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Thread: Towing Vehicle

  1. #1
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    Default Towing Vehicle

    Hello,
    I've been using my friends F150 to tow my 16' 1959 Barbour Silver Clipper lapstrake runabout to the boat ramp. Unfortunately he moved, so now I'm considering my options. The ramp is only 3 blocks away from my house, so that's not an issue. The concern is getting the boat and trailer up the ramp at the end of the day.
    Everyone around here has a 16' or longer FG center console with at least one 100+ HP outboard hanging off the transom, and they all tell me that a front wheel drive SUV won't cut it. I'm wondering if this is correct, since my boat probably weighs in at around 600 lbs tops with a 1970 Johnson 60HP that's probably 250 lbs and a single axel trailer that I have no clue as to the weight.
    Anyone have any experience with a front wheel drive vehicle at the boat ramp?
    My current vehicle won't cut it (2010 Chevy HHR), though it does have a hitch, and I have moved the boat around the driveway with it.
    Looking at a 2015 Dodge Journey with a 3.6 and front wheel drive...It'll work for my job / family stuff too...

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    I know this sounds stupid, but...

    Front-wheel drives do not work well on boat ramps because the up-hill attitude of the car and the trailer weight at the rear of the vehicle reduces weight on the drive wheels, making then more likely to lose traction. So, buy & mount a front trailer hitch for your front-wheel drive vehicle and back up the ramp. More weight from attitude on the ramp and weight on the hitch will give extra traction. As long as you don't have to submerge the engine to get enough trailer in the water for the boat to float off, you are golden. If you do have to do that, you can also buy trailer tongue extensions.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by tomtoledo View Post
    Hello,
    I've been using my friends F150 to tow my 16' 1959 Barbour Silver Clipper lapstrake runabout to the boat ramp. Unfortunately he moved, so now I'm considering my options. The ramp is only 3 blocks away from my house, so that's not an issue. The concern is getting the boat and trailer up the ramp at the end of the day.
    Everyone around here has a 16' or longer FG center console with at least one 100+ HP outboard hanging off the transom, and they all tell me that a front wheel drive SUV won't cut it. I'm wondering if this is correct, since my boat probably weighs in at around 600 lbs tops with a 1970 Johnson 60HP that's probably 250 lbs and a single axel trailer that I have no clue as to the weight.
    Anyone have any experience with a front wheel drive vehicle at the boat ramp?
    My current vehicle won't cut it (2010 Chevy HHR), though it does have a hitch, and I have moved the boat around the driveway with it.
    Looking at a 2015 Dodge Journey with a 3.6 and front wheel drive...It'll work for my job / family stuff too...
    So you’re talking about towing @ 1200 pounds 3 blocks? I’m guessing you’re on a lake so no problems with launch/recovery at low tide. Every Bubba with a BroDozer thinks only BroDozers can pull a trailer. That’s BullShyte. Just about anything you can bolt a hitch to would work in your situation.
    Fight Entropy, build a wooden boat!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    ^^^ Fully agree with Reynard38. I like towing my 6000lb GVW (Avatar) with a Dodge Diesel because from Illinois I've got to tow over mountain ranges to reach either E or W coast and I want to do that at highway speed. However, in a lifetime of towing boats I've towed lighter boats with a lot less, including many miles using 1.7L Plymouth Horizon. Some folks insist on 4WD pickups because the rear wheels might be on slippery pavement of some ramps. I prefer 2WD and my low cost solution was to install stout tow hooks on the front of my trucks so that If I'm holding up some hotshot bass fisherman at the ramp he can hook his 4WD to my 2WD so we can get my boat out of his way with 6WD. I've never yet had to resort to that, but I've got a log chain in my truck just in case.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    I know this sounds stupid, but...

    Front-wheel drives do not work well on boat ramps because the up-hill attitude of the car and the trailer weight at the rear of the vehicle reduces weight on the drive wheels, making then more likely to lose traction. So, buy & mount a front trailer hitch for your front-wheel drive vehicle and back up the ramp. More weight from attitude on the ramp and weight on the hitch will give extra traction. As long as you don't have to submerge the engine to get enough trailer in the water for the boat to float off, you are golden. If you do have to do that, you can also buy trailer tongue extensions.
    If you can roll the boat off the trailer for maintenance, you do not need to float off or on.
    There is a cross current at the ramp I use, so floating on would be very hard to manage.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    If you can roll the boat off the trailer for maintenance, you do not need to float off or on.
    There is a cross current at the ramp I use, so floating on would be very hard to manage.
    But you still need to put the trailer in the water a bit*. How much is the point.

