Problems with the Trailex SUT-200-S

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by Neil, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I’ve owned the Trailex SUT-200-S for about four years. I bought it because I wanted the lightest trailer I could find due to back problems I was experiencing at the time. Plus after researching it on the internet I found a lot of people liked this trailer for Sunfish. Up to this year it has been a pretty good trailer. The only problem I had experienced was one of the plastic fenders breaking off within a few months of purchase which the company readily replaced.

    I did have some reservations about the trailer once I starting using it because it bounces around so much on the road, even with the tires inflated to the recommended 15 lbs. I don’t like the “suspension system” which along with the low inflated tires consists of two ¼” reinforced rubber sheets which apparently allow the axle to move slightly over rough pavement. I was also concerned about how much the trailer rocks and flexes. I especially didn’t like the way the bolster supports attach to the main beam. They are attached with an angle bracket with two T-bolts held in the T tracks on either side of the main support beam. It seemed like a weak connection to me, but I figured that they knew what they were doing and that the trailer was built to rock and flex.

    It turns out that that the bolster supports are a weak link in the design of this trailer. This weekend I traveled to a one day regatta and back. When I got home, I lifted the back of the boat and trailer (it is light) while it was still attached to the van hitch to move it around. I noticed that the rear bolster was loose on the trailer. It didn’t make sense because I had recently checked the tightness of the T-bolts. I tried to tighten the bolts again, but they were tight. Upon further investigation I found that the problem was that the lips of the channels (on either side of the main beam where the T-nuts slide to fasten the angle brackets that connect to the bolster support) were actually broken out on both sides (see photo). Luckily, I discovered this before I got back on the road. I guess that the only thing that was holding it together was gravity. I was lucky that I hadn’t already lost my boat on the road. I temporarily moved the T-bolts back a couple inches to an undamaged part of the track. I’m going to talk to the company about this problem, but what are they going to do? It is an inherently weak joint in the design and I won’t trust it again. I’ve already bought two 4” bolts. I will drill through the main beam and install the bolts through the beam and the bolster support angle brackets.

    Another weak spot on the bolster supports is at the inner hole that is drilled for the bolts that hold the bolsters. I have my bolsters located at the outer holes. A friend of mine has the same set up (as do most Sunfish sailors who own this trailer I would suspect). His rear bolster support cracked at the inner hole and the support is now bent and totally useless. He called the company and they told him that they have not seen that problem very often, but some supports were made with the holes too close to the edge. Close to the edge or not the inner hole is a built in weakness located right beyond the supporting angle bracket (see photo). They did offer to sell him a new support. When I through bolt the angle brackets I am going to reinforce both bolster supports with an extruded aluminum beam so mine can’t break at the same place.

    This trailer is one of the most expensive small single boat trailers you can buy for a Sunfish. It arrives in two boxes and then you have to spend 4-5 hours assembling it. After my recent experiences, I don’t think that it is built strong enough for a Sunfish and I would not recommend that anyone buy it unless they plan to trail it only short distances. It might be suitable for a canoe or kayak, but it would probably bounce around even more on the road. There are many steel trailers on the market that would work for a Sunfish that are cheaper, much sturdier, that have a true suspension system, and that come already assembled. If I were doing it again I would buy a steel trailer. As it is I have to spend time reengineering this one so it works. Either that or buy a new trailer for the Sunfish and use this one for my canoe.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Offramp

    Offramp New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My sister warned me about how her sunfish bounced around on the road 30 years ago. She was towing her sunfish on a steel trailer, not an aluminum Trailex trailer. I didn't believe her about the bouncing but you have just described the same situation she encountered. I don't know how you can keep a sunfish from bouncing since they are so relatively light.

    I don't know that a steel trailer will be any better for the bouncing. The lighest steel trailer I found is designed to carry up to 900 lbs. A 130 lb Sunfish will barely load up the leaf springs so the sunfish and trailer will likely still bounce up and down wilth every pot hole and expansion joint.

    Thanks for the warning about the SUT-200-S brackets. I have that trailer and shall keep a wary eye out on the bracket anchor points. BTW, I inflate my tires to 10 to 12 PSI based on the recommendation of others on this site. The lower pressure is supposed to give the sunfish a little more cushion with the bumps and pot holes.
     
  3. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I don't know what steel trailers are available these days. I had a steel trailer many years ago with my first two Sunfish. It was much heavier and it didn't bounce around very much at all. In fact it was quite stable. The light weight of the Trailex contributes to the bounce I experience now. However, the main problem is the rocking and flexing created by the bouncing which led to the failure of both channels on the main beam. As you probably already know the bolster assemblies flex quite a bit and rock sideways across the beam of the boat. If the trailer was engineered better, I don’t think the channels would have failed. The trailer would be a lot sturdier if the bolster assemblies were reinforced with trusses on each side so they couldn't rock. I'll probably add trusses when I reinforce the bolster assemblies.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. edboat

    edboat Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    One of the best thinks you can do if you are doing any trailing is to have your tires balanced. Most people don't do this and it really makes a difference. Most of the wheels and tires are not truely round and will cause the trailer to bounce down the road.
     
