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Author Topic:   Trailering: Two Schools of Thought
jimh posted 11-24-2001 11:22 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
This thread is for comments on the article regarding trailer preferences in the REFERENCE section. See:

jimh posted 11-24-2001 11:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I used to have some pretty rigid thinking about what was the best trailer set up, but after using a number of different ramp set ups in different parts of the country, I have seen the light. There really is a difference between ramp facilities in different kinds of waterways, and these differences make some types of trailers more or less attractive for use on those ramps.

In the article I have tried to sketch the major variations in ramps and trailers, and I describe how they work together or against each other.

I really think that the variation in ramps accounts for much of the variation in preference for trailer set up. Your comments, after reading the article of course, are welcome.


andygere posted 11-25-2001 02:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Here's one big plus for keel roller trailers: If you need to take your boat off the trailer on dry land (to bottome paint or repair the hull) it is pretty easy with a keel roller trailer. I'm not sure it would be possible with a bunk style trailer.
whalerron posted 11-25-2001 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerron  Send Email to whalerron     
I have been trailering boats for 26 years. 20 of those years have been trailering a whaler. In that time, I have always used keel roller trailers and I have never found it necessary to dunk a trailer axle. I will always take a keel roller trailer over a bunk trailer.
triblet posted 11-25-2001 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I use two ramps, one Michigan, one Kentucky.
Bunk trailer works just find at both.

I can single hand at either, but it's a bit of
a pain at the Kentucky because there's NO
pier, so I have to anchor, swim in, rinse
the salt water off, get the truck, go get
the trailer from the trailer lot a quarter
mile away, put the trailer in the water,
swim out, drive on the trailer, attach the
winch strap, clean me up AGAIN, and pull the
trailer out.

You neglected to mention that a good coat of
silicone spray on the bunks will make it
much easier to get the boat on and off. My
Montauk is in the water most every weekend,
and I try to spray the bunks a couple of
times year.


jimh posted 11-25-2001 02:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Moved Chuck Tribolet's comments here from another thread--jimh]
jimh posted 11-25-2001 02:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The first time we encountered a "Kentucky" ramp we were not hip to the drive-off technique so we shoved the boat off our keel-roller trailer with a long painter attached to it. Then we warped the boat over to a dock about 30 yards away and tied it up.

To recover the boat at the Kentucky ramp we just waded in and horsed in onto the trailer, then winched it up. The temperature was close to 100-degrees-F that day, so it was not a problem.

Not too long ago we came into a launch area just as a big fishing tournament fleet of bass boats was returning to load on their trailers. I have to say with their bunk trailers and power loading they were pretty quick and efficient on the ramps, but these guys were not your average bass boaters. They had loading on the trailer down to a science.

dfmcintyre posted 11-25-2001 08:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Jim -

Good (as usual) article. Couple of comments.

I know of no ramps here in St. Clair County, MI that prohibit power on launching, at this time. All but one of the public ramps are at a river, not lake.

Concerning the amount of friction of a roller/bunk trailer to an all bunk trailer, it would be interesting to work out a research project using:

all bunk, no spray (I'll get to that....)

all bunk, sprayed

roller/bunk, no spray

roller/bunk, sprayed

What am I talking about with spraying? Over the past few years, I've been spraying silicone on the bunks, about twice a season. I know it's been mentioned here on the forum.
It's a great way to reduce the amount of friction, to the point of making sure you DO NOT unhitch the winch cable prior to getting her in the water.

I think one suggestion that was missed is to be consistent when launching and retrieving. By that I mean putting the trailer in the water to the same depth each time (as best as possible) Having not enough trailer in the water is as much of a problem as having too much in the water.


jimh posted 11-25-2001 08:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Don, your comment about consistent positioning of the trailer is a good one.

I have a piece of white tape on my trailer fender that I can see in my rear-view mirror as I am backing in. I put the waterline right at that piece of tape, and then I get much better loading. (--On the fender you say?-- Oh, yeah, the axles are submerged.)

It took a few trials to find where the tape should go. Now that I have a mark I am able
to get much more consistent loading.

gunnelgrabber posted 11-26-2001 08:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
really enjoyed jim's article and all the experience is right with whalerron and andygere...and i confess to having launched the boat a little prematurely harm done except to my pride.(the deal don was warning about)...i one hand mine mostly on rustic rural public river and gulf ramps...salt and to below the hubs.the angle of the ramp affects that decision,right?...anyway, i'm amazed at people with nice rigs that always launch at marinas only...they really limit their range and enjoyment..".to save bearings,wheels and axles" etc.thanks for the information....lm
jimh posted 11-26-2001 08:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Rustic ramps--I have a story:

We rented a cabin for a few days on the Crooked River in northern Michigan. The lady we rented from told us there was a launch ramp just down the road.

To reach the cabin we had to come about two miles from the highway down this terrible country road. It was a washboard surface and we could only drive about 5 MPH. We got to the cabin, then I went for a walk looking for the launch ramp.

