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Author Topic:   Roller vs. Bunk trailers
ewalsh posted 06-03-2002 04:31 PM ET (US)   Profile for ewalsh   Send Email to ewalsh  
I am familiar with Boston Whaler's mandate to use a bunk trailer with keel rollers and understand their rationale. But c'mon, is it really the _only_ way to go?

If Whalers are "so tough", why is it that Grady White's or even Bayliner's are OK on a roller setup? I have heard from several trailer dealers that time has proven Whalers are fine on Roller trailers....

I'd like to hear from owners of 18 to 25 foot hulls who have had long term success using a roller style trailer without any problems/delaminating/punctures, etc. Also, I would like to hear from anyone who HAS had problems with the roller setup.

Thank you for any comments, Ed (who likes the ease of roller trailers)

acseatsri posted 06-03-2002 09:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Why would you even question the manufacturers suggestions? BW hulls are thinner than a conventional boat, that's why they want the keel supported. If you decide to be the guinea pig, please keep posting with your experience.
Richard Quinlivan posted 06-03-2002 11:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Richard Quinlivan  Send Email to Richard Quinlivan     
I have a 1995 dual console 17 Dauntless which is on a Shorlander Roller trailer. Previous to this boat i had a 1976 Montauk on a trailer with keel rollers and side bunks. I chose the roller trailer so that it would be easier to load and unload the boat at shallow launch ramps. I have had no problem with the boat on this trailer. No ripples or delamination or any other adverse effect. My choice when I bought the boat was a bunk only trailer with no keel rollers or the roller trailer. I would have bought a keel roller trailer with bunks if one were available. I thought that loading and unloading from the bunk only trailer would always require me to get wet if I was alone. The all roller trailer is very simple to unload and load and as I said has caused no problems with the boat.

Dick Quinlivan

lhg posted 06-03-2002 11:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
EZ Loader wobble roller trailers are barely sold anymore, as other brands have been damaged also when the rollers don't hit the stringers. With Whalers, which have no stringers and other hull reinforcement, the boat weight is carried on a thin layer of glass and foam only. The hulls get indentations at these load points, and delamination can occur.
EddieS posted 06-04-2002 12:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for EddieS  Send Email to EddieS     
I have a Calkins all roller trailer for my 16'. I know you were looking for input from those with larger boats but I thought I would share some of my observations regarding my particular trailer. My trailer has six keel rollers and two wobble rollers that in the back that are roughly 2 inches from the edge of the transom. The front is supported by two more wobble rollers. Most of the weight is supported on the keel rollers, I can easily push on the hull with one hand and turn the wobble rollers, they simply provide stability. I have read most of the posts on the roller vs bunk trailer issue which initially had me concerned. The boat has been on the trailer now for 20 years and there are no dents or delamination whatsoever.

I must stress that in my case the boat is supported by the keel rollers. Most of the roller trailers are set up like the easyloaders with the weight being picked up by the wobble rollers on the sides. I do not think this would be a wise set up. I have not checked on any late model calkins trailers but it might be worth a look. My trailer is a 1977.

My .02 cents


Boston Marine posted 06-04-2002 01:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for Boston Marine    
[I] recommend bunk trailers with keel support.
The proper way to setup the trailer is to retract all bunks until the boat is resting on keel rollers only, then bring up the aft most bunk sections until partial weight is supported by bunks but leaving part of the weight on rollers located aft. Then bring up the forward portion of bunks to partially support forward sections of boat. It is very important to have the transom positioned over the rear most bunk support so you have the weight of the engine supported firmly. If you have the transom further aft the foam core will be supporting the weight and that is not good. The whole idea of bunks is spreading the weight out over more square inches for surface and the added benifit is when you launch you can undo the strap before you back down the ramp.Another added benifit of bunks is ease of re-loading the boat. Just position the forward part of bunk package above waterline and drive your boat right to the bow stop. This saves the bow eye from undue stress. The whole idea is simplicity. I hope this helps. Just my .02
Fishcop posted 06-04-2002 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Fishcop  Send Email to Fishcop     
My 1977 19'OR sat on an all roller EZ loader trailer for most of its life. The trailer had no keel rollers and all the support was provided by the 3" "wobble rollers". When I got it, I converted the trailer and added keel rollers.
When doing this, I noticed that there were slight depressions in the hull where the "wobble rollers" had been located. Had the boat checked for delamination every year and no problems. The boat yard where I took it informed me that excessive weight on the boat while trailering down the road caused the depressions on the hull. (The boat had a T-top, bait tank, dive tanks and extra fuel) I have since sold the boat, but I took some pics at the time and will try to find them to post.
My current 25' OR Cuddy sits on a bunk with keel rollers and has since 1987. Obviously, no depressions in the hull and this boat is HEAVY!
I tend to follow the builders guidelines, if they say "unleaded fuel only" I don't use diesel! Just my two cents.
ewalsh posted 06-04-2002 12:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for ewalsh  Send Email to ewalsh     
Thanks to everyone for your help.

