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    We finally plucked up courage and booked our first sea adventure with the Wayfarer Association – the ice cream run from Calshot to Gournard – of all the emergency eventualities I had thought through the one I didnt imagine was three successive blow-outs on the trailer on the A34 while towing with our motorhome. Having run out of spare tyres we succumbed to calling the RAC only to find they dont recover trailers unless the main vehicle is faulty or involved in a crash and dont offer any facility to get a spare tyre delivered roadside. Almost £250 poorer and 6 hours later and extremely tired and frustrated we were finally back at home at 3am courtesy of a local recovery firm and didnt get to sail at all, a totally crap experience all round, very sad.

    We are members of the Camping and Caravanning club which is supposed to provide additional services via RAC membership ( which we have the top level of cover and 23 years of membership ) but that too wont provide any support if the only reason the journey cant continue is becuase the trailer itself is the cause ( I wonder how many people that tow boats realise the limitations.)

    When we renew memberships in 8 months or so I will be switching to Green Flag and Caravan Club memberships which combined do offer the required level of support but in the mean time does anyone know do I get some roadside cover which only covers the trailer and boat in case such a series of unfortunate events unfolds a second time ?

    Dave Barker


    First and foremost you have my sympathy, for what little it’s worth – just reading about it sounds dreadful.

    Second, thank you for bringing this to wider attention. I for one hadn’t bothered to check my cover, having just assumed (for no particular reason) that the trailer would be covered.

    Third (and I’m not sure this is the right time to say it) I wonder why there were so many tyre problems? Is there anything we could all benefit from knowing about (tyre pressures, mudguard design, perished rubber, wheel corrosion etc), or was this a freak event (e.g. road debris)?

    We luckily haven’t had tyre problems, but usually carry a spare tyre (& wheel), bottle jack, block of wood (in case of soft ground), axle stand and pack of Tyreweld (I think that’s the name – you squirt it into a punctured tyre through the valve and it’s meant to seal a small hole – I think it also messes up the tyre, but may get you home). I’d be interested to hear others experiences and recommendations.

    P.S. I’ve just looked up the AA wording – “Assistance will also be provided for a caravan or trailer which was on tow at the time of the breakdown, provided that it falls within the above limits.” (The limits are gross vehicle weight 3.5t, max width 2.3m).


    Unfortunately this is very common. Even if your breakdown cover does cover mechanical problems with the trailer itself there are always conditions. For example, it is very common for people to tow trailers without carrying a spare wheel and in that event then I think almost all policies will refuse to attend to a puncture or blowout as you weren’t properly prepared. The fact that many modern vehicles do not carry a spare (only the tin of glup) makes no difference. They will attend to the car but not a trailer without spare.
    The reason for this reduced cover for trailers is twofold. Firstly, trailer wheel/tyre problems are extremely common due to poor maintenance, overloading, tyres illegally old (yes there is an age limit), under or over-inflated tyres, tyres left in strong sunlight without being moved for months, poor quality tyres with low load rating, rusted wheel rims and so on. With no MOT for trailers, I am afraid that most of these problems are a result of owner neglect. Secondly, when your trailer lets you down, you are not technically helpless. Afterall, you still have a working car with which you could, for example, drive to Halfords or to a tyre depot while you leave the trailer where it is.
    So this is what you need to do:
    Check your policy then check it again. If it says a trailer is covered it probably only means it will be recovered along with the broken down vehicle.
    ALWAYS carry at least one good spare (not that old rusty rim with the bald tyre that you recently replaced on the trailer).
    Carry a correct size wheel brace (a jack should not be needed on a combi trailer as you could always push the boat off so as to make the trailer liftable).
    Check the condition and AGE of your tyres.
    Check the maximum load of the tyres, higher ply ratings usually have higher carrying capacities.
    Check suspensions and bearings, re-grease as needed.
    In addition to a spare, I also have an inner tube in the boot as well. They are cheap, compact, and any garage can easily pop a tube in with a pair of tyre levers should you have already used your spare. If you do use your spare, go straight to the nearest garage/tyre shop to repair the flat tyre or sods law says you will get your next puncture soon!
    One more thing, the Wayfarer is a heavy boat. Do you really know how much your boat weighs along with its trailer and outboard all that camping gear you filled it with? You could weigh it at a public weighbridge next time you are out towing (only costs a few quid) and I bet you will be surprised (300 to 500 Kg not uncommon). If your trailer has horrible little 8″ wheels I bet the all up weight is close to or over the maximum load that the tyres can carry. Tyre capacities should always have a large margin to allow for point loading etc. If buying a new trailer consider larger wheels (10″) with plenty of capacity in the suspension and tyre maximum loadings. The larger rolling diameter also reduces stress on your hull from road bumps etc.

