How to choose the right jockey wheel for your trailer or caravan

Choosing the right jockey wheel
Choosing the right jockey wheel can mean the difference between a boat or trailer that is easy to move around and a pleasure to use and a boat or trailer 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.