Ramp It UP!

Published: Fall 2013

You'll spend hours of your trailerable life sliding up and down a ramp, so make sure you've got the inside track with these tips.

Galvanized, Aluminum, Or Stainless Trailer?

Galvanized is the most cost effective, aluminum is lighter but more expensive, and stainless steel looks like a million bucks and costs proportionately. Weight savings and looks can't trump the inherent value and usability of simple galvanized. They're everywhere, so buying used is easier.


Line Her Up!

To help line up your receiver hitch and coupling, place a piece of brightly colored tape on your rear window above the hitch. Put another piece on the trailer winch above the coupling. When the pieces of tape line up, you're aligned.


Strap Flap

When using a transom strap, put a few twists in it. This won't weaken the strap, but it will prevent it from flapping back and forth in the wind, which can wear on the boat's fiberglass.End of story marker


Stop Spinning Your Wheels

  • If you've got a 4WD vehicle, now's the time to put it in 4WD Low.
  • On a slippery/wet ramp, accelerate slowly so as not to break the traction of the drive wheels in the first place.
  • On a dry ramp, if your wheels spin at slow speed, you can increase rpm (burn-out) once, very briefly to heat the tires and get them sticky, for added traction.
  • Put additional weight over the drive wheels that are spinning. Loading the back seat of an SUV or the bed of a pickup can help.
  • Unless you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, increase tongue weight (hence more bumper weight/weight over wheels) by winching the boat all the way up if possible.
  • If a front-wheel-drive vehicle spins, try decreasing the tongue weight; too much tongue weight makes the front of the tow vehicle lighter so that it loses traction.
  • Scrape the ramp in front of the rear-drive wheels. Add sand if it's handy, perhaps from a nearby beach.
  • If none of the above works, deflate the traction tires to create more surface area for the tires to grip the ramp. Re-inflate to proper pressure before traveling.
  • Have a fellow boater with tow vehicle attach a strap (rated for vehicle recovery) to pull both.
  • Remove the boat from the trailer and drive up the ramp without the boat on the trailer. Reposition the trailer and tow vehicle on the ramp, or choose a different "lane" if that's an option. Sometimes ramps at the end of the concrete pad are washed out from people power loading, and there's quite a drop-off where the concrete ends. The trailer wheels can get hung-up here, so repositioning without the boat on the trailer may help.


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