    Hope this helps.




    I should have pointed out that my reply above is for general consumption/advise of the readers of this thread and not intended to suggest that you have not checked your trailer or carried suitable spares etc which I am sure you did!

    Regarding blow outs as opposed to punctures, these are nearly always due to either under-inflation, overloading, excess speed or a combination of some or all of these. Powerful modern cars make it easy for people to forget they are towing and simply go too fast for the tyres on their trailer. This overheats the tyre (especially when overloaded or under-inflated) leading to blow out. Afterall, the Chinese factory that turns out those really cheap 4 ply trailer tyres for 10p each knows full well that a trailer can never ever be towed above 60mph by law! Also, not a lot of people know this but, when it’s not a genuine duel carraigeway or motorway, you can only tow at 50mph maximum.
    A friend of mine once had a business buying and selling boats. The first one he bought had two blowouts on the way home due to old perished tyres. After that he only bought from distance if the owner assured him that the trailer was in “excellent roadworthy condition” and he also took out a breakdown policy that did cover trailer problems. After two years the breakdown company cancelled his policy and refused to cover him anymore. He gave up the boat dealing business!



    I didnt particularly want to get into why the tyres failed as I’m no forensic expert and there’s plenty of threads on this forum covering this topic already but all four tyres ( two on axles and two spares ) and both hubs were checked prior to the start of the journey and all tyres were legal and pumped up correctly and visually looked correct. There was no additional load in the boat other than its anchor and the cover and as we have a 1990’s Talbot motorhome towing above 50mph is virtually impossible but we have plenty of space inside to stow stuff ( including the sails) so the trailer was not overloaded though probably does weigh approx 400-450kg. To be clear, we had one ‘proper’ blowout where the tyre completely disintegrated leaving only the sidewalls on the rim and two total and very rapid deflations where the tyre came off the rim and jammed against the trailer body. Yes we have 8 ” wheels, our trailer is made in such a way that fitting larger wheels is not possible without considerable modification. All the tyres that failed were of the same type – Deli tyres 4.00/4.80 x 8.00 4 ply rated at 265kg and all were fitted with fresh innertubes for this season. All the failed tyres were on the offside axle and failed on a relatively straight dual carriageway road (A34) so not subjected to inside turning loads or particularly bumpy conditions. The only tyre which did not fail was tubeless and I suspect this is probably the biggest clue as to the root cause !

    We have towed the boat on this exact set up ( but by car ) between Kent, Norfolk and Warwickshire back and forth between home and sailing club with no problems whatsoever. I dont imagine towing with the motorhome could have made the difference; I strongly suspect the issue was the quality of the innertubes which I had figured would be a better option than tubeless as punctures could in theory be easily fixed and no can of spray goop would be needed; clearly in fact this was not a good move.

    I have now purchased four new tubeless King Tyre 400×8 6 ply 71M wheels rated to 81mph at 345Kg each from Leicester Trailers – it remains to be seen if this solves the problem on our next trip planned to Fowey in a few weeks. I will also be carrying a few cans of goop just in case !

    Back to the main point:

    As far as I can tell having reasearched this in considerably more detail, all the main recovery companies WILL cover your trailer BUT ONLY if the fault that prevents your journey continuing is ENTIRELY on the towing vehicle, they will then recover the vehicle and trailer be it a caravan boat or camping trailer; ie your passengers and vehicle will go on the flatbed truck and your trailer attached towed along behind. However only Green flag and Brittania seem to offer a service where they will recover you if the ONLY cause of the breakdown is the trailer; ie your trailer goes on the truck and you and your passenger drive along behind in your own vehicle. As the man in the RAC said to me – we can only cover MOT’d vehicles because we know they have been maintained to a mininum standard. There are extra stipulations that Green Flag include – the trailer must be registered as yours ( though how one does that I dont know ) and a servicable spare must be carried and the breakdown must be more than a certain distance from home and the normal place it is kept and a few other minor points and it seems important to declare the trailer at the time of purchase of cover (best to read their website for the full details as I’m only paraphrasing.)

    I’m not clear what happens if you are involved in an incident where your vehicle AND trailer are damaged beyond immediate use as recovery would require two recovery vehicles and I cant cant any reference to confirm if any breakdown cover issuer provides for that eventuality.