  5. MantaJim

    MantaJim New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    REAR CRADLE FAILURE: I also had problems also with the SUT-200S rear cradle cracking just above the first bolt hole on both sides of the cradle. I thought I may have over stressed the cradle winching the boat onto the trailer. To solve the problem, I replaced the cradle with a new one and added a roller just in front of the rear cradle. The roller just touches the boat and helps to support the Sunfish when there is any bounce. I also installed a roller just behind the front cradle and adjusted the original tail roller to be closer to the boat. The system works great. In addition to adding support for the Sunfish it makes loading and unloading a lot easier. Since the boat tilts slightly it lets the rollers do most of the boat support for load and unload, the cradles do most of the support when the boat is in its normal position on the trailer.

    CHANNEL FAILURE: Another thing I learned is not to over torque the T-bolts. Trailex recommends 30-40 Ft-lbs torque for T-bolts. Too much torque distorts the aluminum channel.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Edboat: Thanks for the suggestion. I had read the earlier thread on this problem with interest. I never had a problem with the tires being out of round. The trailer runs very smooth on smooth pavement. The problem occurs when the trailer runs over rough pavement. It bounces around, flexes and the bolster assemblies rock.

    MantaJim: Your setup looks like a good idea for a boat being carried right side up. My friend and I carry our boats upside down to take the stress off the hull. I carried my boat right side up for a short while and then I adjusted the trailer to carry it upside down. The boat actually rides more stable over rough roads with the boat upside down; it actually rocks less. On second thought, I might be able to attach an extra flat bolster in the same manner that you attached the extra rollers. That should help the boat ride stable. Thanks for the idea. The T-bolts on my trailer were not over torqued. I’ve checked the rest of the aluminum channels on my trailer and they are not distorted. I believe the channel failed due to the stress of the rocking on the bolster assembly and that is the weakest point. It is just an inherently weak design. Obviously you agree since you had to add the two extra supports. I just want to warn others who own this trailer to keep an eye on these weak points.
     
  7. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    136
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Thanks Neil for starting this thread (and what a coincidence). I will report three serious problems with the Trailex (model 200) Sunfish trailer. Two of these are very similar to what Neil and others reported; the third one is 'new' as far as this thread is concernned.

    Just this past weekend I sailed in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals on Rehoboth Bay. Great regatta BTW, but that's not the topic here. Upon my arrival at the regatta site, I noticed that the rear support bracket that holds the bunks was bent on one side. In fact, there was a tear in the bracket right above the inner holes (see Neil's picture #2). After the regatta was over, I was hoping to get back home without the support arm breaking altogether. Inspection showed no further damage after 1.5 h of driving (about half-way home). But once I got home, I saw that the bracket had split altogether somewhere during the second half of the trip. This could have very seriously damaged the hull, with the boat riding on the sharp edge of the broken bracket. Fortunately, the damage was minor; I guess that the 'final' break occurred close to home.

    Disturbingly, I also have damage to the center beam, just like what is shown in Neil's picture #1. I noticed this a few months ago when I moved the support bracket.

    The third problem relates to the axle. It's bent upwards between the shock absorption pads and the wheels! As a result, the tire treads are badly worn on the inside.

    For the record, my Trailex was bought new in 2001 and has been treated very kindly. Always washed after salt water exposure and stored inside a garage when not in use (with the boat on top and straps loosened). No elephants ever sat on it; not even a baby one. Just the Sunfish and the rig, together perhaps 180 lbs. I estimate that the total mileage on the trailer is around 5000.

    Until now, I have recommended Trailex trailers to my Sunfish and Laser friends, but based on these experiences, I won't do so anymore.

    I will also contact Trailex and complain about these problems. Obviously, I have some repair work to do. I will have to face the cost of new parts and the axle problem. In the past, the company has been nice to deal with when I had to replace other parts (lights etc.), but those problems were of my own making.
     
  8. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Thanks for your comments, Wavedancer. The bent axle is a new problem I hadn’t heard of before. It’s not surprising, though, since this trailer really does not have a suspension system. The company depends on underinflated tires and ¼” rubber pads on either side of the axle to take the place of a true suspension system. I’ve treated my trailer very well too. In fact, mine has never even been submerged. I always move my Sunfish to my dolly to launch it. I believe our first mistake was to believe the advertising that this trailer is durable. If you actually use it to trail any distance to regattas, it is not durable at all. Let us know if you make any progress with Trailex. I e-mailed them earlier this week, but haven’t received a reply. I’m going to call them if I don’t hear back from them soon.
     