The ramp turned out to just be the end of the road running into the river! It was just sand and dirt and mud. However, the thought of driving back up the washboard road to go find a better ramp was enough of a deterrent that we ended up using the primative dirt ramp to launch.

I figured we could always get out of there with the empty trailer; if we had a problem with the boat and trailer we could always go somewhere else to load.

At that time we were hauling the trailer with a rather low-slung 2-WD sedan (Ford Crown Vic), so there was some concern about traction and ground clearance, more so than if we had a 4-WD SUV with knobby tires.


Tom W Clark posted 11-26-2001 12:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Here in the Puget Sound area we have lots of ramps around town. Some are tidal, others are on the lakes, but most are "Michigan" style.

Different ramps have different angles and the tidal ramps often have varying angles depending on whether the tide is in or out. Thus, we must be flexible in our launching/loading technique.

If you go to any busy ramp around here you will see all different types of trailers and techniques, some better than others. I know of no power loading prohibitions around here and you do see some people using this technique, though it has little to do with the type of trailer they are using.

I will say that I disagree slightly with jimh about the reason why people choose one type of trailer over another. Most boaters have the type of trailer they have simply because it is what came with the boat when they bought it. If they bought it new, they got the brand and type of trailer that the dealer sells. If they bought used, it's what the previous owner had.

Most dealers deal a brand of trailer that is made in their part of the country. When you (rarely) see an aluminum trailer around here it is typically sitting under a boat with a Florida registration number having newly arrived as a used boat. Those aluminum trailers usually look like hell after being in the Pacific Northwest for any period of time. Something about our cold damp marine air?

andygere posted 11-26-2001 01:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I'd like to add a third type of ramp to Jim's list: The California Ramp. This ramp is well constructed of reinforced concrete, is several lanes wide and extends deep into the water at a fairly steep grade. There are floatings docks to either side, however if launching from the middle lanes, it isn't possible to walk your just-launched boat over to the dock. The ramp tends to be very slippery due to growth of algea and slime, so traction can be dicey at times. Here's the twist: The water level can change by as much as six feet in any 6-hour period (tides) and instantaneously by more than a foot (surge from ocean swells). This type of ramp tends to favor keel roller trailers since they can be left a bit to the high side and the boat can be winched on. The stern roller acts as a fulcrom as the bow rolls along it, and the stern of the boat is allowed to rise and fall harmlessly with the surge as it is winched in. I have seen the bunk load guys motoring onto their trailers on the high side of a surge, only to be left high-and-dry with the boat halfway loaded when the surge recedes. I have also seen them float their boats off a loaded trailer as they are beggining to pull up the ramp when the reverse happens. I'm sure Chuck will disagree with me on the best type of trailer for the California Ramp, but he's in a league of his own as far as trailer loading goes (has it down to a science) and it's not fair to compare his skills to the rest of us. Chuck will also probably add another type of ramp to the list, one that none of us would ever consider using :)
larimore posted 11-26-2001 10:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for larimore  Send Email to larimore     
Seems to me that a float on is more a two man operation and a keel roller more a one man operation. But try to find a new aluminum keel roller - Not possible


triblet posted 11-27-2001 01:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Me and my bunk trailer don't seem to have
any trouble with Andy's California ramps.
Single-handing it isn't a problem, it just
takes planning and a longer stern line.

Here's type four, which Andy alluded to, a
one of a kind, I
hope, the Pt. Lobos ramp. The ramp itself
is narrow (about 1' clearance on either side
of the trailer wheels). On each side are
big (3') boulders. The first part of the
ramp is way too steep, the lower part isn't
steep enough. And the lower part ends with
a six foot drop at about the zero tide line.
I can only launch about 5 days a month. The
other days there's too little water either in
the morning or the afternoon.

The ramp is usually slimy and green. And
it's a good day when it only rises and falls
one foot with the swells. Sometimes there
are smaller boulders on the ramp. It used
to have a big pothole but we filled that in
about three years ago.

No dock.

The ramp is the easy part. Getting the
trailer onto it is a bear. You have to make
a 90 degree turn right at the top of the
ramp. You can't see the ramp from the truck,
just the big rock that marks the inside of
the corner. And the "road" you are in before
you turn isn't much wider than the ramp. Oh,
and the trailer parking is a quarter mile
away (you drop the trailer, drive back
and park the truck at the ramp).

But the diving at Pt. Lobos is so good that
it's worth it. And they do have a fresh
water rise, unlike the Monterey ramps.

I sent Jim a picture of a BW inflatable on
the Pt. Lobos ramp a while back. Maybe he'll
get around to posting it on Cetacea sometime.


jimh posted 11-27-2001 02:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
One thing about that ramp, Chuck, it doesn't sound like there is a big wait in a line to get on it! ;-)

I'll have to dig up that inflatible picture. I have about 900 messages in my mbox at the moment, and several gigs of them on my hard drive, but I know it's in there someplace!