    * Well, not really, but dragging the boat down the ramp after you rolled it off the trailer isn't the best thing for the boat...
    Last edited by mmd; 06-18-2021 at 02:50 PM.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    But you still need to put the trailer in the water a bit*. How much is the point.

    * Well, not really, but dragging the boar down the ramp after you rolled it off the trailer isn't the best thing for the boat...
    Trailer wheels immersed, but ball hitch above water, back wheels at waters edge. But that will depend on ramp gradient, less steep than mine, and the back wheels will go further in.
    This may give you some idea of the ramps gradient
    Peerie Maa.jpg

    Last edited by Peerie Maa; 06-18-2021 at 02:46 PM.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    A: Don't get a Journey, they're awful.

    B: You don't need a ton of power, but power to the rear wheels is a plus. Almost any of the current AWD crossovers will be plenty adequate to launch and retrieve your boat.


    Related story: I launched my whitehall (not heavy) at a very sandy ramp (not very steep) with my FWD Chevy Captiva. I was unable to get my car and empty trailer out of the sand. Gratefully, a nearby F-250 had a tow strap and pulled me out before I got swamped; the tide was coming in! I'm awaiting the build and delivery of a new AWD Volkswagen ID.4 EV.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

    15' Welsford Navigator Inconceivable
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    I tow two different boats with my front wheel drive VW Eurovan... a sailboat, w/trailer about 2000 lbs. The other is a plastic runabout, 17', 90hp outboard w/trailer about 2600 lbs. I have no trouble on the ramps. Mind, that I keep the vehicle out of the water and don't venture onto the lowest part of the ramp if it's wet. I have zero trouble.

    The first time I launched the heavier boat, I was a little concerned. So I backed it in, ready to let it go off the trailer. But before launching, I pulled it up the ramp just to see if I could. I reasoned if the vehicle couldn't do it, all I had to do was launch the boat to lighten the load.

    Jeff

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Until recently I had a 20' dayboat (Drascombe Lugger) that weighed around 850 lbs, with a 60 lbs engine on the back, plus fuel tank, kit and a heavy old trailer. It was launched and recovered from boat ramps using my ancient 1.6 litre Hyundai Tucson. Whilst the Hyundai had optional 4WD I never had to engage it on a ramp, the car was quite happy in front wheel drive only each time.

    My trailer was fairly well balanced with not a great deal of nose weight on the tow hitch (maybe 20 lbs or so) which I guess may have helped keep the car's front wheels more firmly on the ground. If I was towing for any distance then I'd take the engine off the back of the boat and stick it in the car to move the boat's COG a bit further forwards on the trailer, but for a couple of blocks at town speeds the trailer's balance was completely irrelevant.

    Thinking about it another way, 1,200 lbs is the equivalent of having four largeish adults sitting in the car with you. 30 or 40 lbs of weight on the hitch is probably like having 4 or 5 heavy suitcases in the trunk. The HHR will cope just fine.
    Last edited by AndanteEd; 06-18-2021 at 03:27 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    I used a minivan to tow a 2,500 pound rig. Never a problem. It's the rear wheels that get onto the slippery stuff at the ramp.
    -Dave

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    I know this sounds stupid, but...

