Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

A conversation among Whalers
jcush87
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Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jcush87 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:01 pm

Boat: Whaler 1997 Outrage 20. Dry weight 2200lbs. Loaded probably about 3600 to 3800-lbs
Use: South Florida Salt water. Ramps are about 25-60 miles away. Possible towing up to 200 miles 1 or 2 times a year.
Tow Vehicle 1996 4Runner 4wd w/Tundra front brakes (5000lb original rating) probably won't tow over 65mph.

I have to replace my old galvanized tandem torsion axle trailer. Last week one of the rollers just fell off in my hand. Fenders fell off a few months ago. Everything else is pretty rusted as well. old trailer weighs about 1200lbs. I know I will get the advice here to get tandem torsion axle rated for 10,000-lbs with stainless steel everything. Not going to happen!

I have narrowed down to a few choices:
Choice-1
Continental Aluminum tandem torsion axle 4,400-lbs trailer
SS hardware, front and rear bunks, guide poles, LED lights. no brakes
I own an actuator and a set of 10" (tie down basic :0/) disk brakes I can move to this trailer 2nd set of brakes $325
weighs about 800-lbs
$2700

Choice-2
Fastload Aluminum SINGLE torsion axle 5,200-lbs axle
SS hardware, front and rear bunks, guide poles, LED lights. no brakes
Weighs about 600-lbs
I can add a set of 12" kodiak DAC/SS brakes for about $300 reusing my actuator and lines.
$2550

Single axle advantages
heavier grade components (axle wheels tires) should last longer
more maneuverable
less to maintain 1 axle, 2 brakes, 2 hubs, 2 tires
lighter by about 200lbs (600lbs less than current trailer)

Tandem axle advantages
more redundancy
more stable at high speeds

both will hold the boat, both are basically the same price (single slightly cheaper especially if 2 new sets or brakes are added to the tandem) I would carry a spare tire and spindle for long trips for either.

Try not to bash the heavy duty single if you haven't owned one. What would you do? Any input on a good dealer in south Florida is welcome!

ConB
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Re: Buying new trailer, Single v. Tandem

Postby ConB » Mon Sep 26, 2016 4:52 pm

Are you sure about the weight of the boat, motor, gear, and fuel? Sounds light to me.

I have an 1987 Outrage 18 on a single axle trailer and all is fine.

You definitely want good working brakes.

What does the trailer manufacturer recommend?

Con
!987 Outrage 18 / 1987 150 hp Johnson & 1969 13 / 30hp Johnson tiller

Marko888
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Re: Buying new trailer, Single v. Tandem

Postby Marko888 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 6:10 pm

I have a single axle under my Outrage 18, and a tandem under the 22. Both are galvanized steel trailers with torsion axles.

I much prefer towing the tandem as it tracks better and is much less bouncy. A puncture is much less likely to be a dangerous event on the tandem. If it were me, I'd select the tandem option.
Mark
1984 Outrage Cuddy 22

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Phil T
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Re: Buying new trailer, HD Single v. Tandem

Postby Phil T » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:05 pm

I trailered 100% for 10 years in Maine. Continental is a highly respected brand. I would go with them.
Member since 2003
1992 Outrage 17, 1992 Evinrude 115

Buckda
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby Buckda » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:57 am

All things being equal, I would choose a tandem trailer over a single axle trailer. The biggest reasons include additional safety and security on the roadway should you have a blowout on one side, a more predictable tow, and much better backing characteristics. The drawbacks include the additional cost of the extra axle including new tires. Also, a single axle trailer will make it tighter turns to get into small spaces. I do think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I was just backing my single axle trailer that is under my aluminum fishing boat the other day, and was noting how frustrating it is to back a long distance, whether it be at the ramp, or down down a narrow driveway.

If you are set on the single axle, you may ask the manufacturer for an extended tongue. That will help.

jimh
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jimh » Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:21 am

Take your present boat and trailer to a certified scale and have them weighed. Most people underestimate the weight of their boat on a trailer. It is typical that the total boat weight when on a trailer is about twice the specified bare hull weight. On that basis, if a 1997 OUTRAGE 20 has a specified dry hull weight of 2,200-lbs, you can expect it will weight about 4,400-lbs on the trailer with an engine, fuel, and gear.

A typical single-axle steel trailer will only have a capacity of about 3,700-lbs, and the trailer will weigh about 900-lbs. That is a total weight of 4,600-lbs to be carried by two tires and the hitch. If we figure a 5-percent tongue weight, we let 230-lbs rest on the tongue, leaving 4,370-lbs for the two tires, or 2,185-lbs per tire. The typical trailer tire is rated for 1,750-lbs, so you are going to need some much higher-rated tires for a single-axle trailer at this load rating.

