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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Eastern Shore, Va.
    Posts
    2,310

    Default trailer tires - preventing dry rot?

    Does anybody know how to keep boat trailer tires from dry-rotting so fast? I just had to replace mine, they're only 5 years old and almost no wear, but they were starting to disintegrate on the sidewalls due to dry rot.

    Does it help if you jack up the trailer in the winter to get the tires off the ground? (It's not paved where I store my boat, and it's kind of wet sometimes in the late winter.)

    Does Armor-All help?

    Would inner tubes help prevent them from going flat when the sidewalls got dry-rotted? What about that green "slime" liquid rubber that you put into tires that supposedly prevents leaks/flats?

    Thanks for any tips. Buying 4 new tires every few years gets old fast. :evil:

    C

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Jacksonville, North Carolina
    Posts
    4,145

    Default

    I'm not sure how it works on trailer tires, especially if they sit in the sun for very long, but in my hot rodding days, I dressed tires with brake fluid... this was before they even made a dedicated tire dressing.... and I'm not even sure if Armorall was around, then. If it was, I didn't know about it.

    I can tell you, when you finish wiping a set of old tires with a rag well moistened with plain old brake fluid, they look like new. First time you put it on thick and let it sit... then wipe it off like some folks do wood stain. After that, a very light coat... more like barely moistened, and let it sit does the trick.

    I have also heard about unscrupulous used car lots putting an amount of brake fluid in an automatic transmission to rejuvenate the seals and stop leaks... temporarily. I've never tried that, so I don't know if it works, but I do know brake fluid works as tire dressing, and I've never seen a dry rotted tire that had brake fluid applied regularly... like four times a year or so.
    Charles
    1981 14' Fisher john boat with 30 hp Mariner
    http://flickr.com/photos/71806267@N00/

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.
    Frederick Douglass

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Westerville, Ohio and St.Pete Beach, FL
    Posts
    67

    Default Trailer Tires

    I cover my trailer tires with large trash bags. Also use a protectant with UV properties..Works for me...
    Capt Bob

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Eastern Shore, Va.
    Posts
    2,310

    Default

    Thanks for the replies. I never realized that it was the sun, mainly, that apparently tears tires up. :idea:

    For anyone interested, someone on another board pointed me to Harbor Freight Tools, which is selling sets of 4 wheel covers for $11 at this site:

    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=38169

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Virginia Beach
    Posts
    233

    Default

    Thanks for the link, Capt! Just what I was looking for.
    The fear of God makes heroes, the fear of man makes cowards.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Little River, South Carolina
    Posts
    345

    Default

    There's more to the tire dry rot problem than UV protection. My truck and trailer tires get the same exposure to UV from the sun, but the truck tires don't suffer dry rot and the trailer tires do. I always thought that the dry rot was from lack of use, but I never knew why. Your post got me to researching, and I found the following from a site dealing with the issue.

    There are two main degrading agents that attack tires and rubber trim. They are UV light waves and ozone. Both of these attack the long hydrocarbon chains of the rubber and by breaking these bonds, shorten the molecules with resulting loss of elasticity and other problems. Tire manufacturers add two primary sacrificial protectants to the rubber. To protect against UV, they add carbon black. This is why tires don't come in designer colors to match your paint. The carbon black will turn white/gray as it absorbs the UV and dissipates the energy as heat. Thus the basis of rubber parts turning gray as they age. To protect against ozone, tire manufacturers add a wax based sacrificial protectant. The ozone attacks the wax and depletes it. As the tire rolls, additional wax is forced to the surface of the tire. This is referred to as "blooming". This blooming refreshes the surface wax protectant. A tire that has not been flexed will have the wax depleted by the ozone and thus begin to degrade and suffer "dry rot".

    Looks to me that the solution is more excercise of the trailer tires. Which is a scientific basis for justifying more fishing.

    303 Aerospace Protectant applied to the tires will protect from both ozone and UV damage, but I still think that regular exercise back and forth to the boat ramp is a better solution.
    Hawkeye

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
    Posts
    2,553

    Default

    I keep my trlr. tires protected from the sun, and I use 303 sparingly. Unlike most tire dressings it has no petroleum distillates. Most products like Armoral have short term side effects, but I've found them to dry the rubber out even more, in the long term.

    5 yrs. ago I threw away 4 perfectly good tires, which had rotted side walls. I don't wish to go there again, and since implementing the above, the ruber looks like new on this set.
    Enjoy,
    Tony
    1981 20ft Cuddy,
    4.3L Chev V-6

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Eastern Shore, Va.
    Posts
    2,310

    Default

    Hawkeye-
    Thanks, you found the rest of the story that I couldn't. I was thinking the same thing: Why do trailer tires rot in a few years, but car tires hold up just fine?
    You're right, I need to exercise those puppies more. Works for me!
    C

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Jacksonville, North Carolina
    Posts
    4,145

    Default

    I'm not sure what high tech agents are in the tire treatments everyone uses, but I've kept my trailer tires looking good with minimal care since 1972. I have never lost a tire to dry rot... okay my bicycle in the garage, but I never treated it with brake fluid, and it has gum rubber sidewalls... and who needs all that exercise?

    Here's a photo of one of my six year old tires. These came on the replacement trailer from my highway wreck, back in '99. I haven't touched in in some time, but I have treated it about three or four times, in six years, with brake fluid.


    Here's the same tire, after rubbing it with a rag dampened with a small amount of brake fluid.

    You can see the little nicks in the tire to the left of the "M" on both pictures. When you rub the brake fluid on the rubber, it seems to remove the layer of oxydation and forms a non-liquid protective layer on top of the rubber. It also seems to penetrate the rubber and soften it somewhat.

    I know it's sexier to use space age products for boating, but brake fluid is cheap and easy to find. As Jim Heverly learned with the black marks on his coaming bolster... brake fluid is miracle stuff. Makes a great hand cleaner for the nasty black grease and brake dust you get from working on the mechanicals on the trailer. Hmm, wonder if it would treat laundry stains?
    Charles
    1981 14' Fisher john boat with 30 hp Mariner
    http://flickr.com/photos/71806267@N00/

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.
    Frederick Douglass

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Eastern Shore, Va.
    Posts
    2,310

    Default

    Charles,
    Thanks for the photos. Do those tires sit out in the sun all year? I may have to try that. Also, which brake fluid? Plain old whale oil?

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