Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

durdy

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Apr 14, 2008
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The question's pretty much as stated in the title. Will a modern 4x4 ATV have enough power, weight and traction to pull a 3000 lb boat out of a lake? Not from the lake, down the road, onto the freeway, etc. but just the few critical 10's of feet out of the water. And not every day either - maybe twice a year.

Would it work on a concrete boat launch?
Would it work on a packed gravel boat launch?
Would it work on a sandy beach?

I know next to nothing about ATVs. I suspect they won't be heavy enough to gain enough traction under some circumstances e.g. a sandy beach even with low psi. Yes, I realize a clunker 4x4 truck will do the same task much better and probably would be less expensive. Just wondering if the ATV would work at all.
 

Gary H NC

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

It may pull it out but a 3000 pound boat can pull an 600 pound ATV right back down the ramp.
You are not pulling 3k coming out of the lake from a dead stop.Most of the weight is floating but when you get up the ramp and the boat comes out of the water you have the full load pulling you back.
I would not try it.
 

Silvertip

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

Some ATV's are used regularly to move boats into and out of the water and around boat yards. The effectiveness depends on the size and power of the ATV. I move my 18 foot pontoon boat around with my 20 HP lawn tractor and a friend launches and retreives his 18 foot glass bass boat with a Polaris 4x4 ATV and this is on a very sandy but not steep ramp on their own property. The smaller ATV's cannot handle this job.
 

JB

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

I would try that only as a SHT* stunt, and I would use someone else's ATV.

If all conditions were ideal it would probably do it. In the other 90% of conditions you might lose the ATV.

*SHT= story worthy of the "Stupid Human Tricks" Forum.
 

Jeep Man

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Oct 17, 2008
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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

Does the ATV have a winch? If so, and you DON'T want to be on "Funniest Home Videos", anchor the winch to something big ,and give it a whirl. Take a video for us in case it goes south.
 

Bob_VT

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

I have two very respectable and powerful 4x4 atv's. I would not do it for fear of the lack of braking power and the possibility I would burn a drive belt. I have pulled very substantial things to include stuck cars and pickups but the threat of a slimy ramp would have me thinking twice.

I would just save the atv's and use my 3/4 ton.

I have had people approach me while I have been at the ramp and ask me to tow out a larger boat and hey a quick $20 is worth it for both of us.;)
 

kenmyfam

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

Not recommended in my book.
 

cbavier

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

I would say no. Most concrete ramps have loose gravel and many trucks including my 3/4 ton two wheel drive slip some once the boat is completely out of the water. An ATV wouldn't have much chance I'm afraid. Of course the scales say my boat fully loaded and fueled weights 4900 Lbs and it's only 18 1/2 ft. A Four Winns Horizon 190
 

H20Rat

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

simple physics... don't try it! The ATV doesn't have enough weight to keep from being slid down the ramp by the weight of the rig behind it. If you went purpose built ATV with extra weights and liquid filled tires, sure, but at that point....


I've pulled lots of heavy things with ATV's before, and backing a boat down a ramp and then STOPPING is an entirely different animal compared to pulling a static load (vehicle stuck in mud)
 

Philster

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Sep 15, 2009
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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

I've seen ATV's used like tenders (little rail engines) for shuttling boats around a boat yard, making room for more boats in packed lines and bringing boats into the shed for maintenance.

Just like airport tenders move big luggage racks and huge planes. Over flat surfaces, with very short gearing (high numeric gearing), small engines can do these things, provided the tongue weight is ok or offset by a wheel/carrier thingy (names escapes me) at hitch point.

