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Thread: Winter towing

  1. #1
    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Default Winter towing

    I'm looking at not using my truck this winter for daily driving, only for when I need to pull the boat when we go out of town, so I'm thinking I'll get chains. Do I need chains on all 4 tires, or just the rear?

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    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    When you are breaking on a hill how well do you want to steer???? 4 wheel drives with chains all the way around are much easier to control going up and down hill. The chains all the way around also keep you from sliding sideways on a cambered roadway when traveling at slow speeds. I always carry at least 3 complete sets of chains, just in case one is lost or broken, I do a lot of off road 4X4 traveling while hunting elk in Oregon. Off road means no pavement dirt trails. The other thing I suggest is to get chains with GROUSERS, these are the welded spikes on the chains. These assist on side hills and solid ICE. I have driven on Silver Thaw Ice 2" thick up and down hill with chains on all four, with the grousers.

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    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply GMan.
    I will be traveling on asphalt, pulling the boat up a steep boat ramp, and then going 5 miles to the boat yard. Icy ramp and narrow country road...

  4. #4

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    Chain up all the way around. Also pack along a couple of 5 gallon buckets of sand and pea gravel. Sand the ramp before you attempt to use it. The guy before you just dumped about 50 gallons of water on the surface as he pulled out.
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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Default Go easy

    Cliffy,
    Maybe I am overconfident, so take this for what it cost to post.
    I have been dragging my boat around for years during the winter. Deer hunts in Nov and Dec out of Whittier. Goat hunts in Jan out of Seward. Kings in March out of Homer. All trips begin in Anchorage.

    I don't even own a set of tire chains for the truck. My boat is a 24' SeaSport weighing in around 9,000# plus. I am towing with a Ford F-250, 4 wd.
    I take it easy on the highway and the ramp. I carry a bag of pea gravel, but have never needed it. I have hand shoveled the ramp once. I have never had an "oh scat" moment on the highway.
    The only times i couldn't launch was when the Whittier harbor froze over and once when the snow was too deep to shovel. One trip to Homer saw 23" of snow dumped in one storm. Seeing the road was the hardest part of the trip.

    So, just go easy, use common sense and carry on. If anything, carry a set of chains for the peace of mind.
    I'll see you on the water.
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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    The only things to be mindful of when towing your boat in the winter....surge brakes, not a good thing but manageable, ramp conditions, if in doubt, sand it!! Then use the chains as a last resort.

    Folks tow all winter long in some pretty horrible conditions, it's just not boats. It ranges from little 2 place sled beds to triple axle 5th wheel toy haulers. If you can drive on it without issues then you can tow on it with caution. Take it slow and enjoy the solitude of the being on the water during the winter.

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    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Gents-
    Thanks for the informative replies. FYI, I do not have studs on this truck and I won't be using it for daily driving, but I can't use the Durango to pull my 6k lb. boat, so I'm looking for an alternative, and chains might just be the answer.

    Now, do you guys recommend chains or cables?

    Thanks again...jim

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffhanger View Post
    Gents-
    Thanks for the informative replies. FYI, I do not have studs on this truck and I won't be using it for daily driving, but I can't use the Durango to pull my 6k lb. boat, so I'm looking for an alternative, and chains might just be the answer.

    Now, do you guys recommend chains or cables?

    Thanks again...jim
    Chains....cables are for cars!!!!!

    If you need to use them chains is the way better of the two.

  9. #9

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    In my opinion, cables are almost worthless. Question - are chains ever needed for the trailer tires? If you are breaking going downhill, or going around road curves, might chains on the trailer be needed?

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    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    If it is real slick, ice, and you have brakes on the boat trailer, you can put chains on the trailer also, if your truck stops, and the trailer jackknifes, it is a bad thing. This might happen when you stop while turning, or from high speed stopping. If going down a lot of hills and braking, the trailer chains really help. I know a lot of people do not use chains in real cold snow, it seems to be sticker, but on Slick Warm Ice chains are a good safety cushion.