In Michigan there are some nice lakes that have very limited access to them for the general public, and if there is a DNR ramp often it will only have parking spaces for 5-6 trailers. When the parking is full, you really can't launch unless you've got a place to stash the trailer nearby, but it is usually all private properly and no parking. That's how they keep the lakes private.

Whalerdan posted 11-27-2001 08:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whalerdan  Send Email to Whalerdan     
I winch my boat onto my bunk trailer all the time. I've done it at a ramp on lake Multry where only about a third of the bunks were submerged. The winch is a little hard to turn but I really don't see a problem. Maybe with a bigger boat it wouldn't work but with a Montauk I don't think it's even worth mentioning.
KeysWhale posted 11-27-2001 08:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
Although most ramps in the Keys are nicely sloped, there are the occasional outlyiers. I took the boat on a trailer to Layton for a BoyScout outting on Long Key. The other Asst. Scoutmaster lived in Layton and said he had a ramp nest to his house. He lived on a canal and the ramp was a 45 degree angle ending with a 1 foot drop to the water. I have a 17 ft with a Old roller trailer, but that had to be one of the best work outs I've ever had!!
Jerry Townsend posted 11-27-2001 11:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
And then guys/gals is the 2001 Idaho ramp. The latter part of this year, we haven't had enough water to float a canoe - heck, the water levels are down 60', 80', or more - and the ramps - 1/4 mile long and high and dry. Guess I'm going to have to head West, South or East. ------------- Jerry
lhg posted 11-28-2001 07:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
A few more thoughts on the trailering issues.

As far as I can tell, from my experiences, there is only ONE thing you can do with a BUNK trailer that you can't do with a KEEL ROLLER trailer: Drive it on by yourself - friction being the key here. With a keel roller trailer, properly set up, if you drive it on, and get out to hook up the winch, it will roll back off the trailer!
But then again, if you had a keel roller trailer, you wouldn't have to drive it on in the first place.

For all other launching & retrieving situations, the keel roller trailer will out perform the bunk. I have even power loaded my 25 with ALL but the back roller out of water. The boat easily launches without any of the rollers hitting the water. Never do I have to back the trailer into the water so that I can't stand at the winch with dry feet. The car never gets near the water.

One item not mentioned, is the vertical guide-on posts, with galvanized supports, with a PVC pipe sliding over the top. I think these are of value for any trailering condition (float on, drive on, winch on), for a Montauk or larger.

So why bunks? The REAL reason is that the trailer and dealership industries are convinced this is the cheapest way to make a trailer, and to SET IT UP. They have the fewest number of components & cross members usually only 2), and are the easiest to adjust for a hull. Most require no adjustment at all. Just drop the boat on them and let them hit where they may. So this is now the only trailer being made in any quantity. It would be a HUGE hassle for Whaler to require keel roller trailers be sold by their dealers. They just can't get them for a competitive price. With most boat dealers I have seen, it's put the cheapest trailer under the boat you can get away with, for the highest price, and for the least amount of trailer rigging work.

Keel rollers are MUCH more expensive to buy and install, require more cross members, and more time consuming and difficult to adjust to a boat hull. I haven't seen trailers get any less expensive, so the profits are going elsewhere, with the consumer being the loser.

Jerry Townsend posted 11-28-2001 11:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
lhg - with all due respect, your dissertation regarding why the bunks is, in my mind, in error. Yes, bunks are probably cheaper than the rollers - but, realize that many and possibly the majority of the boat manufacturers specify bunks - well, that rollers not be used alone. Specifically, BW states in the book for my Outrage "... choose a float-on style of trailer that has bunks which conform to the shape of the hull, give support near the keel, and provide .... Trailers equipped with side rollers instead of side bunks can damage the foam sandwich hull of your boat and should never be used." Those word should be controlling.

As an engineer, their words are very well taken. The reason I say this: My boat weighs 1700 pounds and with 30 gallons of gas and the engine, the boat will weigh about 2200 lbs. I have two bunks, each about 7' x 6" for a total area of 1008 square inches or an average loading pressure of about 2 pounds per square inch. This load is well within the allowable crush strength of glass.

Now, taking a few guesses - say that the typical roller arrangement for my 17 foot boat would have maybe what? 12 rollers, each being maybe 3 inches in diameter and 10 inches long. The roller contact area might be 12 x 10 x 1.5(wag on the compression of the rubber) which would give a supporting area of about 180 square inches, and an average loading pressure of 12 pounds per square inch. Further, dynamic loading (from transporting) will cause the loading of selective rollers to be larger than the 12 pounds per square inch.

So, the roller trailer will exert about 6 times the loading pressure on the boat than does the bunk trailer. That may be enough to "warp" or "contour" the hull. If I don't have to take a chance of damage or an accident - I don't. In this case, I don't

But, as someone posted previously, the trailer used is either the one the dealer sells or the one that the previous owner had under the boat. In my case, I have the one the dealer sells - but, in view of the quickie analysis above, - the right one.

