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Thread: Safe towing: guidelines, lessons, tips for the less-experienced...

  1. #1
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Safe towing: guidelines, lessons, tips for the less-experienced...

    The process of commitment is a long one for anything, but last year I started considering purchase of a deep water boat. One of my limitations is tow inexperience. I've done some towing, including long distance, but all in the 3,000 lbs cargo range. In a couple of recent trips with a friend, I noticed how his truck, the boat and the trailer/tow package performed. He recently weighed his boat/trailer/combo (http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php/62065-Ebbtide-finally-weighs-in.):

    Boat and trailer 10240 lbs

    trailer per manufacturer
    with add ons I installed 2020 lbs

    Boat - trailer 8220 lbs

    Trailer carry capacity 8600 lbs
    Boat and trailer 10240 lbs
    Wt of boat and trailer when connected to truck not on scales 9440 lbs
    tongue weight 800 lbs

    Weight of whole package 18320 lbs when boat contains: fishing gear 12 foot raft on top 10 gallons karosene NO GAS, NO WATER, extra anchor with chain and 200 ft of rope, 10 life jackets, flare kit, etc...

    Good AOD/OSA advice-I've been looking for more information about towing:
    Straightforward advice from 2005: http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/akf...ting/57309.htm
    Some humor: http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/akf...ting/57330.htm
    One pkg with 24ft AK Sea Runner: http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/akf...ting/57349.htm

    Other info sources:
    1. Good source of info, giving specs for each vehicle tested, tow weights, etc. http://onlinetowguide.com/
    Good source for practical, general tips too, such as: "...With a conventional leaf spring, shock absorber and live-axle suspension, the jounce is so unsettling it takes a a few hundred feet or so before the truck settles down. While towing with the [name of vehicle] and its air suspension system on that same stretch, we found ourselves bracing for big hits that never came. The compression and rebound were so controlled that they took all the drama out the experience".

    2. www.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/equipment/towing/towing.pdf
    3. From, http://www.sherline.com/lmbook.htm: a commercially oriented, but detailed, topic-by-topic discussion of tow package variables to consider: The Tow Vehicle, Vehicle and Trailer Brakes, The Hitch, The Trailer Ball and Safety Chains, Trailer Lighting and Connections, Tires and Wheel Bearings, Recommended Hitch Weight Percentages, Placing the Load, Determining Maximum Gross Trailer Weight, Weighing the Trailer, Your Responsibilities as a Driver, Driving in Windy Conditions, More Towing Tips

    Be interested to hear tips from others, examples of tow packages that are working well, or maybe that have limitations...stuff that's good to know for newbies to towing heavy (5,000-10,000 lbs) loads, or comments about brakes, other accessories that work well?

    Thanks.

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    As many know I have been a big advocate of the electric over hydraulic brake setup. I have the system on my dual axle North River (~6000 lbs) and my triple axle sitting under my 2859 Bayliner (12,800 lbs) and this system beats any surge system on the market ever. Both rigs originally came with surge brakes. As a note there are some states that do not allow surge brakes.

    I also, like having disk brakes, especially on my salt trailer, much easier to do a washdown and periodic inspection. Converted both trailers from drums. The triple axle also has brakes on all axles, seen some trailers, mostly dual axles, with brakes only on one axle.

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    Member oakman's Avatar
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    Just a few basic tips. Before leaving, walk around everything. Check and double check everything. This includes the hitch, how the load is secured, lights, tires, etc. After getting on the road, I like to pull over a very short distance later (maybe a few hundred yards, maybe a few miles) and check everything again.

    The Alaska Commercial Driver's manual has good information on pre-trip inspections. It might seem a little overboard, but by taking this a little over the top every time, you reduce the chance of an incident.
    http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/cdlmanual/manual.pdf

    Items that often get missed are small items left on the trailer (more for a flatbed) or in the boat. At work this is things like tools, cheater bars, etc. It may not cause many problems for you other than losing the item, but think about the other driver's on the road.

