The Complete Guide to Buying Boat Trailers and Trollies

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The Complete Guide to Buying Boat Trailers and Trollies

Many new boat owners realise, soon after buying their boats, that they need a way to get it to the nearest water body for fishing, sailing, white-water racing, or even paddling quietly down the river. Boat trailers and trollies are essential accessories because they help with transporting the boat on the road to any water bodies, as well as serving as a storage facility for the boat when not on the water. Boat owners should give trailers and trollies the same degree of deliberation they gave to the purchase of their boat, for a poor-quality trailer presents a greater risk of injury to people and damage to the boat. Thus, a wiser option is to look for the best-quality boat trailer that one can afford for many years of fun on the waters. Features to consider when buying include length, weight, material, trailer type, and wheels.

While sailing neighbours might have a used trailer they would like to give away, online sites such as eBay boast a wider range of trailers and trollies, in all conditions, types, designs, and for all budgets. With lower prices and fast shipping, a consumer can have their boat on a trailer sooner than they imagine.

Boat Trailers and Trollies

A trailer is a box on wheels that is pulled by a car and is used for taking things from one place to another, while a trolley is a small vehicle with two or four wheels that a person pushes or pulls to transport large or heavy objects. In the case of boats, both boat trailers and trollies are wheeled frames that launch, retrieve, and transport the boat when hauled behind a vehicle and also serve as a storage facility for the same boat when out of the water. Just as smaller boats fit into small boat trailers, larger boats are well-suited to larger and more complex trailers. The boat and its trailer or trolley go together much like the horse and carriage analogy: it is hard for any consumer to buy one without needing to buy the other as well.

Boating enthusiasts who watch the old salts, visit the docks and sailing clubs, and ask a lot of questions are more likely to get a rough idea of what constitutes a good boat trailer or trolley, although further reading up online on sites and forums dedicated to boats and sailing is just as helpful.

Considerations when Buying Boat Trailers and Trollies

A consumer who carefully researches boat trailers and trollies as well as thinks over the following considerations can easily come up with a satisfying purchase that gives them their money's worth while sparing themselves hours of misery by the roadside. Whatever the particular feature, the issue of safety and security should underlie all decisions.

Trailer or Trolley Length

When buying boat trailers, the length should not match that of the boat's length; rather, it must be longer, usually about 60 cm longer, for the boat to fit on it properly. With the right trailer length, the axle of the boat trailer is closer to the boat's centre of gravity, allowing room at the front for the driver to open the car's boot and the same allowance at the back to give the boat's hull enough support. The maximum length allowed by the UK Government's Department for Transport is 7 metres for any trailers towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, the heaviest trailer allowed in the UK.


The weight of the boat figures heavily when buying a trailer because a boat too heavy for the trailer overloads it and causes accidents. Shoppers should buy boat trailer and trollies that are heavier than the weight of the boat, because rarely is a boat without gear or extra equipment, and this adds to its total weight. It is far better to err on the side of a heavier trailer than one that gives up too soon. British drivers should also check with the UK Government's Ministerial Department for Transport (DFT) for guidelines and regulations regarding the car towing weight and width limits, driving licence rules, and what they can tow, as well as towing equipment safety standards.

Trailer Type

Boat trailers and trollies are categorised according to their boat-launching technique, with the two most common types the brake-back and the bunked boat trailers. The brake-back or roller-type of launch is the fastest way to get the boat in and out of the water so is ideal for those who go boating often and in shallow waters. All they have to do is reverse the trailer and vehicle to the water's edge and then launch the boat straight in using a series of rollers. This ease of launch makes this a more expensive type of boat trailer or trolley. The boat trailers using the bunked style of launching have two long strips for the boat to rest on and are thus ideal for loading and unloading lightweight boats in deep waters. The float-on and float-off technique makes bunked boat trailers less expensive than the roller type because the former has no moving cradle.