But, having said this, if one wants to use rollers - use enough rollers to give an acceptable (as per the boat manufacturer) crush loading. ---- Jerry

triblet posted 11-28-2001 11:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
> One thing about that ramp, Chuck, it
> doesn't sound like there is a big wait in a
> line to get on it! ;-)

Well, there is, kinda. You have to make
reservations to dive there. You make them
two months ahead, and, for weekend days,
they fill within 24 hours opening. Sometimes
within 24 nanoseconds of opening. It's
limited to 15 buddy teams, most whom don't
bring a boat. Most I've ever seen is 4
big boats (inflatables + whalers) and a
few dive kayaks.

The real secret is that there are ALSO four
reservations for non-dive boats. These are
usually taken by kayakers, but could be taken
by a big boat. The whole park is
a no-take zone, which is why there are some
monster fish there, and no fishing gear
allowed in the park, so there isn't much
incentive for non-dive big boats.

If I want to dive in the park, I MUST launch
there (there is a way around this, but it's
more trouble than it's worth). But I can
go outside the park if I want (or Neptune


lhg posted 11-29-2001 12:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Jerry: As an Architect I can understand your #/sq. in. analysis, and I'm sure it applies to the trailer design of the Sport 13, but many Whalers are much heavier than yours, and crushing of the foam, not the glass itself, is the issue. Deflection (bending) of the glass skin under the load will compress the foam, and may delaminate the foam from the glass. Then total hull failure can occur. The owners manual for both my 1986 Outrage 18 and my 1989 Outrage 25 says:

"The keel of your Boston Whaler is the strongest area. The keel is DESIGNED to support the weight of the boat. For this reason the trailer you select should contain center keel rollers to support the ENTIRE weight of the boat. Padded bunks should be located so they do not interfere with the bottom spray rails (these are evidently easily crushed) and need ONLY provide lateral stability."

What I really believe is that Boston Whaler has been forced to change their requirements to accomodate the trailer availability to Dealerships. BW is simply not large enough in national sales figures to have much of an effect controlling trailer design.

Are your two bunk boards forming a "Vee" at the keel as even the current manual requires? If so, how is the boat stabilized on the trailer? Even by Whalers' new requirements, a four bunk trailer is mandatory, two forming a Vee for the keel, and two for stability.

So I guess the choice is clear. If you have a Classic Whaler, 1993 or older, keel rollers are required. If you have a Sea Ray Post Classic Whaler, a four bunk configuration is OK. Launching ease is evidently not a concern. Perhaps the newer hulls are made differently than the the 1993 and earlier models, to accomodate the 4 bunk trailer design.

JohnAz posted 11-29-2001 12:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
If the ramp is steep or slick, put the trailer dolly wheel down attach a stout line to tow vehicle & trailer, un-hook trailer and lower the rig to the water,,leaving the tow rig on dry pavment,,,I have done this with a "BUS" motorhome many times,,,
JBCornwell posted 11-29-2001 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
A "slick or steep" ramp adaptation I have seen a few times is a front mounted hitch. It also makes it very easy for the unskilled to put the trailer exactly where you want it.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

Bigshot posted 11-29-2001 01:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
3 words for ya on steep and slick ramps....Four wheel drive:) Actually Jb your idea is good on a boat with light tongue weight or front wheel drive. reason being if tongue weight is high it exerts too much pressure and lifts up the opposite end. So a front wheel drive car towing normally will have its front wheels lifted and therefore lose traction.
hauptjm posted 11-29-2001 02:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
BS, I just a got a great mental picture. Rube Trailerberg begins to drive his Bayliner up the ramp with his '78 Silverado short-bed pickup. The stern (of the truck) begins to rise as the moment of momentum begins to take over. At this point the whole rig begins a descent down the ramp with the ass-end of the truck sticking high in the air, Rube sceaming to the wife to do something, all ending with the local tow-truck boys trying to figure out how they are going to pull this mess out of the water!!!

I'll bet a dime to a do-nut, it has happened many times.

andygere posted 11-29-2001 04:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I have a plastic wheel chock on a 10' rope. I always chock the rear wheel of my Jeep as soon as it's in position on the ramp. When I pull the vehicle out, I just drag the chock along on the rope until I'm clear of the ramp. This is a cheap way to insure against failing parking brakes, stalls and loss of traction on the ramp. I also engage 4 wheel drive to haul out every time.
Jerry Townsend posted 11-29-2001 05:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
LHG - your points are well taken. As you point out, it is the crushing of the foam and the delamination of the foam/glass that is the problem. My chosen words - glass crushing - or what-ever words I used are wrong. I got careless in my choice of words. In fact, the lamination of the foam and glass is very important to the bending strength of any boat. As such, maintaining the foam/glass bond is very important.

