How to configure the rollers on a boat trailer

Written by will charpentier
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How to configure the rollers on a boat trailer
Adjust the rollers so they touch the hull and help support the boat. (parking remorques à bateaux image by Unclesam from

You had the trailer, and now you have the boat. Somehow, though, the boat just doesn't appear to sit on the trailer properly. Long story short, you need to adjust the rollers on the trailer so that the keel--the backbone of the boat--is sitting on the rollers in the middle of the trailer and on the rollers on the sides of the trailer, if the trailer has rollers in addition to the padded skids (called "bunks" in trailer-talk). A level, well-supported boat is a happy boat, one that will launch and ride easily on a well-adjusted trailer.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Carpenter's level
  • Duct tape

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  1. 1

    Look at the keel of your boat and ensure that the keel is resting on the rollers on the centre line of the trailer. If it is not, use an adjustable wrench to loosen the nuts holding the keel roller unit in place. Raise the roller unit until the rollers are in contact with the keel, and re-tighten the nuts.

  2. 2

    Set a carpenter's level on the transom (the back wall) of the boat. If the boat is not level, determine which side of the transom is higher by looking at the bubble in the level: the bubble moves toward the side that's higher. Loosen the nuts on the bunk (the padded skids that the hull of the boat rests on) on the high side and lower the bunk just enough to level the boat. Re-tighten the nuts.

  3. 3

    Loosen the nuts on the remaining roller units and raise or lower them so that they are in contact with the hull of the boat. Re-tighten the nuts after these adjustments are complete.

Tips and warnings

  • If you store your boat in a marina's boat rack during the season, keep a wrench in your vehicle or taped to the trailer with duct tape in case you may have to "fine tune" the trailer after you trailer the boat for the season.
  • Boats are big and heavy. Keep your hands, arms, fingers, head, legs and feet out of places where they might be pinched, should the boat tip while you're making these adjustments.

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