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Lessons from my first tow

Started by rosswaddams, July 22, 2017, 07:03:56 AM

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Previous contributors were so useful in making my first tow a success that I thought I'd "pay it forward" by setting down the lessons I learnt from the experience.

There's probably going to be too much for one post so I'll split it over several.



New tyres were definitely needed as they were 17 years old (I read the dot codes) and had several splits.

They were marked "155R12 76c". This seemed rather an odd code and so I assumed, given the age of the tyres, that it was an obsolete code. I did my research (on this forum and on the wider internet) and ordered three 155/70 R12 tyres (8 ply, very popular on modern vans).

My friendly trailer repair man (see next post), when I casually told him, remarked that 155R12 tyres were indeed the correct ones (of an old design, they were once very popular on 1300 Commer vans). He pointed out that a 155/70 R12 tyre had a much lower profile than the 155R12 which would result in much reduced ground clearance for the trailer rear swing beam. I hurriedly made a grovelling phone call to the tyre shop and they ordered the correct tyres for delivery the next day. Phew.

These are relatively unusual tyres so I'm glad I've got a new spare as well.

Needless to say, I now know a lot more about tyre codes than I did a week ago!



I'm not sure if I'm allowed to recommend a tradesman but here goes...

Tony was very good. He answered my initial email enquiry almost immediately (at 8pm). I sent him some photos of the trailer and he reassured me that it didn't look too bad. I later found out that he used to work for Indespension building boat trailers and knew all about my Roller Coaster 1. He gave me an estimate for the work which turned out to be accurate. He is cost-conscious and suggested several ways I could save money.

The boat was 250 miles away from me in the Bosham car park boat park so I told him where the boat was and we fixed a date for him to do the work. In the end I was able to make it down by midday but Tony would have emailed me photos of the finished job with the invoice if I couldn't have made it in time. You can pay him by phone (using a credit card) or by direct bank transfer.

Whilst he was working, we got chatting and loads of useful trailer advice came my way (see "Tyres" above).

Tony is a really nice guy and knows his stuff. So if you're anywhere between Southampton and Dover, and need your trailer fixing, I can thoroughly recommend him.



I have a Land Rover and I appreciate that this is not going to be much use to most people. But a front trailer hitch has been so useful I really must share it with you.

I bought a removable one from Simmonites:

The boat was in a really tight space, with not much room on either side and another large (immovable) boat directly in front. Normally I'd put the tow hitch on my side so I could see both sides of the trailer. But on this occasion the only way to get a good angle was to put it on the left side. I'm pleased to say that it came out first time! I don't see how I could have done this on my own by reversing up to the trailer - there just wasn't enough room.

It came in useful when I got the boat home and manouevred it into another tight spot.

I'm sure my reversing skills will develop in time but in the meantime this piece of kit is going to make life a lot easier (and save a crinked neck).



This was the subject of another topic, as I was rather unsure about this. I followed the guys advice. Well, I didn't properly understand what had been said so I didn't get it entirely right...

I discovered that if you remove the tabernacle bolt and rest the mast in the tabernacle, the heel of the mast will sit very nicely in the angle of the bow post (I strapped it down to the anchor cleat). It's obviously designed to do this so that the mast doesn't spear your back window under heavy breaking! So far, so good.

The short scissors is then just the right height to keep the top of the mast supported. The middle of the mast is just off the companionway hatch so you can squeeze in and sleep on board (as I did). And the top of the mast doesn't overhang the stern of the boat. Perfect.

But this is where I went wrong - I secured the head of the scissors firmly fore-and-aft but in order to do so I moved it forward one foot. This meant that the feet of the scissors were just held in place by friction. I had a strap pulling the mast down onto the scissors and I thought this would provide sufficient friction to hold everything in place. Wrong! Some time on the journey one of the scissor legs moved and the scissors collapsed. This caused the mast to bounce up and down on the rear edge of the companionway hatch. Downward movement is limited by the washboards but I need to check that his hasn't damaged the hatch.

Needless to say, I will be securing the feet of the scissors next time (as I now realise I was being advised to do).



An obvious one this, but not to me. Once again, I followed advice and lashed the bow eye bolt to the winch post. My first check of the trailer three miles down the road showed that the hand winch ratchet wasn't holding so this is definitely something worth doing. Hopefully the two tie-down straps would prevent the boat going backwards off the trailer but this extra lashing keeps the front of the boat pointing at the bow roller.

Talking of bow rollers, I shall be replacing the bow roller with a V-block if I can.


Just a small point Ross. It would be better to lash the bow eyebolt vertically down to the trailer to prevent the boat 'jumping' as you drive over bumps.
To stop the boat sliding backwards (if the winch fails), I use the boat's painter attached to the cleat on the foredeck through the fairleads and around the winch post. In this way you have belt and braces if the eyebolt fails.


It's obvious when someone tells you! I was wondering what was more important - the vertical vector or the horizontal. I compromised by using a diagonal, but now see that you simply do both.

Thanks for that.