Tom Dually 2.4 and 2.5


Tom Dually 2.4

Stare at something long enough, and you might begin to see it.

The “finishing touches” on this trailer marathon have begun to cloy a bit.  I think I’ve spent the better part of three days crawling under that heavily laden lattice work of steel beams.  It’s not that I’m looking for a shady spot for a noonday nap, or anything like that.  More a matter of close-but-no-cigar.  Considering how far we’ve come, things are looking pretty good.  But, the boat just don’t wanna’ slide on and off without getting crooked.  The geometries are just plain complicated.  And, yes, had I kept a couple sets of articulated rollers from a couple now-forgotten trailer projects I would have been done a week ago.  Those babies just wiggle and squirm on demand.  The exotic dancers of the trailer world, perhaps.  But, no.  I had to try something new and innovative.  And, that’s been the trouble.

Speaking of geometry.

This whole caboodle has to do with something my high school geometry teacher, Mr. Robertson, was probably talking about while I was sketching boats on the inner cover of my Peachees notebook in the back row.  I think it’s about that thing called a “tangent to a n’arc.”   Anyhow, there’s another geometric stumbling block here.  Something I’ll call a “constant curve, with a variable radius.”  So, here I sit, 55 years later, wishing I’d paid just a little better attention back in Geometry class.

I did try a conventional solution.  I put a couple of those stikeeuppee guides on both sides to try and get Miss Kathleen to line up on the centerline rollers.  Seems to work for JimBob and the metalflake bassboat contingent.  Didn’t work for me worth even half a hoot.  MK is just too heavy, and roundee, I suspect.  So.

The next Bright Idea was to improve upon the keel guide setup that had morphed and metastasized and not ever really worked all that well.  I’ve been going and coming back and forth to the launch ramp every couple hours this past triumvirate of days.  There’s a bunch of tradeoffs involved.  But, simply, get it too close and things get jammed.  Too far away and things go awry.  Just right is very elusive depending upon ramp angle, trailer depth; and I think barometric pressure or the current price of hog belly futures must have something to do with it.

Of course, the Engineering Department, here at Frankenwerke, seems to have all taken the week off.  Just me, and the ghost of Mr. Robertson, are the only ones willing to crawl into those just-about-impossible spots under the boat and trailer, to work on those n’arcs and radishes.  But.

Every time we put in, and haul out, the boat ends up farther aft on the trailer.  Yep.  There is a law of diminishing returns things operating here.

At first, I tried to follow the example of our august Senators and Congressmen/women.  Every time the boat was too far back, I just moved the winch stand to match.  Near as I can tell, that idea only works in DC.  Certainly the laws of supply and demand out here in Almostcanada would indicate that the demand for more trailer will outstrip the supply.  So.

The whole problem has to do with this thing with floating the boat on and off the bunks and rollers.  Yeah, I know.  If only I had put in those articulated roller arms, it would be fait accompli.  But, winter’s just around the corner.  The launch ramp gets locked up in only a few days.  I need a workable solution.  And, like everybody knows, a short cut really SHOULD work.  So, we keep trying essentially the same thing, earnestly hoping for a different result.

So, there I was.  Holding the morning staff meeting out in the driveway.  The moon was still up, the sun not so much.  Still below freezing out there.  There I stood in my bathrobe and slippers, just staring vacantly at that frosty trailer.

And, then another Bright Idea emerged.  Same parts.  Same nuts and bolts.  Different arrangement.

Worth a shot.  I got dressed, and went out there to giv’er a try.  This, without any help from any Real Engineers.  By high noon, I was able to erase a couple things from the TODO list.  And, since most of the Real Engineers of my acquaintance would likely just be getting to work by noon; I guess doing it the hard way wasn’t all that unreasonable.  Actually, this job has required me to think like a watchmaker, and behave like a stevedore.

This rearrangement of heavy stuff took a bit of groaning and cussing.  But, then almost nothing worth doing, can be done without that.

