Trailering with a manual transmission

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Oldslowandugly
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Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:37 pm

I just pulled out my Whaler 15-footer for the season. I use a manual transmission car, and I really hate it at the boat ramp. On the road it is fine, just at the ramp it is problematic.

Does anyone else also use a manual transmission in their towing vehicle?

If so, what tips can you share to make the boat extraction less dramatic?

conch
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby conch » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:27 am

I find that a rear wheel chock that has a short cord attached to the vehicle that will be dragged along as you exit the ramp helpful. Of most importance is a emergency brake system on the tow vehicle that really works. You must be confident that the emergency brake and chock will hold the load. If you have four wheel drive, engage it before entering the ramp.

To exit the ramp, as you slowly engage the clutch and feel the engine beginning to bear the load, release the emergency brake while adding enough throttle to pull up and out.

Once away from the ramp gather your wheel chock and disengage your four wheel drive. Practice goes a long way towards your comfort level with this. You can back down and pull out for practice without actually launching.

I prefer a ratchet-style-handle emergency brake (as on my Suzuki 4x4) which allows a gradual release instead of an all-release-at-once-type handle with foot pedal (as on my F150 4x4). Another reason I prefer the ratchet handle type of emergency brake application is that it can be easily re-applied with your hand where the pedal applied brake needs your left foot for application, which may be needed on the clutch pedal to prevent stalling.

Practice is [to] learn the sound and feel of your rig taking up the load and moving forward. Every rig is a little different.

Jeff
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Jeff » Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:00 am

I towed my 13 and 17 Whalers with a Subaru Forester XT 5spd. The thing I really loved about it was it had the hill start brake hold. Once you depressed the Brake and Clutch you could take your foot off the brake and car would hold the brake and as you let the clucth out it released the hydrualic hold on the brakes as well. It worked brillantly for hauling out.

I do like Chuck's idea of the chocks for the rear wheels. Simple and effective.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram

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Phil T
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Phil T » Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:47 pm

I concur with the advice on the parking brake.

Wheel chocks and hill start are for sissies.!
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1992 Outrage 17, 1992 Evinrude 115

flymo
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby flymo » Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:46 pm

I really like the chock on a rope idea - maybe I'm a sissy, but I'm also very conservative when it comes to not launching the tow vehicle. Even with an automatic, I use a chock, and leave the tow vehicle in park, emergency brake on, with the motor running, while I launch or winch up the boat. I now leave the motor running having dodged a bullet a couple of years ago - got home from the ramp, parked the boat, and then couldn't start the car again when I went to pull away from the trailer due to a bad starter motor connection. If that had happened on the ramp things would have been quite interesting.

I would love to go back to a manual for my next vehicle, and the chock on a rope trick may make it practical - thanks for the tip!

My dad used to trailer our 18' Thunderbird with Johnson 100 behind a '67 Chevy Bel-Air wagon, 283 V8 and 3 on the tree - left a few skidmarks on the ramp through the years.

Flymo

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:16 pm

Good replies! Thanks! Yes, I do use the wheel chocks with rope trick-always did- 40 years now. When people at the ramp see that they can't believe how simple it is. And yes, my parking brake releases suddenly. That is in fact one of main problems. When it lets go- you better be on your game with the gas/clutch relationship. I am using a 1983 Pontiac Bonneville station wagon that I have swapped in a 301 V-8 and 4 speed manual trans. So, plenty of power and the 4 speed has a 3:50 to one first gear. Trailering on the street was not bad but the ramp was killing me. So I swapped in a 3:23 rear end gear. That gives an 11.3 to one overall first gear ratio. Street trailering is great now. I can just take my foot off the clutch and she's moving- with no gas pedal. At the ramp is still not great. Better, but not great. I'm wondering if there is something I can do to make it like the Subaru release. The only thing I can think of is a "line lock" which drag racers use on the front brakes. You energize the brakes, and flip a switch that hydraulically locks the lines shut- thus keeping the brakes locked. If I could lock all 4 wheels, and release with a switch- that would be terrific. In fact my Daughter's new Subaru has an electric parking brake. I'm positive it uses the same logic. Another idea is to make huge wheel chocks. So big they can hold back the car even if the parking brake fails. That would be a simple solution.

flymo
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby flymo » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:34 pm

I'm missing why the chock on a rope isn't solving all your problems. Can't you just release the ebrake, rest on the chock, and take off on your own sweet time? I use a big rubber chock from Harbor Freight and I think it would hold it - guess you could use two if needed.