    I understand the point that leaving your trailer behind and driving off to get a spare wheel etc is a possibility but the reality of abandoning your unlit boat at the side of the motorway or dual carriageway in the middle of the night is a serious hazard not to mention increased risk of vandalism/theft particularly in towns and I’m sure the Police and your insurers would have something unpleasant to say about both these aspects should the worst happen.


    As I said in my follow up reply, my first reply was for the general interest of readers from my own considerable experience regarding trailer tyres and breakdown companies and was not intended to refer to your specific trailer, its use or the problems you had. If I can help one other person from having difficulties when towing their Wayfarer that is all I seek. Unfortunately, many people (perhaps even the majority) do not take trailer safety as seriously as you or I despite the possible legal consequences of unroadworthy trailers. If I had a pound for every illegal and dangerous boat trailer I have seen over the years I would be a rich man.


    Indeed I’m sure all the comments here will help other readers, I was simply trying to highlight that the recovery services on which many of us rely are not necessarily going to be much help when its the trailer that has the problem – my suspicion is that there are many of us that hadnt realised this, I certainly hadnt.

    It would be interesting to know just how many people regularly travel with their boats and thought the AA or RAC would get them home whatever happens. I agree there are many very ropey trailers out there and certainly looking around the boat park there are lots of trailers that would barely make it 100yds before falling apart and have no place on the road. I’d like to think that regular cruising and racing Wayfarer owers are never so lax in their preparations but its precisely the regular high-ish milage users of even very well-maintained trailers on the road that are more likely to fall foul of these loopholes and end up feeling very hard done by when fate has been cruel in spite of the best of preparations.

    On a separate though related topic It would be interesting to know how many people run with tube versus tubeless tyres and what are the relative failure rates are. From my own recent experience tubes seem to be horrifically unreliable and wont be using them again.


    Indeed tube versus tubeless is an interesting question. I have owned well over 25 different boat trailers in my life and ran both tubes and tubeless and have to say I have never ever had a problem with a tube myself. We all know how poor the paint finish is on trailer wheels and that the inevitable rust does often lead to poor seating (and therefore sealing) of a tubeless tyre. A tube does solve this kind of leak and if the tyre and rim are sound (despite any rust) then there is no reason why the tube would have anything other than a positive effect. I must have run over thirty different trailer wheels fitted with tubes (and on many cars) without any problem. I have, however, heard of others having problems with tubes. It seems that on nearly every occasion the tube had got damaged by the tyre levers when refitting the tyre leading to premature failure. The small 8″ wheel is particularly difficult to fit with a tube without damaging the tube when re-fitting the tyre, great care is needed. Indeed they are too small for tyre fitting machines and most tyre shops will simply give the offending wheel to an apprentice along with a pair of long screwdrivers and say “stick a tube in that will you”. As the tyre slowly deflates in use it runs under-inflated and therefore gets too hot and blows out or deflates suddenly. On a car the driver would notice the loss in pressure first but not on a trailer, especially behind a large vehicle like a van or motorhome.
    My first Wayfarer (Moores) was supplied with a purpose built Moores trailer whose suspensions and 8″ wheels with 4 ply tyres was at absolutely maximum capacity with nothing in the boat whatsoever! Properly plated up and everything so you at least knew you couldn’t carry so much as a burgee in the boat. First thing I did was replace suspensions with greater capacity along with 10″ rims and tyres and bigger mudguards of course (having checked that the chassis could handle to theoretical increase in maximum weight). Cost about £250 so around half the cost of a new combi base and good for many years to come.


    when towed behind the car I can see both trailer wheels in the door mirrors so keeping an eye on the wheels and lashings is very easy. However although I can see the trailer and mast out the rear view I cant see the sides or wheels at all when its behind the much wider motorhome so you might be right that the deflation wasnt quite as sudden on each of the events as I thought but there’s no way of knowing for sure – I’m pretty certain the tyre that exploded was violent , I even heard a bang though I guess that might have been the tread hitting something but the tyre itself was destroyed so it must have been a catastrophic failure and not a slow leak.

    Fitting those tubes was fiddly but as Ive done motorcyle and pushbike tyre changes many many times over the years I’m reasonably certain they didnt get pinched or nicked and I have good quality levering tools ( defintely not screwdrivers ) but it is a possibility of course. They had all stayed pumped up for 3-4 weeks prior so am sure they didnt have any pre-journey punctures but might have had a weakness that only came to light once they got up to temperature. What I did notice was that the valve stems moulded to the innertube were rubber; Ive seen other (more expensive) inner tubes where the whole of the valve stem is metal and wondered if perhaps the hole on the wheel rim for the valve stem had a burr or somehow created some friction which had gradually cut through. The innertubes ( what was left of them ) were all so messed up that its impossible to diagnose what went wrong first so I guess we’ll never know for certain.

