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Author Topic:   Safety vs. Maneuverability of Tamdem-Axle Trailers
Wet Foot posted 05-20-2004 01:37 PM ET (US)   Profile for Wet Foot   Send Email to Wet Foot  
I'm trying to decide between a single and dual axle trailer. I currently have a single axle I would like to replace. My 18 Dauntless weighs about 3000LBS with motors, gas, gear.... It seems like the dual would be safer if I get a blowout on the freeway. The only problem is maneuvering the dual axle with boat, up against the wall in my garage (so my car will fit too). I push the boat in by hand, so I can lower the receiver end and clear the windshield.

I pull the boat 100 miles round trip 20 times a season, but I go 600 miles round trip twice a year. My SUV weighs 4000 LBS and will tow 4500 LBS.

How difficult is a dual axle to maneuver? Would a blow out at freeway speeds on a single axle cause serious danger?

Donzi posted 05-20-2004 02:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Donzi  Send Email to Donzi     
With 3000 lbs and the long distance trips, I would prefer the dual axle trailer. Surge or electric brakes may be required with dual axle trailers in some states. I don't think a blow out with a single axle trailer would be a safety concern. I have seen some real ugly looking wheels after a blow out on the side of the road, and everything else was intact. I heard manuverability is not as good with a dual axle but have no experience driving one.


lpaton posted 05-20-2004 07:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for lpaton  Send Email to lpaton     
Had a blow out two years ago with my dual axle loaded with Outrage III and lots of other stuff. Happened on a rather steep curve next to a gorge. Have never regretted dual axles.
Plotman posted 05-20-2004 08:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
Dual axle trailers are very hard to turn/maneuver when doing it by hand. Basically you have to drag two loaded tires sideways to do so.

I push my 22 around in tight spaces with the lawn mower no problem.

andygere posted 05-20-2004 09:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
In general, dual axle trailers are easier on the tow vehicle and in my opinion, behave better behind the tow vehicle. The load is distributed across twice as many wheels, tires, hubs and bearings, so heat and other stresses are less severe. Also, a blown tire or burned out bearing is less likely to cause a wreck and major damage to your boat and tow rig. Your boat is probably right at the borderline for selecting either a single or dual axle trailer, but considering the amount of towing you do, I think you would not regret going with the dual axle trailer. I would suggest surge brakes, and go with discs over drums, for substantially reduced maintenance. In terms of garage maneuvering, a heavy duty trailer dolly may help.

andygere posted 05-20-2004 09:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere
Wet Foot posted 05-21-2004 12:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wet Foot  Send Email to Wet Foot     
Thanks Guys!

I spoke to Shoreland'r trailer yesterday and learned that their smallest dual axle (13 inch tires) is higher than the single axle (15 inch tires). The help desk could not explain why. I thought the dual axle would also help me clear my windshield when pushing it in the garage.

timbaho posted 05-21-2004 04:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for timbaho  Send Email to timbaho     
One potentially major added benefit to a tandem is that if something goes wrong ie: burned bearing, bent rim, flat tire with flat spare, etc..... the doble axle will allow for a tire removal(or two tire removal on the same axle) so you can ease to a secure sight instead of being stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with your umpteen thousand dollar investment(provided your jack works) BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!!
Plotman posted 05-21-2004 08:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
Just for reference, the EZ Loader tandem under my 22 places the lowest point of the boat at 13" above the pavement forward, and at 15" aft.

Remember that torsion axle trailers will be the lowest.

simonmeridew posted 05-21-2004 10:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
Dual axle trailers pull very nicely behind your truck, back nicely, and theoretically at least distribute weight well. Can be hard to push around by hand, due to sideways vectors with tight turning. Also, if you get a blowout, you really CANNOT drive with one tire blown out and flat; that tire will flap around incredibly violently, tearing out fenders etc. You can however take the tire off with out jacking and continue driving with the other tandem carrying the load. Blowouts are no fun single or tandem. Picture a tire flapping about violently at a zillion RPM alternately coasting and then suddenly stopping as friction on the inside of the fender works its magic.
My vote, for a load of 3000 lbs, go tandem
Joe Kriz posted 05-21-2004 11:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Joe Kriz  Send Email to Joe Kriz     
Wet Foot,

I do not think this should be a decision based on Safety vs. Maneuverability.

A Dual axle trailer versus a single axle trailer is based on the weight of the boat. Otherwise, why not have a Dual axle trailer on an 11 or 13 foot Whaler?

I have towed both a 13 foot Sport and a 17 foot Montauk with a Single axle trailer for almost 30 years. I have never had an axle break, a tire blow out, a flat tire, or a brearing problem. I have never had any problems at all. Not ONE.

Can any of the above happen? Sure. It can also happen to a Dual axle trailer. You could have both tires blow out on the same side simultaneously. Is this possible? Yes. Will that happen? Probably not.

Bottom line. If your boat is heavy enough to warrant a Dual axle trailer, by all means, put a Dual axle trailer under it. If your boat does not require a Dual axel trailer because of its light weight, then purchase a Single axle trailer.

