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Orange Roughy Part Five
  |  First Published: December 2011



The Orange Roughy is no longer orange, nor rough.

The guys at Penguin Composites have done a marvellous job at turning the ugly duckling that the Orange Roughy was into a gleaming white, pure as the driven snow showpiece.

This is a real testament to the skills of the guys there, as the surface of the boat required a lot of work to get smooth, fix a few badly done repairs done before I bought the boat and get the normal wear and tear blemishes from it.

The smart decision was made to get the outside done prior to doing the interior deck layout and ancillary work, as it is much easier to paint a boat hull while it is upside down than right side up.

The ability to spray the top coats makes all the difference, and while some restoration jobs are done with the humble brush and steady hand, a good compressed air set up with the correct viscosity paint to suit conditions is paramount to getting a quality and durable job.

Trailers, skids and axles

Now that Penguin Composites are on the home stretch as far as their work on the Roughy is concerned, it is now time to concentrate on the trailer.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve built enough trailers and other steel structures to have the confidence to get this job right. The structure of the trailer will be 100mmx50mm RHS with a 3mm wall – this will be stronger than I need, but I really don’t want to be welding up trailers and fixing cracks. I’d prefer it to be heavier than lighter.

As I am fitting skids the need to have all the extra adjustments with rollers won’t be an issue – once the skids are positioned I’ll just weld the brackets in and that will be that.

I am in a quandary about the material I will be using for the skids themselves – I have always been of the opinion that carpet would be best, however an email from one of our readers, Shayne Pigeon recommends using Teflon, and points out that many custom trailers run the Teflon skids from the chine to the keel, where I will be running mine parallel to the keel in two places.

The trailer itself will be made from mild steel and then hot dip galvanised once it is completed. I’ll leave the two main rails open at each end so that the galvanising can coat the inside of the RHS and keep that dreaded saltwater at bay.

The standards for trailers have tightened a lot over the past five years or so, and I guess this is in response to some pretty ugly incidents from poorly built and designed trailers. Many of the problems stem from having the incorrect amount of weight pushing down on the draw bar of the tow vehicle. Too much or too little weight can lead to those high speed wobbles which leads to the inevitable jack knife, often with serious consequences.

The rule of thumb (depending upon who you listen too) is between 7-10% of the total weight as down pressure on the tow ball. For example, if the total boat, motor and trailer weight is 1000kg then you should have 70kg down pressure on the tow ball.

The best bit of advice I have received is to build the suspension (leaf springs and hangers) on a separate angle bracket, so that the whole lot can be moved forward or back to suit the weight of the rig.

While I don’t expect that the rig will be much more than that, I am opting for a load balancing twin axle spring setup. Instead of the normal slipper style springs, the springs have a rocker assembly between each spring, spreading the load evenly as possible in all situations. This is really important on rough roads and eliminates a lot of future maintenance issues.

Brakes are courtesy of a galvanised disc brake set up that is cable activated. I struggled to find these brakes in Tasmania, but a quick call to the Trailer Repair Centre in Governor Road in Braeside soon fixed that. Dean was able to organise what I needed and even rang me back to make sure everything was ok – good service is priceless.

By the January issue the trailer will be built and the boat will be pretty much ready for the decks to be carpeted, live well installed and the 125hp Optimax bolted to the stern.

Santa is going to need a few extra reindeer this Christmas for me I think!

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