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  1. #1
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    Default How to set up the trailer?

    In another thread, someone said "...if they bother to set up their trailer properly..." . OK, I'll ask, how should that be done? I just got a used 1999 15' Palm Beach (50 hp Evinrude) on a 1999 Continental trailer that has two bunks and 3 rollers up the center. The black forward and middle rollers are marking the hull and the aft roller is inches below the bunks-unused. The previous owner said he just powered on, despite ramp signs prohibiting the practice.

    I don't have another person with me to get the tow vehicle so I have to tie up, get the truck and back into the water. Using the hand crank, I am having fits getting the boat back onto the trailer: it drifts off to one side or the other by the time I get the trailer into the water, although I try to straighten it, it always is way off one side or the other.

    Question is, are the rollers needed, and if so how should they be adjusted? Any suggestions on how center the boat on retrieve so I can quickly exit the ramp.
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Moderator JB's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Wow! Sounds scary.

    Are the keel rollers adjustable? On a keel roller/bunk trailer it is the keel rollers that should take the weight of the boat. The bunks merely keep it level.

    Step 1. Adjust the aft roller to support the transom. If needed, move the boat on the trailer (and the winch stand, if needed) so that the transom rests on the aft roller.

    Step 2. Adjust the other rollers to support the keel.

    Step 3. Adjust the bunks so that they keep the boat level without taking a lot of weight.

    Step 4. Weigh the hitch. If it is not 7-10% of the total weight move the axle carrier to achieve that balance.

    Power loading is easy but dangerous, even with a properly set up trailer. Many places it is forbidden altogether. I recommend cranking her on the trailer. The centered pull of the winch should keep the boat centered as well and smoothly rolling the keel up the rollers.

  3. #3
    Lieutenant Commander triumphrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    What you will need is a pair of these...I have had them on every trailer I have owned over the past 22 yrs. Also, as JB mentioned, I, too am not a fan of power loading. I have spent many an hour on and around ramps and have seen the results of some accidents. Not too pretty....anyway, here's a link..

    http://www.iboats.com/Boat_Trailer_G...view_id.238441
    Captain OUPV

  4. #4
    Petty Officer 2nd Class CAVU V's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    I agree, guide on posts will really help.
    Dale
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  5. #5
    Senior Chief Petty Officer Nova II 260's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Guide-ons for sure.. it's like two people helping me..
    The Lead Dog has the best view.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Thanks guys for the quick responses. JB, you're right, it has been scary. I will be following each of your your points. Once the rollers and bunks are adjusted the next thing on my shopping list is a pair of guide posts.

  7. #7
    Supreme Mariner Silvertip's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    It would appear you are also backing the trailer too far in the water. Once a boat is nosed onto the trailer it should stay centered unless you are dealing with very strong current or wind. Guide ons certainly help but experimenting with trailer depth and proper adjustment makes loading simple.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    I think I may have been backing too far, but recently only backed until the trailer was 3/4 submerged, and the rear tires were just an inch or so into the water. But you're right. I need to get the guides installed and practice.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    On my trailer with rollers and bunks The rollers support the forward portion
    and the bunks the rest probably about 60 to 80 percent.With a smaller boat the percentage of weight is higher at the stern what with the motor etc back there.Bunks should stick out a little past the transom enough so if it shifts back a little the bunks are still under the transom. About 10% of the weight on the tongue.In your case about 50 to 100lbs.If you support all the weight on the keel rollers you may distort the bottom over time.
    As you load the boat it is held lightly in contact with the bunks by the guide ons the bow against the tower roller and should settle on the bunks as you carefully pull it out.After a few miles check that all is well,check the hubs for heat.I don't trailer often but have done boats from 12ft to 25ft @ 4,000lbs.

  10. #10
    Chief Petty Officer krakatoa's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Quote Originally Posted by JB View Post
    Wow! Sounds scary.

    On a keel roller/bunk trailer it is the keel rollers that should take the weight of the boat. The bunks merely keep it level.
    Guys!!!

    Im not a master setting up trailers but I dont believe that the rollers should take the boat weight, doing this you will get a bended shaft. I believe that rollers are there to help load the boat on trailer.

    what you think about this???

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    I will have to agree with JB on the setup. 1st the keel, as stated in other posts, is or should be the strongest part of the boat and the rollers should not distort it unless there are other structural problems.

    I have been reponding to a number of posts about tilt trailers as that is what I have and use. Most seem to have the same problem. Why is my boat so hard to load and unload. The reason is that the trailer is not set up properly.

    A keel roller trailer is used and set up differently than a straight bunk trailer. Also launching and retrieving is or should be different. With a bunk trailer one has to have it submerged enough to float it most of the way onto the trailer. With a Keel roller trailer one should only have to submerge enough to get the 1st roller just under the water then once the winch is connected and tight the boat should winch up straight and easily. Again, if it doesn't then something is wrong with the setup.