I learned to drive on a car where you actually had 5 separate things on the floor to push - gas, brake, clutch, headlight dimmer, windshield washer pump. Very busy feet!

Flymo

conch
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby conch » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:25 pm

Having a "line lock" will release the brakes just as fast as your E-brake does now. Nothing gained with that.

Any chance when you did your engine swap you used a light weight or aluminum flywheel? That would make your launch more difficult, also a solid center clutch disc without springs, or a warped pressure plate face. Maybe just a little more practice and a better wheel chock setup will be all that is needed.

Sounds like a pretty neat car.

If you only trailer twice a year spring and fall maybe ask a buddy or rent a truck with a auto transmission.

kwik_wurk
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby kwik_wurk » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:45 pm

I know the feeling, the first step out of the car/truck is always a little nerve racking no matter how many decades of doing it...

The biggest deal is the parking break, and making sure it is working. (Sometimes the cable just needs to be tightened.) -- And yes ratcheting types are easier to use.

On big boats, I used block on a string method, but chocked the front tires as the rears were usually just touching the water.

If you have a 4x4 AND you have selectable 2X4, 4X4 High, and 4X4 Low; ALWAYS go into 4X4 (Low if available). --- Engagement of the driveline while stopped (engine off) on the sloped ramp is much better and distributed (you can literally feel it), much slower speed up the ramp (especially 4X4 Low). - The only drawback of 4X4L is if you punch in the clutch too fast once you're actually moving, it will jerk a bit more. (Almost like popping the clutch but in reverse.)

For these reasons my tow vehicles are always 2X4, 4X4H, 4X4L selectable (with locking differential) with on the fly selection.

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andygere
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby andygere » Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:21 pm

I towed my Montauk with a Jeep Wrangler, and now tow my Dauntless 16 with the same rig. The chock on a rope is really great, and does the job of keeping the tow vehicle out of the water. In addition, I always engage 4WD on the ramp, which limits wheel spin and allows a fairly aggressive punch of the throttle which helps get the momentum moving forward. Get that parking brake working properly to avoid relying solely on the chock.

What I really dislike about towing with a manual shift is backing up our long, narrow Cape Cod driveway with the boat. It makes my neck hurt, and it's taking years off the clutch. A front mounted receiver makes that job a lot easier.
1989 Outrage 22 Cuddy

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:28 pm

The reason I don't use the chocks as a "brake" is that I always considered them an emergency backup in case the parking brake failed. Maybe I should make them bigger and work them into the game plan. Right now they are 4x4 timbers and seem to do the trick. Perhaps I have a mental block. I had a friend dunk his whole car at a ramp. It was a big heavy 19 foot bow rider and as he was backing down a wheel bearing broke and the boat dragged the car right in. I went to fix it and when it was time to haul the boat I needed both feet on the brakes and chocks on all 4 wheels just to keep from being dragged in. My clutch smelled for days after that. Both my daughters have Jeep Cherokees and I was expecting to "inherit" one of them. I guess I fixed them too well because they show no signs of giving them up. No, my motor is all stock, cast iron flywheel, bent finger diaphragm pressure plate. A pleasure to drive, except at a ramp. New parking brake cables, new brakes, new steering, new suspension, nothing to affect trailering. I think the right plan is to incorporate the chocks into my routine more. If I can find or make a set that gives me confidence to release the parking brake without fear of sliding backwards- that would solve my problem. As I stated, when I released the brake, it held, but I was expecting it to slide. I have all winter to get this right. Thanks for all the replies! You got me thinking.

kwik_wurk
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby kwik_wurk » Fri Oct 21, 2016 12:02 am

What type of car/truck are you using? A 15' whaler is a small boat, maybe 1500lbs boat and trailer. You may simply need a larger tow vehicle.

When using chalks, I try and bump into them, THEN into gear rolling back the last 0.5" or so till stopped hence loading the drive line (preventing an accidental shift), THEN set the parking break. -- Now obviously doing this on a boat ramp launching a boat by yourself is not practical, but if there is a helping hand that's what order I go. (This way when you drive out, your sequence is reversed and easier.)

flymo
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby flymo » Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:05 am

I use this chock: http://www.harborfreight.com/rubber-wheel-chock-with-eyebolt-69828.html.

chock.jpg
chock.jpg (105.55 KiB) Viewed 8107 times


It seems ideal for the chock on a rope setup (although the eyebolt is just zinc-plated so it will rust a bit) and I'd expect 2 of them to hold almost any vehicle.