But, I'd doubt it'd be a low-risk endeavor to have the weight of a boat/trailer pulling down hill on a boat ramp against the ATV brakes and tranny.
 

likalar

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Sep 21, 2009
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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

I use a Yamaha Kodiak 450 ATV to pull a debris-loaded 4x8 trailer up a steeper dirt road every spring after the snow melts in the Sierra mnts. The ATV has low-range setting and 4 wheel drive, auto tranny (no clutch) and the trailer weight estimate is 200 lb empty, 800+ lb. loaded. Empty is a breeze, but when loaded, the ATV struggles up the hill (the pitch is similar to launch ramps I've used) and is straining, even after a running start. For what this thing cost me, I would have been better off with an older Wrangler for this towing duty. Bigger ATVs are available, likely in the $7,000-$10,000 range. Good luck.
Larry
 

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badcrazy

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Apr 15, 2009
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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

Eighteen inch boat ought not to be a problem - it's only a foot and a half long - can't weigh more than 10 lbs...:rolleyes:
 

coolguy147

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

i have a 1999 250cc suzuki. runs great. but it cant really take a trailer or anything. i might be able to launch a small johnboat. its relavitely small atv. has super diff 4x4 and super low range low range etc. great but dont run in that gear to long cause it might overheat if its aircooled like mine. not sure about the rest.
 

roscoe

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

Eighteen inch boat ought not to be a problem - it's only a foot and a half long - can't weigh more than 10 lbs...:rolleyes:

yeah, no problem. Don't even need 4x4. Heck, an old 90cc three wheeler will do it.
 

nitsuj

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Jul 22, 2003
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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

You could easily use it to move it around on flat ground. I've moved stuff much larger with an ATV on FLAT ground. Up and down a ramp? No way, no how. A large, newer 4x4 ATV is going to run you big money. You could buy a beat up old Bronco or pickup for the same kind of money and have something you could launch with and take up the road for lunch.

Put it this way, if conditions are ideal, you MIGHT safely launch with an ATV. It may work. But if it doesn't, your boat trailer and ATV are all ending up in the drink.
 

Knightgang

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

I do not think I would do it...
 

Maxum21

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

IMO, an atv would only be good for launching jet-ski's..thats where i would draw the line. i used to move my old 18' bayliner around the yard with my polaris 4x4 and even that was a bad idea...
 

H20Rat

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

yeah, no problem. Don't even need 4x4. Heck, an old 90cc three wheeler will do it.

Honda 90cc 3 wheelers will float surprisingly well. don't ask how I know that one!
 

scoutabout

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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

I wrestled with the ATV / boat hauling question for a while then ended up getting a "small" tractor instead... A close cousin to Henry Ford's famous N series design from the early 40s this '52 Ferguson with the rear tires loaded with calcium chloride weighs about 3000 pounds. In first gear I can idle up the lake's sand ramp with just a touch of throttle hauling the 2000+ pound Scout.

fergieundertree.jpg


I have seen guys pull bigger boats up the same ramp with ATVs. Quite a few at that lake in fact. The ramp though, starts out quite flat. My worry for the ATV guys is if they ever have to stop on the steeper sections or roll back a bit then the tug of war will end awful quick.

At $2800, I overpaid for it (now that I know something about old tractors), but it still cost far less than the half decent large ATVs I was pricing). Downsides are full tilt in road gear is just 15 mph and it's not a 4x4.

The gearing and weight makes the two wheel drive a none-issue for my uses (except for when I want to back up our steep gravel driveway with the Scout on the front hitch) and up in the woods at the lake where am I going in a hurray anyway? Gives me time to enjoy the view while I haul junk to the dump...its other main use. :)

fergieview.jpg


Not content to leave well enough alone I found an old Hupp intermediate over/underdrive transmission I'm going to install at some point. That will give me a total of 12 forward and 3 reverse gears when all is said and done. The super low reverse will eliminate the backward towing issues and the new top road gear will be good for 25 mph...plenty quick enough for the sloppy 57 year old steering and rod actuated rear brakes. :eek:

Perhaps best of all, when the weather's too crappy for boating, I've got something to tinker with on land! :D

Edit - forgot to make my point...:rolleyes: Which is, you should be able to get a good running tractor of the same vintage for between $1200-$2000 depending on your location, market, etc. I was surprised to discover that except for some trim and sheet metal, most mechanical parts are still readily available. They are dead simple to work on, very durable, and there is a dedicated following (especially for the Ford N series units) online that are only too eager to help keep them running. Good luck!
 

chris peck

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Jan 28, 2010
Messages
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Re: Will a 4x4 ATV pull an 18" boat out of the water?

hi i have a selectable 4x4 800cc atv with double wheels on which pulls my 2500lb boat very well along our sandy beaches and up our slippery ramp
 
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