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Marine Surveyors Are CLUELESS when it comes to Trailers!

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Marine Surveyors Are CLUELESS when it comes to Trailers!

Old 02-09-2019, 05:42 PM
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Default Marine Surveyors Are CLUELESS when it comes to Trailers!

I am posting this RANT because I really want to know how so many Marine Surveyors can charge what they do, and be so utterly clueless to rating the condition of a trailer.

As a boat transporter, I am often caught between the seller and the buyer when it comes to revealing the absolute lies of a long distance transaction. It is so sad, that I feel compelled to post the name of the surveyors in hope that anyone here buying a boat will know not to trust the false information given by these losers.

So here is what really pushed my buttons this week. I am contacted by a buyer who was recommended to me for transport by another client and in such I am greatly appreciative. I asked the buyer for the survey and any info he might have about the trailer. I am told it is a 2014 Ameratrail, triple 7K axles, Goodyear G-rated tires and as the survey says, "Trailer is in Great Condition." On this information, I get the VIN, and other info for the permits and head to Cape Cod to pick up a gorgeous Contender with triple F350s on it. When I arrive, the seller is MIA. He went to a boat show instead of delivering the boat personally, leaving me to work with an employee of his instead.

As I begin my inspection of the trailer, here is a list of my findings.
  • The tires have only 55-60 psi, not the rated 100-110 psi
  • The EOH system was put in a cracked up plastic battery box, barely secured to the frame.
  • The breakaway battery disconnected and terminals corroded
  • The EOH was out of brake fluid and would not respond to inputs from the tow vehicle
  • The breakaway lanyard was rusted and dangling with a zip-tie.
  • Brake Calipers were seized and pads worn to the metal pads
  • Brake rotors were corroded so bad they were flaking apart and scaling.
  • Hubs were full of rusted grease and saltwater.
  • Bunks were compressed to the point where the bolted fasteners were hanging by a few threads
  • and on, and on and on.....
YET... the Survey says, Trailer is in Great Condition!

See for yourself in the images below. Hopefully the buyer can recoup his costs in having me repair his trailer and rig it the right way for it's intended use. So I wonder... should myself and other transporters post the names and businesses of Surveyors who have no clue how to rate the condition of the trailer? We hear about it all the time when a buyer/seller use some low-bid hauler from uShip or a friend of a friend without the financial means to fix or make repairs on the road... could there be or should there be a rating of trailers when making a high-dollar purchase like this?











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Old 02-09-2019, 06:01 PM
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Maybe you should become a surveyor, specializing in trailers. There is no certification or license required be call yourself a surveyor. That's why there is such variation in their skill levels.
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Old 02-09-2019, 06:40 PM
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I often wondered what happens as a transport company pulls up and the trailer is in poor condition. Your there and want the job and now you have to be a mechanic before you get under way. In some situations there is no place to get parts etc... people who buy boats are solely focused on the boat and never look at the trailer. Trailer is first thing i look at before i even look at someones boat. Sorry to hear this, but i bet this is not the first or last time this happens.
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Old 02-10-2019, 04:09 AM
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I would be amazed if the survey says "trailer in great condition" without some sort of conditions. Do you know what the conditions of the trailer inspection were? Do you know what the scope of the survey was, what the buyer hired the surveyor to inspect, or what he paid for?

You may be right in this case, but I also can't tell you how many times a specialist (electronics, engines, trailer, etc.) gets into something that the surveyor never promised or was hired to inspect to the level a specialist can, and then they want to point out that the surveyor "should have caught this" or "should have caught that".
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Old 02-10-2019, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Tangled Up View Post
I often wondered what happens as a transport company pulls up and the trailer is in poor condition. Your there and want the job and now you have to be a mechanic before you get under way. In some situations there is no place to get parts etc... people who buy boats are solely focused on the boat and never look at the trailer. Trailer is first thing i look at before i even look at someones boat. Sorry to hear this, but i bet this is not the first or last time this happens.
Every trip proposed to me, I implore the buyer to get all the information about the trailer if I am not using mine. I find out which hubs, tires, wheels and braking systems are on the trailer and typically when the buyer begins asking these questions to the seller... all sorts of things start to happen. Most sellers believe their trailers are in "GREAT" shape because they have only used it to haul a boat a few miles or for storage... it is not until you begin asking if they have Kodiak, Tie-Down or UFP calipers or and EOH vs Surge Brakes that they take notice. When a seller is now asked for the DOT Date Code on his "Like New Full Tread Tires" and he says they were made more than 5-years ago, another rude awakening happens. If your Trailer Tires are DOT stamped and 5-years or older, your Insurance company can get around your weight loading certification, thus denying your claim if an accident is due to a tire failure. It also means that if a tire explodes and damages the boat, the tire manufacturer and the insurance company have a means to decline the claim.