A typical tandem-axle steel trailer will have at least 4,000-lbs capacity, and with larger tires and axles can go easily to 5,200-lbs capacity. Such a trailer weighs about 1,100-lbs. At capacity, the total trailer and boat weight would be 6,300-lbs. The tongue weight would be 315-lbs, leaving 5,985-lbs for the four tires, or 1,496-lbs per tire.

Tires will run cooler, last longer, and be less expensive if they are carrying only 1,496-lbs compared to ones carrying 2,185-lbs. In fact, I wonder what sort of tires can carry that much load. I have some really big Michelin tires on my truck and they are only rated for 2,183-lbs.

Compare some specifications from a well-known manufacturer, E-Z-LOADER:

http://www.ezloader.com/images/pdf/adj-trailer-specifications.pdf

For a good discussion on determining boat weight from measurements on a truck scale, see:

http://continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/016667.html

jcush87
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jcush87 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:16 am

My weight was estimated as follows:
Hull = 2200-lbs
ETEC 175/prop/oil = 450-lbs
87 gallons of fuel = 600-lbs
Batteries and electronics = 200-lbs
Random stuff/anchor/bimini top = 300-lbs

total = 3750-lbs
current trailer weight 1200-lbs
towing load = 4950-lbs
tow rating = 5000-lbs
So glad I have so much towing capacity to spare!
One of the reasons 600-lbs less trailer weight would be welcomed.
I also don't generally tow with a full tank, so there is 300-lbs less there too.

jimh
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jimh » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:35 am

Tow ratings for vehicles generally assume there is nothing in the vehicle except the driver. Any added vehicle weight, such as a passenger or some gear, reduces the vehicle tow rating.

Another factor to consider is the distance and speeds you will be towing. If you just need to haul the boat a few miles to a local ramp at speeds of 30-MPH, operating close to or at the maximum tow rating is probably tolerable. If you plan to haul cross-country at 65-MPH, you'd want more margin on the tow rating.

Jefecinco
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby Jefecinco » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:02 am

Interesting replies, especially from Dave and Marko. My experiences with single and tandem axle trailers has been different from theirs.

I have owned both types in galvanized steel and aluminum configurations. Boats have been 13, 16, 19, and 24 footers. The tandem axle trailer was under the 24 foot boat.

I found the tandem axle trailer to be the most difficult to back, especially on soft terrain (sand, dirt, gravel), but also on pavement due to the tire scrubbing when making tighter turns. I also found the tandem to tow no better than any single axle trailer I've towed.

I agree that a single axle trailer can benefit from a longer tongue for maneuvering and launching on shallower ramps.

Buying and maintaining a tandem axle trailer is much more expensive and about twice as time consuming.

I've owned two aluminum trailers and prefer them. I also prefer torsion axles and stainless steel brakes and hardware. I've had surge brakes on all my trailers except for the one under our Sport 13.

The best trailer, by far, I've owned is a custom built Sport Trail. For a couple of percent higher cost it is very nice to have a fully welded aluminum trailer perfectly fitted to the boat with all stainless steel hardware and accessories as specified by me.

As to the superiority of one trailer over another I believe setting up the trailer as perfectly as the design allows is more important than the number of axles.
Butch

Buckda
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby Buckda » Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:40 pm

Butch - Interesting. I agree on the tire scubbing during tight turns (backing). I have found that backing a tandem is easier because it is less likely to turn quickly, which allows you more time to make minute adjustments at the steering wheel than with a single. I guess it's personal preference.

I wouldn't say that a tandem has "double" the maintenance costs, especially if you only have brakes on one axle, however, I did mention in my post above that the maintenance and upkeep costs would be extra.

Re: vehicle tow ratings: there are some good articles in the "old" forum about vehicle tow ratings....a search on GCVWR will give you a good sample of the advice. However, it's clear you're trying to save weight and have a marginal tow vehicle for the task you have required it to do - so on that basis alone, I'd be looking really hard at the single axle trailer and just get a full spare and a spare hub kit assembly so you would just have to unbolt the old one and bolt the replacement on in a highway emergency. Again, if you can spec a longer tongue, you will do yourself some favors - especially if you have the space in your storage situation for the extra trailer length.

StormWarning
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby StormWarning » Tue Oct 04, 2016 3:41 pm

Single is easier to backup for sure, and, if the boat is light enough, you can turn it by hand, whereas a tandem--forget trying to move yourself even with it empty. The single is a better option with the exception of one thing: if a tire blows and [you] don't have a spare, or if a wheel bearing is lost, you [will be] waiting for a tow truck; whereas, if you had tandem, you would just take off the tire, limp off the highway, and [drive] to a service center. For me, that alone makes [having a trailer with tandem axles] worth [the cost and other drawbacks]--unless you need to move [the trailer] by hand.