  9. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    136
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Attached are some pictures of the problems with my Trailex trailer. As mentioned in my earlier post, the trailer is seven years old and has been used a fair bit. But the trailer has seen salty water only a few times and was rinsed afterwards.

    • One picture shows the break in the rear cradle holder. Note that the hole where the break occurred is not centered vertically.
    • The second picture shows the corroded area where the cradle holder was attached to the tongue.
    • The third picture shows the bent axle (notice the uneven tire wear and the slanted wheel positions). Trailex support claimed that this bending was due to potholes.
    .
     

    Attached Files:

  10. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Hi Wavedancer. Here are my comments on your problems with the SUT-200-S:

    1) Why would they locate the outer hole on the bolster support arm right at the point where the angle bracket ends below the support? If they made the angle bracket two inches longer it would provide the extra strength needed at the weak spot they created with the hole. 2) That’s not corrosion in the T-track. This is the same thing that happened to my trailer. It is actually the failure of the metal track due to the excessive rocking of the bolster assemblies that occurs due to the poor design of this trailer. In other words the track broke out. On my trailer I found four little pieces of broken track when I removed the bolster assembly. I’ve now drilled though the main beam and through bolted the rear bolster assembly to the beam. The track won’t break out again, but the bolster assemblies still rock excessively. Eventually the next weakest part of the trailer will break. My guess is it will be the angle brackets below the bolster assemblies. 3) Your bent axle probably was caused by a pot hole. However, it is the poor design of this trailer that allowed the pot hole to bend the axle. Since the trailer does not have a suspension system, the shock of a pot hole is going to be transferred to the weakest part of the trailer. In this case the axle. Does Trailex think that there are not going to be any pot holes on the roads? Most trailer companies design for pot holes by putting actual suspension systems on their trailers.

    I would not recommend this trailer to anyone. The SUT-200-S is made out of decent materials, but it is very poorly designed. I have yet to hear back from the company with my complaints which I sent via e-mail several weeks ago. From my conversations with other people who have had problems with the trailer, the company does not think that the trailer is poorly designed. They seem to think that all these problems are the fault of the owners, not the poor design. Don’t buy this trailer for your Sunfish. You will be disappointed.
     
  11. Lindac

    Lindac Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    On a recent trip to Maine, I also had the cradle snap on my trailex. Was lucky to not have too much damage to the bottom of my boat (a ding about the size of a quarter where the ragged metal rubbed against it). I would no longer recommend the trailer either, especially since they charged me over $70 ($50 for the bar, $8 "handling fee" and $13 UPS) for a replacement bar of aluminum. I was hoping that after reading here about free replacement wheels that they would have sent me the piece for free! My trailer is only about 3 years old. I also have had to add new lights after one season because the original ones crapped out fairly quickly. The guy on the phone said after looking at my photos, "I don't know what that piece of wood is, maybe that caused it to break". :mad:

    I was glad to get the boat home safely and they did send me the part in time so the $8 handling fee was worth it I suppose.
     

    Attached Files:

    • Spam Spam x 1
  12. Porpoise2

    Porpoise2 New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    1) Even at slow speeds, there's nothing that can send a light trailer upwards like a parking lot speed bump!

    2) Aluminum comes in various alloys: it appears that they're using the wrong alloy for this application; anyway, aluminum has poor tolerance for repeated flexing. :(

    That said, aluminum is used for race car trailers, so they can be designed correctly. (I've always been envious of aluminum trailers). :eek:

    These trailers might be improved by replacing parts with wood! :eek:
     
  13. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Well, Carl from Trailex finally called me about the problems with my trailer. They never did answer my e-mail with the photos I sent. Last week I sent a letter to the president of the company to tell him how disappointed I was with this trailer; thus the call from Carl. According to Carl, Trailex has made over 170,000 of these trailers since they first designed them for the Sunfish back in the early days of the Sunfish. He also claims that he never gets any complaints about the trailer. I told him about the problems other people have had with the trailer including a friend at my club and the others listed on this posting. He didn’t have a reply for that information. He asked me what they could do to “make it right” for me. I told him that I wanted a reliable trailer and that after the problems I have had with the SUT-200-S I don’t believe it is reliable. I also made several suggestions including that they put a proper suspension on the trailer and that they extend the angle bracket under the inner hole in the bolster support where it breaks. Despite his assertion they want to “make it right” for me, it appears that they are not going to do anything. They won’t acknowledge that there are any problems with the design of this trailer so why would they do anything to correct the problems. If you have this trailer and have had problems call Carl at 800-282-5042 ext. 203; or e-mail him at trailex1@aol.com. I am also considering contacting the Ohio Attorney General. Complaints about consumer products can be submitted to the OAG at their website: https://agcares.ag.state.oh.us/public/landing.aspx. Again, if you are planning to do any highway travel with your Sunfish, don’t buy the SUT-200-S. It is not durable enough for very much highway use. How much is too much? My trailer, which is five years old, has only about 5000 miles on it.
     
