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I brought a use boat and its trailer about 3 years ago. The boat is a 1976 24' Fiberform Bermuda with a Ford 351 (or Mercruiser 233), the trailer is a 1975 FLOAT-ON trailer with bunks and 20.5 x 8 x 10 5 lug tires. My question is what determines the correct length of a trailer, and is it ok of about two feet of the boat to stick off the end of the trailer? If not (short of buying a new trailer), what can be done to fix this problem? The boat and trailer have not been on the road since I brought then because the trailer and boat needed a lot of T.L.C. Will I be able to tow my boat to my favorite ramp in Wildwood NJ? Can I get bigger tires? Please help. Boat will be towed by an 81 GMC Suburban with a 454 engine. A.Thompson, West Chester, PA
Answered on: 6/2005
MIKE: Boat trailers are measured by two parameters, length and weight of the boat. Weight is obvious, your trailer should be rated to carry the weight of your boat with full gas tanks, coolers and ice, and any other gear that you normally carry aboard. You should also give yourself an extra margin of 10-20% for added safety. The length of the trailer should allow the vessel to be supported sufficiently and equally at reinforced areas of the hull ie. Keel, strakes, transom and bulkheads. You do not want excessive pressure at any one point. If you boat is hanging two feet off the end of the trailer then you are putting excessive pressure on other areas, especially considering the weight of the motor and outdrive. I like to see the bunks exceed the transom by a few inches. The bunks should be properly supported by the trailer frame as well. My suggestion would be to take the boat and trailer to a local dealer/repair facility for their expert opinion. If you have room at the tongue perhaps the boat can be moved forward. If this is done the axle may have to be repositioned so that you have proper balance to the load. Regarding the tires, if they are properly rated for the weight of the load I would not suggest changing them. It is better to keep the load as low as possible to keep the center of gravity close to the road. GEORGE: The real question you need to have answered is this: what's the tongue weight? You want it between 5-10% of the total weight of the boat and trailer. If it's less than that, your trailer is going to swerve back and forth while underway on the road. If you want larger tires, it's doable. Get 14' 5 lug but, keep in mind this is going to change how high the boat sits on the trailer and that can mean you have to go farther into the water when you want to launch or retrieve it.
The Trailer Boat Expert: Mike and George