The size of the boat trailer or trolley wheels has a huge impact on the cost of replacing spare parts and also the whole towing experience. The bigger the wheels one can afford to buy for the boat trailer or trolley, the better off he or she is in the long run. Bigger wheels and wheel bearings with a large diametre have a larger surface area and make fewer rotations per kilometre when compared to the smaller ones. Fewer rotations also means less contact with the surface of the road and less chance of wearing out, thus lasting much longer than small wheels. Bigger wheels also make for a smooth towing over potholes and bumps, as the trailer can take a higher degree of pressure. Most boat trailers and trolleys with large wheel and wheel bearings come with a big price tag.


The type of material used to make boat trailers determines its durability and longevity. While large boats call for strong material, lightweight material is still acceptable for small boats that do not weigh much. The majority of boat trailers and trollies are made from galvanised steel and aluminium, which are both strong, durable, and do not rust. However, there are some differences between galvanised steel and aluminium and consumers should take note of them. Galvanised steel is toughened steel that is stronger than ordinary steel, and thus it is tough enough to withstand the weight of heavy boats, although it rots easily. Aluminium, on the other hand, is highly flexible and lightweight, helping to reduce towing weight. Although it does not rust, it corrodes into a fine white powder.

The table below shows the two most popular types of material used to make boat trailers and trollies, with their characteristics.

Type of Boat Trailer/Trolley Material


Galvanised Steel

Strong, heavy, resists rust, tough, can withstand heavy boats, rots easily


Strong, lightweight, resists rust, flexible, reduces towing weight, corrodes into fine powder

As shoppers can see, the galvanised steel is better for use in heavy boat trailers while aluminium is ideal for situations where a lighter weight is desirable, such as when towing.

Boat Trailer or Trolley Lights

Boat trailer lights illuminate the trailer and keep other vehicles from crashing into it. All drivers towing a boat trailer or trolley must ensure that it is properly fitted with all lights as required by law. In general, all boat trailers must have a pair each of red sidelights, red stoplights, and red reflective triangles, as well as an illuminated number plate and amber indicators that flash between 60 and 120 times each minute. Boat trailers wider than 1.3 metres must also have a fog light mounted either in the centre of the vehicle or to its right. The ideal lights for the boat trailer or trolley are those that are waterproof, as any others quickly burn out because of the frequent contact with water

How to Buy Boat Trailers and Trollies on eBay

To start off your shopping experience and generate hundreds of listings, key in 'boat trailers and trollies' on the search bar of the eBay home page or any other page. Take your time reading through the item descriptions because they give a good idea about the condition of the trailer or trolley as well as length, wheel type, and weight. Ask the seller for further information or to clarify any doubts.

Have a long look at the photos. Rust is a wealth of trouble because it is difficult to gauge its extent over the trailer; therefore, check photos of any boat trailer or trollies in used condition for rust or other signs of damage such as cracks to the frame. If such damage is present, pass them up for listings with items in better condition. There is a huge variety available on eBay so do not settle for less than a good-quality trailer or trolley that is just right for your needs. Once you find the ideal trailer for you, pay for your purchase with the recommended payment method, PayPal, which is safe and secure.

Since you are buying essential boat accessories, also consider a boat trailer guide that prevents launch ramp mishaps by guiding your boat gently in and out of the water, or bundle offers from sellers who offer boat accessories together at a single price, saving you lots on shipping.


Considered essential accessories, boat trailers and trollies lighten the load on boat owners by providing transportation for their boat to and from water bodies, as well as offering storage facilities for the same boat when away from the water.

Whatever the launch style, length, wheel type, or suspension system of a boat trailer or trolley, the key concerns when shopping for them are security and safety. These concerns should underlie all other considerations and features: if it is not safe, it is not worth buying, no matter its bargain value. That said, the important features to think over when choosing a boat trailer or trolley still help consumers with coming up with the right trailer that suits their requirements and is good value for their money. Used boat trailers and trollies are just as good as new ones, as long as they are in good working condition, without rust or serious damages; they are a great alternative for cash-strapped consumers who cannot afford new trailers but still want to buy quality items. There are plenty of boat trailers and trollies on eBay in a variety to suit every budget and boat.

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