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Author Topic:   Towing a boat from Florida to Maine
Maine whaler posted 06-17-2002 07:33 AM ET (US)   Profile for Maine whaler   Send Email to Maine whaler  
Looks like I may have found a boat in Florida. 24 footer with 97 dual axle trailer. Much cheaper to get it delivered on its own trailer. Can a 5 year old trailer be made safe to tow 2400 miles. what should I have checked/ replaced? Bearings, brakes? 1 or two spare tires?
Roarque posted 06-17-2002 08:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for Roarque  Send Email to Roarque     
Here's some advice I received from a friend who had just trailored a boat across country east to west:

As a result of our experiences with trailers and the drive out west I would
suggest the following.

---- Have the wheel bearings replaced with new ones.
---- Ensure there are at least 12 in. diameter wheels, change if not,
there are larger wheels on the same bolt pattern.
---- Buy two inner tubes of the right wheel size. It's easier to install a
tube if you get a flat or lose the tire/rim seal than doing anything else.
---- Trim the trailer for 80-100 lbs. tung weight.
---- Resist the temptation to put extra weight in the boat.
---- If this was the trailer that launched boats every year then the rear
light fixtures will need replacing.
---- Inflate tires to around 60 lbs/sq.ins.

All the above was learned the hard way, no sense you going through it too.

JBCornwell posted 06-17-2002 08:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
howdy, MW.

I agree with the above, EXCEPT. I think tongue weight should be 7 to 10% of towed weight for a single axle trailer, 3-5% for a tandem.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

kingfish posted 06-17-2002 08:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Unless a five-year old trailer has been hugely abused, it should have tens of thousands of miles left in it.

I need to respectfully disagree with one aspect of Roarque's fine post in that your tongue weight will almost certainly be too light at 80# to 100# - conventional instructions put desired tongue weight at between 5% and 10% of the gross boat/trailer weight. With heavier boats like the 24, down around 5% usually is fine, though I doubt that you would want much less than 250#.

I would add that right along with confirming the bearings are in good shape and well greased, and in some respects even more importantly, is the confirming the brakes are in good shape and operating correctly. You not only want the package to roll easily, you don't want it to roll over you when you have to come to an abrupt stop.


Tom W Clark posted 06-17-2002 10:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
JB and Kingfish are correct about the tongue weight. 80-100 lbs is far to light for anything bigger than a 13' Whaler.

Also, do not inflate tires to 60 lbs unless rated for a 60 lb maximum tire pressure. Look at your sidewalls. The maximum tire inflation pressure will be printed there. It is typically 45 psi for load range "B" tires.

Hobie1981 posted 06-17-2002 10:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hobie1981  Send Email to Hobie1981     
You might also consider in your trailer kit the following.

Road Flares
A jack that will fit/work on your trailer ;-)
Lug wrench.
Change of clothes for roadside fun.
Waterless handcleaner.
Spare straps, tie down.
Duct Tape.
Tool kit.
Spare bulbs.
Spare bearing buddy.
Spare bearings etc.

I realize this could be considered overkill by some. But better safe than sorry. Besides, you'll most likely use this stuff sooner or later anyways. Just remember to replenish your "kit" when you do.


Have a safe trip back to Vacationland.

Hobie in the Granite State

Hobie1981 posted 06-17-2002 10:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hobie1981  Send Email to Hobie1981     
Oh.. one last thing. Personally I would carry at least 1 spare tire mounted on a rim. To me that would be the easiest solution to a flat. The spare tube thing sounds a bit long in the tooth time wise, IMHO. I found Wal-Mart had exellent prices for replacement tires on rims. Hopefully they carry your size.


triblet posted 06-17-2002 10:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I'll add:

One spare tire, but if you get a flat, get
it fixed in the next town.

Torque wrench in the right range for seating
the bearing nut. This will be real low, like
20 inch pounds.

Socket to fit the bearing nut.

If the lights work, I'd leave them alone, but
think about rewiring when I get home.

