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Old 03-06-2016, 09:51   #1
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Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

I have a Chrysler 26 (new to me and not launched yet). I am planning on trying to use a strap to let the boat and trailer roll down the ramp into the water to keep the truck dry. I had considered a square tube, but is so much additional weight, and others have reported this may work better. Now I know I need a wheel on the front of the trailer to keep it up during the launch (and later retrieval). My question is with a boat and trailer that has a tongue weight about 600 lbs, is there any reason I should not use the swing down wheel already on the trailer to do this (rated at 1000 lbs)?

Thanks.
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:00   #2
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Typically those wheel stands are not built for that type of use. You could very well collapse it. Some trailers have extending tongues for launching, which is helpful for a heavy ballast boat like a sailboat. I have seen a lot of fiascos at the launch ramp. The other thing is with weight transfer and ramp angle, I wonder if the tongue may go up?
Is your truck 4WD? One thing I learned quickly is ramps are too slick or step to use a 2WD truck.
For your first time out, one consideration is there a place that will lift your boat in for $20 etc? The other option is just rinse your truck off with fresh water after launching...
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:09   #3
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

It depends...

I was pulling my boat out of its dry dock slot. I had forgotten to rotate the tongue wheel assembly up and it broke when it hit an obstruction. The obstruction was quite low, but that part of the trailer could not move up relative to the hitch.

It would be very difficult to get your trailer re-hitched if the wheel assembly broke while on the boat ramp.
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Old 03-06-2016, 11:17   #4
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

The basic method of using a rope/cable to let the trailer down the ramp with the truck a longer distance from the boat has been used a long time.

The issue is the tongue jack isn't made for the "side" load of the trailer moving around a lot. So typically a spare tire is mounted on an axle such that you can lower the tongue onto the spare. Or sometimes a dolly is built that connects using the trailer hitch and a pair of wheels.

You back the trailer onto the ramp all lined up.
Chock the trailer in place. Disconnect from the tow vehicle.
Set up the boat for launch
pull the tow vehicle forward a bit and set up the strap/cable/rope + wheel/dolly
Pull the tow vehicle forward to tension the cable/rope/strap
Pull chocks
Back the tow vehicle to let the trailer sink, so the boat floats off.

A variation is a beach launch where this might be done disconnecting the trailer from the vehicle and hand pushing the trailer into the surf for small boats.
(easier to find this video than the ones for the sailboats on the ramp being let back with a cable)

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Old 03-06-2016, 11:35   #5
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

There was a guy here who used to launch boat with a keel with a rope. The trailer had a set of wheels welded on the tongue. The trailer had one of those swing down trailer supports with a screw jack that he'd use to unhitch the trailer and lower the trailer's tongue onto the fixed tongue wheels, flip it up, and then roll the trailer out into the water. Retrieval was the opposite, pull the trailer/boat out with a rope, chock the trailer, use the screw jack to raise the tongue to the hitch height and hook up to the truck. Only saw him launch a couple of times but it seemed to work okay. Control with the rope seemed a bit dodgy. Would hate to have been there if the rope broke. Haven't seen him at the launch ramp for a number of years. Don't know whether I just haven't been around or he's moved on.
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:01   #6
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

I do it all the time and bought a steel wheel at tractor supply store and made a mount out of 2" square tubing that gets lowered and pinned in place when launching. Only issue I've ever had is trailer will sometimes go a little crooked into the water on ramp but you can pull it straight by hand., and I had to make my own custom wheel chocks bigger because trailer with boat on it would try and ride over the plastic chocks.. Have confidence in your strap and you'll be fine.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:09   #7
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Get a large caster wheel assembly & an extension tongue

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Old 04-06-2016, 12:42   #8
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Twig, and others,
What size steel wheel did you use, is the surface of your ramp concrete? Are you launching into fresh water or sea water. My situation is sea water. I don't know how to handle the bearings rusting. On concrete I don't know whether metal or the casters with a polyurethane layer would work better. It seems my idea of trying the swing down wheel is not a good one. Final thing I wonder is whether to use a swivel caster or a fixed caster. I can't figure out a way to use a regular wheel yet. Small wheels would require two to handle the weight. I think I want to try the strap before the fixed square tubing that slides down. I will have to look at the idea of a fixed wheel just a bit up. Lots of variables.
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Old 04-06-2016, 19:11   #9
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

A couple of things, 660 lb is ridiculous, adjust the boat position push it backwards .
Using a strap is ok if you use perfect ramp, in any other ramps and also the ramp become windward, you have no control and risk of injury is too great .
The best option is extencion with solid attachmen on the trailer, or even better
modify tow bar as a telescopic and don't have to worry about any other things.
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Old 04-06-2016, 19:28   #10
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Tikka,the boat is 5000 lbs plus a dual axle trailer. Completely empty, no people, no water no fuel, no sails, it is 560 lbs. Given that the tongue weight is generally 10 - 15% of the overall weight, I don't see why the tongue weight is ridiculous. Plus, I would rather over-estimate than under-estimate.

Second, you are saying that square tubing is better than the strap method. Have you used either or both yourself, or is this just what you feel would be best. I have heard from others in a different post from someone who has used both and felt that the strap worked much easier for him. It would be helpful to know if your statements come from experience or theory.

What I know is that it will add yet more weight to the trailer and tongue weight, which I would prefer to avoid.

Thank you.
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Old 04-06-2016, 20:43   #11
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Seems to me I have nearly the same thing. Pity my iPad is not friendly to add a pic.
I use to have TS with long fix keel and that was the case, I had to go pretty deep, and I had extencion. My current boat has 42 rollers and tilt trailer, a foot deep long keel, and don't need extencion , I always go as far as rear wheels touches the water.
you might see it here...


Used 1987 AQUARIUS 23 YACHT Boat For Sale - boatsales.com.au
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Old 04-06-2016, 21:00   #12
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Keelboat Launching on Ramps

I really didn't make up the idea of using a cable/rope/strap/chain between trailer and tow vehicle....

I've watched a few of this style launch.
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Old 04-06-2016, 21:05   #13
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Here is how us redneck sailors do it. I welded a couple square tube 'Receivers' above and below the trailer tongue. I purchased a spindle from Tractor supply and welded square tubing that fit inside the receivers. I mounted the trailer spare to the spindle. Going down the road the spare goes in the top receiver, launching it goes in the bottom one. I used a bolt on trailer tongue jack to support the trailer when moving the tire. Twenty feet of chain, big wheel chocks and some pvc or old windsurfer masts to locate the trailer when submerged. Worked great for us and always drew a crowd.
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Old 05-06-2016, 10:20   #14
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Exkma,
Do you have a picture of your spindle set up? I can't quite picture it.

Thanks
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Old 05-06-2016, 10:34   #15
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Re: Launching boat and the front trailer wheel

Lots of good advice here. I will just chime in because I trailer a Chrysler 26. I have to get in the water a bit with the truck (which may be unacceptable to you), but I can launch without disconnecting the trailer from the truck, or adding any extensions of any kind. Obviously that would depend on the ramp. I have been to 3 different ramps on Lake Huron, and could launch from all three.
Your tongue weight is not unreasonable for this boat. That said, I agree with all who advise against using the wheel on the jack. Mine is all but screaming for mercy just holding the boat, and I have no doubt if I moved the boat by dragging it on the jack it would destroy it.
Also for what it is worth, my truck is a very squirrely 2WD, and although surely not ideal, I have never had any problem getting the boat up the ramp.
Enjoy the boat, we love ours.
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