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  #1  
Old 02-09-2008
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Slippery Boat Ramps and BIG Diesels (semi tractors)

I'm using a Volvo WIA to tow my boats (about 25,000 lbs combined boat, loaded with provisions and including trailer weight). It has the 60 series detroit diesel and an eaton fuller super 10 transmission (425 HP / 1650 ft. lbs torque).

I've already noticed a HUGE improvement over the Dodge cummins 3500 with fuel mileage, going from 8-9 mpg on highway at 60 mph to a solid 14-16 with the tractor at 65-75 mph (onboard computer averaged 68mph @ 14mpg for 300 miles). Obviously, speed and handling are much better too.

The problem I run into is when retreiving the boat, the slippery ramps can cause problems with just a rwd - even with the diff locked. I generally pull out without a problem in the 3500 in 4WD low range because of the balance, but on the tractor it slips somewhat before grabbing and yanking the boat out. I'm afraid one day I'll get this 25,000lb combo hung on a ramp that is slimy and I can't recover the boat.

Is there a way that I can improve the weight over the rear axle to increase traction? I was thinking about adding in a weight system like forklifts use, where you can add or remove solid weights on the frame in front of the hitch... I think if I even add a ton to the rear axle it would make traction far better.

I've already tried shifting the 5th wheel position and moving trailer axles to increase tounge weight.

I'd hate to have to go back to using the Dodge to tow around the boats with it's low speed on the highway and hills, not to mention the fuel costs or lack of a good compression brake. Having the sleeper is sweet too, because I can trailer sail all around the USA without buying hotel rooms or sleeping in the boat in a parking lot. Having 200 gallons of diesel on board is great for long hauls without constant stops to refuel as well. SOO, I was hoping somebody would have some ideas.

Should I consider chains on the ramp? (as dumb as that sounds, I know...) What about a certain tread type for commercial trucks that is more suited for traction than a standard OTR tire?
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Old 02-09-2008
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Is there a way to keep the truck off the ramp and to winch the boat up, and then to secure it to the stationary truck?

Man, you could probably haul my boat with that rig...
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Old 02-09-2008
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Unfortunately, the 32 footer has a little caster wheel but it isn't for towing the trailer up a ramp (I don't know why it is even there to be honest) and the 28' has just a landing leg.

Both boats' manual say in one way or another that the trailers will tip over (and damage the rudder) when combined with the boat ramp angle if they are detached from the tow vehicle or placed on an extension that is not solid.

I thought about that one too, and good thing we didn't attempt it!

As far as the solid pole extension we tried, it is just too much length to back, and it is quite squirrely to steer. I like the idea about keeping the rear tires dry, it makes total sense.



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Last edited by Lancer28; 02-09-2008 at 01:48 AM.
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Old 02-09-2008
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Here are a couple of the ramps I've towed out of.... second photo is (no shitting) about 1/2 mile long made of very fine (baby powder like) sand. First is an EASY 1/2 mile at about 20 percent grade:



And another nightmare ramp... THE LITTLE SPECK IN THE BACKGROUND IS MY 28' LANCER!!!!! This was taken about 3/4 the way down one of the ramps--->

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Old 02-09-2008
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Two suggestions:

1. Get an actually Hennesy or Reese style hitch with stabilizer bars- they aide in stability and control of what is being towed.. from what I saw in the pics I see nothing that says 5th wheel...I use it with my RV and tow a 10000 lb RV with my Ford F350 - and get 21 MPG on the highway and hit 90 mph without even thinking of it when I want to...... it makes all the difference in the world because you actually can change the tongue weight and the forces between the truck and the tow object which means greater traction control all around...

2. If money is not an object - what professional boat movers use is a hydraulic hitch tongue that allows one to change both vertical and horizontal distances of object being towed...Talk to tow / repo truck drivers they will be more than happy to tell you what all they have and can fitted to just about any type of truck ..They make a huge difference as well - well at least on the Repo side which I used to do once upon a time... However - it is tremendously more weight and for like a F350 where I would get 21 MPG expect 15 ...

Hope that helps....
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Old 02-09-2008
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Lancer, If adding weight to the rear of the truck or to the tung of the trailer would help and If there is room you could try adding a water tank . Back down the ramp then fill the tank using a 12v. pump, once on level ground pull the drain? This could be as simple as using old plastic 55 gal. drums?
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Old 02-09-2008
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The 10,000 pound weight distribution kit that Jody references is a great idead for the right applications,but unfortunately they are designed to mount on trailers with an A-frame style tonuge as opposed to the longer extension tonuges you will find on most boat trailers,and of course not applicable on a fifth-wheel.
Your rig must be twin screw?or just dual rears? either way if you were in a slippery situation decreasing your tire pressures will add to your traction and in most cases get ya outta a pinch....but of course the you have the problem of....I know anyway just thiking out load I will think about this
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Old 02-09-2008
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Pickup trucks have the same problem. I remember reading that one guy put a hitch on the front for retrieval. Kept the traction tires out of the muck.
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I used to tow a 10,000 lb boat/trailer with a 1 ton van. Never had a problem, even on steep ramps. How much tongue weight do you have on the trailer? Can you move the boat forward to increase that?

I'd be very careful with sway bars & weight distro hitches. I rigged a weight distro setup from Reese. Followed the directions carefully. I was going down a hill and a guy stopped out in front of me at the bottom, turning left. I could not stop at all! Luckily, he saw/heard me coming and stayed put while I passed him! (2 lane road) No oncoming traffic, thank God. I'm lucky to be alive! NEVER use a weight distro hitch on surge brakes.
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Old 02-09-2008
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If you have your fifth wheel all the way at the back and the trailer axles slid as far back as possible you have as much weight as you are going to get on the drive axle. I would be careful about adding permanent weights to rear, especially aft of the drive axle, it will take weight off your steer tires, might affect steering at high speed unless you could then shift the fifth wheel far enough forward to compensate. Single axles suck as far as traction goes, tandems you can lock up but then you suffer a lot as far as ride goes on the highway. Chains aren't all that ridiculous, especially in sand or slimy concrete. I've got to ask, isn't that rig kind of overkill for a relatively small boat? I understand the mileage advantage, but the Series 60@ 425hp and 10 speed Eaton are designed to pull 80,000 lbs+. Post a pic if you have one of the whole rig.

I just thought of something, they make automatic chains, can't remember the name but I'm sure a search will find them, lot's of the buses around here have them. That would be ideal for what you are talking about, always available when or if you needed them without the hassle of regular chains.

John
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