BW's changing the words concerning trailer support is interesting. Your last Outrage is a 1989. The book for my 1996 17 Outrage has words totally different than your 1989 book. Why? There may be several logical answers - someone's editing, but one explanation would involve a design change. Were there significant design changes made between 1989 and 1996 that would explain the difference in their recommendations? I would guess that there is - 450 pounds (as noted below between your 18 and my 17) is a lot of glass. If anyone has information on the internal hull design changes, I would appreciate the information.

My boat weighs 1700 pounds and with, say 30 gal of gas (about 2/3 full), and the engine (320 lbs) gets me to right at 2200 pounds. The scale weight basically confirms this number. Your 1983 18 Outrage weighs about 1250 pounds according to the 1983 catalog. I don't have the 1989 catalog, so I don't know what your 22 Outrage weighs. In any case, your 18 is about 450 pounds lighter than my 17 - which decreases the pressure loading porportionately.

My book does not mention anything about forming the bunks in a vee - or using four bunks.

It is obvious that the strongest area on the hull is the keel. For that reason, your providing the previous BW words and the thoughts that I have had after reading all of the posts in this subject leads me to another support concept. The thing that is going through my head is to provide a wide (12 -15 inch) bunk right under the keel. Multiple adjustable supports would be incorporated as neccessary to take about 50% of the total load. This would then reduce the support load on the two side bunks. This will give me a good winter/spring project. I would get started on it today - but it is snowing and blowing outside - and I'm staying inside and warm.

Thanks LHG for the information. Sorry I chose some wrong words. --- Jerry / Idaho

lhg posted 11-29-2001 07:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Jerry - If I interpret your Manual's instructions correctly "...bunks....which give support near the keel..", that is where I assumed the inner bunks should be fairly close to a "vee" situation.
jimh posted 11-29-2001 08:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Giving the hull the proper support can be very important. About two years ago the big SeaRay dealer had a mid-winter open house and invited a big crowd over to look at the boats on-hand and have some free food and drinks--not a bad marketing plan.

They had a large indoor boat shed, and had plenty of big SeaRays to gawk at, along with a few Whalers. We went over to see what was there; it was a chance to look at boats in the middle of winter without a big crowd (as it was an "invitation only" type of event).

We went aboard a big Conquest, the 28-footer. The boat was set up on some blocks and jack stands, no support at all on the keel. The whole boat was being held up by some stands on the chines at the extreme stern and by a big block of wood under the keel in the bow. Going below I was astonished to find that on a boat that was priced over $100,000 that none of the cabinet doors fit very well or hit the latches. If you closed a cabinet door it would not latch and would swing open again.

We used to always check the cabinet doors on sailboats we looked at because poorly fitting cabinet doors is an immediate tip off that the hull had been stressed (usually from racing and pulling too much tension into the backstay and forestay) and pulled out of shape.

I am certain that this Conquest 28 hull was being racked from the stress of sitting on these terrible supposts, the whole keel suspended in mid-air except at the extreme forward end. By the way, this dealer had never sold Whalers before, it was their first year with the boat line.

Tom W Clark posted 11-29-2001 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
lhg and Jerry,

If I may jump in here...I think you guys actually agree to some extent. When lhg is talking about a trailer with rollers he is talking about a trailer with keel rollers and bunks. You would both agree that an all roller trailer in inappropriate. Whaler has always discouraged the use of all roller trailers. They used to emphasize that the weight of the hull is to be supported along the keel, now they say that all bunks are OK.

Why this change? I agree with lhg that it is simply marketing pressure to allow the use of less expensive trailers. I do not believe the construction of the hulls is any different (inner liners notwithstanding) before 1993 and after. A Montauk is a Montauk. Different people have worked at Boston Whaler just as different corporations have owned it. The name stays the same but the decision making process may well have changed.

It is not too hard to imagine that one day back in 1993 they were sitting around talking about how the dealers are bitching and moaning about having to sell expensive, hard to find trailers and how they would just as soon sell all bunk trailers. They probably figured the Whaler is plenty strong enough to rest and travel on a bunk trailer even if there was no support directly under the keel. It would be even more so if the bunks were placed close to the keel. There is no doubt in my mind that a Whaler from the 60's would do just fine on an all bunk trailer, many have. There is no harm in using an all bunk trailer except to the user, i.e. more effort is required for launching and retrieving. A keel roller trailer is a more expensive and luxurious option. (The one that I would prefer)

Now having said all that, here are some shocking revelations for you:

The last three Whalers I owned were on Calkins all roller trailers.

For years and years, the world's largest Boston Whaler dealer, Jacobsen's Boats & Motors here in Seattle, sold nothing but Calkins all roller trailers with the Whalers they sold.

Washington's second largest Whaler dealer, Hawley's of Bellingham, WA sold EZ Loader all roller trailers under their Whalers.

Why did they do this? Didn't they know Whaler did not recommend this? Yes, of course they did. But the fact of the matter is: they worked fine. Both Calkins and EZ Loader are/were built in Spokane, WA so the regional availability and economies were a big part of that decision. People also like them because they work very well.