  14. Lindac

    Lindac Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    My trailer had 3 roundtrips from Boston to NJ and 1 roundtrip to Maine (it snapped on the first leg of my second roundtrip to Maine). So that is about 3000 miles total.
     
  15. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    136
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I agree that Trailex is sticking its head in the sand regarding the issues we have brought up. I sent my pictures to Ken (the other sales person) a month ago, but haven't received an acknowledgment.

    In a subsequent conversation (Ken had gone on vacation), Carl also mentioned to me that Trailex has rec'd very few complaints on their Sunfish trailers over the years. Is it possible though that problems have arisen in the last five years or so? Maybe there was a subtle change in manufacturing practices that even the Trailex sales people (Carl and Ken) are not aware of (or can't discuss with outsiders).
     
  16. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I believe that the SUT-200-S is usually sold to people who don't ever trail their boats very far. For those people this trailer probably is built strong enough. Trailex advertises the SUT-200-S as being light enough to use as a dolly. You wouldn't use a dolly to trail your boat around on the highway. If you actually want to travel with your boat any distance, the SUT-200-S is not the trailer I would recommend. The lack of a proper suspension is a major problem as is the excessive rocking of bolsters which leads to the failure of the tracks in the main beam, as well as, the poor support of the bolster support arms which leads to their failure. I have spoken at length about these problems with Carl and he refuses to admit there is any problem with the trailer at all. He tried his best to blame me for the problem I've experienced with my trailer. After all they just designed it, I actually put it together (another reason not to buy it). But the fact is I check the tightness of all the bolts on this trailer several times each season. Carl’s very good at talking in circles. But, I guess, most national sales reps are. Instead of acknowledging that extending the angle bracket under the bolster support might prevent the support from breaking at the inner hole, he asked me why the bolster couldn't be located at the inner hole. That from a man who claims he has traveled to many Sunfish regattas and has spoken to many Sunfish sailors who own this trailer. He's quite the expert. He even told me that Linda’s trailer broke because she hung extra lights on the piece of wood that is shown in her photo. I pointed out that the wood plus the lights couldn’t have weighed that much, but that didn’t deter him in his assertion. Frankly, I would be embarrassed to admit that my product wasn’t strong enough to hold the additional weight of a board with some extra lights that weighed maybe 20 lbs. at the most. I’m done dealing with this company. I will never buy or recommend another Trailex product.
     
  17. roccaas

    roccaas Member

    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
  18. mike4947

    mike4947 Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    The major problem with this type trailer is the forward keel mounting position. The keel on a Sunfish is actually one of the weakest parts of the hull. No support from any of the foam blocks. We seen way to many cracked keels from front bottom rollers or simple V block mountings.
    That's one reason why the Trailex trailers got such a good reputation as their mounting pads locate on the boat where the hull is strongest.
    Replacing the roller or v block with a wider shallow V that has the hull form cut into it and protected by foam/carpeting so it extends out far enough to contact the hull where the foam blocks are can turn this type trailer into a really good carrier.
    The only other problem we've seen on this type trailer is the weight limits. The Fish with equipment only needs around a 200 pound rated trailer. The heavier the trailers GWR the stiffer the suspension and the most stress/vibration is transfered to the boat.
     
  19. Neil

    Neil Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    The final word on my trailer from Trailex was that it was out of warranty and that they were not going to do anything. That, of course, is no surprise. I've submitted my problem as a consumer complaint to the Ohio Attorney General at: http://www.ag.state.oh.us/citizen/consumer/complaints.asp. I heard back from the OAG today. My complaint probably won't go anywhere since Trailex doesn't think that there are any problems with the design of this trailer. However, if all the owners of this trailer who have had problems submit complaints to the OAG, maybe Trailex will take notice and improve their design. At least other consumers will have the opportunity to find out about the problems before they buy the trailer. If you have had problems with this trailer, this is your opportunity to be heard.

    As a side note: since the track broke out on my main beam at the rear bolster, I've drilled through the beam and through bolted the rear angle brackets to the beam with a 1/2" hot dipped galvanized bolt with washers. Surprisingly, my boat is not rocking on the trailer like it used to when the brackets were held with the T-bolts. It appears to be much stronger and the ride is more stable. I plan doing the same to the forward bolster brackets and reinforcing the bolster brackets where they break at the inner hole.
     
  20. Bradley

    Bradley Administrator Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    18
    bump......
     

Share This Page