    Front-wheel drives do not work well on boat ramps because the up-hill attitude of the car and the trailer weight at the rear of the vehicle reduces weight on the drive wheels, making then more likely to lose traction. So, buy & mount a front trailer hitch for your front-wheel drive vehicle and back up the ramp. More weight from attitude on the ramp and weight on the hitch will give extra traction. As long as you don't have to submerge the engine to get enough trailer in the water for the boat to float off, you are golden. If you do have to do that, you can also buy trailer tongue extensions.
    Not stupid at all. 1) it solves the traction issue & 2) a hitch on the front is really handy for maneuvering a trailer around the yard. All the boatbuilders I know have a hitch on the front for this reason.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Not stupid at all. 1) it solves the traction issue & 2) a hitch on the front is really handy for maneuvering a trailer around the yard. All the boatbuilders I know have a hitch on the front for this reason.
    I swapped my front wheel drive 2 litre diesel Vw Passat for the AWD version of the same car because I occasionally got wheelspin on boat ramps but I should point out that this only happened when their was either sand or seaweed on top of the concrete ramp. My heavy boat and trailer weighs 820 kg, The AWD Passat tows in beautifully. You don't need a 3 litre+ engine to tow a boat . Oh and I reverse both my boats down a narrow tree lined S shaped drive with no front hitch.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Just want to add that, " boat ramp," is not a common standard. Some are long and shallow; others are short and steep. Still others are short and shallow while some may be long and steep. Your vehicle's performance will vary as a result of the above.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by tomtoledo View Post
    Hello,
    I've been using my friends F150 to tow my 16' 1959 Barbour Silver Clipper lapstrake runabout to the boat ramp. Unfortunately he moved, so now I'm considering my options. The ramp is only 3 blocks away from my house, so that's not an issue. The concern is getting the boat and trailer up the ramp at the end of the day.
    Everyone around here has a 16' or longer FG center console with at least one 100+ HP outboard hanging off the transom, and they all tell me that a front wheel drive SUV won't cut it. I'm wondering if this is correct, since my boat probably weighs in at around 600 lbs tops with a 1970 Johnson 60HP that's probably 250 lbs and a single axel trailer that I have no clue as to the weight.
    Anyone have any experience with a front wheel drive vehicle at the boat ramp?
    My current vehicle won't cut it (2010 Chevy HHR), though it does have a hitch, and I have moved the boat around the driveway with it.
    Looking at a 2015 Dodge Journey with a 3.6 and front wheel drive...It'll work for my job / family stuff too...
    Any modern compact car could do the job. Towing in America is overblown to sell bigger cars. Look up towing in the American Honda Fit manual(you will die) compare with the European manual of the exact same car(Up to 1,000Kg is OK)

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    A friend of mine uses a Honda Element to tow and launch a 21-foot Drascombe Long Boat that is generously loaded with three anchors, two pumps (including a high volume Edson), three sets of oars, fenders, tools, etc., and at least two spare tires for the trailer.

    You'll be fine with the HRR or the Dodge Journey. Give it a try.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by neil.henderson View Post
    I swapped my front wheel drive 2 litre diesel Vw Passat for the AWD version of the same car because I occasionally got wheelspin on boat ramps but I should point out that this only happened when their was either sand or seaweed on top of the concrete ramp. My heavy boat and trailer weighs 820 kg, The AWD Passat tows in beautifully. You don't need a 3 litre+ engine to tow a boat . Oh and I reverse both my boats down a narrow tree lined S shaped drive with no front hitch.
    I've backed trailers conventionally long distances myself. That being said, a hitch on the front is way easier for jockeying - have you tried one?
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by sailnstink View Post
    Any modern compact car could do the job. Towing in America is overblown to sell bigger cars. Look up towing in the American Honda Fit manual(you will die) compare with the European manual of the exact same car(Up to 1,000Kg is OK)

    A very good summary.Is it rooted in a desire to avoid litigation?The other thing that always leaps out at me is that every pic of an American trailer shows a vast amount of trailer between the stem of the boat and the hitch and a trailer that extends very nearly to the transom.

    Same hull and two different philosophies.



  19. #19
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    I don't understand why most manufacturers say their cars can't tow. My old Citroen 2cv which weighs 1100 pounds is rated to tow over 1000. We have found that small Volvos and Subarus are excellent for launching dinghies at our ramp. They can handle the steep ramp and are rated for more than 1500 pounds on the road. My old FWD Taurus could easily handle 1500 pounds but would have trouble with traction on steep ramps if wet.

    I'd second the recommendation to hitch up the HHR, sounds like it will do fine as long as the ramp isn't wet.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by sailnstink View Post
    Any modern compact car could do the job. Towing in America is overblown to sell bigger cars. Look up towing in the American Honda Fit manual(you will die) compare with the European manual of the exact same car(Up to 1,000Kg is OK)
    I wonder if the difference is because in Europe we mostly use manual gearboxes - where in the USa the Autobox is more common.

    I'd never heard the phrase "trans cooler" until I started reading US boards.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    My Renault Kangoo FWD will pull a ton on a 1500cc diesel and works fine on ramps, as long as I am not dumb enough to use a greasy one.

