Towing pontoon boat long distance precautions

Doc

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I am in the process of buying a 26ft Manitou SES tri toon (pontoon) with a 350 Suzuki hanging off the back. It is a 7 hour drive some of it through the mountains of WV on the WV turnpike.

I am buying an aluminum tandem axle trailer to haul the pontoon on. It is a two year old trailer the boat dealer has used and is now ready to sell. It only has 13" tires. These seem small for going 70 mph.

I am most concerned about a blow out and will check with dealer about manufacturer date of the tires on the trailer. If they are 4 years or older I will have new tires installed. I plan to drive around 60 to 65 most of the way even though the dealer said the tires are good at 85. CRAZY.

I''m planing to take a jack, 4 way lug wrench, tire pressure gauge, air tank, 12 volt mini compressor and maybe fix a flat (unsure on that at this point) ...

I do have triple A ...but don't know if they will help if I have issues with the trailer.

I'm looking for advice on do's and don't's to make this trip as safe as possible. Thanks in advance.
 

FrancSevin

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I am in the process of buying a 26ft Manitou SES tri toon (pontoon) with a 350 Suzuki hanging off the back. It is a 7 hour drive some of it through the mountains of WV on the WV turnpike.

I am buying an aluminum tandem axle trailer to haul the pontoon on. It is a two year old trailer the boat dealer has used and is now ready to sell. It only has 13" tires. These seem small for going 70 mph.

I am most concerned about a blow out and will check with dealer about manufacturer date of the tires on the trailer. If they are 4 years or older I will have new tires installed. I plan to drive around 60 to 65 most of the way even though the dealer said the tires are good at 85. CRAZY.

I''m planing to take a jack, 4 way lug wrench, tire pressure gauge, air tank, 12 volt mini compressor and maybe fix a flat (unsure on that at this point) ...

I do have triple A ...but don't know if they will help if I have issues with the trailer.

I'm looking for advice on do's and don't's to make this trip as safe as possible. Thanks in advance.

Doc,

Sounds like a long trip home. I'll give you my advice for free. Worth every penny.

I don't know if there is such a thing as a 13" tire rated over 74 MPH. That rating is the letter "J" or "K." There is also the question of Tread width and load capacity. You are right to be nervous.

Check the tire rating. I believe it should be rated "M" which you will find molded on the sidewall near the size dimension data as the first letter. That rating is good for up to 81 MPH.

However, if the tire size will handle the weight, just keep the speed down under 65 MPH. I would also suggest Tire inflation at 45 PSI and travel in the evening, night, or early mornings.
 

bczoom

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Doc - what's the weight of the boat? I'm thinking 2 decades ago, 13" tires were the standard on many small cars (15" on large cars/trucks).
 

Doc

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Sales receipt says 3880 dry weight, but not sure if the outboard motor is included in that. I'm sure the trailer is not included in that. I suppose it would be 1000 LBs or so. I tried to call to get an answer but they are closed today. :(
 

bczoom

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What's the weight rating on the trailer itself? It'll be on the title or on the sticker on the tongue labeled GWVR.
 

mla2ofus

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Also make sure the wheel bearings are inspected, cleaned and repacked. A ruined spindle can be a real disaster on the road.
 

Doc

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No clue at this point. They are closed. I'll find out tomorrow.
 

Doc

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Also make sure the wheel bearings are inspected, cleaned and repacked. A ruined spindle can be a real disaster on the road.
Yep, I thought of wheel bearings and having bearing buddies put on when they repack just to make it easy for me to grease em later. I like bearing buddies. :D

Correction, I guess it was the galvenized trailer that had brakes on one axle. The trailer I'm getting lists brakes on both axles. :D
 

bczoom

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Brakes on both axles normally means (to me) that it's a 7000# GVWR trailer.
 

bczoom

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Depending on the bolt pattern and wheel well clearances, you may be able to put 14 or 15" tires on it when you get home. Myself, if it's rated for 7000# and the 13" tires are good, I'd just go with those. A 26' boat plus engine plus tongue puts you over 30' of trailer. I wouldn't want to be speeding with something that long behind me.
 

mla2ofus

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When I replaced the axle on our little boat trailer I bought the EZ Lube. No air pocket= no water intrusion.
 

Doc

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Depending on the bolt pattern and wheel well clearances, you may be able to put 14 or 15" tires on it when you get home. Myself, if it's rated for 7000# and the 13" tires are good, I'd just go with those. A 26' boat plus engine plus tongue puts you over 30' of trailer. I wouldn't want to be speeding with something that long behind me.
Once home I will only do a mile tow to the boat ramp once or twice a year, so no need to upsize to 14 or 15's at least in the near term. I agree, with that much boat behind us and one that is not as streamline as our ole sunsation 288 I will take it slow and steady and hope the big ass trucks don't blow us off the road.
 

loboloco

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If the brakes on the trailer are adjustable make sure they are tight. Ideally you want the trailer brakes to grab very slightly before the truck. This helps to prevent jack knife under most conditions.
 

bczoom

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Doc - do you have an infrared heat gun? If so (or if not, do it by hand CAREFULLY so as to not get a potential burn):

After driving at least 25 miles, pull over and get a heat reading at the tire tread, the rim then the hub. None should be hot to the touch unless you used a lot of trailer braking to get yourself pulled over to do the temp check.

If one seems hotter than the others, you have an issue there. Either it's brake is dragging or grabbing too much or there's a bearing issue. If all are too hot to touch, you may have other problems (like you're using too much trailer braking compared to your truck or bearings or otherwise).

I make it a point when trailering that whenever I stop, I check all wheels/rims and hubs to check for excessive heat. No heat = no issues.
 

Doc

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Doc - do you have an infrared heat gun? If so (or if not, do it by hand CAREFULLY so as to not get a potential burn):

After driving at least 25 miles, pull over and get a heat reading at the tire tread, the rim then the hub. None should be hot to the touch unless you used a lot of trailer braking to get yourself pulled over to do the temp check.

If one seems hotter than the others, you have an issue there. Either it's brake is dragging or grabbing too much or there's a bearing issue. If all are too hot to touch, you may have other problems (like you're using too much trailer braking compared to your truck or bearings or otherwise).

I make it a point when trailering that whenever I stop, I check all wheels/rims and hubs to check for excessive heat. No heat = no issues.
Good idea. I like it. Yes, I have an infrared heat gun.
 

Doc

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Towing pontoon from SC to Ohio was successful. No emergency stuff needed thank goodness. But it was the worst item I have ever towed. Like towing a billboard. I would not want to do it again.

Thanks for all the tips and pointers. They helped. :thumb:
 

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bczoom

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Glad you got it home safely. I thought you drove a Chevy but I see a Dodge doing the towing.
 

Doc

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I do drive a Chevy. A 2005 with only 83k on her. Son in law had his 2013 Ram road ready with better tow capacity so I took advantage of that. My truck runs great but for a long tow like that was I felt better with a newer vehicle. I'm due to upgrade my truck next year....maybe. :D
 

NorthernRedneck

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I imagine that would be worse than pulling a camper as the camper is uniform in shape.

One of the reasons why I opted to get a regular boat vs a pontoon. Could you imagine having to launch and trailer it every time you went out? Sure, I have a dock slip but I'd have no problem launching with a trailer every time. I have a method of launching where I just do it myself without any assistance. Takes me no longer to launch my 20 foot than a small 12 ft boat.
 
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