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Author Topic:   Trailer Keel Support Outrage 17
Dan posted 12-17-2000 11:02 AM ET (US)   Profile for Dan   Send Email to Dan  
Just got back from my Whaler dealer -- they set up a bunk trailer for my 1999 Outrage 17 to be picked up next Spring. The trailer is a new model originally for a 17' Sea Ray. When I checked out the set up I noticed that the Outrage's keel wasn't touching the trailer -- the trailer's keel support area consists of flat heavy duty pieces of rubber on two structural support beams that run the width of trailer . The dealer says it's okay that the boat only rests on the bunks. Is he correct? Should I insist that the dealer install a two or three keel rollers that make contact with keel while boat is on trailer?
Peter posted 12-17-2000 11:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     

This sounds like a float-on style trailer. Most of the discussion regarding keel roller trailers applied to the recreational Outrages built prior to about the 1992 time frame. I don't know whether the same reasons for supporting a Whaler of that era by keel rollers applies to the newer, Brunswick era Whalers. It would be intersting to know.

Dick posted 12-17-2000 12:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I have my 1999 17 Montauk on the same trailer. It is a great fit and easy float off and drive on. I worked at a Whaler dealership for years and we never had any problem not using keel supports. It's easier to get the boat centered on the trailer without them too.
lhg posted 12-17-2000 05:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Dan: First, there is literally a "ton" of information on your subject in this Forum. You should take the time to ferret it out, as it will help you make the decision that's right for your intended use of your Whaler.
Second, for what it's worth, I say get keel roller support under you keel. It will probably be an uphill fight with your dealer. He'll tell you anything (i.e. outright lie to you) to avoid having the make the extra expenditure out of his pocket. That's simply the way it is in the boating business these days, unfortunately. More boat dealerships should realize that the cheap trailers they sell (if they do) can do more to ruining their reputation and repeat business than any other single item.

I don't know if BW's are still made the way they were before all the changes. They say that they are, so keel support to prevent hull delamination/deformation probably still applies also.

Here is what I believe to be the real issue on this worn out subject, in this Forum, at least, on boat trailers. Costs have become increasingly important, and keeping the cost of the "Dealer's package" affordable has resulted in the need for less expensive trailers also. Good keel roller trailers, in aluminium or galvanized steel, are the most expensive trailer made, IF you can find one, which you, or your Dealer, probably can't. Each 12" keel roller assembly, with Stoltz poly roller and SS shaft, can run $60 each. Then there is the more time consuming adjustment expense, and you still need the bunk on each side. So the trailer industry over the last ten years has simply gone for just the bunk portion of the trailer, greatly reducing the overall manufacturing cost, number of cross members to only two, and Dealer's adjustment costs. Add to this the fact that any Dealership usually makes a contract with a particular trailer vendor, and has to sell what's available from them. Rarely are keel roller trailers made any longer. So they tell customers the rules have changed on Boston Whalers, and the bunk trailer is the easiest to use and correct for your Whaler. This could probably make Letterman's list of the ten biggest lies often told. The wheel & roller were invented about 15,000 years ago for moving men and equipment (such as boats), and as far as I know this principal of physics has not yet been replaced with carpet except in the boat trailer industry!

In all fairness, the root of the availablity problem is the boat trailer industry. Boat Dealerships tend to sell what's available locally in trailers, for the cheapest price, and most simply have gone to the cheapest support system for a boat, the carpeted bunks. I'll bet 90% of dealerships couldn't get a first class keel roller trailer even if they wanted to. This situation has probably also forced BW to accomodate the trailer industry. For smaller Whalers in the 13-17 size, the trailer design is less important. But as you get up to the heavier models, it becomes critical.
When launching and retrieving gets to a certain level of difficulty, use of the boat declines rapidly, as family and friends become disenchanted with the time consuming and cumbersome process. And remember the float-on and drive-on methods all work much easier with rollers under the hull. The principle of the wheel still works, even today! It just costs a little more.

Peter posted 12-17-2000 07:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     

To add to LHG's excellent commentary, which is right on the money, and to my earlier post, I have a Cox tilting keel roller trailer for my 18 Outrage. (I don't think Cox is in business anymore.) Launch and retrieve is never more than about a 5 minute job and the wheel hubs almost never get wet. I don't ever use it as a float on trailer. While the question of whether keel support is essential for the new Whalers may not be fully answered yet, but there is no doubt that it couldn't hurt to have it. I would probably insist on keel rollers