    Last but not least, while your truck may be capable of getting going with a huge load, it may not be safe. It is generally harder to stop the load than to get it going. I'm always amused by the guys with a small snowmachine trailer running down the road at 70mph with their trailer swinging all over the place. Check the speed ratings on the trailer tires for those little guys. Many of them are only rated for 45mph.

    And of course, stay up on the maintenance.

    Great idea for a thread too.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    "...Many of them are only rated for 45mph."
    Holy cow.

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    Wheelbase is your friend in a tow vehicle.

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    When you stop to check your trailer, touch each of the hubs for heat. You may find that one is much hotter, indicating a wheel bearing about to fail. It is a lot easier to deal with before it fails than afterwards. Of course, grease your wheel bearings on an annual basis to minimize the risk of a problem.
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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    Good advice in this thread. I would add that I usually "pre-trip" my trailer the night before we leave as I try to have everthing hooked up and ready to leave in AM. So after checking everything listed above I go to bed. In the AM I get everyone and everything loaded in the truck, fire the truck up to let it warm up a bit and then re-check everything. I don't know how many times I have found something small on that final walk around that was not right. I also tend to stop early in the trip like mentioned above but I usually go 30 miles or so and stop again... stretch my legs and have a look at everything.

    I will also second what DuPont said about ele/hydraulic brakes.. I swapped my triple axle trailer over after towing it once with out and I will never have another trailer without them. I also suggest a high quality brake controller, I used the one that was in my truck when I bought it (cheap one) for a couple of tows and then replaced it with a Prodigy3 and holy cow what a difference. Its like the trailer is not even there when stopping now.
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    When you stop to check your trailer, touch each of the hubs for heat. You may find that one is much hotter, indicating a wheel bearing about to fail. It is a lot easier to deal with before it fails than afterwards. Of course, grease your wheel bearings on an annual basis to minimize the risk of a problem.
    jrogers: I had good experience with Bearing Buddies (http://www.bearingbuddy.com/) when towing my small skiff. Is that something that folks here also find useful? Is there a reason they should not be used? Thank you.

  9. #9

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    Ditto the "pre-trip" inspection. Develop one that you use everytime. To start, use a checklist until you have it down to memory. Do it the same way each time and do it like your life depended on it cause it does. Use it when you have help getting things done, use it at home, and use it again at the ramp before you head home. The pre-trip really does work; even on new rigs and especially as equipment ages. I have wandered from it and have had some pretty scary and embarrasing moments. I will pull over a few miles into the trip and also do a quick walk around. I look for anything unusual, dragging, loose, hot wheeel bearings, look at the tires, the hitch, the tie downs, and the winch. Probably overkill, but it makes the trip easier on me. Another good place to do this is when you stop for gas.

    Great thread.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    jrogers: I had good experience with Bearing Buddies (http://www.bearingbuddy.com/) when towing my small skiff. Is that something that folks here also find useful? Is there a reason they should not be used? Thank you.
    not a fan of bearing buddy's! while they are a great concept, and may work well with a light trailer, for any of the trailers that have heavy duty axels, they stink! a bearing buddy will only allow grease to the front bearing, not push it thru to the rear before it starts spewing out the pressure relief hole. In heavier duty axels, there is a zrk in the end of the shaft itself, it has a port that runs thru to the back bearing and will actually push grease thru from the rear bearing, thry the hub and into the front bearing. Kept having to replace wheel bearing every year until it was explained to me how to not use the buddys and go with a simlpe rubber seal cap! Have actually had the same bearings in for going on the 3rd season, with no issues, yet

  11. #11

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    Bearing Buddys are a great thing, that don't mean you should never tear the bearing assembly down & inspect, at least jack it up and test the tighness of the nut. I jack mine up once a year and spin the tire and grease at the same time, then every 2-3 years take them apart. Not going to be a boat without a wheel parted along the road, beacuse I laugh at something that can be prevented, let alone the danger of loosing the boat and hurting some one.

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    No bearing greasing system allows you to install wheel bearings dry. Hand pack thoroughly before installation. If you don't know how to pack by hand, then get one of the cone packing doo-dads. Then, place a substantial glop of grease in the hub at installation, prior to banging on the cap bearing buddy. No different than with any other tapered bearing spindle or axle.

