As an island nation, the United Kingdom has a rich maritime heritage. Throughout the hundreds of marinas dotted around the British coastline, one of the most common sights is custom moulded polyurethane wheels and castors.
Polyurethane is an incredibly versatile material and its applications for the boat industry are diverse. It is used to make coatings, adhesives and sealants, it is applied as a foam to make comfortable seats and bedding, it provides vital insulation to resist extremes of noise and temperature as well as absorb impacts and it creates casings and moulding for wires, cables, drive belts and hydraulic hoses.
As you can see, polyurethane plays an important role in the boat industry. Its versatility and durability make it a key component in keeping boats seaworthy in the face of the various challenges in the modern maritime world. Whether for recreational boats and yachts or those used for work, custom moulded polyurethane plays a fundamental role in the construction, operation and maintenance of vessels.
Without it, the upkeep of boats and yachts would be more complex and expensive, and with the maritime tradition of the UK still a key part of the economy, its presence in our vessels helps keep things running smoothly.
Polyurethane in the modern marina
Modern marinas tend to be harbours or wharfs where boats and yachts are kept. Ports, on the other hand, are hubs of activity for cargo ships and passenger ferries, as well as boats. Marians often provide various services for those who keep their boats there, including:
- Dry storage
- Chandlers shops
In these marinas, custom moulded polyurethane wheels and castors are frequently used on the lifting and transportation equipment that manoeuvres boats and yachts around on dry land. The same equipment also transfers the boats in and out of the water. It’s common to see boat trailers, boat racks and sling lifts/gantries with polyurethane wheels and castors.
Common Types of Wheel
The most common types of wheels you will see in marinas are on the diverse types of boat trailers that are used. A boat trailer must be able to carry, launch and retrieve a boat as required. Traditionally, the design will include a pair of larger wheels towards the rear and jockey castors at the front of the trailer.
These are castors that swivel to enhance the trailer’s manoeuvrability, often fitted with clamps or brakes so that the trailer can be secured when stationery. There may also be a ratchet incorporated so that the castor’s position can be adjusted whilst stationary or on the move.
Boat trailers of this type are designed for boats that are used regularly, rather than for long-term storage. Polyurethane is a preferred material for the castors and wheels because it is highly resistant to the marine environment. It is also commonly used on frames designed for more long-term storage with a more simplistic design since the castors do not need as much versatility or manoeuvrability.
For larger boats like yachts, people often use hydraulic trailers that move on castors and wheels that are more robust and hard-wearing. They need to have the strength and durability to handle heavier loads as well as resistance to the corrosive nature of seawater, salt and harsh weather conditions. Polyurethane can still be a strong choice for this purpose, combining the elasticity of rubber with the toughness and durability of metal.
With rigid polyurethane foam, you get extreme water and solvent resistance that is virtually impervious to extremes of temperature as well as rain, snow and ice. Exposure to the elements and the harsh marine environments are not an issue. Only in the heaviest-duty jobs do you need cast iron castors to keep large vessels moving in and out of British waters.
As you can see, the various forms of polyurethane all play a key role in the modern boat industry. Whether in the construction, maintenance or operation of vessels, the versatile material is performing a variety of functions.
In marinas, one of the most obvious uses is the wheels and castors of all types of boat trailers. Its strength, durability and resistance to the elements make it a superb material for modern boats, and the industry is heavily reliant on it to keep our proud maritime tradition alive.