    Dave Barker

    Well, some useful stuff there! I’m still a bit confused about the recovery firms. Green Flag say virtually the same thing as the AA, on their website at least – “Your Green Flag Rapid Breakdown Cover includes cover for any caravan and trailer you are towing up to a weight limit of 3.5 tonnes, so you can be sure that with Green Flag you are fully covered.” A phone call (at least) would be needed to clarify whether a trailer-only problem would be eligible for assistance.

    Britannia word their caravan /trailer exclusion thus – “Any caravan or trailer that is attached to your vehicle must be registered as owned by you, or a member of your household, and kept at your home address as shown on our records. Assistance is not available for Caravans and Trailers at the home address, at its usual place of storage (if not kept at home address) or within 1/4 mile of these locations.” This would be problematic for anyone keeping their boat at a club (many of us, perhaps most). And again, would a trailer-only problem be covered?

    I’m glad this topic has been brought up, although sorry about the circumstances.


    Europ-assistance told me they would attend to a trailer tyre problem but ONLY if a spare was carried and under no circumstances if one was not. Not sure what happens if you use the spare and get another puncture straight away.


    I contacted the Caravan Club via their website, heres the transcript:

    Welcome to The Caravan Club.

    You are now connected with Dan

    You: HI Dan,

    Dan: Hello, you're chatting with Dan one of the Caravan Club contact centre agents, may I take your name please?

    You: I'm Dean

    Dan: Hi Dean, how can I help you today?

    You: we use a campervan and trail around the country with it as well as sometimes with the car. We had a breakdown at the weekend and RAC refused to help because the fault was entirely with the trailer - we had three blowouts in 20 miles - an awful journey, and had run out of spares.

    You: I understand that Green Flag and you offer a service that would have covered this incidident, bearing in mind it was ONLY the trailer that was at fault. Can you confirm thats right ?

    You: sorry I shoudl have said its a boat we trailer with us!

    Dan: Thank you for your question, can I just confirm that you have a car, towing a trailer, containing a boat? Just so that I can get the right answer for you?

    You: yes we have a boat on a trailer and use either a car or on longer trips /overnight stays we use the campervan.

    Dan: That's great thank you. Would this be for trips across the UK or Overseas?

    You: UK only at the moment.

    Dan: Excellent! Would you like me to send you a link to the section of our website regarding Breakdown and Recovery?

    You: yes please


    You: thanks - actually I had seen that page but it only refers to caravans and no mention of whether the trailer with a boat would be covered.

    Dan: Apologies. As far as boats are concerned on Trailers, I'm sure that it is covered, as I know our Red Pennant Overseas cover includes this. It may be worth giving Green Flag a quick call on 0800 731 0112.

    You: okay thanks.

    Dan: Is there anything else I can help you with at all today?

    You: no thats all. bye

    I then teleponed and spoke with Mike at Green Flag Mayday recovery ( ie the part specifically associated with the Caravan Club ) and was quoted personal membership for my wife and I in any vehicle with full UK recovery and home start at £117 provided we are members of the Caravan Club and the vehicle wasnt already broken down – thats much less than half what we pay RAC (£280) for less cover. Even taking into account I’d have to take out Caravan club membership at £42 and thats still far less overall. I double checked that the trailer would be covered even if it was the ONLY thing at fault ‘yes sir’ was the reply even when I stressed this and double checked. See page 9 of the policy booklet: , its pretty clear the vehicle and the trailer are treated separately but with identical cover – Perfect !

    Next call was to RAC to cancel my membership which renews in December so I figured would be worth a few pounds since were only halfway though the cover period as a pro-rata cancellation – PAH! not a chance, no refunds or apology, in fact the lady on the customer retentions team, Michaela, was downright rude insisting that trailers WERE covered, until for the 10th time I explained it was only the trailer that had the problem when she spouted weill then I should have ‘checked the terms and conditions’ as trailers have never been covered in THOSE circumstance…. I could spit I am that disgusted – RAC perhaps should mean Ripoff All Customers.

    Dave Barker

    Nice work Dean!