The whole effort was to get the winch to pull up, instead of down when bringing the boat the last six inches onto the trailer.  Now, that I recall from someplace in my distant past, something about six inches has always involved a whole lot of groaning and cussing.  You probably remember better than I do.  So, anyhow, everything got taken apart, and moved and re-bolted and moved again and re-bolted again.  And, it still wasn’t going to work worth a peewaddle.

All along, the biggest impediment to my happiness on this project has been the need for the tow strap to pull at a changing angle THROUGH the very thing that stops the hull from moving forward—when reaching that Everest-like summit.  I tried this, and tried that.  Dragged a pile of odd bits and wonderwhat stuff out.  And, then like a tortoise track snaking across the desert at sunset, it finally dawned on me.  One of those simple-but-elegant solutions.

And, that my friend, is the essence of that geometry problem of the tangent to a n’arc with the variable radius.  Wow.  I think Mr. Robertson might have given me extra credit.  He might have even upgraded my final grade from a “Gentleman’s D.”

The whole effort seems to look promising now.  Still gotta’ deal with brakes, and fenders, and wiring.  But, that stuff is pretty much old hat around here.  In fact, even with all that tryfer stuff under the hull still not really “permanent,” we managed to back into a rather stiff side wind.

And, only rotated about an inch off of center.

So, yes.  I think we’re getting there.  Tangentially, speaking.

Tom Dually 2.5

He’s still at it.

In fact, I was right there, when it happened.  The entire night shift crew, just up and quit.  It was only about 2100.  Still a couple hours of planned work left in the day.  Everybody just walked off the job.  Hard to figure, but true enough.  And, here it is, almost 0530 the next day.  Nobody has shown up for work yet.  Stuff scattered around.  Tools piled up.  Nobody working.  Just plain shameful.

Nothing but excuses.

First excuse.  And, I was there, too.  So, I have to agree.  I decided that crawling under this mongotious trailer with the boat on it, and laying under all that on the cold pavement outside was just not as much fun as it used to be.  So, we went down to the ramp and headed for Lon and Kathy’s place to leave Miss Kathleen overnight.  Again.  There was a grand total of ONLY TWO boats out yesterday morning.  One, apparently for pleasure.  The other one for necessity.

Part of working alone is not having anybody available to handle lines.  Most of the time, I let the boat swing back on the lines in a fairly repeatable trajectory, while I put the truck and trailer in a parking stall.  Usually works out OK.  Not yesterday.  Wind was gusty, and did I mention?  COLD.  Mostly, I just have to get the creaking joints to hobble faster when it’s like this.  And, after a short motoring off to weather, we were situated.  Well, at least more or less ready to get to work.

Note the paucity of other people and boats.  Certainly, wherever they all are, is warmer.  Anyhow, the mess that night crew left did result in some stuff getting done.

There’s a partial catwalk bolted up for standing on, when hooking up the winch strap without (hopefully) having to wade out to do the deed.  It’s hanging from a new cross-support that will have a “chin roller” mounted just as soon as the boat can be got back aboard to fit it.

And, I see from this shot, that somebody has been toying with a second winch to tension the boat into the bow chock when on the trailer.  An, interesting idea.  Wonder who is working on such a thing, when the skedboard specifically says, “#1.  Get wiring run, and get boat back on trailer” (???)

I see that there is another new cross-support bolted in and painted up to disguise the sloppy workmanship.  There’s a new keel crib set on an adjustable mount to (hopefully) get that 3,000# boat properly lined up on the trailer.  Not a completely done deal, it seems.  And, at the heart of that crib is a set of rollers the keel will actually stand on.  It sits at an up angle of about 5 degrees, to (hopefully) assist in the comings and goings.  The white thingies between the rollers are chunks of high-dollar UHMW that stand proud of the metal channel mounting thingie by just enough to carry most of the weight the hard rubber rollers are advertised to be able to carry.  I have already discarded a couple of those guys from their heroic work in similar circumstances on the old trailer.  And, then, there is that winch stand.

