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Importance of 4x4 or AWD or Locking Diff at boat launch?
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BillE



Joined: 09 Jun 2016
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City/Region: Nashville
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C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:43 pm    Post subject: Importance of 4x4 or AWD or Locking Diff at boat launch? Reply with quote

Never trailered and never launched at a ramp and do not yet have a vehicle capable of hauling my boat. Looking ahead I'm curious as to how important the traction aids in thread title are to keeping my future tow vehicle from going for a swim!
Also curious if anyone airs down their tires and carries a compressor? I am wondering if that plus a locking diff would be enough to deal with slimy ramps? I would not need 4x4 for any other reason but I admit to having some fear of the boat ramp. Input welcome.

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DavidM



Joined: 24 Dec 2017
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C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We use our Nissan Pathfinder with 4WD to both tow our camping trailer and our boat. Given some of the rustic campsites we go to I definitely need the 4WD.

Have only launched and retrieved our boat a few times and the times I did I engaged 4WD.

Since you don't know how steep or wet a boat ramp will be, I think 4WD is important. I don't think a locking differential would be sufficient as it is the bottom of the ramp which is the wettest so you want to be able to use the front wheels as well.

A front 2wd might work, but the front wheels are unloaded on a steep ramp, and thereby lose traction. And I doubt if there are many 2WDs of sufficient size to tow a C Dory.

Edit based on Marco's comments below: Our Nissan is primarily fwd but with two settings for 4WD: standard which I suspect is a little like AWD and doesn't provide full rear wheel drive and locked which does fully lock the front and rear drives.

David


Last edited by DavidM on Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:14 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Marco Flamingo



Joined: 09 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably a lot more important if you will launch at tidal ramps. Reservoir ramps (when the water is dropping) can also get a layer of silt on them that can get slippery. Remote launches vary and I've passed on some that look like you would need a vehicle with tank tread to pull the boat out (putting in is the easy part). I'm pretty sure my AAA RV membership wouldn't cover pulling me and my trailer up a remote ramp.

I've never towed with anything but 4WD and AWD (with aggressive tread tires) so I don't know how difficult it is to get into trouble without improved traction. I would think that FWD would be useless because a 250# or more tongue weight would essentially negate the engine weight over the front axle. A locking differential would have a similar issue when both rear tires are on the wet and slippery part of the ramp. True 4WD is amazing, but I've been doing okay with an AWD vehicle that seems to be primarily FWD with a little help from the rear.

For me, a standard drive vehicle would reduce my ramp times (to high tides) and some ramp sites (because I would just not try).

I've never adjusted tire pressure for launching. I do carry a little compressor, but for other possible problems. I also carry a 40' Kevlar tow strap so that I might be able to convince somebody else at the launch to yank me up if necessary.

Mark
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Peter & Judy



Joined: 03 Dec 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I launch with a Ford F350 4X4 and I have been glad that I have it. On a good concrete ramp you might be fine without 4X4, but on slimy gravel when your rear wheels are underwater it is nice to have your front wheels pulling you up the ramp. I personally would not own a non 4X4 or AWD vehicle again, but then I live with icy roads in Canada
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thataway



Joined: 02 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have owned trailerable boats since 1957. The first 4 wheel drive I have owned is the current Yukon XL. The reason I got the 4 x 4, was because it could be towed behind my RV 4 wheels down. I have used the 4 x4 a couple of times;: on a close by sand/gravel ramp--no concrete or tarmac. On the other hands, I have launched on some hard pack sand without 4 x 4 also....but if doing that all of the time, then would have 4 x 4, big tires etc.

I have launched the first 25 with a 30 foot RV (including on the Sequim John Wayne ramp several times). This is a fairly steep and is a tidal ramp, where often there was some algae on the ramp. Perhaps there, and in other circumstances, having weight in the back of the tow vehicle is also a great help.

I launched the Tom Cat and other 25 also with a Ford Excursion with the 7.3 L diesel. That was one of the heaviest SUV's built. I have seen situations where folks with pickups and nothing in the back, needed help getting up a ramp.

A locking differential is also a help. (The Yukon has limited slip/traction control as well as 4x4)

I carry a Viair 40047 400P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit. This is a unit which many of the sand dune and off roaders folks use. I have never had to let the air out of a truck or car towing a boat up a ramp. The compressor is for the trailer and principle vehicle. The "RV" kit comes with long hoses, an air chuck which is the best I have used, along with a very good air gauge.

For the 25, if you are going to be doing much hill towing, then consider a 3/4 ton, diesel is nice--more torque. Also more expensive to run, and to buy. There are plenty of gas trucks which work very well. If I was buying primary as a tow truck for the 25, I probably would get 4 x 4. Certainly limited slip or lock differential. You don't want dual rear wheels--in fact they may be a detriment, unless you are putting a big camper on the truck (Less weight per sq inch on the ramp).

I would advise electric over hydraulic brakes on the 25 trailer in your neck of the woods.

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gary f



Joined: 16 Jul 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bill and Sherry. Good question. I think you will be fine with a 2 x 4 tow vehicle but it is more comforting to know that you have the option with a 4 x 4 if you ever get into trouble while pulling up the ramp. We have never ever needed to put our truck into four-wheel-drive while pulling our boat out of the water anywhere in Oregon and Washington waters but our boat and trailer are lighter than yours with you having a 25 C-Dory Cruiser.