Of course if your boat is really heavy, then you may need a Tri-axle trailer.

ShrimpBurrito posted 05-21-2004 11:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for ShrimpBurrito  Send Email to ShrimpBurrito     
Regarding the maneuverability of the tandem: If you need the toungue lower for the windshield to clear the garage, you might consider buying a coupler with a drop in it. They sell them with pretty steep drops/rises. Depending on your vehicle, you can probably get it pretty close to the ground. A truck modification shop, especially one that raises bodies a foot or two, would be a good place to find a long one.

When you are ready to back her in, switch couplers and back away.

Wet Foot posted 05-23-2004 02:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wet Foot  Send Email to Wet Foot     
Thanks everyone!

Joe, the reason I am thinking safety is because my toe vehicle is so light (4000 lbs). I tow about 4000 lbs with trailer. I'm worried a blow out will cause violent fishtailing and cause a crash. If I had a Suburban I might be able to handle it.

Does anyone know of anti-sway devices compatible with surge brakes? My current trailer fishtails a little every time I move the steering wheel. It is stressful.

gss036 posted 05-24-2004 12:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for gss036  Send Email to gss036     
What size tires do you have on your trailer? If you are getting constant fishtale with slight steering wheel movement, I would think you need to consider "D" 6 ply tires or even "E" 8 ply tires for more stability, maybe a little wider tire if your wheels would handle them.
I see a lot of people towing 19/21 ft boat with single axle. A heavier tire would be an added saftey factor to protect against a blow out.
Moe posted 05-24-2004 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
A trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR - the maximum combined weight of boat AND trailer) over 3,000 pounds will require brakes in most states. These are typically hydraulic, surge-activated.

Torsion axles DO allow for a lower load ride. So does a wider trailer that allows the hull to sit between the fenders.

Tandem axles are not easy to turn by hand. When turning, they rotate about an axis centered on an X drawn between front and rear wheels on opposite sides. The front tires drag sideways in one direction and the rear drag in the opposite. This is called scrub and trailer tires have tread designed to allow it, i.e. lower lateral grip. Using car or truck tires in place of them can damage the axles.

Although Dexter, and others, make torsion axles rated up to 6,000 lbs, you'll probably have a hard time finding a trailer with much greater than 3,000 pound load capacity (GVWR minus trailer weight), that isn't tandem.

EZLoader makes a wide (102") torsion-axle tandem (TEZ102 18-20) that is approximately 86" between the fenders. The 3,500 lb load capacity model uses ST175/80R13 Load Range B tires and the 4,000 lb load capacity model uses the same size 13" tire in Load Range C. It's approximately 22 feet, 3 inches long.

Hope this helps,

jimh posted 05-24-2004 08:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[This thread has been edited to remove some errant material.]
Wet Foot posted 05-24-2004 08:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wet Foot  Send Email to Wet Foot     
Hi gss036,

My tires are Titan ST 205/75R15. They are load range D, 2205 LB max load at 65 psi. The 2003 Shoreland'r trailer came with Goodyears that were made in 1998 and were coming apart. Shoreland'r replaced them with Titan's since Goodyear no longer makes that size. The Titan's had a better weight rating, but the added width barely clears my fenders (might actually bump when trailer bounces).

gss036 posted 05-24-2004 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for gss036  Send Email to gss036     
You sound like you are ok for tires and weight on the trailer. I don't think you would gain much by going to a double axle trailer, just more added weight for your light SUV. Maybe you are pushing your speed and little too fast for the towing combanation you have. Good Luck
greyg8r posted 05-24-2004 11:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for greyg8r    
Regarding the fishtailing which can be frightening, have you checked the tongue weight? If a trailer has too little weight fore of the axle, it will tend to fishtail above a certain speed (but always below the speed limit!) I think you're supposed to have about 10% of the GVW as tongue weight.

I use single axle and double axle trailers for my different boats. One thing that was not brought up (and I apologize if I missed it) is that with a tandem you have to make sure the tongue is at the right height. This can sometimes be difficult.

And, I agree that your load range D tires are fine and a ratio of 4500 lb SUV to 3500 lb boat/trailer (estimated) combo seems okay to me.


Wet Foot posted 05-26-2004 10:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Wet Foot  Send Email to Wet Foot     

I have not checked the tongue weight. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm probably a little paranoid about blow-outs since my kids travel with me. Actually my tow vehicle and load weigh about the same; 4000LBS SUV and 3000LBS boat with 800LBS trailer. What would you choose if you store the rig on one side of garage?

Plotman posted 05-26-2004 11:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
If you want to be able to move a boat around on a concrete floor, get a set of automotive wheel dollies. You can literally push your boat sideways with these.

I didn't get mine here, but this is what I'm talking about:

I just made 4 ramps by stacking different lengths of 2x8 to get the wheels up on the ramps, or you can use a floor jack to get them on and off.

So - get the trailer that makes the most sense for your boat, and then spend the $150 on a set of these to allow you to put it where you want.


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