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Thread: A trick for launching big boats

  1. #1
    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Default A trick for launching big boats

    or even for small boats on ice ramps. I took a guy fall bear hunting. The vehicle lost the driver front disk break, line blew a nice hole. No services available but the boat shop was helpfull even though they were packing it in for the winter. A couple clamps and some fluid later it was fixed but dissabled.

    So here is what was done to get the boat in the water. Reversed the vehicle untill the boat was over the top of the ramp but vehicle still pretty flat. Put the vehicle in drive. Kept the foot near the brake, but ready to hit the gas if need be. The weight of the boat pulled us down the ramp and it rolled nicely. If anything was to get out of control all you would have to do is hit the gas slightly and it would stop or pull you forward. I was surprised how easily the vehicle handled it all in drive. We also engaged the 4 wheel drive.

    I now do the same with my 9500# work van. Once I pop over the edge of the drive I stop and put in drive. Much safer feeling and not so sketchy feeling on ice driveways.

    What do all you guys think? Hard on the trany?

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    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    I am not a mechanic, but it seems that the tranny just slips. What would the difference between this and keeping it in drive with a foot on the brake at the intersection? Tranny is slipping, right, I think? I tried keeping it in drive launching my boat while in 4 low and we went nowhere. In fact the truck wanted to idle up the ramp. My boat and trailer loaded is about twice the weight of my gmc 2500 diesel. It really surprised me. I had heard about guys doing this with heavy boats, so I figured I would try it to see if I had more control. I guess they were not driving a truck equiped with an allison transmision.
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    I always put my truck in drive before launching my bowpicker, i back up until i'm on the downside of the ramp then put it into drive and let'er roll down the ramp.

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    Nothing like a little torque converter magic! That is an interesting trick, though I am sure effective it is for you has to do with what stall rpm is built into your t-converter.

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    Hmmm....I have seen Potbuilder's picker and she is not very light. Perhaps I am doing something wrong. I waited until the truck was over the lip, stopped, shifted to D1 and let the brake off. I started to idle up the ramp. I was in low range, still and I suspect that if I was in regular 4 hi it would slip a bit. I just like the control I have in low range. Any thoughts out there?
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    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Default spoiled one

    I would think it was because four low and or low gear. Both are pretty torquey. We just used 4 high and drive, not over drive. My work van just has drive and over drive, not 4 wheel drive. In drive it rolls down really nice.

    Going back up the ramp you could shift to 2nd gear or something in 4 high. Might just need to get used to it and try and few configurations. With boats that big and nice I would take my time and do what feels good. But I would think 4 high and Drive would be fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akrstabout View Post
    I would think it was because four low and or low gear. Both are pretty torquey. We just used 4 high and drive, not over drive. My work van just has drive and over drive, not 4 wheel drive. In drive it rolls down really nice.

    Going back up the ramp you could shift to 2nd gear or something in 4 high. Might just need to get used to it and try and few configurations. With boats that big and nice I would take my time and do what feels good. But I would think 4 high and Drive would be fine.

    I feel very comfortable in low range and reverse. I rarely use the brake. Slow and easy. I will always retrieve the boat in 4 low. It just "feels" so much easier. Now the big question: Will the east ramp in Whittier be open by May? My bet is no.
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    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoiled one View Post
    Now the big question: Will the east ramp in Whittier be open by May? My bet is no.
    Dude have some faith! I have no idea though. They were working on it in October my last time out. I would have thought it would be good to go in the spring. The west ramp is my favorite, but I am 8' shorter than you and tons lighter, literally! Plus only draft 2' with the lower units at the lowest. I have lauched and had to had the bow of the bow sit on the ramp as there was no dock to tie too, my cleats start at 1/3 from the bow.

    If it is not done, it will make for an interesting spring bear season.

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    Member Roger45's Avatar
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    It would be nice if someone had a tranny gauge to tell what sort of temperatures you create doing this. Without air going through the cooler it heats really fast. That said, the temperature probably is no different in R or D.
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

  10. #10

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    That is how I launch 60' boats. crest the ramp, put it in drive and use the engine as the main brake.

  11. #11

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    I've backed down ramps in with the tranny in "drive" in my Dodge/Cummins but in 2HI or 4HI because 4Low was too torquey and wouldn't let the tranny slip.

    I do have a tranny temp guage installed at it didn't raise the temperature because it's such slow speed slipping (engine @ idle, tires rolling slowly) and also only for a few seconds.

  12. #12

    Default The tranmission is not slipping you guys......

    An automatic transmission that truly is slipping means that the friction materials inside the tranmission are either worn out, don't have enough line pressure or friction to hold what they are supposed to hold, have a broken o-ring or other sealing material and wouldn't pull your big heavy boat 20 miles.

    What you are experiencing is the torque converter doing what it is supposed to do and that is to allow the crankshaft of your engine to spin without rotating the rear tires. In doing so, it also multiplies the torque that your engine produces. They are a very cool idea, that happens to make a lot of heat while doing what they do.