    Current build will have the boat on a dolly, so the trailer will not be immersed or have the car near the slippery stuff. Expected weight, around 600kg/1350 lbs loaded.

    In the OPs case, I would use a hitch extension to stay away from the water. Say 15ft. sliding at a slight angle alongside the main tube, so when extended, the alt hitch is on the centre line.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Tow to the ramp with a standard front wheel drive... At top of ramp turn around so the boat is facing stern to the water as normal. But. Un hitch and turn car around so front of car to bow. Attach a rope around the front of trailer to the towing eye on front of car, possibly with a friction device like an 8 ring. Lower trailer / boat into water and launch boat. Pull up trailer by simply reversing car. Go have fun on the water.

    Lower trailer same way, recover boat. Tow up ramp ... Hitch up and drive away.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    I just think if it's three blocks... Will save you serious bucks on a new vehicle. Really not worth it if you can use some rope and a little faffing.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Thank you everyone, for all of the options.
    I feel a lot better about trying my HHR on the ramp...will get a hitch extension since the car sits pretty low.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    I towed my first sailboat, a Penguin, with a 850cc SAAB 96. The HHR is rated for 1000lb. towing. With care and hitch extension should be OK.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Actually, if the car is on the flat at the top of the ramp, you could just unhitch and let the boat down on a rope wrapped around the ball hitch. Tie a loop in to recover.

    A friend stepped a 1 tonne 55' solid wooden mast into the farthest end of his boat lifting it from the water using an A frame made from other spars, then transferred it to secondary A frames until it could be lowered in. The gunnel was 12 foot up. I think getting a trailered boat up and down a ramp should not be beyond us frankly.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Here in Virginia down in Tidewater region where ramps are gently sloped and the water is shallow with only 3 foot tides, I have seen people launch and retrieve using their lawn tractors. They just pull their mowers around hook up the boat, tow through the neighborhood and drop the boat right in.

    The first time I saw it I thought the guy was nuts! Now that have seen it so many times i don’t bat an eye!


    ######## to be clear! I am not suggesting you try the method above! But, I think you would be fine with your vehicle towing the purposes you described in the OP.
    Last edited by SKIP KILPATRICK; 06-20-2021 at 02:16 PM.
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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Just to add, the rig should be road legal on weight for the towing vehicle, even for the 3 blocks. The slip is just a question of judgment. Doubt that lawn tractors comply...

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Beginning of last summer here a tradies pickup, all his tools and the boat, outboard and trailer behind slid, with the brakes on, down the uncleaned ramp into 28ft of salt water.
    Took 36 hours, divers, and 2 cranes to get it all out.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    ^happened to a beer truck here. Oh the humanity!
    Skip

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    ...........fighting against the deliberate polarization of politics...

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Used to tow a 1/2 ton boat on a 4 wheel trailer with a 1300cc engine front wheel drive for many miles. Had to launch it on a steep slipway with a tide change of around 5 metres.
    Parked the car on the top, never on the slipway, lowered the boat and trailer in on the anchor rope, tied to the tow bar and trailer. Hauled it out quite easily at low tide sometimes.
    Last edited by The Q; 06-21-2021 at 02:09 AM.
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    I wonder if the difference is because in Europe we mostly use manual gearboxes - where in the USa the Autobox is more common.

    I'd never heard the phrase "trans cooler" until I started reading US boards.
    I don't think so, most manufacturers are 'do not tow' with CVT(new automatics) at least in the smaller cars, even in Europe. It might be liability but my guess is it is marketing leveraging on Americans that have embraced land yachts as the norm. Most of the truck owners in the states will tell you they 'need a truck' when what they could easily get by with a cheap utility trailer a couple of times a year.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by tomtoledo View Post
    I'm wondering if this is correct, since my boat probably weighs in at around 600 lbs tops with a 1970 Johnson 60HP that's probably 250 lbs and a single axel trailer that I have no clue as to the weight.
    Before you do anything, make an effort to find out what your boat/trailer/motor actually weighs.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Towing Vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    I'd never heard the phrase "trans cooler" until I started reading US boards.
    My Honda Pilot went from a 3500lb tow rating to 5000 when I had the dealer install a transmission cooler.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
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