I just got a new Fastload trailer. It was very cheap--so I didn't have very high expectations--but I am really surprised how well built [the new Fastload trailer] is. [The new Fastload trailer] is much nicer than both my last MagicTilt and E-X-Loader trailers. Fastload trailers also use Cypress wood for main bunk, which is suppose to be very good and long lasting. I am not sure if other [trailer manufacturers] do the same [i.e. make their bunks from Cypress]. I don't like the diamond plate fenders [on the new Fastload trailer]. My old E-Z-Loader trailer had plastic [fenders] that looked much nicer. In retrospect, and if I did [buy a new trailer] again, I would try to order [the new trailer with] plastic fenders if possible, or no fenders at all and put them on myself.

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Dutchman
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby Dutchman » Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:48 am

Butch--I agree with what you said. If the single axle trailer can handle the load it is a better option. All you have to make sure is that you have a long tongue distance from axle to hitch; that determines how easy it is to back up straight. I have four trailers, a single axle utility 10x5 bed--which is a pain to back up. Another single axle with 15-foot inflatable that backs up nicely, as does my standard Whaler package for the 150 Montauk. I can get both these trailers in the tightest spots; they turn easy, too. Now my three-axle for the 32-foot boat is [difficult] to back up and turn.

To the OP: If the single axle can handle the weight (after you get certified weight of current set up) I would opt for that.
EJO
"Clumsy Cleat"look up what it means
50th edition 2008 Montauk 150, w/60HP Mercury Bigfoot

jimh
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jimh » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:44 am

I find that backing a tandem axle trailer is easier on soft surfaces like gravel roads. The softer road surface helps the tires scrub sideways. If I have to back up my tandem axle trailer at a sharp angle on hard pavement I always wince at the side loads on the tires and wheel bearings. As much as possible I try to avoid making a sharp turn when backing with a tandem axle trailer.

jcush87
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jcush87 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:59 pm

[I am] still trying to decide on [the new trailer's] build type. Some other options that came up:

--massively overbuilt, custom, 6,000-lbs-rated trailer, 1,000-lbs weight, out of Miami, or

--conservatively built, Continental-brand, 4,400-lbs weight rating, 600-lbs weight, out of Deerfield Beach

Both [will cost] about $3,200 with brakes and stainless hardware.

[The] boat weighs up to 3,800-lbs [when heavily] loaded, but normally probably[weighs only about] 3,400-lbs. The current trailer's [weight is] 1,200-lbs and has a tow rating of 5,000-lbs.

Can you can see where lighter could be better?

Do you think custom-heavy-built would be better overall?

jimh
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jimh » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:05 am

Re a lighter trailer is better:

I suspect that each trailer manufacturer comes up with their own method of rating the weight carrying capability of their trailer, and this parameter is probably based on what tires and axles are used. I don't think that a trailer has to pass some sort of standardized rating or qualification or inspection. If a manufacturer uses an axle and tires that can handle, say, 5,200-lbs, then that trailer is rated to carry a load of 5200-lbs minus whatever the trailer itself weighs. As a result, you might have two trailers from different manufacturers that have the same boat weight carrying capacity, but they could be built quite differently. How one judges the two trailers and their actual construction compared to their ratings is hard to define. I guess you just look them over and see how they are built.

The sort of roads and the type of travel the trailer will be asked to handle may also be a factor. Trailers made in Florida might be built for their roads. I don't think there is any hill in all of Florida that is more than 10-feet high, so there are no grades. Their roads are generally in good condition because there is no winter snow or frost heaves. A trailer built for Alaskan weather and roads might be much different for the same weight ratings.

UPDATE: I was wrong about lack of regulations. There are plenty. See

http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/maninfo/trailer002.pdf

jcush87
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby jcush87 » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:28 pm

Thanks for the help everyone. I put a down payment on the Continental trailer. I figure that a reputable brand like Continental has the experience to know how heavily a trailer needs to be built. I upgraded to torsion axles, 14-inch wheels, stainless steel hardware, LED lighting, and bow bunks. I will also be adding Deemax brakes with stainless calipers on one axle. Should be ready in about a week!

I am looking forward to towing the boat without worrying that I will lose parts on the road or cause an accident.

conch
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Re: Buying new trailer: Single v. Tandem

Postby conch » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:37 am

Check again with Continental about your towing weight. In Florida, towing a trailer that weights over 3,000-lbs requires brakes at each wheel. I assume you bought the tandem since you said "axles." To add [the required brakes] now [will be] really easy.