    You guys that are puttting your trucks in 4 low to pull out boats are making life very easy on your transmission, but tougher on your transfer case. If done carefully it will not hurt a thing. However, be careful when pulling things in 4 low without the hubs locked as it is possible to put more torque on the rear differential than it was every designed for and you could literally break teeth on the ring and pinion gears. I can see this happening with one wrong move. All you would need is the truck to lose traction and you hit the throttle, you then instantly regain traction on a dry spot, or because you have like 1500 pounds of tongue weight on your truck, and all that torque now thanks to your gear reduction has to do something: one is move the truck quickly, two is hopefully spin the tires, or three which is over power your ring and pinion gear inside your rear differential leading to a catastophic part failure.

    I certainly would rather pull it out in 4 low with the hubs locked. And I would still be carefull as you really have a ton a gear reduction working in your favor even though you are now sharing all this torque with the front drivetrain. If you must pull in 4 low, take the time to engage the front drive train so this huge amount of torque is shared equally from front to rear.

    I rarely put the truck in 4 wheel drive anything to get the boat out of the water. Yet, I can see why you guys might do it. I personally would not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spoiled one View Post
    Hmmm....I have seen Potbuilder's picker and she is not very light. Perhaps I am doing something wrong. I waited until the truck was over the lip, stopped, shifted to D1 and let the brake off. I started to idle up the ramp. I was in low range, still and I suspect that if I was in regular 4 hi it would slip a bit. I just like the control I have in low range. Any thoughts out there?
    I think my rig (boat & trailer) is around 12,000lbs and i always put it in 4Lo rolling down the ramp, but i do have to be quite aways down before she rolls backward, like the front wheels of the truck are below the crest of the ramp. Your are right about how it "feels" easier going back up the ramp in 4lo, it has be easier on the tranny. If you see me by the ramp someday stop by and i'll tell you the story of the guys smokin' their wheels going up the ramp after they ran their boat completly on the floating dock first

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  14. #14

    Default You're heavy....and I used to be too so I went on a diet.

    Ok that is pretty heavy. But with that said, when I go and launch the boat it is nearly always with a 12 foot camper on the back of the dually (nearly 6,000) pounds. Traction is never an issue at least..... Pulling the old Seasport 27 out of the water was sort of hard, but the PSD yanked her right up. The much lighter CD 22 is way nicer to tow....

  15. #15

    Default Stick shifter...

    I have a 10ft camper on my Ford Diesel, w/manual stick shift launching a Sea Sport. I have to use the breaks rollin' down the ramp, moving down it feels painful, when I'm stopped it's alright again. If I launch and retrieve alone I shut the truck off, lock the parking break and leave it in low gear, if I leave it running with just the parking break on it creeps toward the water. With a stick shift and camper I launch/retrieve like lighting, don't like everything hanging out there any longer than need be. Anyone have the same set up do anything different or the same???

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    Quote Originally Posted by Myers View Post
    I have a 10ft camper on my Ford Diesel, w/manual stick shift launching a Sea Sport. I have to use the breaks rollin' down the ramp, moving down it feels painful, when I'm stopped it's alright again. If I launch and retrieve alone I shut the truck off, lock the parking break and leave it in low gear, if I leave it running with just the parking break on it creeps toward the water. With a stick shift and camper I launch/retrieve like lighting, don't like everything hanging out there any longer than need be. Anyone have the same set up do anything different or the same???
    Parking brakes are designed to keep your vehicle from moving on a flat and level surface. They are not going to hold your truck and or trailer on a boat ramp. Even with an automatic transmission you should use the parking brake along with the transmisson in park. With a manual transmission parking brake on and transmission in first or reverse. The safest system would be to use wheel chocks if you are going to leave your vehicle on the ramp without somebody on the brakes.

    Myers I know you said you use the brake and low gear, not saying you're doing anything wrong. Just trying to help other people out.

  17. #17

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    You guys are making me nervous now. I launch with my 30 foot motorhome, and I have a 6,000 pound jet boat and have never used anything but reverse and the brakes, never been worried for a second. Maybe I should be?
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by wildog View Post
    You guys are making me nervous now. I launch with my 30 foot motorhome, and I have a 6,000 pound jet boat and have never used anything but reverse and the brakes, never been worried for a second. Maybe I should be?

    I wouldn't worry much. Your motorhome is built very tough. A short boat launch is not going to overheat the brakes. Nor, is the short jaunt up the ramp likely going to overheat your transmission. And, while others have commented on how the parking brake slips, mine does not. It will lock the rear end up if you apply it at slow speeds. I suppose the others may need to adjust their rear parking brake drums if they have the rear disks. If they don't, they need to adjust the cable or maybe their rear brakes have a lot of miles on them. A powerful parking brake is a must in my humble opinion.

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    Brakes for stopping. Throttle for go. Simple. No mix ups. On my work trucks with standard tranny I add a line lock on back brakes for parking. Switch on, hit brakes, stay stopped. Simple, does not effect abs systems.
    One does not want to be the boat launch drama for the day.

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    I lock my hubs and pull out in 4-lo as a matter of habit. My truck is a stick (older ford diesel), and if I have help, I merely set parking brake, leave tranny in gear (1st or reverse for max leverage), and shut truck off to hold on ramp while trailer is in water.

    If I'm alone and have to leave the truck to tend to the boat on the dock after launch, I also chock the rear wheels with chocks that are tied to my rear bumper. When I drive up the ramp, the chocks drag behind the truck up to the top.

    Pulling the boat out with a stick and 4-lo is way easy - it creeps up the ramp nicely at idle speed.

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