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Old 06-09-2014, 06:55 PM   #1
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Travel lift or Hydraulic trailer?

Our boat has been hauled and launched annually for years (Greats Lakes) using a typical travel lift with two wide slings under the keel. The yard recently acquired a hydraulic trailer with pads that lift the boat around the chine area. The trailer is rated for the weight of the boat, but I wonder about the advisability of lifting a 35,000 pound boat by these eight roughly 18" square pads pushing against the bottom. I suppose there is some structural stiffness afforded by the chines....although they only extend about 2/3 of the way forward from the stern, so the forward pads aren't lifting very much. Thoughts??
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:36 PM   #2
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We routinely put all the weight of our boats on only the keel when using a travel lift. Also, the people operating the travel lift are notorious for letting their slings fray and weaken before replacement...scary. ...also(!), slings are hard on rub rails and toe rails if not blocked properly. I'd go with a trailer or rail if given the choice.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:58 PM   #3
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Trailer.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:58 PM   #4
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We routinely put all the weight of our boats on only the keel when using a travel lift. Also, the people operating the travel lift are notorious for letting their slings fray and weaken before replacement...scary. ...also(!), slings are hard on rub rails and toe rails if not blocked properly. I'd go with a trailer or rail if given the choice.
Yes, I learned about travel lift damage to spray rails the hard way. Round, carpet covered wooden standoffs/blocks solved that issue. Still wonder about distortion of the relatively thin fiberglass on the bottom (using the trailer) as compared to the beefy keel.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:07 PM   #5
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I hardly ever see trailers compared to travel lifts.

I would pick a travel lift every time.

If the lift is hard on boat parts..either it's the wrong sized travel lift or bad operators.

Much simpler and quicker for the whole process of launching and blocking...understand why some places might use trailers or if there's a good distance to take the boat before blocking...buy having used both and been around operations that use both...I'd go travel lift...and as far as frayed straps...they are rated wayyyy past what most of the time they pick up.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:26 PM   #6
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The new "Boat Park" around the corner from us, works pretty slick and dry storage available year round with a launch when you wish. I still use the travel lift at the old school yard.........
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:03 PM   #7
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Our marina uses a trailer to transport the boat to the well, where the travel lift picks it up and launches it. Our guys are real pros, and never ding a boat.
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:58 PM   #8
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I'd go w the trailer.

The travel lift tend's to put a lot of inward pressure on the hull. The deeper the keel is the less crushing force is applied to the chine and when there is flare the gunn'ls. Some marina's won't even lift an old wood boat fearing it will be damaged by this crushing force. A new wood boat would probably be more resistant to crushing from the chine pressures than a FG boat. Another negative for the TL is how far the boat can fall if the boat is dropped. It happens.

With a trailer and a boat with a straight keel the weight will be close to evenly distributed along the bottom (through the keel) and only 5 to 15% on the pads. But there are 6 or so pads so the pad forces w a properly operated trailer should be very low. The pads are only intended to keep the boat vertical. Once the straight keel is in full contact w the cross rods in the trailer the weight is very evenly distributed. But the trailer is'nt as operator proof as the TL. A curved (rockered) keel like my Willy can only be supported by two cross rods and it's possible to put all the weight of the boat less what the pads support on ONE point of the keel. Very bad. Certain center rods need to be removed or Willy can be carrying her whole weight on one or two rods at the center of the boat. Many operators may not know to do that.

With a travel lift on most smaller boats the weight will be quite evenly distributed on point where the slings are located. Only two points but fairly even support. And MUCH better keel support w a curved or rockered keel. Care should be directed to well thought out placing for the slings. Bulkheads are probably excellent locations for slings. The boat should be marked "lift here" or "sling".

Either lift or trailer is fine if operated by attentive and knowledgable operators and if you have a strong boat and a well maintained lift or trailer all should be good and safe.

