Friday, 14 November 2014

Tongue Extension

Getting Serenity in and out of the water has always been a challenge. The tow vehicle cannot get far enough out into the water to float the boat, so a length of rope has been employed. I was afraid that someone was going to get hurt, or the boat damaged.

Also, it can take over an hour to complete with the trailer and boat both floating around over the ramp. We had to give up on it one time because it got dark before the boat was on the trailer. It also means that I am tying up the ramp for an excessive period. I needed lots of help too.

It used to look something like this, with the trailer wondering all over the place and not much control over anything. It was also dangerous taking the trailer off the ball at the bottom of the ramp.

For this project I have picked up the following parts:
  • Receiver: 12" of 2.5" x 2.5"  square tube
  • Extension: 24' of 2" x 2" square tube (on order)
  • Coupler: 2" x 2" for 2" ball
  • U-Bolts: 3" x 8" with nuts and lock washers
  • Hitch pin
  • associated fasteners and drill bits

I'm basing it on the one I found here:

The existing trailer tongue.

The parts.

The jack and tire were shifted back to make room, then I drilled the holes and tried a test fit of the receiver.

I picked up the 24 foot long tube and brought it to my father-in-law's shed to use his drill press. The hitch ball coupler was attached and a hole drilled for the pin. It has to be painted yet, but at least I can use it at this point.

The final assembly and test fit of everything. The receiver and tube both have two coats of paint now.

It is a long way to the truck.

The trailer jack will have to be kept down to allow the wheel to take some of the weight. There is too much flex in the tube at this length without it. The tube will be at about the same height as the rope used to be, so there should be no clearance problems as it goes down the ramp.

While I was at the trailer, I thought of a way to put some guides on it to help with positioning the boat.

Parts List:
  • 2 x 5' sections of 1 1/2" ABS pipe
  • 2 x 10" sections of 2 x 4
  • Miscellaneous screws

This would be easier to do with the boat on the trailer, so I had to estimate the length of the pipe required. Also the wooden block was positioned at the outside edge of the fender to help protect it from being struck. That, along with the 1/2" space to the hole, means that the pipes are not quite 8' apart at the bottom. I'm assuming that the boat is exactly 8' wide at the beam, but there should be enough flexibility at the top of the pipe to allow for that.

A 2" hole was drilled in the 2x4 for the ABS pipe. 2 holes were drilled through the fender support to allow a couple of screws to go up into the wood. 1 3" screw goes through the pipe, but that should be replaced with something a little longer. The pipe hole is over the edge of the fender support, which will allow any water in the pipe to drain out.

When Serenity was hauled out, the tongue extension and guides worked great! What didn't work was my truck. We had the boat almost on the trailer and just needed to back the trailer out into a little deeper water. That's when a brake line broke, and we didn't want to risk going backwards down the ramp any further. The boat could pull the truck under.

The tide was almost up, so we waited to see if  there was enough rise left float the boat, but it was to close to the top of the cycle, and we only gained a little. Another guy was waiting in line to get his sailboat out, and volunteered his truck. This meant tying lines ashore from both the boat and the trailer, uncoupling the extension, carefully moving my truck out of the way, and then attaching the borrowed truck.

With a functional tow vehicle, it only took a couple minutes to properly seat Serenity, and haul it out. I then hooked my truck back on and very slowly moved my boat out of the way, so the other guy could get at his boat. There used to be 2 ramps at the marina, but we lost one with the expansion last year. There can be long lineups until the new one is built in a couple years in another marina development phase.

Being so late in the year, all the water at the marina was off and drained, so there was no way to pressure wash the hull. That had to wait until I got the boat home, and getting the boat home required borrowing another truck. My mechanic didn't have an opening for a few days. At least the boat is out of the water.

With all that was going on with the truck, I didn't notice exactly how much of the tube was required to float the boat, but it was at least 12 feet. I may be able to cut a lot off. Perhaps I can make up a second one from the remainder to sell. People seemed to like what I had done.

Another modification has to be made to the trailer. There should be a support under the bow. There is a roller there now, but it does not come close to touching anything. I should also raise the height of the winch. I had a line lead back to a cockpit winch, but that came close to breaking the 2x4s while trying to force the boat the last few inches.

It may now be possible to launch and haul out Serenity with just one or two people. The switch over to the extension can be done on flat, level ground rather than the ramp. And the entire process should be faster and safer.

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