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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sailboat Trailer Building - A Risky Business - Measurements & Green Boat Update

Lowering a 4,000 lb Sailboat is a Delicate Process

Lowering the Green Boat on Jack Stands
Five jack stands per side were employed to distribute the weight. A five man crew each slowly adjusted their stand one turn each to lower the boat on command and in unison.  The set screws on the bunk supports had been loosened to allow them to self-adjust as the boat was lowered. The idea seemed reasonable at the time since the boat sets on its keel and the bunks just hold the boat uprignt.  The keel was a scant 3 inches above its final resting place.    


The Bunk Support Tubes Jammed

Bunk Support Tube Held by Set Screw at Bottom
The only recourse was to raise the boat and persuade the tubes to release.  This was accomplished with the aggressive use of 5 lb hammers and 2 x 6 wooden boards used as levers against the hull and bunk.  At one point the trailer and boat were jumping around so much that, as an observer, the only sane course of action was retreat.   

Unlike the Compac 23, The Green boat has a cut away keel.  As the boat was lowered to the trailer the bow tended to drop forward since there was no support to catch it.   In order to make final adjustments on the bunks a crate, 2 x 6 board and a bottle jack were used as a temporary support .  One minor adjustment was all it took. A warning shout followed by a thunderous crash and the breaking of timbers were next.


The Green Boat Fell - Again

The boat came to rest at a 20+ degree heel to starboard. At least this time leaning away from HideAway.  There were no injuries but the 2 x 8 keel support was shattered and the keel came to rest, padded by remnants of the board against a metal cross support on the trailer. Damage to the keel and centerboard are unknown.  The trailer was eventually repaired and only black tire marks on the pavement leaving the parking lot were left as evidence of the day's drama.

So, Still Wanna Build a Sailboat Trailer?

I thought so...  

Here's The First Problem with Measurements
Every trailer is different. Every boat is different.  If the measurements are off even a bit your pride and joy could end up like the Green Boat. 

 In the photo on your left not only is the top of the bunk board tipped inward, it also does not touch the hull.   

How can this be?  Well it's one of the forward supports.  The middle support is lower by a couple of inches and lacks the wood pad but what is the actual measurement of either?  Take your pick!

At about where the tape measure is located is the amount of this board I want to see when loading the boat.  At our ramp the boat rests on the forward end of the board until it glides on the trailer.  

Is this correct?  I don't know but it works for us

Looking at the end of the bunk the boat seems too high. Or is the bunk too long?  I don't know but it seems to work for our boat on this trailer only.

The most important thing to note on both photos is how the metal support is attached to a wood pad then bolted to the bunk.  The Green Boat lacked this feature and now has a holy hull.  

The Best Feature of the Trailer

Front end of keel guide - Note the rust 
Notice how high the keel guides are over the 2 x 12. 

The keel does not have to be on the trailer very far before it catches the guards and centers the boat. 

The keel is about eight feet long but the support should be longer. 

Luck alone saved the day for HideAway since we have never been able to get the keel to the end of the bunk.

Stern end of keel guides Com-Pac 23


The trick is knowing how deep the trailer should go to catch the keel.  Too deep and the keel won't catch.  To shallow and you'll wish you had more gears on the trailer winch.


Other Concerns


 Old Trailers Rust Quick!


If you trailer your boat down the road further than HideAways off road journey of a few hundred feet you will probably want one of these. 
HideAways Bow Support Pad
The bow support pad reduces the rocking horse effect of bumpy roads.  If the Green Boat was so equipped it would not have fallen the second time. I keep the pad as low as possible for launching as it's no fun pushing the bow off of it nor cranking the boat over it.  

While the Com-Pac 23 is considered a shallow draft boat our boat and trailer combination requires at least three feet of water to launch.  I always use a tongue extender.  Always, even though it makes our total length of the rig at 40 feet. 

Would I do it Again?

I knew nothing of trailer building when I started this project and can   truly state that I now have enough experience and knowledge to leave it to the professionals should I need another trailer.  A new trailer adds good value to a 23 Com-pac because very few 23s have a trailer in the first place.

I don't believe it is cost effective in the long run to rebuild a trailer (see the rust photos above) and as the Green Boat experience shows us, trailer building is a risky business for the boat and your continued existence. 
       

(Any information used from Sailing HideAway is at your own risk)