Roller vs. Bunk trailers



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  • Roller vs. Bunk trailers

    Good morning.

    Is there any advantage of one type of trailer vs another when using in Alaskan coastal water? I realize the weight of boat is more evenly distributed on a bunk trailer. But I was wondering whether launching and retrieving, trailering, etc is easier on one vs. the other.

    Thanks for your time in advance.



  • #2
    what I know...?

    Advantages and/or disadvantages.... I'm curious to hear info from folks that have more experience than I...

    I have limited experience with both.

    As for the rollers: The first boat I ever owned had rollers. It was a light fiberglass lake boat. What I can say is that launching and loading was EASY... I only need the back of the trailer to be close to the water and I could do either. If I could get the winch hooked up loading was done! I had some troubles loading at first but it's becuase I made the mistake of backing the trailer in too far. It really does not have to be in the water very deep.

    As for bunks: My 20' Aluminum is on bunks. I have not owned it long enough to really get a feal for it but it seems to be easy enough. I just need to get the hang of it all....

    I've heard rollers have allowed the boat to roll off the trailer onto the ramp in come cases... But really this is more operator error.

    If done correctly I think rollers are better... But what do I know...???


    • #3
      I've always had bunks (24-ft glass boat) and like the support they provide. Launching has never been a problem. Retrieval has been. If the boat is heavy, it can be a chore to winch the boat up onto the bunks. Silicon spray on the bunks can help, though. You could just back further into the water, but then there's less of a chance that the boat will center itself and you may not find this out until you've pulled it out of the water.

      I've launched and retrieved a buddy's boat (22-ft C-Dory) once or twice. He has rollers. I didn't much care for the launching part. Instead of just unhooking the winch line from the bow eye at the water's edge and then backing into the water, you had to let out the line until the boat was floating and then reel back in the line. Not a big deal, really. I can see where having rollers would be good if you're launching in an area where it doesn't drop off quickly (i.e. where it doesn't have a steep ramp).

      When retrieving, it was so much easier than with bunks. You dont' have to back way in, the boat winched up easily, and was centered.

      I like my bunks. I like the support they give, plus I know that if for some reason I'm going down the road and the winch line gives our or comes undone from the bow eye, my boat's not going to roll off the trailer. Plus, trailers with rollers are less expensive than bunks. And I think that rollers need maintenance.


      • #4
        We have rollers on our trailer for our 21' Wooldridge Classic. If you don't hit the trailer just right, the V can ride between the rollers preventing you to load straight. This can be frustrating when loading out of a strong current. A buddy who is also a Wooldridge Classic owner with the same hull converted his trailer to bunks with side bunks and even when the trailer is hit at a 45 he can give it a little power and the boat will right itself and slide right in.

        Our new SportJon came with a bunked trailer and while it's a different hull as well as a lighter boat, it's 10x easier to load.

        Also, I've noticed that many bumpy trips to Valdez, Manley, and up the haul road to the Yukon Bridge over the past 22 years have resulted in a couple spots the rollers have left slight indentations on the bottom of the Wooldridge....would bunks done the same? Who knows.

        My $.02


        • #5
          Roller trailers make for easier loading, but be double sure the trailer winch is engaged and hooked to your boat before you go down the ramp. We have had several boats fly off their trailers and land on the ramp from this error. Hard on the boat, embarassing, and it blocks the ramp...


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ellamar View Post
            in a couple spots the rollers have left slight indentations on the bottom of the Wooldridge....would bunks done the same? Who knows.

            No... Rollers are not recommended on aluminum boats for this reason.


            • #7
              I had both and prefer bunks. If the bunks are postioned properly they will guide the hull into postion making retrival even easier.
              I never crank my boat on the trailer. I just back the trailer up and float the boat on, secure it to the winch and pull out slowly and the boat will settle into the correct position.


              • #8
                Aluminum boat, bunk trailer, side boards and I never pay out more than a foot of line to launch or retreive my boat, its quick, painless and safer. I would never own another roller boat trailer. I've seen them come off on the dock, sticking up threw fiberglass boats, thats a hard lesson.
                Alaska Wildrose Charters and Cabins


                • #9
                  I have to agree with the last 2 posts. Bunks align the boat alot easier than rollers. Watch boats loading at the docks sometime and you will see how long each takes. I have been to Whittier when the tide was out, the water was just below the end of the ramp. Backed the trailer up to the edge, nosed the bow at the bunks, hit the gas and landed dead straight on the trailer. Mind you that isn't the best way to load a boat but I was in a hurry and didn't want to wait.

                  The most important thing I would suggest on any trailer for ease of loading would be guide-ons/side boards. I see alot of trailers that don't have them and it makes a huge difference especially in current.


                  • #10
                    Definitely go with bunks

                    I watched a big aluminum boat (probably 24-26') roll effortlessly off of a trailer right in front of McDonalds in Wasilla when the guy started from the light. His strap or cable broke and evidently the safety chain was ineffective or not there at all. He parked that thing right in the middle of the Parks Hwy.

                    A nice thing about bunks is that the boat has to really be bounced around to come off if the tie down fails. My family has 5 different boats and all are on bunks.

                    There really isn't any difference when it comes to unloading unless you like to roll your boat into the water instead of floating it off. Loading it on the other hand can be a bit more difficult, but not enough to worry about. When pulling the boat up, quickly check to see if it is centered, if not, simply back it in a bit and give it a shove.

                    The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


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