dgp posted 12-17-2000 07:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for dgp  Send Email to dgp     
Dan, Good luck finding a boat trailer mfr who makes keel roller trailers or even knows what one is. With the help of Larry, I tracked down one mfr in FL who did make keel roller trailers for Whalers. He quoted me a price of $795 FOB FL mfg plant. Great price but 1700 miles away from me.
BW's CPD is shipping bunk trailers with all of their boats. I pushed BW for clarification on this keel vs. bunk issue and they will accept both and not void warranty. See the trailer section on this site.
I had my dealer's trailer mfr use 4 bunks; 2 within inches of the keel and 2 more almost to the strakes. Best I could do w/o traveling all the way to FL. Don
Dick posted 12-17-2000 08:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
If that trailer was for a Sea Ray 175 it is manufactured by Shorelander, one of the best non-custom trailer manufacturers in the USA. Have sold and ordered parts for Calkins, E-Z Loader and Shorelander for years about the only thing for Shorelander has been crunched fenders and tail lights. Those 2 X 6 bunks on the Shorelander offer plenty of support.
If you must have keel support there are aftermarket kits available made by Moeller and they are not expensive. There are other and cheaper brands also, but not worth installing.
Best of luck
lhg posted 12-17-2000 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Further to the subject of keel rollers, please check out the Canadian 16' Whaler being repaired, shown on page 30 of Cetacea.
Now those are the original KEEL ROLLERS! As a matter of fact, that is how they built the pyramids and early sailing ships of 12000 years ago. Clever way to move a boat around the yard!
Dan posted 12-18-2000 08:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dan  Send Email to Dan     
Thank you for the great advice and information.

I contacted Boston Whaler and they wrote:

"As long as the bunks conform to the shape of the hull and are as long as possible, this float-on style trailer should be fine.

Boston Whaler recommends using either a trailer with keel rollers and side bunks or the bunk style float on trailer. We suggest that an all roller style trailer should not be used as the rollers could cause dimpling in the hull or possible delaminations due to improperly adjusted rollers."

Boston Whaler

JoeO posted 12-18-2000 12:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for JoeO  Send Email to JoeO     
The info already posted does a great job of defining the sentiments of most of us. I have a Caulkins tandem axel trailer with two sets of keel rollers (3 12" Stolz rollers each, one set forward, one aft) for my 21 ft. Outrage. When launching, I barely need to get my aft set of tires wet, the boat rolls right off the trailer with a good shove! Retrieving is the same, the rear tires are in the water, usually not up to the hubs, and I winch the boat onto the trailer. This keeps most of the consumable parts of the trailer out of the water (wiring, bulbs, springs etc.)The rollers center the boat as it comes onto the trailer and make launching and recovering very easy. Also, the keel is the strongest part of the boat, isn't that where you would want to support it? Good Luck.
JC Scott posted 12-18-2000 12:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for JC Scott  Send Email to JC Scott     
What is the best source for a new keel roller trailer? From Continental?
bigz posted 12-18-2000 03:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Wow it is unreal the amount of postings that develop anytime some one ask the magic questions "what trailer set up do I need" or "is my trailer set up properly" --- chuckle

Larry the rules in once sense never changed at BW the manuals were written with what was the best set up in the early years and that was keel rollers and stabilizing bunks which were then made by a number of manufactures (these still are the preferred choice by a lot of boaters myself included) but had no problem either with full bunk trailers just felt the keel rollers with bunks a better way to go . The wobble wheel all roller trailers made by these same manufactures started to become popular for some boats, BW had to say no way these are not suitable for our hulls after experiencing delaminating right down to the foam directly caused by these beast! Or they could put permanent indentations in the hull -- definitely not cool.

Peter mentions one of the finest, who went out of business in the mid to late 90's by the way, was the Cox keel roller/bunk trailers. I have had two of them, one is in the yard right now it is a 1980 and there is absolutely no rust on the thing (used for a saltwater Larson runabout) can't say that for many 20 year old trailers! I might add Cox made a full line of wobble roller trailers and bunks as did most.

As it is mentioned in the various trailer post the key is how you want to use the boat not whether they're full bunk style or combo keel roller bunk --- if the water where you usually launch has deep enough water the full bunks offer a nice float or drive on situation, on the other hand if it is shallow water the keel roller adaptation offers an easy in by just backing down getting the tires slightly wet and giving her a shove --

All that said, Dan your Whaler dealer wasn't off base with the trailer he set up for you it will work fine under most conditions with little effort. Though at some point you might want to add a couple of keel rollers to facilitate ramps where the bunks are difficult to deal with ---

Yes I have also spoken to Chuck Bennett and Whaler has no problems with either style only the full wobble roller trailers where if any damage occurs to the hull the warranty is void! Also, they do suggest on the larger boats for full bunk style trailers a second set of bunks be added close to the keel giving better weight distribution.

Bottom line use either one your choice, as long as your boat is balanced properly and the trailer is set up safely for towing.


dfmcintyre posted 12-18-2000 04:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Dan -

I'll agree with all of the above, and also mention that my Eagle trailer was ordered with double bunks, w/o rollers (4 - 2x6 carpeted wood bunks, the first set 6" from keel centerline and the second set just under the sponsons and run from the transom forward). I did order it galvanized. I _may_ take and put rollers on the cross brackets, but with four bunks under it, I feel it's supported very well.

Eagle was interesting to work with... they had the proper measurements still in their files (1973 21' outrage), and would add anything on it I wanted. Got a mounted spare tire option. Picked it up at the factory in Wyandotte, MI, just south of Detroit.

I found that spraying the bunks with silicone, when they are dry, made a significant difference in launch and retrieval. So much so, that if you do it, DO NOT unhook the bow eye until it is in the water. I used to get the boat all set to launch, lines ready, lights unhooked, etc (including taking the hook off the bow eye) back in, tap the brakes and she'd slide off, with Gail holding the lines.

