We all LOVE pulling out those heavy mats in our trailer don’t we? Of course not. Yet it is an absolute necessity if we wish to keep our aluminum trailers in top condition. Unfortunately the following scenario happens repetitively and without fail in service shops across America DAILY:
Customer: “I took my mats out the other day and there are large pits in my floor. Some areas are starting to wear completely through.” Service Advisor: “Lets take a look at it. How often do you clean your trailer?” (as both walk out to look at the trailer) Customer: “Oh all the time. Every time I use it.” Service Advisor: “Well lets have a look at it.” (SA opens the rear door of the trailer and is immediately taken aback by the smell of the urine in the trailer. Coughs, and takes a step back to catch his breath.) Service Advisor: “You say you clean it often?” Customer: “Every time I use it?” Service Advisor: “Do you pull your mats?” Customer: “Well, uh…no I mean I do sometimes but not all the time.” Service Advisor: “How often would you say you pull them?” Customer: “Well I mean I probably haven’t pulled them in a year but before that…I mean I did like once a year…”
You and I both know exactly where this conversation is going don’t we? The truth is that maintaining a trailer is not always on the top of our ‘fun things to do list’. More often than not we can justify our actions or the lack thereof. When it comes to pulling mats it is so easy to say “Well, it has hardly been used in the last couple of months…” or “I’ll do it the next time I use it…” (but the next time is an emergency trip to the vet or you are running late). Lets just face it, none of us WANT to do it. If you have a Hart trailer you have a very sturdy extruded floor. If you have another type of trailer you may have an extruded floor or you may very well have a sheeted floor. An extruded floor can and will withstand far more abuse than a sheeted floor can over time. Extruded Floor
However eventually, poor maintenance can be detrimental to even the best floor our industry has to offer. The question is not ‘Will it damage my floor?’, the question is ‘How long will my neglect take to damage my floor?’. The destination of neglect is the same. The type of floor your trailer has determines if you get there via the Autobahn in Germany, or the slow country two lane roads of the south. Can we all agree that we want nothing to do with this destination? That we would rather take care of what we have? We’ve put together a few tips and answered some very common questions regarding the care of an aluminum floor.
- Haul with shavings or something of the sort. Shavings are great for absorbing urine before it can get down between the mats and your floor. Shavings are also very easy to clean out after every trip. (You can put a fly mask on your horse if you are concerned about shavings getting in their eyes while hauling).
- If you do not want to haul with shavings, you can still hose your trailer out after every single use to help dilute and wash away any urine content.
- Keep your trailer floor clean and dry. Allow for plenty of ventilation after hauling. It is always a good idea to let your trailer ‘air out’ even after you have cleaned it out after a trip.
- Pull your mats regularly. What is regularly? This is different for all of us because regularly to me might be once every month and regularly to Joe down the road might be once every six months. Ask yourself how often are you hauling? For very high usage trailers ‘regularly’ is going to be much more often than someone who hauls every so often. The purpose of pulling the mats is to remove ALL urine and manure residue from the aluminum beneath the mats. This is crucial to the life of an aluminum floor because over time the acid from the urine corrodes the aluminum. Urine that sits under mats for weeks at a time is detrimental to the structure of any aluminum floor.
- When you pull your mats be sure and rinse the floor good. A power washer can be your best friend during this task! Be sure and let BOTH mats and the floor dry before replacing them.
- If you don’t like the idea of maintaining mats there is always the option of a sprayed in floor. Upon customer request here at Hart some of our trailers have a W.E.R.M floor (We Replace Rubber Mats) sprayed into the bottom of their trailer. Other than some possible patching from time to time from wear and tear this is a very low maintenance option for those who want to avoid all of the mat drama. With W.E.R.M your trailer is sealed and your horse is still provided with the same 1/2″ rubber cushion that our standard trailer mats provide. Even with W.E.R.M we still recommend hauling with shavings to help with the smell and containment of waste. Just like our mats, W.E.R.M can easily be sprayed out after each use.The trailer above is pictured with W.E.R.M flooring.
- If you live in an area where there are often salts and other chemicals used on the roads it is a good idea to regularly clean the bottom side of your aluminum floor. Again power washers are boss and can make your life substantially easier.
No one ever said that owning a trailer was a one time financial sacrifice. It is a lifetime of caring for something that you want to last. It is the small decisions today that you will be very thankful for tomorrow. Repairing a floor in many cases is a major undertaking and a huge headache. But more importantly, the life of your partner is priceless and irreplaceable. Their safety is the most important thing. So here’s to protecting our four legged friends. The ones that give us so much while asking so little in return. Here’s to making the most out of the life of your trailer!