    The only possible catch I can see with the GF caravan & trailer policy is the requirement for the trailer to be of “standard make”. Sometimes this isn’t the case, sometimes it’s difficult to tell, and sometimes parts have been modified or replaced.

    As for RAC customer service – ’nuff said.


    I pretty sure that just means they wont cover home-made or non-professionally modified trailers; bear in mind this policy is designed to cover all eventualities and isnt specifically targetted at boats so and I doubt would cause most of us towing boats any concerns. Most wayfarers I’ve seen are on professionally manufacturered boat trailers with all the legal road plates with load carrying capacity and brand name etc. Obviously tyres would need to be E marked and not some el-cheapo wheelbarrow type as seen on many rubbish-tip box trailers, and I guess a visual check to confirm its not some rusting hulk of badly welded bits of mild steel would be expected and was fitted with a proper unbraked trailer secondard coupling cable to a secondary attachment point ( ie not around the towball and not a breakaway cable designed for braked trailers) and a BS/EN approved lighting board with similarly legal numberplate.

    As a side note, the wheel rims themselves tend to be the rustiest part on most boat trailers, a combination of poor paint, cheap untreated metal and getting dunked in water or standing on damp ground is clearly the cause. Having done a bit more research on this it seems 8×2.5 inch steel rims are typically only rated at 265kg when new so rust can weaken these small rims significantly so its worth checking these are up to the job before travelling – they might in fact be the weakest link.

    This resource is also well worth a read:


    Got to say that I am shocked that Deans RAC cover cost £280. Not surprised that the £117 from the Caravan Club (plus club membership) seems better but personally I have never paid more than £30 for rescue and national recovery cover in my life. Last years cover with the Green Insurance Company cost £19 for rescue and recovery through and yes they were brilliant, recovering my nearly new Jeep when it broke down in the highlands (my advise, don’t buy a Jeep). Now it doesn’t cover trailer mechanical problems just like the RAC but you’re saving a fortune every year so why not spend that on the trailer instead, prevention is better than the cure. I honestly believe that the 8″ trailer wheel and Wayfarers do not mix. They were designed for tiny little camping trailers and due to their cheap cost end up on boat trailers. Here in lies the problem as trailer manufacturers standardise their combi bases to make them more cost competitive. The smaller, cheaper wheels work OK for the vast majority of dinghies but the Wayfarer is not the same as all the others, it is way heavier even when empty. The bottom line is that no boat is heavy enough to make rubber trailing arm suspension units work properly and therefore nearly all the suspension effect is gained by the side walls of the tyres flexing as the trailer travels over the bumpy road surface. You only have to follow a trailer using these little wheels to see how alarming this appears from behind. This side wall flexing overheats the tyre and hey presto its pop time again. As the boat travels over the surface bumps it moves up and down and continually overloads these tyres on the ‘down stroke’ even if the stationary load is within the maximum limit. Back to the 10″ wheel. Doesn’t sound much but it is way way bigger than the 8″. Even the cheap 4 ply tyres have a much larger maximum load and there are 6 and even 8 ply tyres that could carry two Wayfarers on a cast iron trailer! The massively bigger rolling diameter effectively smooths out the road reducing that bouncing effect that flexes the tyre side walls and reducing the pressure on the hull at the same time. I have never seen a 10″ trailer tyre fail (even old and perished ones on very heavy 20′ catamarans).
    Having to be recovered is a pain even if it is for free and usually ruins your plans. Not needing to be recovered is easier, less stressful and a lot cheaper if you can buy your breakdown cover for around £30 because you are not worried about the trailer. A good roadworthy trailer with the larger wheels, good tyres (not just tread depth but checked for age, sun damage etc) and properly serviced bearings and a spare will tow a Wayfarer to the moon and back without problems. Just ask Ovingtons, the best boat builder in the UK, they won’t even sell you a combi base without 10″ wheels (even for my 50kg Solution dinghy!). My advise is to look at the maximum loadings on your trailer tyres and take off at least 40% for a safety margin then see if you think they are up to the job. And if you camp with your Wayfarer like me, putting outboard and camping gear in your boat, then assume around 500kg (half a ton!) for boat, gear and combi trailer.
    I think you will find most trailer dealers these days would reccomend not using 8″ wheels on a Wayfarer.
    Before lots of you reply to tell me you’ve towed your Wayfarer for 40 years with 8″ wheels without a single tyre problem, I can tell you now that I think you have been dead lucky!!
    Spend money on your trailer instead of funding the Caravan Clubs’ final salary pension scheme! Just my humble opinion for what it is or isn’t worth.

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