Should Your Boat Rest on a Keel Roller? (Explained)

Boat care is an essential and detailed part of owning a boat. It is good to familiarize yourself with your boat’s specific cleaning, storage, and hauling needs before purchasing it or taking it on a trip. There are several pieces involved in trailering your boat; one part that boat owners are frequently troubled by is the keel roller.

You should let your boat rest on a keel roller while trailering. The keel roller will assist in moving your boat on and off the trailer and lessen the road impact on the boat while traveling. However, the keel rollers should not support the majority of the boat’s weight. 

This article will cover keel rollers, their purpose, and how to use them. It will also discuss the different types of boat rollers, the process of trailering your boat and caring for your keel roller or rollers. Let’s get started! 

keel roller and boat rollers on a trailer
The keel roller is the roller attached to the very back of the boat trailer in the center. The other four sets of rollers are known as boat rollers.

Resting Your Boat on Keel Rollers

The purpose of keel rollers is to assist you in moving your boat on and off the trailer. The goal is for them to center your boat onto the trailer and hold it in place while you travel. 

After their initial job of getting your boat onto the trailer, their other purpose is to lessen the road impact that your boat receives as you drive. 

Depending on your boat’s model and shape and the type of keel roller used, the boat may or may not rest firmly on the keel rollers. Remember, regardless if your boat remains resting on the keel rollers throughout your travel, they are not responsible for carrying the boat’s weight. 

If your keel rollers are not appropriately installed or designed for your boat, you risk them breaking or quickly wearing down due to misuse. 

Types of Keel Rollers on Boat Trailers

When choosing the right keel rollers for your boat trailer, there is a lot to consider. Keel Rollers come in various widths, lengths, and materials, such as: 

  • Polyurethane
  • TPR
  • Rubber

There are also many brands to look through. Additionally, you can choose from manual or self-centering keel rollers. 

CE Smith is a popular choice out of the many companies that manufacture keel rollers. This company makes reliable products and has many options for various boat models. 

In addition to the different types of keel rollers, there are various options for the roller brackets that they spin on. Check with your boat manufacturer to see which roller bracket and keel roller pair work best with your boat. 

Every boat has its unique requirements. Some need only one keel roller, while others require multiple. Be sure to research your specific boat’s needs before purchasing. 

How To Properly Use a Keel Roller

  1. Install the keel roller properly. Before putting your boat onto the trailer, you want to make sure that your keel roller or rollers are installed adequately on the stern of the trailer. 
  2. Ensure the keel roller is working properly. The next thing you want to check is that your keel roller is not worn out and can turn smoothly. If worn down or not rotating correctly, the keel roller cannot fulfill its purpose of centering your boat and lessening the impact. 
  3. Move your boat. Once you have checked the keel roller’s position and functioning ability, you are ready to move your boat onto the trailer. The keel roller will perform seamlessly if you are loading your boat correctly. 

The Different Types of Boat Trailer Rollers

Keel rollers are not the only rollers you will find on your trailer. The term “boat rollers” is often used interchangeably with keel rollers, but they do not mean the same thing. 

“Boat rollers” is the general term referring to all rollers on boat trailers. Bow rollers and bow stops are part of this category. They are similar, but not the same as keel rollers. 

As mentioned previously, keel rollers are generally located in the center at the rear of the trailer. Meanwhile, bow rollers and stops, as the name implies, are installed near the hitch end of the trailer. These rollers also help move the boat and hold it in place while traveling. Once the boat is fixed onto the trailer, the bow’s weight will rest on the bow rollers and bow stops to prevent it from moving. 

Like keel rollers, the bow rollers come in various sizes and materials. However, bow rollers tend to be color-coded to match the suitable boat material, unlike keel rollers.  

Because their purpose and design are similar, boat owners often confuse the two rollers. Familiarize yourself with the different rollers and their specific uses, so you feel confident when trailering your boat. 

Putting Your Boat on Your Trailer

There are four steps to properly load your boat onto the trailer. 

  1. Have a driver reverse the car towards the water, ensuring that the trailer is straight. At least two-thirds of the trailer should be submerged in the water so that the boat can float seamlessly onto it. 
  2. Once the car is in park with the parking brake for extra security, the driver can get into the water to help secure the boat. You can then slowly guide the boat onto the trailer, ensuring that the bow is in line with the bow stop. 
  3. After the bow hits the bow stop, check if your boat is straight. If not, back up, straighten out, and try again. 
  4. Once straight and on the bow stop, the boat can be secured with the winch and chain. Step out of the boat, unload any gear, and ensure it is adequately secured for travel. 

Caring for Your Keel Rollers

Your keel rollers do not require a lot of care and maintenance. However, they must be installed correctly and you should inspect the keel rollers before each use. 

Before using your trailer, you should ask yourself these simple questions about your keel rollers:

  • Are they rolling smoothly?
  • Do they look worn down and need replacement?
  • Are the bolts loose?

If your keel rollers pass this simple inspection, they are ready to use. 

Yates keel roller.

Should Your Boat Rest on a Keel Roller – Conclusion

Keel rollers are an essential part of boat trailers. Their purpose is to guide your boat on and off the trailer, center it, and help lessen the impact on the road.

Your boat will likely rest on the keel rollers while traveling, but they are not designed to hold most of the boat’s weight. Before using your keel rollers, make sure they are in good condition and fit the criteria for your specific boat.

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