I am sure that I will get alot of comments on what I just said but we have only towed up ramps that are well used, with well drained concrete cut slats and never in icy conditions. A very steep ramp could give you some trouble but remember you have additional weight on the rear tires because of the boat being towed. I think I would be more worried about towing with too small of a tow rig and one that is underpowered. A vehicle with 4 x 4 capability and a compound low position would certainly have enough power to pull your boat up the ramp unless you loose traction on all four tires.

There will be others that will feel quite different on this subject and will disagree, that live in colder climates and may have different quality ramps.

This is my opinion that has worked for me, but I think you would be happier to just get the 4 x 4 option anyway and not have to worry.

Just my 2 cents and curious what others will say with their opinions.
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ssobol



Joined: 27 Oct 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tow my 22 with a FWD minivan. Works well most of the time. The minivan has enough power to pull up a steep ramp, but the problem can be getting enough traction. I have normal all-season tires on the van.

On dry hard surface ramps it is never a problem to get up. On steeper gravel ramps or ramps that are contaminated with debris, it is possible to spin the front tires. Only once have I not been able to pull the boat out, but that was on a steep gravel ramp after a good rain. But then we just went down the lake a half mile or so and found a concrete ramp. Pulled out with no problem.

I was thinking about putting light truck tires on the van next time I got tires. Instead I just recently bought a 08 Pathfinder with 4WD.
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C-Hawk



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We launched out of Santa Barbara, CA for a trip out to the Islands, when we came back it was low tide and my friends truck was 2wd. We could not get out due to the slick ramp. We had another guy pull us out with his truck.
I have 4wd and have yet to get stuck on the ramps.
As was noted in an earlier post, ramps in tidal areas are prone to slick conditions at low tide.

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robhwa



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:48 pm    Post subject: Vehicles for boat ramps Reply with quote

I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay. My dad, a waterman, launched and retrieved his boat regularly with a 2WD Chevy truck. 40 years ago almost nobody had 4WD trucks. Generally if someone had a problem, usually launching at low tide on a slippery surface, they could usually put some sand or gravel on the drive wheels and be OK. Dad did have limited slip differential in the last truck he owned. He carried a rope and if slipping really bad could have someone help pull them up. He never had to, but once I did help pull a SUV up a ramp in Washington state. It was a small SUV with all-time 4WD and crappy tires pulling a big, heavy boat that probably was much more than the tow limit. I have a 4WD for other reasons and agree it can help, but I wouldn’t go to the expense of 4WD initial cost, maintenance, and lowered mileage just to launch and retrieve boats unless I was using bad boat launches on a regular basis. I would get tires with aggressive tread and carry a tow rope. 4WD is so ubiquitous nowadays people think they need it when usually they don’t. I probably would go for LSD if it wasn’t too expensive.
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Chester



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My last two tow rigs have been 4wd just in case the ramp is too slick though it has not been needed at there. We have utilized it elsewhere though.
A quick and dirty traction adder is to lightly set the parking brake. This discourages the tire with less traction from spinning freely. Caution is required as you can destroy equipment if your brain is not engaged at the same time.
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ssobol



Joined: 27 Oct 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chester wrote:
My last two tow rigs have been 4wd just in case the ramp is too slick though it has not been needed at there. We have utilized it elsewhere though.
A quick and dirty traction adder is to lightly set the parking brake. This discourages the tire with less traction from spinning freely. Caution is required as you can destroy equipment if your brain is not engaged at the same time.


Parking brake thing won't work on vehicles with FWD.
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AstoriaDave



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen a heavy tow truck gradually slide, slowly and inexorably, down the ramp in Bamfield, BC, stopping as the water reached the floormats, trailer submerged, 25 foot cruiser calmly afloat. The operator tied the boat off to the float, walked the distance to the marine service center and winched the truck and trailer out of the drink using another tow truck with all its wheels on dry, flat ground.

Ramp was steep, tide was out, exposing a rich coating of algae and seaweed.

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drbridge



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You Can probably get by with 2 wheel drive 90% to 95% of the time, but the one time you needed the 4x4 you will be patting yourself on the back for having it and it really does not cost you that much more and will also give back to you on resale down the road. You will not have the worry of if you should or shouldn't use a particular ramp. Not to mention it could benefit you in other situations as well. I would never buy a truck without 4x4.
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colbysmith



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started thinking about my use of 4WD with your thread here, and it dawned on me, I don't believe I've every used the 4WD with my CDory. I do remember using it a few times with an old 1988 Searay 268 Sundancer that weighed in at 9800 lbs. I've towed the C-Dory with both a Toyota Highlander AWD (really front wheel drive unless I push the snow button which locks in all 4 wheels), and a Ford F150, which is really one wheel drive unless I lock it into 4 wd, as it does NOT have limited slip or posi trac. We do have some local lake ramps that get pretty slippery at the water level from algae. I really don't think you'd ever have to lower your tire pressures. But there may be a time or two where being able to lock in all 4 wheels would be beneficial! Colby
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hardee



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been launching and retrieving trailer boats for 50 years. In that time I have been using 4WD vehicles for towing, launching and retrieving. Over that time I have pulled 3 vehicles up a ramp or off a beach launch. None of them were 4WD vehicles. Mine was. As drbridge said, 90% - 95% of the time you won't need that other axle pulling, BUT if you do, and there is no one else at the ramp, you are going to be really glad you have it. AAA might take longer to get to you than the tide does.

Harvey
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