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Thread: Trailer question

  1. #1
    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    Default Trailer question

    No luck in the search section, I'm sure this has been covered in here before.

    Looking for pros/cons for bunk vs. roller boat trailers.

    Boat will be a 27 foot Sea Sport ~ either navigator or Pilot.
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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Look I've always had bunk trailers. The last one was a triple axle King for a 28 footer. Now I have a Tuff Trailer for a 32 footer. I think roller trailers are better, even though I've never had one. Heres the reasons I wish I had a roller trailer-- its easier to block your boat and pull your trailer out, its easier to paint or do touch-up work to the bottom because the roller bunks can be removed, you don't have carpeted bunks that corrodes the aluminum, it is easier to load/unload your boat w/ the bow crank, you don't have to back your truck as far in the water to launch and recover, the wood bunks and carpet need to be replaced periodically. Thats my 30 years experience w/ bunk trailers. I'm sure theres negatives about rollers but I don't know I've never had one. The reason is they're more expensive, I guess thats a negative

  3. #3
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    I have always had bunk trailers for my boats, but here is what I have witnessed and researched:

    Bunk trailer pros:
    If bunks are set up CORRECTLY , the hull receives more support. I've heard this is most important on foam core boats. The rollers could leave "dimples" in the hull. Not really an issue for an alloy hull.
    Bunk trailers are generally cheaper. 10-20% maybe.
    Less maintenance over the long term for bunk trailer. Not many moving parts.

    Bunk trailer cons:
    You pretty much have to be able to float the boat on. Bunk slicks help and keep the carpet from contacting the hull if corrosion is a concern.

    Roller trailer pros:
    Easier to launch, retrieve boat during low tide or a bad ramp. I have seen boats slide off trailers during the launch/retrieval process, too.
    Probably where the term ez-loader came from.

    Roller trailer cons:
    Cost more than bunk
    More maintenance on rollers, arms etc. More moving parts. If you walk around looking at the different trailer set ups you will see lots of broken/cracked rollers.

    I am no expert, but spend a fair amount of time around trailer boats. My neighbor has a 27 foot Sea Sport and his rides on bunks.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    Can you guys clarify the comment about corrision of the carpet and wood bunks on aluminum? Is this something I should be concerned about with my Hewes?

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    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    If the bunks are treated wood the chemicals in the wood react with the aluminum and salt water causing the aluminum to pit. In my opinion, an alloy boat should not sit on carpet. The carpet will trap moisture and could lead to problems down the road. My king trailer has polyethylene bunk sleeves, so there is only plastic contacting my hull.

    This looks like a good aftermarket option: http://www.ultimatebunkboards.com/catalog.html
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    Member oldmil007's Avatar
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    Lotta good input here thus far about the bunk vs. rollers pros/cons question.

    Been in the boat fixing business for 21 years now - no rollers for me, especially with larger boats. Reason being, they tend to "pinpoint" the hull weight on some pretty small areas. Made more than a few mortgage payments fixing hull dents. Granted, most of our experience here in Maine is with glass boats. Maybe aluminum construction dodges the bullet better (?). If the boat is trailered a lot on semi-bumpy roads I'd really lean toward bunks, even though the roller trailers have all the advantages mention so far. With the bunks, proper set up is the key, as previously mentioned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spoiled one View Post
    If the bunks are treated wood the chemicals in the wood react with the aluminum and salt water causing the aluminum to pit. In my opinion, an alloy boat should not sit on carpet. The carpet will trap moisture and could lead to problems down the road. My king trailer has polyethylene bunk sleeves, so there is only plastic contacting my hull.

    This looks like a good aftermarket option: http://www.ultimatebunkboards.com/catalog.html
    Pete, you have learned well son , well done .

    I am going to use Cypress wood and plastic slicks when I redo my bunks [ my wood is all natural , no treated lumber here]

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    Member pacific23's Avatar
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    Guys just a FYI,

    Don't use pressure treated wood ANYWHERE on your Alloy boats and check and clean your Zincs [ Do not use a steel brush on the zincs] use a Stainless Steel wire brush or wheel on them.

    If you run Outboards check those zincs also , if any zinc is 50% or more gone REPLACE IT , it could/will save you a bunch of money.

    Alloy is easy to take care of with just a little knowledge and guys if you don't know just ask , were all in the same boat ya might say.