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Ok call me generous w/ the rep points if you want. Everybody in this thread got em from me just cause I shudder at the very thought of winter trailering. If I don't have the boat safely tucked in the yard by Oct 1, I need to hit the family physician up for some anti-anxiety pills just so I can sleep. Hey I'm not kidding! Trailering alone is enough of a pucker factor and you guys tow in the winter? !
    I feel really dumb getting a charter for the Homer king derby when I have a perfectly good boat but if I've learned anything in this life , its not to create or add extra stress to my life! Hey bullbuster I wanna party w/ you cowboy, you got the cajoles of a gun fighter!

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    Some of us pull heavy enclosed snowgo trailers all winter and have for many years. I don't prefer surge brakes. Electrics with driver control are the ticket. Pulling 6000 pounds is pretty normal. I've pulled 6000 pounds on slick, frozen roads with freezing rain falling. I've never needed tire chains on the trailer, but I insist on good studded tires on the truck. There's no mistake why lots of guys that winter tow have extra lights on the front, either. I have 2 pointing up the road and another 2 pointing forward into the ditches. I want plenty of time to slow down for moose, dogs, etc. Drive smart with the right equipment and there's absolutely no problem pulling trailers in the winter. Do watch out for the idiots that will pull out in front of you.

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    So did anyone see the boat in the ditch that was pictured in the ADN last weekend? Guy his some black ice and dumped his boat. This reminded me why I don't trailer in the winter to go deer hunting.

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    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    I towed my boat from Anchorage to Sterling last year during the snow storm over thanksgiving weekend and it weighs about 9k. I dont run studs on my truck and dont own chains either I will buy some however for the ramps in the winter months but I am the guy you will be following down the road I will pull over when I get a few behind me though. I would rather take an extra hour to get somewhere and make it then try to hurry and dump it in the ditch. Take it slow and its no problem and I slow way down before going down a big hill too. The sand trucks are usually out on the bad days and that makes it a lot better. Just like flying an airplane if the weather is bad its better to stay where you are and let it pass or give the sanders time to get out there.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I tow equipment behind my pickup..Bobat and mini-ex...both of which end up around 10K total... in the winter. I've only needed chains once and it cost me big time when I didn't use them. On the highway I've never needed them, but on the side roads I keep a set in the truck at all times now. I laugh about it now, but it wasn't so funny back then Backward with all the tires, including trailer brakes, locked is no fun.
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  16. #16

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    Doug, Amazing how much faster they feel like it is going backwards than when going forward with all the brakes locked.

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    I am insured through an insurance pool. The insured actually own the insurance company. Each year that there is zero losses, our payment is reduced. I'm paying about half of what I would for normal insurance. I did just learn that if I transport my vessel by any other means than by its own power, I have to have what they call a transportation endorsement on my policy. Of course I found this out after several trips on the trailer. Is this normal w/ all boat insurance? I'm pretty sure the truck insurance would cover the boat in case of accident, or the home owners policy. Of course all bets would be off if they actually weighed the load and realized it was heavier than the truck is rated for

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    Check again. I know for sure if my snowmachines are damaged while on the trailer, moving or not, my truck and trailer insurance does not cover them.

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    Has anyone ever slid backwards and put their truck in the water?

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    Has anyone ever slid backwards and put their truck in the water?
    Never slid down a ramp myself but me and the family did have to jump in the water at Homer once for a boat and truck sliding down the ramp there.

    They were removing a boat that I would guess at 32 or 34 feet with an older beaten up F150. I should have known better when I seen them spinning the tires all the way to the top. As soon as the front tires transitioned from the concrete to pavement at the top it was all she wrote. He did not have enough momentum to continue and applying the brakes did nothing but help lose steering control. Boat and truck came down the ramp double time. The guys at the bottom starting yelling to get out of the way as they thought they were going to be looking at crushed rigs. He was able to get it turned away from them and hit the dock just before entering the water, right where we were walking up. So we bailed into about knee deep chilly May water. Boat hit the dock busting the rudders off and ruining the props and prop shafts. The trailer and hull also took a hammering. Harbor Master had to come down and keep others from giving this guy a piece of their mind and then some. It tied up this ramp lane for over an hour at a pretty busy point in the weekend.

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