  12. #12
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    No way do you support the boat on the rollers!

    1 that back roller is only there to help you get the boat up on the trailer if it's in a real bad spot or laying in your yard, there is no reason for it to touch that's why it doesn't.

    2 You will distort your running surface supporting on the roller do not do it. Those other rollers guide the boat, it should just touch them with enough pressure to do their job and that's it. Do they work great? no, better option two forward bunks to guide your boat (which will fix your loading problem)

    The rear bunks hold the boat up

    Sorry but anybody stating otherwise is wrong!
    1982 Baja 16ss

  13. #13
    Petty Officer 2nd Class zigzag's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    what a great post. i have the same exact issues as the OP. i was about to post asking the very same things!

    i need to work on some adjustments and fab a set of guides as well. was out on the water yesterday and had a hell of a time centering the boat on the trailer. mine is setup the same as the OP three rollers and two bunks. ended up pulling her out of the water and centering by lifting the boat onto the rollers.

    the trailer is really intended for a jon but i was hauling a 15 foot runabout. need to set it up for both.

    thanks for the advice fellas!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Quote Originally Posted by NSBCraig View Post
    No way do you support the boat on the rollers!

    The rear bunks hold the boat up

    Sorry but anybody stating otherwise is wrong!
    Bold statement. But I still disagree. If your statement is correct then how do you explain all those trailers that have no bunks and then why is it that when you look at tilt trailers the bunk length is only 1/4 or less than the length of the boat?

  15. #15
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Think about it if you remove the rollers the boat will sit perfectly on the bunks, just like the fork lift at the marina and the rack and a boat lift.

    Why would it be different for a trailer?

    Three roller shafts and the rubber rollers (actually two cause again that back one isn't there for that and isn't even on a lot of trailers) cannot support the weight of a boat.

    Roller trailers use many rollers to hold the weight, by your theory they could use a whole lot less, kind of just enough, but they don't why?

    Because a roller isn't made to handle that much and the amount of contact pressure on the hull in so few spots will damage it.
    1982 Baja 16ss

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Well you've answered the all roller question but seamed to ignore the other about tilt trailers and short bunks. I'll incluce 2 pictures of different setups and then you explain how to remove the rollers and still keep them on the trailers. Both are original Gator trailers




  17. #17
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    +1 bonz d.

    Rear roller at water level & winching the boat over it will come up straight every time.
    I use a powerwinch with a string tied to the back of the trailer to activate it, when I start winching the boat is at right angles to the trailer and the winch pulls it around and keeps it centred.

  18. #18

    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    OK, let me see if I got this straight!

    Put most of the weight on the rollers.....no, put the weight on the bunks...no, use the rollers to pull the boat on......no, the rollers should not touch the boat....

    My first boat was home built over 40 years ago. I also built the trailer from a kit. I read books on how to do things and consulted with the old-timers at the marina down the street, where I bought the engine and much of the hardware.

    JB's post giving a logical step-by-step approach is exactly how we were taught to do it way back when. I've set up numerous trailers since then and have always done it that way. When I once bought an all-bunk trailer (got a year end close out price), the first thing I did before I loaded the boat was buy a set of aftermarket rollers to install down the keel.

    Side guides are also a good option, as others have said.

    How you do it is your choice. Chose the opinion that makes the most sense.

    Only 1 thing I would add to the discussion - replace the rubber rollers with Stoltz poly rollers. They are harder and have a pronounced grove in the middle. In my case, once my keel is implanted in the groove, the boat tracks straight up the trailer and the side guides are not neded.

  19. #19
    Commander 45Auto's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    It actually depends on what type of trailer the OP has: is it a bunk trailer with auxiliary keel rollers, or is it a keel roller trailer with side bunks? In one case the bunks support the majority of the weight of the boat, in the other case the rollers support the majority of the weight of the boat.

    You may find the section on boat trailers from Boston Whaler interesting:

    Depending on the size of your boat and the conditions in which you launch and retrieve, there are two styles of trailers.

    1) Float-on bunk style trailer - Bunks should be as long as possible and conform to the shape of the hull to provide good fore and aft support to spread the total weight. For larger/heavier models, you may want to look into two sets of bunks. One set to cradle the keel and another further out for support. Keel rollers or guards can be used on the trailer cross members to provide additional support or protection. A float-on trailer is easier to maintain and works best in boat ramps with deeper water.

    2) Keel roller trailer - Keel rollers must be adjusted so they support the keel and bear ALL THE WEIGHT of the boat. Side bunks should be used to balance the weight on the keel rollers. A keel roller trailer works out best in shallow water ramps.

