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Author Topic:   Loading Boat on Keel Roller Trailer
weekendwarrior posted 12-11-2002 09:09 AM ET (US)   Profile for weekendwarrior   Send Email to weekendwarrior  
I just found that I need to adjust my trailer to put all the boat weight on the center rollers. No big deal, except I had it set up like this initially and I had problems with wind and waves knocking the boat off of the rollers while I was winching it up (the trailer sits pretty high and I have to winch it most of the way up). The boat doesn't touch the side bunks until it's about 50-75% of the way up the trailer. The problem is when it comes off of the roller it falls right onto the galvanized metal beams (OUCH!) or worse yet hits the roller bracket (double ouch!). I need something at the back and middle of the trailer to keep the boat on the rollers while winching. What do you all recommend?
jimh posted 12-11-2002 09:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Don't back the trailer so far into the water.
triblet posted 12-11-2002 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Use the post type guides at the rear of the
trailer. There's a couple of makers, mine
are the white plastic ones.


weekendwarrior posted 12-11-2002 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
The problem is the opposite. The trailer is short and the local ramps aren't real steep so at least some of the boat weight is on the rollers almost right from the start. With the front of the boat sitting on the back or middle roller and the back of the boat still floating freely it's easy to knock it off of the rollers. I should say that some of our boat ramps are exposed and it's an idle zone, but we still have to put up with yacht wakes while loading and unloading. If the water is smooth then we have no problem, but I would like to make it impossible for the boat to come off the rollers so that we never have a problem, if this is possible.

It's not an ideal trailer, but it's paid for! :)

weekendwarrior posted 12-11-2002 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
Triblet, your reply snuck in there while I was typing back to jimh. I may end up with something like that, but I'm hoping for something closer to the roller that will guide the boat onto the roller. But so far I don't have a better idea than yours.
lhg posted 12-11-2002 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
What size rollers are you using? On any keel roller trailer, the rollers on the last two cross members, at the VERY least, should always be 12" V rollers. On my keel roller trailers, all rollers except the very front ones are 12". Highly recommended, and this will solve most of your problems. Chuck's recommendation of the vertical guide-on's is also a good one. And so is Jimh's recommendation not to back too far in. That is often the biggest reason for problems getting a boat on a keel roller trailer. When conditions are bad, only back the trailer in so the the rear roller is just below the surface. This allows you to get the boat started straight, and with no hull dings. After winching it up a few feet, you can then back the trailer in a little farther to reduce winching load. You may have to do even more than once. The vertical guide-ons will keep the stern from wandering off the rollers even though it may be floating.
weekendwarrior posted 12-11-2002 04:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
Hey great idea with the 12" rollers, I never thought of that. I'll bet that between 12" rollers and triblet's suggestion for glide on's that I'll be all set. All my rollers now are 5", maybe that's why I'm having so much trouble.
lhg posted 12-11-2002 07:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Weekend - that's definitely why you're having so much trouble! It's well worth the money to buy the Stoltz poly rollers & SS shafts. See
jimh posted 12-11-2002 07:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Changed TOPIC; was "how to keep boat on rollers while winching - keel roller trailer"--jimh.
TightPenny posted 12-13-2002 01:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for TightPenny  Send Email to TightPenny     
I agree. The wider rollers are what you need.

I have them on my trailer and haven't had any problems, and I launch in about 18" of water on a regular basis from a sand/gravel ramp.

simonmeridew posted 12-13-2002 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
I am constantly amazed how sloppy I can be when lining up my Montauk on my trailer and when I crank it up it's absolutely in the center of the keel rollers. It doesn't matter if I power it on, or attach the winch strap and yard it up, when all is said and done its centered. I have more trouble with my 12 foot tin boat with 6 HP Johnson and its trailer.
weekendwarrior posted 12-16-2002 01:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
Well I went ahead and broke the bank today and got some 12" rollers and some protective rubber caps to go on the outsides of the brackets. Hopefully this will fix the problem. :)

Seabrook posted 12-17-2002 03:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Seabrook  Send Email to Seabrook     
The first thing I do when I get a boat is to make the trailer "dummy proof". For keel roller trailers, wide rollers are important, as are guide posts at the back of the trailer. My 18OR trailer had both, but it still was not enough for me. Although I have been driving boats on trailers for 20 years and rarely ever have a problem, I am often fishing with less experienced people that want to "help" by driving the boat on the trailer.