  9. #9
    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    I have a friend who had a roller trailer, and I was able to keep him pretty well supplied with rollers and hardware that i found periodically on the boat ramp. His Bayliner also had the beginning of the impressions from rollers as already mentioned.

    I too have a King with the coated bunks, and it's easy to launch and recover. I also like the boat weight distributed over a much much larger surface area. Only bad thing is I've noticed one of my bunks doesn't sit flat against the hull on one side. I need to spend a nice day working to correct this. I think roller adjustment would be easier, but maybe I'll be surprised when I adjust the bunk (cross my fingers).

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    From another who's spent time in the boat repair business... bunks are much better than rollers for your boat, IMHO.

    Make the bunks out of off the shelf 4x lumber. You don't need or want anything "special". Plain old white softwood will last for decades. Carpet doesn't hurt the boat at all. I can show you a couple aluminum boats that have been sitting on carpeted 4x6 bunks for the last 30 years. No problems at all. And they are setup such that one-man loading/unloading is a snap. A key building point is that the bunks are wide and extend slightly beyond the transom when the boat is loaded thereby fully supporting the weight of the transom. They also have full side bunks to guide the boat onto the trailer. At the very back of the trailer is a single v-groove steel roller that matches the keel. This one roller lifts the boat up and over the back of the bunks. After it's loaded, that roller is no longer touching the boat.

    As far as loading/unloading, I've never had a problem getting a boat on and off bunks. Even dumping the boat in the driveway for maintenance and winching it back on the dry bunks afterward. Just use the right tools (big rope and a tree for unload and electric winch for loading).

    Rollers on the other hand can cause considerable hull damage. This depends on the boat and how much Alaskan road driving you do with it. A significant problem is having the a few rollers holding up the transom and outboard from a point forward of the transom. The hull can flex on these pressure points due to the unsupported transom weight and over time you end up cracking the transom/bottom joint and/or any internal transom bracing. This has got to be one of the highest frequency repairs that was brought in to the shop.

    However, with those generics out of the way, the real answer is, "it depends". There are lots of good roller trailers out there with well-built boats on them that never have a problem. There are people who launch off the beach who really benefit from the roller designs. And there are poorly designed bunks that can make loading/unloading more of a chore than it needs to be.

    So, you kinda end up at an unsolvable debate similar to what handgun is best for bear protection.
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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickL View Post
    Can you guys clarify the comment about corrision of the carpet and wood bunks on aluminum? Is this something I should be concerned about with my Hewes?
    Absolutely! Theres a glue in carpet that breaks down and is extremely corrosive. I've seen horror stories of rotten bottom where the bunk rests. I'm thinking its only when you pull them out of the salt tho

  12. #12
    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    I wish I would have read all the post before I made my last post. Thinking about it, it could well have been treated wood causing the problems and not the carpet

  13. #13
    Member captaindd's Avatar
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    With rollers you have to change the bolts out that support the rollers they will break. All of the trailers need regular maintenance or they will fall apart. I like bunks better. Would like to have a 40ft 20000 lb fith wheel try trailer.

  14. #14
    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info. My last boat was a Hewes Ocean Pro on a roller trailer. It was slick for loading and unloading and I couldn't see any signs of wear on the boat. It was only a 4 year old boat but looked good. I now have a 26ft Pacific Cruiser and just took a look at it. It is on 2 bunks, 4x6 wood with the rubber tops, I think slick bunks is what their called. It was dark, covered with a tarp and under 2ft of snow so I couldn't tell if they were treated. Ahh the pleasures of winter in AK. This is a King 9K pound trailer. Similar to HuntKodiak one of the bunks isn't sitting quite right and is leaving a mark on the underside of the boat. I'm assuming this is a problem? Is there a way I can take care of this myself? I know I could fix it if I had the boat off the trailer but I need to be able to take it on and off until I get it all lined up. While the dock would be convenient I'm assuming my fellow boaters wouldn't appreciate that I was working and not playing . Do I just try and jack the boat up so I can manipulate the bunk or do I need to remove the boat from the trailer? Also, its pretty tough to winch this boat up the trailer when loading but unloading is a sinch. Any suggestions other than back further in? I try not to get my truck in the salt to keep the rust off my tow rig and I'm' backed about as far in as I can get without dunking my truck. Thanks for all the help. This is the best thread we've had on here in a long time.