Richard, your experience backs some of the info I have gathered. I know that BW's do not incorporate stringer system, but to say that the upper part of the hull is weak/thin is not fair.

Think about it, when you are bashing through 5 footers at 20 knots, the outer hull, not the keel, is taking the beating. The keel has a (relatively) sharp entry point, like a knife's edge. It slices down into the water. Of the other hand, the majoity if the outer hull is relatively horizontal to the water. Try to cut an apple with the knife's edge, easy right? Now try to cut the apple with the knife on its side....

Still, I do give credit to BW and their engineers. I just had a hard time getting my old whaler "stright" on its bunk/keel roller trailer, and I am looking to ease the process. Yes, I did follow the trailer setup advice elsewhere on the web site.

Would it be feasible to install keel rollers on a roller trailer to take most of the weight on the boat's keel? Kind of the best of bother worlds?

Thank you again for your thoughts, Ed

jimh posted 06-04-2002 01:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Often the ramps being use affect what style of trailer works best. I tried to explain my thinking on this in my article:

There is a strong tendency for people to think the way they are doing something is the best way (if it works well for them).

In order to enjoy using a trailered boat, it is essential to get the trailer rigging and launching process ironed out. If it is a big chore to launch or recover, you won't use your boat very much. There is not just one way to solve this problem. There are many variables: your boat; your trailer; your ramp.

What I have seen work extraordinarily well with very large boats on all kinds or ramps (and particularly ones where power-loaded is prohibited) is the keel roller trailer with lateral bunks. Not surprisingly this is exactly what the factory recommends and supplies on their own large, commercial boat/trailer rigs.

kamml posted 06-04-2002 07:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamml  Send Email to kamml     
My 77 Montauk spent quite a few years on and off a EZ Loader floppy roller trailer. I recently switched to a bunk style trailer, I can still see the roller indentations and cracked gelcoat where the rollers sat against the hull. The lowest rollers were extended down to where they were supporting the keel and were separated by about five inches side to side. But the indentations are there as well. Just to many pounds per square inch to support on only 16 points across the trailer. Another advantage I have now is that my float on style trailer is a lot lower to the water (6"-8") so the stern entry at the ramp is not a steep and the motor actually has more clearance and is tilted a little lower at start-up on the trailer. BTW keel rollers are on onder as well. Obviously it is hard to retrieve if you have to crank up the bunks versus the rollers. Ken.
SeaHag posted 06-04-2002 08:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for SeaHag  Send Email to SeaHag     
I think that the issue is not how "tough" Whalers or what the "others" are doing but more what is the preferred method of hull support. Nor do I believe the issue between roller support and bunk support will ever be resolved.

I do believe that whether your trailer is either bunk or keel roller is simply a matter of preference. What is fact is that floppy roller trailers have time and time again proven not to be the preferred trailer setup.

I just upgraded to 2x6' for the bunks and replaced the rollers (3 total) on my trailer. About every 3 months I apply Liquid Rollers to the bunk carpet. It launches, both on and off, like a dream. Yes I may have to periodically work on the trailer bearings (since they are submerged on float on launching) but it is well worth it since launching is so hassle free.

BTW, my boat is a 20' OR. Trailer has 3 cross members and is a tandem. It sits very low to the ground which is something I am always aware of. But as mentioned before, since it such hassle free, it further compliments the total Whaler Experience.

Richard Quinlivan posted 06-05-2002 12:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for Richard Quinlivan  Send Email to Richard Quinlivan     
My Shorelander trailer has a multiple keel roller set that swivels in pitchand is located near the boat cg. The trailer is similar to the Shorelander SLR23S shown on their web site.
I have had no adverse effects from this trailer and believe me I check the bottom very carefully.

Dick Quinlivan

ewalsh posted 06-05-2002 02:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for ewalsh  Send Email to ewalsh     
A follow up question.

What trailer weight capacity should I choose? Boat is a 20' Outrage with a 200hp motor.

Local dealer has a Loadrite with a 2,660 lb capacity, though he claims that is is the exact same as their 2,800 model. He also has a "5 Starr" (which is made by loadrite) model with a 3,100 capacity. Any opinions?

Thank you, Ed

Boston Marine posted 06-06-2002 06:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Boston Marine    
Keep in mind that the the gvw rating usually ingludes the trailer empty weight.I would try for somthing rated at 4000 Lbs. Just my .02
Taylor posted 06-06-2002 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
A boat could bash through waves at high speed with the best of them and still have a skin that is too thin to take the point loading of side rollers.

If you have a hull construction technique that eliminates stringers, you can make the skin thinner since there are fewer stress risers and the force is distributed over a wider area of hull that is backed evenly by the foam filling.

The keel is a different story, it has the mechanical design stength that comes from the fact that its not flat (its V shaped), and it should be reinforced with extra glass to take point loads from keel rollers.

If I were desiging a lightweight foam filled hull, I'd recommend that the weight be carried mostly on the reinforced keel, or distributed over a wide area by bunks, or both.

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