If you will add two 2X4 bunks just beside the rollers on each side extending from the back of the boat up just past mid way of the boat, it will greatly improve your target area by increasing that sweet spot by about 8 inches (4 inches on each side of the roller). I do not let the bunks carry any real weight, just snug them up to the hull. If you miss the roller or try to slide off, the bunks will push it right back on.

I probably did not explain this very well but I hope you get the picture. Speaking of pictures....maybe I could take a picture and post it somewhere.

lhg posted 12-17-2002 03:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Seabrook's description is exactly how BW sets up their CPD "Whaler Trailers". The side bunks snugged up to the double keel rollers to help guide the boat on, but not carrying weight.

The downside, is the more bunk surface you have near the keel, the harder it is to clean and polish the bottom (assuming you don't have bottom paint).

weekendwarrior posted 12-17-2002 08:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
Thanks for the tips, I'll have to get a look at one of those trailers and see how it's set up. Do you guys have any links to pictures?

I gave it the first test today with the 12" rollers plus pads on the side of the rollers (basically extend the rollers 1" in either direction past the brackets). Wow what a difference! Much much easier. Hopefully this will do me until the finances are rolling again. :) Thanks for all the tips!

weekendwarrior posted 12-18-2002 04:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
Gave it the second test today, wow I should have made this change some time ago! Thanks again for the ideas. :)
lhg posted 12-18-2002 04:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
We always like to see satisfied customers!

Seriously though, under a Montauk I don't you think you need the extra set of bunks by the keel rollers. CPD used those for the 18's and up I think.

jimh posted 12-19-2002 01:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Reference section's article on trailer rigging now has a new photograph showing the positioning of a keel roller trailer for easy loading.


SuburbanBoy posted 12-23-2002 09:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Holy smokes! I must be way off, as I have never submerged my trailer as far as the photo of Jim Gibson shows. I normally have my daughter walk out the trailer and couple the strap to the bow eye. And then winch. Perhaps it is the weight of my 15' vs. the larger species.


weekendwarrior posted 12-24-2002 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
Since I now have the boat weight on the rollers instead of the bunks I've been experimenting with putting the trailer in less and less far and while it works great, once the boat is about 75% up the trailer it starts to get challenging to turn the winch handle on the ramp. I guess I didn't get the good ball bearing rollers. ;) I found out that if I leave the last few inches until I'm off of the ramp that it winches up the rest of the way very easily. It must just be the weight of the boat combined with the slope of the ramp making it difficult to winch.

Anyway, had it out 4 or 5 times now with the new rollers and it's such a breeze! Can you tell how happy I am with the new trailer setup? ;P

jimh posted 12-25-2002 10:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I had not thought of that before, but weekendwarrior makes an excellent point regarding the increased load on the winch when the boat is on a sloped ramp.

At first glance it would seem that if loading a 3500-pound boat on a 10-degree ramp, there will be over 600-pounds of tension on the winch cable just from the uphill motion of the boat. In addition there will be the force needed to overcome the friction and drag in the rollers.

Gravity can also be used to advantage. If you have a boat 7/8-th's of the way onto the trailer and can't get it to go the last few inches, drive the boat around on the ramp so that the bow of the boat is pointed downhill. Gravity will now be working with you and you can probably winch it into the final position much more easily.

jimh posted 12-25-2002 10:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A comment by SuburbanBoy about how far to immerse the trailer underscores the point to experiement with what works best. Once you find the sweet spot for loading your boat, I suggest you place a mark on the fender to serve as a depth gauge. When backing the trailer down a ramp it is very easy to look in the rearview mirror and see a piece of white tape on the fender of the trailer; use it as a mark for how deep to go.

In the photograph mentioned the trailer only has the last two sets of rear roller immersed (the water being a bit murky you cannot see the rearmost roller.) The slope of the ramp being used will have an effect on how much the rest of the trailer is immersed. If you use a relatively gentle-sloped ramp, more of the tires and fender will get wet than would happend on a steep ramp.

See picture at:

jimh posted 12-25-2002 10:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
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