For the record: I would prefer a keel roller trailer under my Whaler. The last Whaler I owned was a 1983 18-Outrage which was 6 years old when I bought it. It came with an all roller trailer. Yes, the rollers did compress the hull at the roller locations, something which I did not like but at 6 years of age the damage was done. After owning the boat for another 10 years I can attest to the fact that the depressions were no worse. I doubt that the depth of the depressions was greater than 1/8” if that. I launched that boat with a sling from a pier for about 7 of those 10 years and I was in the habit of walking under it and inspecting the hull every time it came out of the water. I consider those dimples to be nothing more than cosmetic. There is no way they would every have become a puncture.

If you see a classic Whaler in the Seattle area, the chances are that it’s on an all roller trailer. Many more are sitting in racks on a pair of boards. I doubt there are very many, if any that are suffering terribly.

Tom W Clark posted 11-29-2001 08:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
jimh, I do not believe that Conquest was racked by being inappropriately supported. That's the way they generally are set up at every boat show across this great land. The Whaler hull is just too stiff. This is the essence of why Whaler are so great be it Classic or Post Classic.

I certainly would attribute the poorly fitting cabinetwork to poor workmanship, not a racked hull. This would not surprise me on a million dollar boat either. As a professional wood worker I can tell you that there’s much to be desired in wood working skills in American industry today.

Dick posted 11-29-2001 09:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Very well thought out comments.
One thing you missed, the Whalers shipped from Edgewater to Seattle are on a truck transporter with two bunks supporting the hull. I wouldn't want to ride straped down like that getting the H*** beaten out of me but I have never seen a Whaler come in with hull damage.
When I managed the dealership in Alaska my boats came from Rockland to Seattle and then were loaded on a barge for a 10 day trip to Anchorage. Never recieved a boat with any hull damage. Back then Whaler wouldn't shrink wrap the boats so you can imagine the cleaning chore.

There is no single right answer to this thread.
I have seen lots of Whalers on roller trailers and most will agree that this is not the way to go, but like you I haven't seen any significant damage.
When we get to the issue of full bunk vs keel rollers there will never be an answer.
I think it is what works for you under your launching conditions and what you feel comfortable with.


daverdla posted 11-29-2001 10:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
I just bit the bullet and paid to have my montauk stored inside. Of course it will be on bunks. I remembered this debate when I took the boat to the marina and asked the chief mechanic about it. He said that he has been storing whalers on bunks since the early 60's with no problems. They are not however a whaler dealer. Reading Tom's and Dick's comments makes me feel a little more comfortable. Particularly the fact that they are transported cross country on bunks.
Keep your knots up!
(ever hear that one before?)
andygere posted 11-30-2001 03:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I suspect that there is a difference between storing a Whaler for the season on a static bunk or wobble rollers and bouncing down the highway on them. I would imagine that the damage done by an EZ Loader type trailer happens during towing, not sitting in the driveway.
daverdla posted 11-30-2001 09:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
Just wondering...
How does whaler move hulls around at the factory? How do they support them during fitout? How do they store them prior to shipping?
lhg posted 11-30-2001 05:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
That's a good question, and the 2 bunk guys won't like the answer! If I remember correctly, they roll them around the factory on "v" shaped cradle dollys, which support them at the keel. Also see Cetacea page 9, and you will see them rack stored on v shaped blocks, which support them at the keel. It's the longitudinal bunk supports that can damage the hulls, because the keel is unsupported. That's why they want bunks "Veed" near the keel on a trailer. Most of your dry stack places won't work for Whaler.
bigz posted 12-01-2001 06:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigz Whaler factory rack storage -- in addition the article is excellent reading -- dispels some of the erroneous statements we read.

Frankly with all the previous discussion on trailer set ups over 22 months of this forum, we sure make a big deal out of something relatively simple ---

Keel rollers with side bunks, all bunks = keel support and sides , just no wobble self alignment rollers --- they will leave dents in the hull and I have heard can actually peel off hunks of the it ---

Best storage is stands and two or three supports for the keel or leave it on the trailer. Concrete blocks with pieces of plywood will work ok. Another option is the cradle used in some dry stack yards as long as the longitudinal parallel support members are close to the keel line.

Over the years I haven't seen any significant damage regardless of trailer configuration to Whalers that could be contributed directly to the trailer set up using either of the correct aforementioned configurations.
One very important area missed here (bunks or combination keel/bunks) is the transom/motor location should be as close as possible to the rear cross arm member ( if you have that transom/motor out a a foot or more --- you're going to have problems with hull flexing and transom cracking) --- now if there is no more room to move the bow post forward your trailer is to short --- this situation applies to all outboard fiberglass boats not just Whalers.