  15. #15

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    I have had both and for ease of use I prefer the roller trailer, however I've never had a 27' boat.

    I do a lot of trailering and have not seen damage from either set up. My bunk trailers required more maintenance on the bunks then the roller required on the rollers.

    To me the key would be follow the boat builders guideline's and the trailer manufacturer's guidelines and if the two agree put your preference under the boat. Error on the too much side when choosing the trailer, the up front cost is cheaper then repairs.

    JOAT - did you ever check the boat and trailer mfg's requirements on one of the damaged units to see if your customer had followed all recommendations? Just curious.

    If you do go with the rollers KEEP THE WINCH HOOKED UP WHEN NOT IN THE WATER, by the way, those safety chains work.

  16. #16
    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    Absolutely! Theres a glue in carpet that breaks down and is extremely corrosive. I've seen horror stories of rotten bottom where the bunk rests. I'm thinking its only when you pull them out of the salt tho
    Jeff this thought just came into my head? back when i had my lobsterboat the aluminum fuel tanks were installed with firehose for a chaffing strip down the sides to hold the tanks tightly between the stringers, well after about a year my tanks started to leak fuel and when i pulled them out to see what was up i found that the firehose had been tacked into place with galvanized roofing nails and everywhere one of those nailheads touched the tank it has corroded/electrolsis'ed (is that a word?) a pinhole in the tanks. Maybe your carpet is tacked on to the wooden bunks with steel/galvanized staples?? and that may cause you to see some corrosion on the hull of the boat that touches the carpet/staples??? Just a thought??

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    Member pacific23's Avatar
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    Potbuilder, that's a bummer on the nails and your old fuel tanks . Yes , any two dissimilar metals together with a little moisture will make a battery.
    Rubber is also a BAD idea to use on Alloy.

  18. #18
    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    Jeff this thought just came into my head? back when i had my lobsterboat the aluminum fuel tanks were installed with firehose for a chaffing strip down the sides to hold the tanks tightly between the stringers, well after about a year my tanks started to leak fuel and when i pulled them out to see what was up i found that the firehose had been tacked into place with galvanized roofing nails and everywhere one of those nailheads touched the tank it has corroded/electrolsis'ed (is that a word?) a pinhole in the tanks. Maybe your carpet is tacked on to the wooden bunks with steel/galvanized staples?? and that may cause you to see some corrosion on the hull of the boat that touches the carpet/staples??? Just a thought??
    It absolutely could well have been the way the carpet was attached. A guy had one of those "Shultz" trailers w/ the steel pipes for bunks and he had carpet ziptied around the bunks. He would religiously pull his boat when he got to town and usually only fished inside kok which is primarily fresh water, his Webber boat rotted where it sat on the carpet, so I dunno maybe the carpet wasn't an adequate insulator for the metal. Oh I know what happened, it conducted cause it was wet! Ah ha! and here I've been bad mouthing the carpet people!

  19. #19
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Lotta good ideas and discussions here on the topic, just wanted to add one not brought up yet: I've had both trailer types, and the roller trailer required MUCH more precision when loading the boat, even an inch or two to one side could put a roller in a bad place. But that aluminum boat with rollers had ridges on the bottom to contend with. My new boat with a bunk trailer has a smooth bottom, it's OK if I'm off a bit loading on a windy day...and my general impression is that the bunk trailer is just easier to load. I do agree that the roller trailer gets the boat off easier on a shallow ramp or low tide. &(^*%$% now I gotta sit here in Idaho and wonder if my bunks are carpeted (I think they are slick plastic...) and if I'll have holes when I show up in May! 3 years so far and I don't notice any effect on the alloy bottom.

  20. #20

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    I was just reading in "Small Boats", a yearly "Wooden Boats" publication about a guy who, unknowingly, had a roller punch a hole in his hull when he hit a bad bump. Unfortunately, the boat rolled off the trailer without incident, promptly filled up and sank...glub..glub..glub. Would not have happened with bunks. I was able to convert my roller outfit to bunks so they are centered directly under the port and starboard stringers. Every single roller/assembly in the bunch had $erious problems. Cost for sealed and painted bunks was well under $50. Would have been more but the excellent material (I'm not sure exactly what it is) I used for the glide ons was a freebie.

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