Fishtailing IS NOT caused by your tires. The radials have a stronger
sidewall than a bias ply tire and are better suited for this application. As
we all know, fishtailing is caused by insufficient tongue weight OR an axle
that is improperly aligned.
02 May 2002
When I first trailered my boat home from Racine, WI I was using a rented Taho. It
has a pretty short wheel base and I had some fishtailing that scared the hell outta
me. I improved the situation by removing my Merc 9 from the back and putting it into the
I'm going to be buying a different vehicle soon and I'm wondering about
choosing something with a long wheel base. Maybe it doesn't matter since
all the semi's have tractors with short wheel base. Needless to say,
I'm a bit confused (after all, I AM a musician). I need more info on hitches,
torsion bars, tranny ratings, etc. I haven't weighed my tongue but I
suspect it's too light. Rik suggested 250 lbs. What would be the
disadvantage, if any, of loading it up even higher?
02 May 2002
First of all, don't try to compare your truck and boat trailer to the
tractor trailer rigs you see out on the road. The placement of the axles
and the way the weight is distributed really puts these rigs in a
completely different ballpark from your outfit.
Actually, I thought our Tahoe did a pretty fair job of towing our boat. We
brought our boat home from Edenton with it. When we loaded up at the GB
shop, I lifted the tongue and guessed the weight at about 100 lbs or so. A
little lighter than I would have liked. But we figured we'd give it a try,
so we worked our way up to speed gradually. Bottom line is, that truck, at
that light tongue weight, liked 60 mph just fine. 65 was OK if you really
paid attention and held her real steady. Tried 70 a couple times and it
made me pretty nervous. I never got to try it with that vehicle and a more
realistic tongue weight, as we traded the Tahoe shortly after that trip. I
think it would have been fine though.
Lately, we have been towing with our S-10 extended cab 4x4, V-6, 5 spd and
find that it does a pretty good job. Towed all the way to KY Lake last fall
with this truck and had no trouble. Would have liked a smidge more tongue
weight, but overall, I couldn't complain.
There are several members of the list that I know of that tow with Chevy
Blazers, Jeep Cherokees, Chevy Tahoes and Chevy Astro Vans. None of these
have a particularly long wheel base and all of these owners are fairly
happy with their towing performance. But, by all means, a longer wheel base
is nicer if you have access to one. I don't know that I would just go out
and buy a truck just special for towing the boat though if you already have
something like I mentioned above. If you have to buy something to tow with
anyway, then yeah, maybe look for a full size half ton pickup or something
like that. If you do go shopping, try to find something that has a frame
mounted 2" receiver hitch, rated at 5000 lbs or better, a lot of trucks
seem to come from the factory with these, anymore. Also, if it's an
automatic, a transmission cooler is a good thing.
4x4's are nice at the ramps, not so much for the 4 w/d, but because of the
2 speed transfer case. Those low gears are really nice for pulling up the
It would be possible to fabricate a torsion bar set up for this trailer.
but really, with 250 to 300 hundred pounds of tongue weight with most
vehicles, or even 400 lbs on a half ton pickup, it really shouldn't be
necessary . They really do help the stability of almost any trailer though,
if you would decide to go that far.
You could load your tongue heavier than 250 lbs, I suppose, if you want to.
Kinda depends on if your vehicle can handle that much weight hanging behind
it's back bumper or not. Remember whenever you add weight to the tongue,
you will be taking weight off of the front wheels of the tow vehicle. This
will take away from the stability also. You need to try to find the best
compromise for your particular vehicle.
Basically, the bottom line of what I am saying here is this: If everything
is loaded properly, you don't need a monster tow vehicle to pull this
boat As towed loads go, they don't pull that hard. Even behind a one ton
dually, if you don't have enough tongue weight, that trailer can get to
whipping on you. The size of the tow vehicle isn't everything.
02 May 2002
I understand the tranny cooling system but isn't there a rating system of
tranny towing systems that indicate its capacity? Also, there's a rating
system of hitches for vehicles--like "class A", for example, for heavy duty?
One more thing: I'd feel a lot more secure if I had tandem axles on the
trailer. Mine is a single and If I had a blow-out, I'd be f--ked big time.
Maybe I'm being overly cautious but better safe than sorry. Your thoughts?
03 May 2002
Hey, nothing wrong with full size vans. If that is what you can make the
best use of during the time when you are not towing the boat, then that is
what you should get. My dad has a old Chevy van that he bought when he used
to pull a 26 foot travel trailer, it did an excellent job for him, he was
I don't think the car companies really offer a special heavy duty
transmission for towing. If you want to tow, they just put on a "towing
package" which probably just amounts to a transmission cooler and maybe a
little stiffer suspension and probably a tire upgrade. Not an expert on new
car/truck specs, haven't speced out any new ones lately. I generally like
to buy 2 year old low mileage stuff, so I have to take or leave 'em the way
the are, or add stuff on myself. You should be able to look up the
factories towing capacity in the owners manual or you could probably check
with a dealer and they should be able to tell you.
There is generally a tag on hitches that will tell you what that particular
hitch is rated for. You can't necessarily just go by the class type, there
are usually different weight ratings within each class. Here's a web page
with a short explanation of the types, you will be looking for class III or
You will want to be in the 5000 lbs or heavier range.