The day after I had sprayed it prior to retrieval, I launched, and decided to _not_ unhook. Glad I did, I had loosened the winch slightly (about 4 - 6" of winch wire) and while still going down a slight ramp incline, heard and felt a "chunk" as the boat slid back and took up the winch slack.


Best - Don

lhg posted 12-18-2000 07:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
About ten years ago I was getting ready to launch my boat, and the guy ahead of me had a new (to him) used 22' Revenge with twin engines, on a properly set up keel roller trailer, for his maiden launch. His previous non-whaler boat had been on a bunk trailer, so he did what he had always done - unhooked the winch before backing down the concrete ramp. As soon as the trailer went down the slope, the Revenge rolled right off onto the ramp, and slid about another 5 feet down the concrete. This is a sound I won't ever forget! The boat survived remarkably well, needing only a new gelcoat job on the keel.
But because of these same rollers, we were able to help him winch the trailer back under the boat.
JimG posted 12-18-2000 10:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for JimG  Send Email to JimG     
There is no additional information I could add to this topic. However, at the advice of LHG and a lot of his help I ordered a keelroller trailer from Continental in FL. I drove from Port Huron MI to FL and return in a long weekend to pick it up. With the cost of the trip it was still a good buy compared to the cost of trailers in MI. I have used this trailer for two seasons and must say it is one of the best decisions I have made for all the reasons LHG has explained. Good luck.
triblet posted 12-18-2000 10:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I'll second what bigz says about silicone
and bunk trailers. I had exactly the same
experience with my Montauk the first time
I launched it after silconeing. Backed down
the ramp with the winch strap disconnected
and CLUNK as the the boat slid to the end
of the safety chain. WHEW.

With silcone on dry bunks once a year,
Admiral Linda winches it onto the trailer.
I get to sit in the truck.
I only back the trailer in until the centers
of the hubs are about 3" below the surface.
At one ramp, we drive the boat on, and it
goes all the way up to the winch.

My Montauk manual says either bunks, or
lots of rollers and bunks are OK. No all
roller trailers.

Chuck Tribolet

Peter posted 12-19-2000 07:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     

I've had the same experience as you with the Cox trailer. After 10 years of use in salt water, the only rust is on the coupling which is bolted on and not hot dipped like the frame. My mechanic says "they don't make trailers like this anymore". Of course, the key to keeping a trailer in good condition in a salt environment is to throughly rinse the trailer with fresh water after use and put lots of fresh grease through the bearing buddies.

lhg posted 12-20-2000 12:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
The keel roller trailers I use are made in FL, and consist of an entire all welded one piece frame, made from 5" steel channel section and 4" steel channel ("C") section cross members, 6 in number. Then this entire rigid frame is hot dipped galvanized after welding. There are no hidden tubular sections, except for the tongue, where unseen rust can develop on the inside and cause failure. This also leaves none of the typical bolted cross frame connections to fail or rust out, and motion squeaks are also eliminated. It sounds like the Cox trailers were also made this way, as are the Pacific trailers that I have seen.

I believe this style of trailer is ideal for BW's, since there are many cross members to hold the keel rollers. Unfortunately, most seem to be made and only sold in FL, and none of the more common brands like EZ Loader and Shorlander make a trailer this way.

Lately I have been seeing some of the aluminium "I" beam trailers done in keel roller style, and they seem very nice. But I'm sure they're a custom order and it may be time consuming to arrange for one. In place of the typical two huge "railroad tie" bunks usually furnished on these aluminium float-ons, they bolt five or six aluminium tubular cross sections to the frame for carrying the keel rollers, and then conventional side bunks. I have also noticed that aluminium trailers are very long for a given size, probably for the float on function, and this is not necessary in a keel roller design. So one has to be somewhat creative in specifying and ordering one of these. Otherwise your vehicle-trailer rig will be a lot longer than it needs to be.

Even with exclusive fresh water use, I believe it is a waste of money to buy any painted trailer. They simply don't hold up and will rust on the inside of the tubes even in only atmospheric moisture. I had a painted EZ Loader fail (break apart at 60 MPH!) on me after being under my 18 Outrage for only 3 years. The tongue rusted through from the inside, unknown to me. Never again!

Here is another tip that may save your life someday. For some reason, most boat trailer manufacturers attach the springs with 1/2" dia plated bolts, probably to save money. Most people do not know that springs are supposed to be attached with 9/16" shackle bolts, in #8 hardened steel. This is a lot larger bolt. All springs are designed for this size bolt, which fits tightly through the bushing in the spring. I found out about this quite by chance, when after 10 years I decided play it safe and replace the springs on the trailer for my 25. I was shocked to see the almost failed 1/2" conventional spring attaching bolts that they took off my trailer. Some were within 1/8" of failing completely, they were so badly sheared and abraded by the spring action.
This is also a major source of trailer squeaks from the loosely fitting bolts.
So replace your trailer spring bolts with the 9/16" fine thread shackle bolts and you'll be safe.

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