The only downside is that those chocks reek when new, a really nasty, acrid rubber smell. My wife calls it "the Harbor Freight smell" since other rubber products they sell are the same. Plan to keep the chock outdoors for a while until it wears off.

Flymo

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:17 am

Kwik_wurk, it is a 1983 Pontiac station wagon. It is perfect for me because I stash my mountain bike in the back along with spare trailer tires, parts, aluminum floor jack, tools, everything I need for a successful trailering event. Old American station wagons have more interior room than most modern SUV's. I park the wagon and trailer at the ramp, then I use the mountain bike to go about 8 miles to the marina. I load the bike into the boat, and then cruise back to the ramp. At the ramp the bike goes back into the wagon and I haul the boat out. This way I can launch and haul my Whaler all by myself. The people that are always available for a fishing trip seem to never be available to help launch and haul. Flymo- that chock looks terrific! Rubber should hold much better than wood. It should be easy to swap in stainless steel eye hooks. Thanks for that. I will check HF out. What I can do is test them at the ramp with no trailer. If I can power backwards without them slipping then I think I could trust them for hauling out. It would be great to be able to release the parking brake and just hang there while I got ready to move, like you said. That may just do it!

steelhead55
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby steelhead55 » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:56 pm

I towed my 17' Montauk with a 1999 Isuzu Rodeo V6 with Manual transmission for many, many years. I even launched it multiple times off the "beach" in Ocean cove. Never had a problem. When I got my GMC sierra, it was definitely better, but I see no problems with the Manual Tranny. In fact, I tried hard to get a manual for my 2009 Dodge 2500 Diesel, but much like unicorns, they are hard to find.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:21 pm

A truck driver friend of mine said they use chocks like those at work. He grabbed a pair for me and said all it will cost me is a fishing trip. I just have to fit some stainless steel eye bolts. I usually use a length of parachute rope but maybe for these big boys I will use a chain.

flymo
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby flymo » Wed Oct 26, 2016 3:42 pm

Nice - free is good! And hopefully since they weren't new you avoided the stench.

Flymo

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:54 pm

Here is what I made out of the "donated" chocks and some chain. Next I will go to the ramp and see how well they work. Image

Wweez
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Wweez » Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:06 am

Practice on hills. Get into the routine and sequence of this operation. Practice.

Have your emergency brake adjusted so that "it works". It will work better if you set it and then push down on the real brake pedal last. This takes the stretch out of the cable. Makes the emergency brake hold better.

Practice.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sat Oct 29, 2016 11:52 am

I thought the exact opposite. If I press the brake pedal, doesn't that expand the shoes even better than the parking brake could? Then apply the parking brake to hold it at that setting?

Wweez
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Wweez » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:19 am

My emergency brakes are rear drum and cable actuated, as have been past vehicles. They must be adjusted so they work.
I have found on the ramp that after the emergency brake is engaged to the fullest, using the hydraulic brake to set the emergency brake usually stops any creep. This means the transmission will not bind in park or not as hard, and will come out of park easily.
My use of the hydraulic brake last, sets the brake better, and holds on the ramp.

Possibly the explanation is wanting, but for years it has worked.
Partially setting the rear parking brake when launching, also helps since most of the weight is now on the rear brakes, and most of your braking system is focused on the front brakes.

And it does not cost anything.

With many vehicles designs and operating systems being "changed", I do not know how widely any technique will work or continue to work.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Trailering with a manual transmission

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:19 pm

I also have the common front disc/rear drum arrangement. I routinely remove my self-adjusters because I don't trust them to work properly. I manually adjust my rear brakes as they wear down. I use my parking brake as a measurement as to when the brakes need adjustment. An extra "click" or two of the parking brake ratchet indicates wear. So my drum brakes are always adjusted up as far as they can go. Since this is a manual transmission car, the parking brake is always engaged when the car is parked. This ensures that they always get used and don't rust up from neglect. So at the ramp my brakes are as good as they can be. I apply the hydraulic foot brake before I engage the cable parking brake. That way I expand the brake shoes as far as they can go. Now the cable brake has an easy job to maintain the shoes pressing against the drums. We are probably doing the exact same thing but in different ways.