Keep the boat light. Do a little Florida
boating (extended check ride) and run the gas
tank down. Put the anchor, and maybe batteries
in the truck.


Maine whaler posted 06-17-2002 10:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for Maine whaler  Send Email to Maine whaler     
I am actually looking at having a transport company haul it for me. Seems to about an $800 -1000 difference in cost if I ask them to put it on their flatbed. Would it be worth the premium to avaoid possible problems.
Bigshot posted 06-17-2002 10:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Is this in Key West and you live on the Canadian border? How is it 2400 miles from FL to ME?
Jerry Townsend posted 06-17-2002 11:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Maine Whaler - you have received many good comments regarding the tongue weight, One additional point - forget the 'at least 12 inch diameter wheels ...' - get some real wheels and tires - like those for a suburban or pickup - however, they do not have to be radials.

Regarding the trucking company consideration - I question the 2400 mile - unless that is the round trip. Also, fuel for a tractor-trailer for a 2400 mile run will be perhaps $600 - $800 which leaves nothing for the driver or ammorization of that equipment - something is wrong here. With your boat/trailer, that trucker can't get all that much more on that trailer. ---- Jerry/Idaho

tabasco posted 06-17-2002 11:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for tabasco  Send Email to tabasco     
The cheapest and best advice I can give is to go to an auto store and buy a flat tire inflater. It comes in a can and is a quick fix for a flat. Could get you to the next town or gas station to have it fixed and not put your life & boat in danger on the highway
180 posted 06-17-2002 11:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for 180  Send Email to 180     
The trailer should have 14" or 15" wheels. I don't think any manufacturer would put 12" wheels on a tandom axel trailer for a 24' boat.

If the trailer is a 1997 and it hasn't been abused, it should be fine. Bring all the "just in case" stuff with you. Make sure you have the correct size spare mounted on the correct size wheel. Make sure that if the trailer has bias ply tires, your spare is also bias (same for radial ply construction).

If you get the information off the tires that are on the trailer, let me know. I can provide air pressure information and anything else you would like to know about them.

Good luck,

RHD Tire

Maine whaler posted 06-17-2002 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Maine whaler  Send Email to Maine whaler     
Thanks for all the input.You folks are right, it is around 1700 miles from Fort Myers to Portland. I must have screwed up last time I inputted the infor into Yahoo mapquest. Best quote I have recieved 5 minutes ago)is $1700 on truckers trailer and $1400 if towed on it own trailer. I am thiking I go with having it ride on their trailer for the $300.
Bigshot posted 06-17-2002 11:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
I paid $1500 for a 24 & trailer(on their trailer) from Nj to Bradenton, so $1700 is cheap.
bigz posted 06-17-2002 11:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Maine whaler,

Cape Elizabeth, Me to Miami Fl = 1600 miles

Trucking will run you anywhere from $1.50 per mile to as much as $3.00 per mile depending on the carrier.

As most have said and their advice is sound, thought it might all boil down to the point that the trailer is probably already set up properly by the owner if they did any significant trailering. However would request information on the tire condition and ask the owner to have the bearings re-packed or for that matter the small additional cost have them replaced.

You can go down anyway since you won't be hauling but on the return trip suggest you consider either picking up I-81 in NC or VA to I-78 through NJ to I-287 north to the NY Throughway to I-84 east to the Mass Pike for the return trip avoids DC, Baltimore, NYC areas its a bit longer but less of a hassle with a trailer.

Good luck, TZ

PS I am as others assuming you have an adequate vehicle to haul a 24.

Hobie1981 posted 06-17-2002 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hobie1981  Send Email to Hobie1981     
MW: What vehicle are you going to use to tow that puppy ? Right out of college a few years back, I helped a neighbor of mine drive his wife's 16' 1946 Chris-Craft runabout, back from Michigan's U.P., to the Boston area. The tow vehicle was a Ford F250 std cab PU. My bladder has never been the same since that trip. :-) All kidding aside, the constant ying/yang of trailer/tow vehicle interaction was quite a learning experience. Suffice to was a long trip back..with frequent "#1 breaks". At least 1/hr. There is some sort of shock-absorbing product that I've seen somewhere that advertises that it reduces the jerking motion that I'm talking about, but I can't recall where I saw it. Anyway perhaps having it trucked up North might be the way to go.