Yup, tandem axles are nice. They're more stable and obviously they can have
a higher capacity. Don't know what your financial status is but from what I
have seen, good tandem axle trailers seem to run in the 3 to 4 thousand
dollar range. I too would like to have a tandem. But, my boat came on a
single and I didn't really want to throw another 3500 bucks at it. I had
some bearing trouble right away and screwed up one spindle. I used that for
an excuse to upgrade the axle to a Dexter 6000# axle with electric brakes,
EZ Lube spindles and 6 bolt hubs. Also changed to HD 16 inch wheels and
heavier tires cost about 800 bucks and some of my labor. The stiffer wheels
and tires seem to help "steady up" the load quite a bit. I was even able to
use the same fenders, just had to move them a little bit.
I don't know if a tandem trailer is that much of an advantage when it comes
to the flat tire thing. We have been towing tandem or tri axle racing
haulers for about fifteen years and I have found that sometimes, with a
tandem, you don't always know about a flat tire right away. Then the tire
starts coming apart and tears your fenders and stuff all to hell, 'course
you know then, but it's already too late. :-) Sure, you still have one tire
left to limp into the next town, but unless you have kept the capacity of
your tires up to what they would have been on a single axle anyway, you are
severely overloaded on that side and you'd best not be going far. The best
bet, whether you have a single or a tandem, is to have a proper spare,
tools and a jack with enough capacity to lift this rig. I don't think the
average scissor jack in a car/truck will do it. I carry a little 5 ton
bottle jack for this.
So, if you want a tandem and can afford to go that way, you will surely
find it to be a more stable trailer. But, understand that how you load it
is still very important. (ask Alex) Also, while you will cure a lot of the
problems of a single axle, you will inherit a different set of things to
watch out for.
03 May 2002
Where would you mount a tank and how much water or liquid would you use?
A gallon of liquid weighs approximately 8 pounds, so any significant gain
would take a lot of water/volume. Also, think about a very heavy water
projectile should it come loose while trailering or in a panic stop situation.
I think you are further ahead by doing what we already know to put weight
on the tongue.
12 Dec 2002
It doesn't seem to me that adding weight to the front of the
trailer, just to try to achieve proper balance, is the best alternative.
Eliminate weight from the rear or shift it from the rear to the front if
necessary (motor & rudder being the most obvious). Of course we'd all be
better off if we could just figure out an easy way to get the gosh darn
boat all the way forward on the trailer.
12 Dec 2002
I wrestled with this same problem with my 1995 and Trailmaster trailer. I
had no more adjustment left in the slider part of the bow stop, so I had a
guy cut off the whole bow stop assembly and reweld it a foot further ahead
on the trailer. Now I can adjust the arm of the bow stop and actually moved
the boat forward about 8 inches. I move the rudder to the V-berth and leave
the motor on the stern and it is balanced perfectly and trailers in excess
of 62mph easily. I also have my spare tire on the tongue. Tried leaving
the rudder on the stern, but it was too much weight anf fishtailed.
Just thought I would share how I solved my problem.
s/v Yankee Clipper
13 Dec 2002
Is the tongue weight/boat placement a universal problem with the Triad
trailers? Is this an issue with single axle, double axles or both? I am
modifying a roller trailer to match the exact dimensions of Lloyd Crother's
single axle Triad trailer and I hope to get it right the first time out.
I am assuming that this is a weight to axle problem and not as much a
bunkboard placement issue? Moving the boat (and bunkboards) 8-12" forward in
relationship to the axle would work out much better and save me lots work.
Additionally, the two Triad trailers I measured both had bunk boards
exactly 6" wide. Will I be ok using off the shelf 2 x 8's or should I
try to rip them down to 6"?
Any info will be helpful before I start cutting and drilling.
13 Dec 2002
The issue with loading an R 22 isn't really that it can't be gotten far
enough ahead on the trailer. It can be set plenty far ahead.....that is, if
you could set it wherever you wanted to. Like if you used a travelift to
set your boat on the trailer. I suspect that you could actually get the
boat too far ahead in that case.
The tongue weight (or lack of it) problem comes from when you float the
boat onto the trailer while the trailer sits on the ramp at a fairly large
downward angle. You can run the boat ahead, all the way to the fully
retracted bow stop and winch her tight there. Now remember, your trailer is
angled down while your boat is sitting pretty much water level. Your bow
eye is also lower in relation to the winch than it will be when you have
pulled up the ramp and are on level ground, probably 6 or 8 inches below
the bottom of the winch. As you begin to pull your boat and trailer from
the water, the first part of the trailer to lift the hull will be the very
front of the trailer bunks. None of the rest of the bunks are even close to
the hull. The further you pull the boat ahead the further the boat will
rock back. When the boat finally settles onto the back of the bunks she
will have rocked back away from the bow stop a foot or better and the bow
eye will be about level with the top of the winch. This is where the tongue
weight problems come from. Somehow you need to be able to keep the boat up
closer to the bow stop. It is very difficult to get an R 22 to slide ahead
on the bunks once you have pulled her out of the water, she's just too heavy.
I have done a couple of things that have helped this situation a little
bit. I have an adjustable height hitch head that I lower to the lowest
setting when I launch/retrieve. This is about 8 inches lower than my normal
towing height. I also changed the axle, springs and replaced the 15 inch
tires and wheels with 16 inch tires and wheels, making the back of the
trailer a few inches higher. Both of these things help to lessen the
difference in the angle between the boat and the trailer while on the ramp.
I believe that this has allowed me to keep the boat (doesn't have as far to
rock back) about 6 inches further ahead than I could before I did these
things. Oh, and a 2000 lb, two speed winch doesn't hurt either. I can now
raise the bow a couple more inches, once it comes up against the bow stop.
This might not make a lot of sense to you yet, but when you load your boat
on a ramp the first time you'll see what I mean.
Not sure but I think there might be something in the FAQ about this too.
13 Dec 2002