At this moment, the Harbor Freight winch is actually lifting the hull by about 6/10 of a foot until we haul out of the water and let gravity take over, from flotation, in MK’s hindquarters.  We have already broken that winch strap repeatedly.  I‘m really hoping this roller bracket will offer some mechanical advantage.  Talk about re-inventing the wheel.  Can’t proceed on that one without the boat in place.  So, I’m wondering why that night crew left this stuff strewn around.  Some sort of a mutiny, maybe?

Then there is this business of putting fenders on a somewhat crinkled fender mount.  The original EZ Loader box fenders were not only badly mauled from their prior job as stikeeoutees on a hay trailer; they are too small to fit the mondo tires TD now sports.  In the interest of time and expense, somebody came up with the hairball notion that it would be OK to use the remains of a sheet of half-inch mdo and just manufacture a fender thingie.  I’m pretty sure whoever that was, also intended to add some sort of trim pieces.  I think that’s supposed to happen after the wires get run.

I’m also told that those cute little periscopes at the back end of the fenders were supposed to guide the boat onto the keel crib.  Seems, the pole-extensions just bent over and didn’t really serve that purpose.  Now, I think they are still there to both hold up the fenders and to serve as a depth gauge in backing in for launch/recovery.  I also think there is supposed to be some sort of tall/narrow LED taillight hung up on these periscope thingies.  Wonder how that’s gonna’ work out.

If that night crew would just quit with the excuses, and clean up their messes from all that drilling and bolting and finger smashing; and get those wires run.

Well, maybe we could get back to that skedboard.  Maybe even bring that boat home, before it snows.

Boy, howdy!  Them guys are sure messy.  Tired, too, I suppose.

Part 1.0Part 1.1 and 1.2 – Part 1.3 and 1.4 – Part 1.5 and 1.6 – Part 1.7 and 1.8

Part 1.9 and 2.0 – Part 2.1 and 2.2 and 2.3


  1. Hi Dan,
    I know this comes too late but it only showed up in my mail today. Here’s links to 6 of 8 videos put out by a local magazine. A bit simplistic but some good info in there. Give you something to watch and unwind too anyway.
    – Barry.

  2. Barry:

    Those are some fine looking trailers! My whole fleet isn’t worth what one set of those wheels and tires likely goes for. This country boy is quite a few steps down the food chain from you rich kiwis. I note that Mr. Thompson shares your opinion of bunks vs rollers. Lately, I don’t seem to have boats with bottoms designed for that sort of point loading. So, I set my trailers up so the boat will float up, and away, with a chin roller to bring the bow up the last six inches, or so. Remarkably effective, if non-mainstream.

    I have done some experimenting with split-tongue setups on occasion. the most successful one of those used a worm screw to lift the bow of the boat relative to the horizon. When the stern floated, the whole boat was essentially lifted up and away from the trailer.

    Around here, most stinkpotters just tilt up the outdrive and run the boat up the rollers like a beaching whale. Can’t say that I like the idea of the prop spinning that close to a concrete ramp.

    At any event, thanks for the video series, and for your input. We shade tree mechanics need all the help we can get! I do hope we’ll be talking more, and soon.


