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Launching boat from roller trailers

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  • Launching boat from roller trailers

    Here is a dumb question. I have always had bunk trailers and have never had a problem launching or retrieving. I picked up a used boat over the weekend and it has a very good condition trailer. The trailer is 100% rollers. The boat is about a 3000lb 20' boat. The rollers are well positioned and there are a fair number of them. I'm sure the hull is supported fine.Here comes the dumb question. I normally back the boat down the ramp, disconnect the winch strap and push off the boat. With the roller trailer, I would expect that as I back down the ramp, the boat will start pulling (because of the rollers) against the winch cable and there may not be any slack in the cable that would be required to unhook the connector. What do you folks do? With my bunk trailers, I have often been able to unhook the boat completely at the top of the ramp, back the boat into the water and let the boat simply float off by itself. I am assuming that this is totally out of the question because the boat would roll off the trailer. Correct?


  • #2
    Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

    fishingdan, You have the idea. That is one of the major downfalls of a roller trailer. The other is that roller trailers load best when they are relatively shallow (compared to bunk) to maintain the boat position side to side and this requires a lot of winch cranking. What you can do is submerge the trailer further for launching than for retrieving that way you don't have to let out so much cable but most likely you will need to get your feet wet. I have used this product before http://www.************/servlet/catal...ear&subcatID=0 and find it works excellent with roller trailers but requires that you apply power to unlatch the clip to launch. This also requires that you power back onto the trailer.

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    • #3
      Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

      I haven't seen that product before. Thanks.

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      • #4
        Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

        Centsless, I disagree with you. Roller trailers are fantastic. I've watched thousands of launches at all kinds of ramps and hands down roller trailers are easier to launch than flat bunks and not at all harder to retrieve if you do it right.Most well designed trailers of this type have a tilting end row of rollers that form to your hull and self center it for you. The rest of the retrieve (yes, using more winch) is easy and fast. Plus, if you know what you're doing, you and your trailer stay completely out of the water which is better for your wheel bearings, lights, frame, etc. and you and your tow rig can avoid those nasty ramp drop-offs. Dan, don't ever unhook at the top of the ramp with a roller trailer. Once you're at the waters edge just winch your boat down until the transom begins to float. The winch line tension will slacken making it easy to unhook. I've found with most 16-20 foot boats on ramps that have any kind of drop deep enough to float your boat you can stop backing up a roller trailer when the water is just below your axle and hubs. Launching is so easy it's actually fun. The retrieve can be just as good with a good set of bow and transom lines to help guide the boat to the trailer.

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        • #5
          Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

          I find that I must power off the trailer and that the wheels are submerged up to the fenders with my roller trailer, the stern is pretty much floating at that point. I unhook once the trailer is in the water then back off, there is enough give in the winch line once you let some out. Maybe the difference is in the angle of the launch ramp itself? Our lake ramps are at a pretty small angle.Retrieving is either powering onto the trailer partway and finish by winching it or guiding it with a bow rope. I also have fabricated guide-ons which are a big help in centering and retrieving.Joe
          "SeaDog"
          1985 Bayliner Capri 1950 BR
          AQ125a/275

          Even a bad day on the water is better than a day at work!

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          • #6
            Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

            Originally posted by Centsless: fishingdan, I have used this product before http://www.************/servlet/catal...ear&subcatID=0
            I have used that on bunk trailers, its the ticket. Don't know about roller trailers though. Be sure it gets locked all the way in. Once I tripped the mechanism and let off the gas too soon, the boat pulled back down a bit, and the rod did not make it all the way and I bent the rod because it didn't fully engage.

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            • #7
              Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

              Originally posted by EZLoader: Centsless, I disagree with you.
              Me too!My 18' Starcraft aluminum sits on a roller trailer, and as EZLoader said, the rear sets all pivot downward.My hubs rarely hit the water when loading or unloading. The boat rolls off easily, and I let the winch unwind as it does. On retreival, the pivoting rollers help guide the boat nice and centered. I usually end-up cranking the boat about 1/2 the way, so there is a little more work involved, but since they're rollers, it's not difficult, just more.The ramp angle hasn't been an issue, and in fact, I launched into one lake that really didn't have a ramp, but because of the rollers, it wasn't a big deal. On retreival, the rollers pivoted, and the boat just rolled right on up the trailer.