It has been mentioned above that there really isn't two school of thought on ramps and trailer configurations because folks use the trailer either sold new or used with the boat, no real conscious thought process going on with the boat owner on this. Tom Clark, I also believe this is true ---

Manipulating a trailer to launch and retrieve is 90%++ in my book the operator's ability regardless of trailer configuration or ramp design ------ Z

lhg posted 12-01-2001 04:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Regarding JimH's comments on the 28 Conquest, (now being called a 295 Conquest!) There were serious hull deflection problems (I think in the bow area) with the early models (1998's/99's), and most had to be recalled. My guess is that was what Jim was seeing. I was told by a Dealer that Sea Ray had to call in Bob Dougherty as a consultant to determine the source and correct the problem!

If you look at the 1999 Whaler catalog, the "new at the time" 28 Outrage was shown on the cover. But this boat was never available in 1999, and it was because it had to be put on hold while the problems with the 28 hull were corrected. This 28' hull is one heavy boat.

jimh posted 12-02-2001 12:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Getting back to our topic--trailers and ramps--I wanted to mention that I just added several pictures to the article ( ) to show the various kinds of ramps and launching techniques. I have a couple more good photos coming (as soon as I find them in my "distributed" filing system).

I also want to acknowledge that inertia does play a big part in these matters, too. That is the inertia of sticking with whatever trailer you have now or whatever trailer the boat came with, and the inertia of the boat resisting moving off of the trailer. It seems like sometimes nothing will get the boat to budge, and that's when you remember to check the transom tie downs.

The trailering issue is more acute for some people. If your boat only comes on and off the trailer once a season, you can make almost any arrangement work. If you launch and recover every time you use the boat, you probably have developed more exacting requirements for your trailer and its rigging.

I really think that proper trailer set up is very important in making a boat usable. If it is a struggle to trailer the boat and launch and recover it, you will tend to use the boat a little less than if you had the whole processed engineering and refined into a science.

russellbailey posted 12-06-2001 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for russellbailey  Send Email to russellbailey     

Great article and pictures. We've had two trailers under our 15' Striper, a keel roller Holsclaw (circa 1975) and a local built galvanized bunk trailer (1996).

Where we have used it (Kentucky style ramp, sometimes not even paved) the bunk trailer was a lot easier to use. Also, our boat is so light relative to a lot of the boats here, I can shove it off with just a little water over the back edge of the bunks.

Until I saw the pictures of the other type of ramp, I had not understood the problems with power loading or the strong preference for rollers by some boaters. I think your article does an excellent job explaining both.

Well done.

jimh posted 12-07-2001 12:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Russell--glad you enjoyed the article.

We were a bit shocked when we found our first ramp without a dock in Kentucky in 1999, back in our trailer-boating novice days, so we've always called that style of ramp a "Kentucky" ramp.

jimh posted 01-27-2002 10:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I just added three more photographs to the article to show more details of all-bunk trailers. My thanks to Chuck Tribolet for sending these.

I don't know if these articles have ever changed anyone's opinion of which style of trailer is the best, but I think the discussion and exchange of ideas is beneficial for everyone.

triblet posted 01-27-2002 10:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
There are two tricks to getting the boat to
align correctly on an all bunk trailer:

1. EzGuiders to get things close

2. Don't back the trailer so far in that the
boat is still floating when it gets to the
winch pylon. You want to winch it the
last foot or two, and it will settle in
exactly right as you drag it up.


triblet posted 01-27-2002 11:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Jim, my trailer tongue has not been extended
several feet. That's the original factory
tongue which is quite long. It's been cut &
modified so I can remove it, and as a side
effect of that I can extend it about 18",
though I normally don't.

In the picture of the boat on the trailer,
it is not extended. I only extend it at Pt.
Lobos. With any luck, this afternoon I'll
get some pictures of the Pt. Lobos ramp at
a -1.5 tide. The ramp ends at the zero
tide line with a six foot drop. No, I'm not
taking the whaler. ;-)

And a nit: It's Shoreland'r, not Shorelandr.


jimh posted 01-27-2002 01:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     

I emended the article to reflect your comments.

I am quite surprised that the stock tongue on that trailer was so long.

jimh posted 01-27-2002 07:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In looking at the photos showing the loading position of Chuck's 17-Montauk on the all-bunk trailer, it appears that most of the boat is not floating, but rather has been winched forward and upward onto the bunks.

The friction between the boat and the bunks has to be overcome to do this. This may be possible with smaller boats that have moderate weights, but this approach does not seem to scale upward very well.

As the boat gets longer, the bunks can get longer, too, but the area of the bunks available to support and spread the load only increases in a linear proportion to the boat length. Unfortunately, the weight of the boat increases in proportion to the length-times-width, and thus the weight increases at a faster rate (than the area of the bunk).

For example, a 25-foot boat could easily weigh twice as much as a 20-foot boat, which in turn might weight twice as much as 17-foot boat. The bunks are pretty much the same width in the case of these three boat sizes, with the result, even for allowing for an increase in bunk length proportional to the hull, the weight load of a 25-footer on its bunks has gone up 400% while the area of the bunks has increased only 50%.