When it goes further than just tires or brakes, then the buyer has some serious bargaining power that the seller was not thinking he had. It then comes down to buying the boat at a deeper discount by telling the seller he doesn't want the trailer and the problems it has.

As a transporter, my first round is to call my friends at Eastern Marine (https://www.easternmarine.com/) and give my buyer a list of my recommendations. If I show up and the trailer is not roadworthy, then I have already established with the buyer there will be costs to repair it to a roadworthy condition. I disclose what my fees are up front and I give them the choice of making "roadworthy & safe" and/or RIGHT!! In most cases with the worst trailer, they have to be completely rebuilt, which I make the best choice to get it to my shop in Florence, SC and then once completed, delivered.

The shame is that there really is no accountability for trailer inspections, no services other than hiring someone to go inspect the trailer. Furthermore, in most cases it is not cost effective to hire someone to travel to your boat/trailer location to inspect it when the travel costs alone might be expensive. I would suggest it, especially in the case of buying a $300+K boat on a trailer that has a retail price of $12-20K. In the repairs I did to the Ameratrail trailer above, the rotors alone are $120x6, Calipers are $90x6 and then you have the EOH system, wiring, brackets and labor. In this case... it would have been worth the expense of hiring someone to inspect the trailer before purchase and would have given both parties time to make repairs and the buyer more leverage in a financial decision.

Here is another example of Bad Trailer Design and what happens when you dunk a drum brake system in water.


43' Black Thunder on a Manning Steel trailer with drum actuated surge brakes.

As the owner was driving down I-95, the entire hub/wheel assembly exited the trailer at 65-70 mph!!

Removed the boat from the trailer and it was clear the bunks were in poor shape as well.

Lots of bunks... most all different sizes and steel bolt rusted and sticking through. Both rear lights were broken.

So pretty...

Once the drum is removed, the carnage is easy to see.

Complete brand new brake/hub system from Eastern Marine using Kodiak 250 brakes.

New steel coupler installed to remove the "BANG-Brakes" surge coupler.

New Stainless Steel braided lines

Mounted the stainless crossover lines to the frame and not the axles.

Can you imagine this bolt hitting your hull?

All bunks removed, new holes drilled

Installing the new bunks

All new bunks installed

Added new lights and stainless license plate bracket.

Installed a new Dexter 1600 psi EOH actuator with all wiring inside a weather-proof box with all grounds exposed for periodic cleaning. In almost every case where trailer lights do not work it is a grounding issue... so I mount them in an easy to reach & maintain spot.

All 7-way plugs have a reverse feed, so I typically will add a back-up light so seeing the ramp is easy at night.

Ready to go!!!

Completed and ready to go test the new Dart 540 block, 750hp+ motors we installed!


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Old 02-10-2019, 04:51 AM
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The aluminum looks shiny so it must be in great condition!
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Old 02-10-2019, 04:57 AM
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Home inspectors aren't any different. A ten year old house isn't perfect, neither is a 10 years old boat/trailer/motor. BUT, they should be functional! Cosmetics and normal wear and tear is one thing, but that trailer is simply defective and frankly dangerous. I've seen similar issues in houses..major issues overlooked and nit picky stuff written up.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by WalkingTheDocks View Post
I would be amazed if the survey says "trailer in great condition" without some sort of conditions. Do you know what the conditions of the trailer inspection were? Do you know what the scope of the survey was, what the buyer hired the surveyor to inspect, or what he paid for?

You may be right in this case, but I also can't tell you how many times a specialist (electronics, engines, trailer, etc.) gets into something that the surveyor never promised or was hired to inspect to the level a specialist can, and then they want to point out that the surveyor "should have caught this" or "should have caught that".
Sorry... I stand Corrected. The Survey used the term, "VERY GOOD."

So by the attached definitions, one should assume that "VERY GOOD" means it should be "LIKE NEW with only minor cosmetic issues. On a 2014 model trailer, that could mean some salt water discoloration of the aluminum which could be remedied by a citrus acid wash.

