then picked up by Ian Preston, Graham Lamond and Keith Jamieson??  You have got to wonder what the RYA were doing to protect our interests and at least inform the debate while all this was going on in Brussels……

I must say it sounds like another EU Bureaucratic bungle, doesn’t it? They probably even think they’ve had public consultation, but we were out racing at the time.

My honest reaction is that anyone thinking of needing a new trailer in the next four years should order one now and keep it behind the shed until you need it.  I bet this takes some time to work through and whatever the answer is, you won’t like it. Especially the extra cost.

My key reason for saying this is that I think my Dragon Trailer was built to these standards.  I know it was for 2 tonnes of boat, plus being a four wheeler, but the cost new from Switzerland was £8,000.  (Double click on photo to enlarge- note the light board sticking out the back)

You will see from my photos that the lighting board has to be extended back behind the transom. If you can make it out from the photo, the bearers slide out from the back of the A-frame where they live normally as inner sleeves. The weight of the lighting board is supported by pre-set wire strops to a rear mast support that sits across the transom. (See photo on right – double click to enlarge…)

You might also see that the trailer has permanent electrics, which for Dragons is no problem, but if we have to include those (see David Hume’s article) heaven knows what we’ll do for submersible FF trailers.

This photo on the left shows how the light board arms retract by sliding into the A-frame when stored at the marina.

Ironically I sold the Dragon to a guy in Greece, and he’s racing it at Athens now when riots permit….!