    All a bearing buddy or any of the other sprung hub greasing doo-dads do is slightly pressurize the hub to keep saltwater from intruding. That's it.

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    I can't say enough good things about oil bath hubs.
    http://www.ezloadercustoms.com/options.htm#
    Super easy to maintain and have served us without fail for 5 years now. Our trailer is also plumbed with plastic tubing for flushing out the hubs after launching in the salt which is another great time saver.

    Dave

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    I have found it helps to do things by the numbers. At the truck/trailer connection I know there are 9 things I need to check.

    1 left safety chain on
    2 hitch on ball
    3 hitch pin in
    4 right safety chain on
    5 brake cable on
    6 kickstand/jack up
    7 strap on boat and tight
    8 safety chain on
    9 lights plugged in
    If I only count to 8 when counting I know I forgot something.

    I also do this at the back of the boat with a 5 count.
    1 motors up/down
    2 plugs in/out
    3 oversize sigh on/off
    4 tie down on/off
    5 cabin door is shut

    then I walk around and check the in betweens or tires and wheels.

    This is an example of my check off. Each person would need to taylor the list to their circumstances.

    Hope that helps!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebbtide View Post
    3 oversize sigh on/off
    My very first trip out with my new boat I forgot this one.... the sign was nice and clean when I pulled it out of the water that afternoon.

    You might also add swim step ladder up/down to the list. I left my little ladder down on my first trip out as well. It makes a heck of a rooster tail and makes the boat lean to one side when underway. Its also darn near impossible to get up once you are in the water.
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    Member Alaskanmutt's Avatar
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    And don't be stupid.
    I saw a guy this weekend in Whittier. He left the parking lot right in front of me. I noticed there was something wrong with the right tire of his trailer (we were both headed to retrieve boats) His tire had a huge bubble on the inside of the tire. I stopped him on the top of the ramp and told him, he said "yea I saw that on the way here". I said he should change it before it blows on the highway (not if, it was definatley a WHEN) He had a new looking spare too, his answer was "Yea I'll think about it" then he loaded it up. He was behind me in the tunnel so I know he didn't have time to change it.

    Presonally if he was infront of me and it blew, I would keep on driving.
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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    1. Make sure your trailer is level with your ball. If up to high or too low, you will be more seceptible to trailer sway.
    2. If your boat, trailer, motors and gear/fuel weigh more than your tow vehicle, use a weight distribution hitch.
    3. Pay attention to tounge weight vs towing vehicle hitch recommends. Balance your load front to back.
    4. Test your vehilce while towing at different speeds and what ever you feel is your max before your uncomfortable, then tow 5-10 MPH below that.
    5. Drive to road conditons and don't ever forget your towing no matter how well your vehicle handles
    6. If you normally give one vehicle length per 10 MPH while driving, double it as you have more weight to stop. Don't put too much faith in your electric/surge brakes.
    7. Tow in a lower gear and if you use have an Automatic, take off the Overdrive for a few more hundred RPM's
    8. f you know your gonna have to stop, drop your Automatic in second gear as your braking and let the engine help you stop.

  18. #18
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    This checklist type approach is a key feature in the flight safety field.
    I like your paperless version though.
    Thanks, Ebbtide.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ebbtide View Post
    I have found it helps to do things by the numbers. At the truck/trailer connection I know there are 9 things I need to check.

    1 left safety chain on
    2 hitch on ball
    3 hitch pin in
    4 right safety chain on
    5 brake cable on
    6 kickstand/jack up
    7 strap on boat and tight
    8 safety chain on
    9 lights plugged in
    If I only count to 8 when counting I know I forgot something.

    I also do this at the back of the boat with a 5 count.
    1 motors up/down
    2 plugs in/out
    3 oversize sigh on/off
    4 tie down on/off
    5 cabin door is shut

    then I walk around and check the in betweens or tires and wheels.

    This is an example of my check off. Each person would need to taylor the list to their circumstances.

    Hope that helps!

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