See the last line above... SHOCKER!

What would you believe?

Last edited by Alden Transport; 02-10-2019 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:11 AM
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Yeah - in the first couple of pics I said to myself WTH, that trailer looks pretty good. Then you see the closeups of the brakes and rotors...man, in your line of work, every job is like a box of chocolates. I suppose hauling a flat bed trailer to every pick up is not feasible? That would eliminate banking on the trailer making it saely and in one piece going from point A to B.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:18 AM
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Very interesting thread, great info here for any boat buyer. Thanks Alden!

Just curious, since you are in the business. Some people buy boats and do not want the trailer. Seems like it would be a possible good opportunity for you to sell refurbished good trailers....Not sure if there is much money in it once you have time and cost involved??? Again, just curious.

thanks again.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by EdwardB View Post
Yeah - in the first couple of pics I said to myself WTH, that trailer looks pretty good. Then you see the closeups of the brakes and rotors...man, in your line of work, every job is like a box of chocolates. I suppose hauling a flat bed trailer to every pick up is not feasible? That would eliminate banking on the trailer making it saely and in one piece going from point A to B.
Unfortunately with the height of most of these boats, using a Flatbed trailer is not feasible. I have built some outstanding transport trailers which I recently sold as my other business is thriving more and I travel less.

Very interesting thread, great info here for any boat buyer. Thanks Alden!

Just curious, since you are in the business. Some people buy boats and do not want the trailer. Seems like it would be a possible good opportunity for you to sell refurbished good trailers....Not sure if there is much money in it once you have time and cost involved??? Again, just curious.

thanks again.
I do buy trailers that are used or offer discounts in some cases where I provide transport in trade for the trailer. In the above pics of the purple trailer, you can see the 35' Float-On trailer I did a complete rebuild on for the 32' Dakota sitting on it.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:31 AM
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To answer your question, YES, you should post the name and company of the inspector!
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:34 AM
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"Appears" to be good. Old lawyer answer. What color is the sky? "It APPEARS to be blue".

Appears. Inspector talk for "I don't have a clue, better check it yourself".
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:39 AM
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Your statement line says it all. One thing I have been running into far too many times in my search for a new to me boat is the owner kept it on a lift or in water and bought the cheapest trailer he could so he could get it in for service. Nothing quite like seeing a 10K boat on a 7K trailer, you have probable run into that as well.
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:57 AM
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Marine surveyors are marine surveyors... Not trailer mechanics. Perhaps you should require your owners to get a trailer mechanic to go over it before your start your haul.
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:02 AM
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What a beautiful boat! I’d rather you not post the names of the seller and surveyor, both are good people and I’ve never been one to advocate blasting bad reviews online. We will see what resolutions come out, but in reality it’s a used boat-the way those look is pretty common for 4 year old brakes. Not exactly what was described by the seller or surveyor but...
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:36 AM
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Most surveyors work for the dealer anyway.....that is unless you hire one yourself that is independent of the dealer. You tell the dealer you want the boat surveyed they say sure call up their surveyor they always use and the deed is done. Kind of like a home inspection when you buy a house that the realtor uses. They wont bite the hand that feeds them unless its totally obvious.
Let me say not all home inspectors, or marine surveyors are like this. Most are Honest, reputable, and care about their work. But their are those that are not, and they get used much too often because the dealers know they wont get any problems from them.
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Old 02-10-2019, 07:29 AM
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Wow. Now a Maine Surveyors knowing if all the brakes are in perfect working order might be hard but on the Ameritrial trailer anyone with half a brain and a flash light would have seen those disc and calipers were crap. I would love to know the brand of those. From my experience I am guessing tie down.
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Old 02-10-2019, 08:35 AM
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When shopping for used boats that come with trailers, would it be fair to say that the condition of the trailer can be used as a barometer for the condition of the boat? In other words, if trailer maintenance has been neglected what are odds that boat maintenance has also been neglected?
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:02 AM
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Hmmm, I didn't think Ameritrail would have chose to use such crap brake components. They charge more for their trailers and reputed to be once of the best. Perhaps customer spec'd cheaper parts on this build? Would Ameritrail even have Ok'd that?

Thx OP in reminding that ultimately its buyers responsibility and headache and cost, so better make sure EVERYTHING is prepped and ready to hit the road. Dont rely on marine surveyor or seller's descriptions.
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