Being a natural tinkerer and all-around handyman, and having owned trailerboats for decades, Eric Hannah is a good man to listen to when it comes to trailerboat DIY.

I purchased my current boat Bob a few years ago. The trailer was a mess – having been used for beach launching at Port Waikato and most likely not washed down properly after trips. However, the Surtees 5.5 hull was in good knick and the Yamaha outboard, although only a 90hp 2-stroke, only had 115hrs on the clock. Since, then I’ve progressively improved her into a more versatile, user-friendly and reliable boat that is more than capable of going well offshore (especially now with the Honda 4-stroke upgrade!).


The first port of call for Bob was to sort the rusty trailer out. Areas of corrosion can detract from the overall appearance of both your trailer and accompanying boat, and if left to degenerate further, can cause structural damage. I didn’t bother fully regalvanising the trailer, which
is a professional job and involves totally stripping down your trailer and renewing the zinc coating. Instead, I sanded back the corroded areas using an anglegrinder with wirebrush, and drill with wirebrush for the tighter spots. After this, I coated the areas with blackguard paint which helps kill further rusting and then painted over with zincgalve paint.
This patch-up job worked for a few years, but the damage had already been done to the side beams. Luckily, Epic trailers can provide replacement trailer parts that are relatively easy to change over at home – the hardest part is knocking the beams into alignment with the u-bolts with a soft dumpy hammer or equivalent. Once the trailer was up to standard, I installed a flushing system that a hose attaches to and washes down the internal parts of the trailer beams. This was simple – all I did was purchase garden irrigation parts including 360-degree sprinklers and pushed these down the trailer’s length.


Twin batteries provide peace of mind

Bob came with the standard 80l underfloor fuel tank. However, I wanted to extend the range for those big gamefishing trips without having to use jerry cans while rolling around out at sea. My solution was attaching an outboard fuel fitting onto the fuel filter. I connected a fitting thread onto the main fuel line so you can detach this from the fuel filter and attach in its place attach a tote tank feed. I keep the tote tank feed out of the way and out of the water by having another outboard fuel fitting it connects to sitting clear above the bilge.


I installed twin batteries for safety and peace of mind as I know a little bit about wiring. Ensure your heavy batteries are centred to minimise listing and label the house and start batteries so you know which one you’re testing or charging.

The author’s huge filleting bench

Filleting bench

I prefer filleting at sea and taking the cleaned fillets and fish frames home. However, pretty much all standard baitboards on trailerboats are too small to deal with larger fish. To fix this I cut a large rectangular plank of wood to measure so its narrow end fits into the standard Surtees aluminium baitboard area. I then marked where the new board met the outer lip on the aluminium baitboard area and cut a groove so the new board fits into this groove and hangs over creating a bench.

The final piece was drilling a metal shelf on the back of the aluminium baitboard area to hold the new board in place. The board hides away neatly when not in use between the end of the squab and the helm area. I fish out of Gisborne, so my large board is great for filleting deepwater slimies like Bluenose and Gemfish. There is even enough space for one person to fillet and the other to skin and bone on the opposite side!

General tips

• Use Saltaway for flushing the engine and washing down the boat and trailer
• Install a deckwash pump to wash away mess straight away when on the water
• Use stacking bins on the deck that self-drain (e.g. drill holes in the base) – handy to store items such as iki spikes or cray measures, for rinsing fillets in seawater, and to clean your gear after a trip
• Install rubbertube matting on your floor – good for bare feet and reduces things like chilly bins sliding around
• Put Rainex on your windows (even if you have a wiper)
• If you have cable steering, make sure you turn the wheel regularly when the boat is sitting at home to help prevent it seizing
• Leave your engine down when stored at home so water can fully drain out
• Installing a steering-wheel with a knob handle helps manoeuvring
• It’s easy to make your own outriggers using 2 3 Kilwell blanks

Article by: Eric Hannah