  3. Hello Dan,
    Rich? Far from it I just survive by scrounging and handouts! No, I recycle a lot, trade work for stuff others aren’t using or don’t want. O.P.R.(other peoples rubbish), is rich pickings at times. I just thought the videos were interesting and sometimes looking at someone else’s stuff can dislodge a sticking brain cell.
    Am I correct in thinking that the main problem loading is after the full weight comes to rest? I move some heavy machinery at times by myself 2T – 5T and love rollers,(can’t afford proper skates),and when going over rough stuff just go up a bit in pipe size. The reason I’m rambling is looking at the spacing on the rollers each is working pretty hard and because they are wheels rotating about a fixed center not truly rolling the more load the more stiction. Any way of fitting a few more in? I know they are not cheap. You don’t have a lathe do you? I’m thinking conveyor rollers get to a point where they need to be resurfaced but some companies just turf them and buy new ones. They can be cut down and then it is just price of bearings some pipe and bolts and I’m envious of the prices I see advertised in USA. Not anti bunk either – lot easier to make and modify than a roller setup but I do love that plastic for it’s low co-efficient of friction. I stock up at $1,$2 & $3 shops and clearance shops when I see heavy cutting boards on sale.
    Hope I’m not spewing crap. There is a solution lurking about somewhere.
    Work safe.
    – Barry.

  4. Hello again Dan,
    Should be gardening but off to a slow start. I’ve been thinking about conveyor bits and some wheels can be had here starting at NZ$0.82. Load bearing is about contact surface and distribution yes? Conveyors transport sometimes heavy loads with a lot of wheels and rollers that individually can only support a small load, many hands make light work,while browsing I can upon this site:
    Might be worth a look. I cut two medium duty conveyor in half and used the pieces to maneuver a Cat D2 in a shop with ease. Dion’t know what the freight would be but at least they’re in your country.

  5. Let me throw another option in the trailer skid/carpet debate. Astroturf. I have used this with great success on trailer bunks. it is more cushiony and forgiving than UHMW board and much more slippery than outdoor carpet. AFter all it is the same basic polyethylene material but molded into a “grassy” kind of configuration.

  6. Thanks for the help. This is a complete work in progress, that got set aside for the winter months. Hopefully, we’ll be back at “launch ramp near you” real soon to prove and disprove some of these ideas.

    In this case, the general notion has been a lot different than the conventional displacement hull trailer. The stern floats UP, from the bunks. The bow rolls down, on a chin roller, until the boat is on her marks. The keel rollers are mostly to work with the chin roller for the last foot of travel into the bow chocks. There’s really no long slide needed. I did this to sort of cradle the shape of the hull for structural support and stability on the trailer. She’s a big girl. High hatted, and overhanging (unsupported) aft of the axles quite a long ways. Also the hull is really old, and never designed to take point loads like a modern power boat. The domestic carpet dies after a year or two, but in the meantime offers a good pillow effect when doubled and built up over the sides of the bunks. Also, I made these bunks out of doubled, treated 2 x 10 planks, mounted on edge. Pretty different from just about anything I’ve seen. But, I launch and recover single handed, and other than having to walk out to pre-position spring lines, and to leave the boat unattended while parking, etc., I seem to keep pace with the groups herding most anything from pontoons to aluminum fish killers in and out. This also is mostly the case with side winds, rough water, and excessively steep ramp angles. The one bugaboo is overly-shallow ramps. I sometimes need to put a couple feet of slack into the winch strap and the back-up bow tie-down line that I use with a conventional cleat on the winch mount, and stop abruptly. (As my friend Jim says, “dynamite the brakes.”) The bow rattles down the chin roller and surges a bit. Otherwise it’s like putting a ship in a graving dock, and settling into the keel blocks.

    Thanks, I appreciate it.

    I gotta go see if I have any more of that nifty Delrin plate stock, and Nylatron tube for this really nifty anchor roller/slide/hawse I’m working on. The inventions just keep wobbling on by.


  7. Barry:

    Chuck and I were talking about putting a column together about this stuff, but more to the point of what the normal DW reader will likely be faced with getting his trailer out of storage and back on the road in the coming months (northern hemisphere, anyway). My boat and trailer is near the top end for size and weight in this arena. But, everybody has to deal with axles and winches and galvanic corrosion inside steel tubes and around butt welds and stuff like that. If you’ll drop me a line by email, I’d appreciate sending you a rough draft and getting you in the loop. You’ve got a lot of good ideas and experience. It would be, I think, for the good of the order.

    Thanks, much.

    Dan Rogers

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