The result is that there is no way you can winch a 25-foot (or even 20-foot) boat up on its bunks without having some significant help from buoyancy produced by most of the hull still being immersed in the water. This generally means the winch post will be beyond the water line of most ramps. In other words, you'll be winching while standing in the water.

Another problem happens as you scale the boat size upward. As the boat gets wider, it no longer will fit between the wheels and fenders, and the trailer rigging must be adjusted to support the boat so that the chine line of the hull is above the tops of the fenders. This means that the trailer must be immersed much deeper (than with smaller boats that ride much lower on their trailers) to enable the boat to float off or be driven off with reverse engine thrust.

triblet posted 01-27-2002 10:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Jimh, remember your highschool physics.
Frictional force is proportional to the
coeficient of friction times the normal
force (weight of boat). Length and width
of the bunks aren't relevant to the "how much
force does it take to winch that puppy up"
discussion. If the boat A weighs 4x boat B,
it going to take 4x the force to winch it up.

Now, some of this can be compensated for by
a lower-geared winch. And by reducing the
coefficent of friction (hence my use of

And a final note: there's typically 300-400
pounds of dive gear in the boat when I
winch it up.


jimh posted 01-27-2002 11:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You are assuming the coefficient of friction for "carpeted boat bunks" is a constant. I think it varies with the loading.

jimh posted 01-27-2002 11:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Now that I think about it for a minute, I have a revolutionary theory about carpeted trailer bunks and their coefficient of friction--I think it is highly non-linear.

In fact, the non-linearity of the coefficient of friction for carpet on trailer bunks is something that makes them work better.

My theory is that the coefficient of friction of the carpet changes as a function of load and direction. Consider this:

The carpet consists of bristles which have a certain tendency to bend and move in response to loads placed on them.

If the carpet is lightly loaded, the tips of the bristles form a very limited contact area with the boat, creating a low coefficient of friction.

As the load on the carpet increases, the bristles are eventually overloaded and forced to lie down. The coefficient of friction changes (increases). The bristle effect decreases as soon the bristles are bent over and crushed between the bunk and the boat.

Also, as the boat is moved on the bunks, the bristles of the carpet are bent and lean in the direction of travel. To change the direction of travel the bristles all have to bend back in the other direction. This takes more force than it does to keep moving in the initial direction. Thus the bristles help to keep the boat from coming off the bunks sternward while loading.

When the boat reaches the winch post the normal forces have increased, since the boat is now out of the water, the carpet friction has increased (from more load), and the carpet has its own "diode effect" of not wanting to change the direction of all the bristles to let the boat slide back. The effect of all this is to lock the boat on the bunks. As the bunks dry out, the friction increases even more, and the boat becomes solidly fixed on the bunks due to the much higher friction than was experienced in initial loading.

Andy Holmes posted 02-27-2002 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Andy Holmes  Send Email to Andy Holmes     
Just read this article as it was referenced in another thread. My comments are as follows:

I use a combination trailer with 4 keel rollers and 4 bunks. The two inside bunks and the keel rollers carry the load, the outside bunks are for stability. When launching the boat, I back down until the boat will float off with a gentle nudge.

When recovering the boat, I back the trailer in until 50% of the length of the load carrying bunks is submerged. I then drive the boat on at idle power. The boat will go up the trailer about two thirds of the way to the bow stop, perfectly aligned, and without excess power applied. I then connect the winch strap and crank it the rest of the way.

I think getting the bunks wet is the key here. That reduces the friction enough so that the boat slides on easily. Also, getting the trailer far enough down the ramp so the hull is still partly floating helps. I have launched and loaded at numerous ramps in Michigan and Kentucky without problems, and in compliance with the "idle speed only" restrictions.

newportguy posted 03-09-2002 06:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for newportguy  Send Email to newportguy     
Hi All,

I have to agree with Tom and I am gald that he has pointed this out... I as well have a ez-loader all roller under my Newport. But the rollers can be adjusted so that the bottom rollers are almost touching and this in effect gives you a "Keel Roller" with the side rollers acting only as support. I have used this for years and my hull as not "deliminated" the foam has not gone soggy and in fact the boat launches lovely from the trailer and is a breeze to retrieve. As well the local Whaler dealer up until this year has sold most of the Whalers for the last 25 years on ez loader trailers. This year WHaler is forcing him to sell whalers on bunk trailers with keel rollers if avaiable and if not on bunk trailers... Which makes me wonder are they Wahler cahnging the design which we all know they are to leese strength galss and cheapening the manufacturing process.... hard t know exactly but interesting to think about. Interestingly the ez loader catalogue that I picked up from the boat show this year shows an option for keel rollers for the trailer... And I agree the keel is where the most support should it is nice to see that there is an option to put these keel rollers on. If I get a chance I will send in a picture or post in on s ite so you can all see how I have the keel rollers adjusted... Anyway this is not to start an arguement but more to let people know that as Tom has said....the world is not over if you use an all roller trailer.. imho


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