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Old 05-31-2013
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Trailer extension or winch?

I have been researching trailer extensions and trying to figure out how they are deployed and used. It looks like you would have to deploy the thing on flat ground then back it to then down the ramp. With most of the extensions I have looked at it seems they would be difficult to impossible to back depending on the design. One was simply a long square tube with a hitch on one end and a ball on the other. That one seems like it amounts to nothing more than just a very heavy stiff rope, impossible to back. I don't see how that version would be useful at all.

I thought of a system that seems to me like would be easier to use than an extension. Keeping in mind that I have never used a trailer extension.

What if a winch was mounted on the bumper above the trailer hitch. You back the boat down the ramp normally and stop before the rear wheels reach the water if you have a 2 wheel drive like me. Now, attach the winch strap to the trailer and put tension on it so the trailer doesn't roll away when you uncouple it. Uncouple the trailer and winch it down the rest of the way into the water. You could let it go back as far as your wench strap will go (20-30 ft). Take your boat off the trailer and winch the trailer back up, couple it and drive away.

This seems easier in theory than an extension.

Someone shoot holes in this before I buy a winch and build a bumper mount for it.

Last edited by MrGaston; 05-31-2013 at 11:26 PM. Reason: Can't spell winch
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Old 05-31-2013
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re: Trailer extension or winch?

People who launch at the same place each time may be able to make good advantage of an extension. They know exactly how much more distance they need to keep their wheels clear of the water, and it's probably a lot cheaper to buy an extension than a winch. (Plus the mounting, wiring and weight of the winch, which will add to the cost of fuel as you carry it around all the time.) They set up the extension when they have a straight shot to the ramp, so they don't need to make any turns. It works the same way for retrieval. If you mount a manual winch, you could put it on the trailer with a couple of U-bolts and not have to go wild with engineering a mount on the truck's bumper. There are lots of options. The best ones, though, are probably the simplest.
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Old 06-01-2013
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re: Trailer extension or winch?

The problem with mounting the winch on the trailer, it would be under water long before the boat floats. Or, if you mounted it high on the trailer then you would be pulling down on the tongue making it harder for the little jack wheel to roll. I considered using the boat winch and routing the strap down under the tongue using a roller to make the turn. That could be a good option depending on the design of the trailer.
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Old 06-01-2013
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Old 06-01-2013
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re: Trailer extension or winch?

Yeah, I caught that but the title can not be edited.
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Old 06-01-2013
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re: Trailer extension or winch?

I wouldn't trade my tongue extension for anything. The boat is way easier to maneuver with the longer wheel base. Everything happens more slowly, which I guess could be a problem in tight situations but makes it easy to be precise (the worst trailering experience I ever had was trying to do a K-turn while towing a log splitter, which wants to be 90 degrees to the truck with the slightest movement in reverse).

There's also no screwing around when actually on the ramp. If you have the boat so far out of the water that you can get to the wheel jack without being knee deep in water, you're going to have a long way to winch, and that's a slow process, especially when you have some antsy powerboater behind you in line waiting to launch. I launch and retrieve at truck speed, not winch speed. Not that speed is the primary goal, but it's just a lot less to mess with.

I think you're overthinking it. Have you ever seen one in action? They're quite simple and effective.
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Old 06-01-2013
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Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Another helpful thing to do would be to mount a ball on the front bumper for launching. With the extension deployed you'll have a better view of things.

btw.. I fixed your title.. it was either that or choose the wench....

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Old 06-01-2013
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Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Your question implies a problem that only sort of exists..
The question relates to how to get the trailer into a static state so you can unhitch, extend the tongue, rehitch, and back down.

2 problems exist when doing this...
1. When you unhitch, the trailer will want to roll down into the water uncontrollably.
2. When you unhitch the trailer might have negative tongue weight, and tilt(maybe)

Lots of trailer sailors have experienced this dilemma before you. 2. is pretty easy... you make sure the boat/trailer has POSITIVE TONGUE WEIGHT... you should do this before you leave your house (it's safer)... A trailer designed for the boat will do this when the boat is resting where it's supposed to anyway. But if you STILL by accident have negative tongue weight.... you can put a tilt-away jack on the back of the trailer, drop it before you unhitch.

For 1, you JUST need to keep the trailer from rolling away. SAFETY first! What I do is use a strap (tow strap, rated to 6 tons or more), I wrap it around the frame of the trailer, and back to the truck... THEN, I wheel chock the trailer. Unhitching is academic then. You can then see if the chocks will hold the trailer... if they do, remove the strap, relocate the truck, extend tongue rehitch.

The problems with our ramps are, the angles aren't consistent (5, 10, 15 degrees, so an extendable tongue would catch for me)... so I strap launch.


I self-launched my 25 footer (with 2 or 3 spotters for me)... so this works.

Good luck and go safe!
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Old 06-05-2013
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Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Actually the same thought occurred to me although my idea was to mount a winch onto a receiver tube so I didn't have to have it permanently mounted to the truck. I have been toying with the strap idea and think I will go that way this weekend when I have to launch in saltwater. At my local lake the ramp is steep enough I can float and retrieve with my exhaust half covered!
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Old 06-05-2013
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Re: Trailer extension or winch?

1. The ball on your hitch holds the trailer in place in several directions, most importantly UP and DOWN. The winch DOES NOT. Which means that depending on how your trailer is balanced, the tongue will go up or down, potentially making a boat launch next to impossible.
2. Uncoupling the loaded trailer can be a real bear, even if the winch takes some tension off the ball. Depending on the weight of your boat and it's balance.

I would get a good trailer extension or find a different ramp to launch your boat. I have a 20 foot Mirage on a trailer and would not dream of using a winch in this kind of application. My trailer is short but I have a 4x4 truck. On some ramps I have to submerge my tail pipe to launch my boat. It can be challenging, that's for sure.
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