How to Choose and Fit a Jockey Wheel to Your Boat Trailer

How to Guides

A boat on a boat trailer in a yard

Choosing the right jockey wheel can mean the difference between a boat that is easy to move around and a pleasure to use and a boat that isn’t. There are a few variables to consider in your choice – the load on the jockey wheel, the material it is made of and the diameters of both the jockey wheel and its sleeve (the vertical metal tube).

If you are replacing your entire jockey wheel assembly you should start by measuring the height of your existing one from the handle to the bottom of the wheel.  If you already have a bracket welded onto your boat trailer that the new jockey wheel assembly needs to fit you will also need to measure the diameter or outer width of the sleeve (the vertical metal tube).

Fitting a new boat trailer jockey wheel is a fairly quick and easy task.  

Types of Jockey Wheels

A standard or fixed jockey wheel is welded or bolted on to the trailer drawbar. You can adjust the height of the jockey wheel by moving the shaft up and down. The wheel can be either solid or pneumatic.

With a ‘swivel bracket’ jockey wheel, you pull a release handle, and the wheel rotates into a horizontal position for travelling. An ‘adjustable swivel bracket’ allows you to choose whether you remove the wheel, swivel it into a travel position and adjust the height.

Wheel Types

There are two types of wheels on jockey wheels - solid and pneumatic.

Solid – Made from rubber or nylon, solid tyres are best for use on solid ground surfaces like paving and concrete or tightly packed soil.   

Pneumatic – These air-filled tyres are designed for loose ground such as beach sand and muddy soil.

You may not be able to swap between solid and pneumatic wheels. If your jockey wheel was supplied with a solid tyre, you might not be able to use a pneumatic wheel on it because they often have a larger diameter than solid wheels.

Jockey Wheel Sleeve

If you are replacing your existing jockey wheel with something similar, measuring the outer sleeve (vertical metal tube) will help decide the new one.   

  • A 34mm sleeve is the smallest available and not usually found on boat trailers because they are too lightweight.

  • A 42mm sleeve is used on some light, unbraked trailers.

  • A 48mm sleeve is the most common size for boat trailers.

  • The 60 and 63mm sleeves are for heavy-duty boat trailers with a load capacity of 750 kg.

Load Rating

You first need to consider the load on your jockey wheel. Calculate the weight of your boat including when it’s loaded with gear, plus the trailer weight then add an extra 20% as a safety margin. This is the weight your jockey wheel should be capable of carrying. If the wheel isn’t strong enough to take the weight, you risk bending it or you will struggle to wind it up and down.

How to Install a Jockey Wheel

Fitting your new jockey wheel to a trailer is a relatively simple job.

1. Safety

Firstly, make sure your trailer is well supported or hitched to your vehicle so it doesn’t move while you are attaching the jockey wheel.  If the trailer moves it could cause an injury.

2. Find the Right Position

If the trailer has never had a jockey wheel before, you need to decide which position it will go in. Find a place on the drawbar that doesn’t have any fittings, wires, or other fixtures.

3. Attach the Bracket

Attach the bracket to the trailer. If you have chosen a U bracket, slide the bracket over the drawbar and through the holes in the mounting plate. Tighten all the nuts through the holes on the mounting plate.

4. Test

Make sure the jockey wheel can go up and down, and if it is a swing-up model, that it can do this freely.

Jockey Wheels Buyers Guide

Boat Accessories Australia stocks a range of jockey wheels, so there is one to suit almost every boat setup.

Jockey Wheel with Clamp and 6-inch Wheel

With a rating of 360kg, this jockey wheel has a zinc-plated finish and a solid rubber wheel that will work for small to mid-sized boats. Choose between bolting it on to the trailer, using the bracket or welding it on.

Find out more about the Jockey Wheel with Clamp here

Premium Jockey Wheel 8-Inch Bolt/Weld Swivel

Solid rubber tyres and white powder-coated steel wheel with sealed bearings and easy-tilt swivel system. High quality zinc plating protects it from corrosion.

Check out the Premium Jockey Wheel 8-Inch Bolt Weld Swivel in our online shop or the U-Bolt Swivel version.

Jockey Wheel Swivel Pneumatic 250mm

Suitable for soft sand with its pneumatic rubber wheel, this jockey wheel has a capacity of 350kg and extends to 250mm.  

See the Jockey Wheel Swivel Pneumatic 250mm here.

Off-Road Jockey Wheel

The Extreme Off-road Heavy Duty Jockey Wheel is a robust and versatile dual wheel that can cope with the demands of any type of ground. Not all boats are launched and retrieved in ideal boat ramp conditions, so you may want the flexibility of launching or just moving your boat on the sand. Under heavy load or on soft ground, the wheel can still pivot easily and is protected with sealed bearings. The off-road grip spreads the load. The versatility comes with being able to place the jockey wheel in four different height positions.

You can also lock the yoke in five different positions for stowing so you can avoid the stone guards, toolbox, jerry can holders and anything else you have attached to the drawbar.

Heavy duty swivel clamp

The heavy duty swivel clamp  is suitable for 75mm, 100mm, 130mm and 150mm drawbars. Capable of taking weights of 750kg, you are unlikely to have any problems with ‘bend’ like a lower-rated wheel may do. Strong mounting hardware means you don’t need to weld it onto the drawbar. A sturdy magnetic handle allows the wheel to be stowed safely, so it isn’t damaged in off-road situations. The rust-resistant finish has been salt spray tested for 600 hours so you can be confident of a long life.

Check out more information on the Extreme Off-road Heavy Duty Jockey Wheel in our online shop.

We also stock some replacement parts for the more expensive jockey wheels in our range.

If you have any queries about choosing or fitting a jockey wheel, call one of the experts at Boat Accessories Australia on 1300 308 161 or contact us online.

Category: Boating, How to Guides

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