    Boston Whaler does NOT recommend using an all roller trailer. Side rollers can cause a ripple effect on the fiberglass. This could disrupt the bond between the fiberglass and the foam core, causing potential hull problems.

    Nothing will discourage a new boat owner faster than an improperly set-up trailer. Therefore, we recommend a careful check of the trailer to ensure it is set up properly to the boat. Tongue weight should be between 5-7% of the total weight of the tow (boat, motor, contents, and trailer). If you have more than this, the front end of your vehicle lifts up and the rear squats, making the vehicle hard to handle. If you have less than this, the trailer is more likely to fishtail.

    The winch stand should be adjusted so that the bow stop is located just above the bow eye with the winch cable passing just below it. Locating the stop in this manner allows straight pull and provides security in a panic stop, preventing the boat from riding up and over the trunk of the car.

    You should avoid overrating or underrating the trailer for the boat. Your dealer should have an updated weight on your boat, motor, and contents.
    http://www.whaler.com/Page.aspx/pageId/45622/page.aspx

    If the bunks are long enough to fully support the boat, it's probably a bunk trailer. If the bunks won't fully support the boat, then it is most likely a keel roller trailer.

    Quote Originally Posted by hartnetthere
    it drifts off to one side or the other by the time I get the trailer into the water, although I try to straighten it, it always is way off one side or the other.
    Sounds like you're backing your trailer in way too deep. Next time you launch it, make sure a rope is attached and SLOWLY back down until the boat barely floats off the trailer. Now look at how deep the trailer tires are. To retrieve the boat, back the trailer down until the tires are just SLIGHTLY SHALLOWER than where it took to float it. You can then idle the boat up to the trailer (it'll be automatically centered by the bunks or rollers), hook the strap to it and winch it on up the rest of the way. Or pull it up to the trailer with a rope, then hook it to the strap and winch it up if you don't want to idle it on.

    Edit: LMAO!!!! Just noticed that you jokers have been replying to a thread that was a year and a half old before krakatoa replied to it yesterday! Hopefully the OP has his trailer figured out by now since the last time he posted was over a year ago - June 9, 2009 .....
    Any opinions expressed above are worth exactly what you paid for them!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Thank you 45 Auto. I do believe that is exactly what I was trying to state way back in post #11 and no I didn't even look to see when the original post was made.

    Though as I stated in this thread there have been a number of people recently asking about their setups and maybe this will help those people or others that come along.

    People need to realize that there are different types of trailers and they don't all operate the same way. They load and unload differently and have different requrements. Personally I don't care which type anyone uses but it still should be set up properly.

  21. #21
    Chief Petty Officer krakatoa's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Thats right I noticed about the one year old thread but its a good one. anyway I finally re-do my trailer sharing the weight between keel rollers and bunks, just need to to give it a ride on the road to see how it works...

  22. #22

    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    I don't know about the people that have posted on this thread, but I see real "jokers" every single day at the launch ramp. Most people don't know how to launch a boat and many trailers are not set up right. I blame the dealers that are doing the setting up (and training or lack thereof), because many that I talk to don't have a clue either.

    When I say "most" people, that is not an exaggeration.

    So, regardless of who started the thread or when, maybe somebody will learn something today.

  23. #23
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Quote Originally Posted by bonz_d View Post
    Well you've answered the all roller question but seamed to ignore the other about tilt trailers and short bunks. I'll incluce 2 pictures of different setups and then you explain how to remove the rollers and still keep them on the trailers. Both are original Gator trailers

    That's an example to you?

    Oh my how can anybody respond to something that's that big of a piece of junk!

    Seriously??

    and the other is a tilt for a tinny not at all relative to a fiberglass Palm Beach on a bunk trailer w/ center rollers.

    Bunks under a fiberglass boat support under basically where the stringers are which is the strongest part of the hull, not the keel like your tinny.

    A piece of plywood on a landscape trailer works perfect for those tinnys too.

    Old post maybe funny but those pics are worse .
    1982 Baja 16ss

  24. #24
    Moderator ezmobee's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    I agree with craig but I usually get shot down in these type of threads. It makes so sense to me why you'd want to put pretty much the full weight of the boat on a couple pressure points on top of a couple rubber rollers instead of spreading that load out over the bunks. No sense whatsoever. (I'm out, bye)
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: How to set up the trailer?

    Well NSBGraig you did a very good job of sidestepping the question by redirecting to a picture of a project boat. Why I don't know. Must be because you never used a tilt trailer. But clearly even that boat would not sit on the trailer very well w/o the rollers and neither would the other.

    The reason they use forklifts with long padded forks to put boats up into storage racks has nothing to do with trailers either.
    Have never been to Fla. but up here on the Great Lakes they seam to store the large cruisers on cradles that only support the hull on 4 places and they've been doing it for years.

    Well you sound like an expert on trailers of all types so I not going to debate this with you any longer.

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