Just a thought..


bigz posted 06-17-2002 12:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Oops was putting together my post and didn't realize you had poped back.
Maine whaler

As BS remarked $1700 is a darn good price since even from Ft. Meyers according to DeLorme Map and Go it is roughly 1600 miles so they are charging you just a little over a buck a mile. Make sure you get a contract and a copy of their insurance.

Again good luck might even see yeah in August when I'm up your way a boating, TZ

pabble posted 06-17-2002 02:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for pabble  Send Email to pabble     
All the advice sounds good. I've trailered my 24' boat more than 80,000 miles across the US over the last 10 years (it's a historic boat seen at exhibits and boat shows). 60,000 miles of that was on the original ShoreLand'r trailer, which is a double axle with brakes, and always in good mechanical condition.

If you carry the suggested equipment, have an adequate tow vehicle, a trailer in good condition (with brakes), and be sure to carry a small hydraulic jack and spare tire - you should have a care-free and relatively inexpensive trip. You could afford to do some boating along the way! Good luck!!

Maine whaler posted 06-17-2002 05:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Maine whaler  Send Email to Maine whaler     
Thanks for all the great advise folks. Big z let me know when you will be up in this area and maybe we can get together.
simonmeridew posted 06-17-2002 09:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
I wouldn't be afraid to trailer the boat up here myself. Take your time, enjoy the ride.
One thing I would add though: a tandem trailer is much more sensitive, for lack of a better word, to being trailered level; that is, the ball hitch, which no doubt will be 2 and 5/16 inch diameter must be at the proper height so that the trailer is level after being hitched up. When you hook up, the 250 pounds or so of tongue weight will really drop the rear of the tow vehicle, so the height will change. The trailer needs to have roughly equal weight on front and rear axles and tires; otherwise it will be fighting the tow vehicle all the time. If the hitch is too low what you thought was correct tongue weight before you hooked up might become negative tongue weight, and vice versa. Because the tandem trailer is always trying to equalize axle weight.
A single axle trailer is not as suseptible to this kind of tongue height problems. I didnt say there weren't problems just not this type.
Jay A posted 06-17-2002 11:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jay A    
For what it's worth: I always kept the tongue weight as light as possible (Being able to pick up the tongue with my baby finger) No down pressure on the vehicle hitch.This configuration kept both tow vehicle and trailer frames in-line. I drove all over New England for years starting off using a Plymouth Duster (Remember them with the slant six?) This with most use in salt water and never had any bearing problems or flat tires! Lots of rinsing with fresh water. But with a boat of that size,55mph tops,any faster and you may start thinning the oil. (most engines don't like that!)And if you hear a "rapping" sound, it's probably not the teenagers in the next car!
rsgwynn1 posted 06-18-2002 12:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for rsgwynn1  Send Email to rsgwynn1     
At our local Harbor Freight store I bought a "breaker bar" and an 11/16 socket for $5.99. Also a hydraulic creeper jack for about $20. A great investment, especially if you know what a pain it is to try to change a trailer tire with a cross-handle lug wrench and the jack from your truck!
Swellmonster posted 07-14-2002 04:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Swellmonster  Send Email to Swellmonster     
If you do tow it, make sure personally that all the nuts come off easily. Also, if the spare is mounted on the trailer, chances are the lug nuts are different size than the spare.
I also have a dual axle trailer. I had a flat and could not feel it when I was towing. I towed it for a while, the tire was shredded. When I went to loosen the lug nuts before jacking it up, the wheel just spun because it was being supported by the next tire. I had to jack up the trailer and put the anchor under the tire, lower, the jack. Then I was able to loosten the lug nuts.
The drive is long and hard enough, now just add a trailer.........

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