Trailering Basics

Old 10-15-2007, 02:47 PM
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Default Trailering Basics


I've had boats for the past 8 years or so, but never one with a trailer. Is there a trailering forum so I can get some basics about how to drive my truck with trailer, what to watch out for, etc.?


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Old 10-15-2007, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Trailering Basics

Go to your local boat ramp and watch people. Do the opposite of what most of the people are doing. The guy that gets his boat in and out of the water the fastest with no incedents is the guy you want to copy.
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Old 10-15-2007, 04:55 PM
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Check out this thread it has some great trailering tips.
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:39 PM
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Step 1. Practice backing, if necessary, before arriving at busy ramp.
Step 2. Insert drain plug.
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:54 PM
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Default RE: Trailering Basics

There is nothing like experience to teach trailer towing. After the basic maintenance items, the rest of the do's and don'ts come from the school of hard knocks. No book or internet forum can prepare you for first time you go too fast and the trailer starts to sway or the fun of a closed interstate shoulder while an 18 wheeler is passing on your other side.

As long as you make sure your towing package is safe, go slow in the far right lane, and give yourself 2x as much following distance as you think you'll need, you should be fine as you gain experience.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:00 PM
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go out and tow-- however be prepared-- that is the key!! NO sharp turns !!
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:03 PM
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If you are not comfortable pulling the trailer, get someone you familiar with towing to go with you to an empty parking lot (the bigger the better). Bring along several traffic cones or empty trash cans. First practice maneuvering the trailer around the markers, then practice backing the trailer between markers. A little bit of practice like that and you will get a feel for it.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:07 PM
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"Pucker Factor" will become a common phrase in your sentence structure as you learn how many people will cut you off, Tailgate, etc. not knowing what it's like to tow.
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:22 AM
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Default Re: Trailering Basics

ScarabChris - 10/15/2007 3:31 PM

Go to your local boat ramp and watch people. Do the opposite of what most of the people are doing.

The empty parking lot suggestion is good; make sure that as you improve, you add more realistic obstacles (try backing around a turn to a straight path with an obstacle on the outside, for example.)

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Old 10-16-2007, 01:22 PM
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Default RE: Trailering Basics

I would add getting used to using your mirrors when backing up your trailer, rather than getting into the habit of turning around and looking through the window - much easier on the neck & back.
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Old 10-16-2007, 01:34 PM
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The thing that takes time and that can get almost comical is backing a trailer. I taught my wife in two sentences. Put your hand on the bottom of the wheel( the six o'clock position). Now the trailor will go the same direction as your hand. She figured it out real quick. Make wide slow turns, and know you have a lot more weight and a little if any more brake. And thats about what you need to know.
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:24 PM
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People are oblivious AND have no respect at all to the fact that you have 10,000 lbs behind you. They will always pull right in front of you and slam on thier brakes in the worst possible traffic......ALWAYS. Keep that in mind and you'll have no problem on the road.
The ramp.......practice, practice, practice.....away from the ramp. When you get to the ramp, patience is the key, and don't hollar at the admiral.
Develope a sensible routine with teamwork and it works just fine, in and out.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:24 PM
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ritebrother - 10/16/2007 1:22 PM

I would add getting used to using your mirrors when backing up your trailer, rather than getting into the habit of turning around and looking through the window - much easier on the neck & back.

Good advice, while were on mirrors, make sure you have good ones that are wide enough to see around
the boat. The larger truck mirrors are a great help when trailering. You need to see what your doing thats
key to being able to back up a rig.

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Old 10-16-2007, 10:35 PM
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1. Have a good spare tire. By "good" I mean one with the same size tire and rim as the ones in use on the trailer.

2. Carry a piece of wood with you. Also check to make sure your jack fits under the trailer. Trailers tend to be lower than your tow vehicle, so the truck factory jack may or may not fit under the trailer. The wood is for something to put the jack on top of so it will not sink into the dirt.

3. Place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel when backing up. Now if you move your hand to the left, the rear of the trailer will swing to the left.

4. Practice backing up in a large empty lot, or during the weekday at the ramp when nobody is there. It is a great excuse to play hooky from work.

5. Learn to maintain the trailer. You want "buddy bearing" caps (or some other similar device). These bearing covers are spring loaded and keep a positive pressure on the grease. When you tow, the bearings and grease get hot. When you dunk the wheels everything cools down fast. As temperature drops pressure drops (remember the ideal gas law from chemistry class?). The buddy bearings keep water out as the pressure drops.

6. Also learn to replace trailer wheel bearings, if you do not already know. It is not that difficult - just messy.

7. Use only marine bearing grease. It has extra stuff in it to protect parts that the automotive stuff does not. You should go on and buy a grease gun if you do not already have one.

8. Remember to disconnect the trailer light connection to the truck before you dunk the trailer. Things will last longer that way. Do not forget to reconnect everything when you leave.

9. On long hauls, stop and check the trailer every so often.

10. Trailer tires run at higher pressures than auto tires, and loose pressure faster. Check the pressure before you tow!

11. Avoid cheap trailer tires. There is a reason they are cheap. You spend a lot on the boat and boating in general - there is no point in trying to save $20 by buying a cheap tire.

12. Remember to make wide turns. Once the boat is in the water and you are parking the truck/trailer - watch out behind you so you do not get the trailer hung up on another vehicle. It happens.

13. Never disconnect the trailer from the boat until the boat is backed into the water.

14. Remember your transom tie downs and/or gunnel straps. They are important, even for short moves. You can never have too many tie downs.

15. Cross your safety chains! The safety chain on the left side of the trailer should be connected to the right side of the trailer hitch on the truck. And so on for the other chain. S hooks should look like the letter S if you stand on the drivers side of the vehicle and look at them.

16. It is not a bad idea to have a fire extinguisher handy that is not in the boat. If there should be a problem that requires attention, the fire extinguisher in the boat may not be that easy to get to. Of course it is not really a bad idea to have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle anyway - even when not towing. If you need one you really need one.

17. Have fun. Remember that trailering is a skill you learn. So take it slow the first few times. Do not be in a hurry. Take your time. If it takes you longer at the ramp than someone else - oh well! Everyone goes through the learning process. Just take it easy. You make more mistakes when you try to rush. So find that empty parking lot, get a friend who owes you a favor, and practice backing up. Set up cones if you have any (or any sort of object that can be used like a cone).

Oh yea, I almost forgot one. When you get to the ramp pull off to the side before you get to the launch area. Now take off all your tie downs, CHECK FOR THE DRAIN PLUG (very important - I can not overstate this - most small boats sink at the dock shortly after being unloaded from the trailer), load all the stuff in the truck into the boat, and so on. Doing all this at the ramp on a busy day is just not proper ramp etiquette. Off to the side you can take your time, go at your own pace, and not forget to do anything.

And finally, ask questions. Questions are the path to knowledge.
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Old 10-17-2007, 06:31 AM
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Default RE: Trailering Basics

Read this:

Then go to your local ramps and observe. You will see good ways and bad ways. Copy the good ways.
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Old 10-17-2007, 12:59 PM
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Wow, thank you all so much for this information. I really appreciate it.

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Old 10-17-2007, 01:11 PM
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When backing a trailer up do not try to correct problems with on big turn of the wheel. People get into this game of corecting it too much one way then haven to correct too much the other way. One good way to pratice is while in an empty parking lot get everything in a straight line and try going straight back using very little steering you will find the more stearing you do the harder it becomes.
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