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              • #8
                Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                Nothing beats roller trailers for lauching and retrieving. They will lauch and retieve where a bunk can't and won't. Bunk trailers only beat them with lower cost and lower roller maintenance. Like already said, if a roller trailer is set up right you only need to get rubber wet and maybe the most aft part of the trailer frame.

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                • #9
                  Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                  Ed F and EZLoader, It could be we are discussing two different weight classes of boats. Most of the stuff I have launched from roller trailers weigh in between 3000 lbs and 10,000 lbs. Performing a complete winch down the trailer rollers ... and doing the same for retrival would certainly take all the fun out of the day. On my current set up (9500 lbs "wet") I submerge axles for for both launch and retrieval up to the front fender lip and rarely use more than 4 ft of my winch strap. This requires power loading which is allowed at the launches I utilize.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                    Centless, you're right, I am not launching anything near the weight you are and I agree you will have to go deeper, not because you couldn't roll off, but because you need the depth just to float your boat. Do you have a power winch setup?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                      EZLoader, No power winch. From what I have seen from others, the power winch is a very high mainenance item... plus the 12V cables to deal with. I usually power up the trailer right to the winch stand. The 2 times this was not possible due to an extremely shallow ramp (with a 4 knot cross current)I had to winch the boat all the way onto the trailer. Even with a 2 speed winch it was difficult.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                        I also have a roller trailer and was new to owning a boat this year. The guy I bought it off told to back it in until the water is to the fender. Wifey and I did run into problems with trying to center it bringing it in and the subsequent arguments. I also have the pivoting rear rollers, should I just back it in less, I was just thinking about buying boat guides for next season. Are the guides not necessary for roller trailers?? Also, even with a 3000# boat, winching is a real job, will that be easier if trailer is shallower? Or should I continue to power it on?? thanks all,

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                        • #13
                          Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                          Lungster84For my application ---- I found a shallower trailer to load better... shallower meaning the trailer is not in the water as deep. Too deep and it would always load 3-4" off to one side. I can't help you on the guides as I have never used them. Spend some time at the ramp on quiet day and try different depths. Powering on and cable retrieval should load the boat basically the same. We spent 2 hrs on a Tuesday afternoon getting our load/unload worked out and it was one of the best things we could have done.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                            I solo launch my 21' boat from a 100% roller trailer with no problems...well..almost not problems. Probably helps that I should replace my rollers because they dont spin as freely as they should. How steep the ramp you are launching from makes a big difference as to the actual technique. If the ramp is steep..I keep my winchstrap connected but I give it about 6" of play...when I get to water's edge I unhook strap and back the rest of the way in..floating the boat off. On shallower ramps I may disconnect winchstrap before backing down..and I may have to back into water and tap breaks to cause boat to roll off. Retrieval - I usually put the trailer about 1/2 to 3/4 way into water...pull boat by bowline until making contact with rollers and centered ..connect winchstrap and crank it the rest of the way up.When your boat's ready...shoot me an email and we can head down to the ramp and work out what works best for your setup.-JMW
                            ****ANY OF MY POSTS THAT I HAD PICTURES IN WILL NO LONGER HAVE THE PICTURES. I CHANGED ISPs AND DON'T HAVE TIME TO RE-LINK THEM ALL - SORRY****

                            1976 Glastron v162 Project

                            http://www.shareaproject.com/pages/p...,p,236,00.html

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                            • #15
                              Re: Launching boat from roller trailers

                              In defence of the power winch I would not only recommend one but they are much easier to launch in the larger boats. There is a clutch action that you can operate without a winch handle. It is very reactive. The cord just coils into the trunk of the tow vehicle and takes litterly seconds to plug in.It always scared the crap out of me because I know what would happen to my arm if the cable snapped. But by attaching a string to the actuation lever you can go to the back of the boat and guide it on while having it pulled up by the winch. I would love to have one on my bunk trailer which carries about 6K. I have to keep the bunks soaked in dawn dishwashing liquid so I can pull her up those last 6 inches. I already broke two straps doing this and the cable holds up much better. I really have to put my bunk trailer in the ramp deep and if it is a shallow angle I can easily end up with the truck tires in the water. 4wd is key for me at some of the ramps I go to. I am not a fan of powering boat on the trailer with the boats engine. Screws up the ramp.

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