In my yard we always get hauled by a 10ton TL, placed on a trailer and moved to wherever.
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Old 06-10-2014, 11:03 AM   #9
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I'd go w the trailer.

The travel lift tend's to put a lot of inward pressure on the hull. The deeper the keel is the less crushing force is applied to the chine and when there is flare the gunn'ls. Some marina's won't even lift an old wood boat fearing it will be damaged by this crushing force. A new wood boat would probably be more resistant to crushing from the chine pressures than a FG boat. Another negative for the TL is how far the boat can fall if the boat is dropped. It happens.

With a trailer and a boat with a straight keel the weight will be close to evenly distributed along the bottom (through the keel) and only 5 to 15% on the pads. But there are 6 or so pads so the pad forces w a properly operated trailer should be very low. The pads are only intended to keep the boat vertical. Once the straight keel is in full contact w the cross rods in the trailer the weight is very evenly distributed. But the trailer is'nt as operator proof as the TL. A curved (rockered) keel like my Willy can only be supported by two cross rods and it's possible to put all the weight of the boat less what the pads support on ONE point of the keel. Very bad. Certain center rods need to be removed or Willy can be carrying her whole weight on one or two rods at the center of the boat. Many operators may not know to do that.

With a travel lift on most smaller boats the weight will be quite evenly distributed on point where the slings are located. Only two points but fairly even support. And MUCH better keel support w a curved or rockered keel. Care should be directed to well thought out placing for the slings. Bulkheads are probably excellent locations for slings. The boat should be marked "lift here" or "sling".

Either lift or trailer is fine if operated by attentive and knowledgable operators and if you have a strong boat and a well maintained lift or trailer all should be good and safe.

In my yard we always get hauled by a 10ton TL, placed on a trailer and moved to wherever.
This trailer design does not have lift pads for the keel. It's a huge box section "U" that's open at the rear and all the way forward (no cross members). All the lifting is done along the chines. They wouldn't use it on your boat.
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Old 06-10-2014, 11:10 AM   #10
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This trailer design does not have lift pads for the keel. It's a huge box section "U" that's open at the rear and all the way forward (no cross members). All the lifting is done along the chines. They wouldn't use it on your boat.
I've used two hyd trailers for my boat, both had provisions for beams to span across the two main structures to support the keel. I would not have the boat supported with pads alone, but it probably would be ok if the pads were under the bulkheads. Usually you can get one pair of pads under a bkd, but other pairs will miss. Can't move them that much.

Get a beam under the keel.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:29 PM   #11
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Watched our guys move a boat today. Their trailer has a couple of straps that support the keel, with the pads used to stabilize the boat. Sweet.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:19 PM   #12
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Slings on a travel lift are an obvious weak point. I was involved in a case of failure. A steel sailboat, being launched in slings by waterside workers doing a "foreign order" using the employers lifter, fell when slings failed, damaging the boat and seriously injuring its owner onboard. The slings had been poorly repaired by someone other than the manufacturer, found not liable. I remember that how the slings are attached to the lifter matters a lot, the SWL capacity can be greatly reduced depending how they are used.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:25 PM   #13
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Thankfully, I wasn't dependent on slings initially. ... Made sure "my" boatyard has non-worn slings:



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Old 06-11-2014, 01:39 AM   #14
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On our vessel, rail wheels and pulley cradle with blocks which totally support the boat via the keel, this is the method of choice per the NA. Sling failures have lots of U Tube hits. Who checks the slings - ask the yard crew and you'll get some interesting answers. What I don't like about the hydraulic cradles like Van Isle has is a proper keel supporting job cannot be done until boat is driven to the storage area.

Lots of potential problems no matter which way, especially once the boat gets to + 30 tons or so. Shades of the NM Baden discussions eh?
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:21 AM   #15
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On our vessel, rail wheels and pulley cradle with blocks which totally support the boat via the keel, this is the method of choice per the NA. Sling failures have lots of U Tube hits. Who checks the slings - ask the yard crew and you'll get some interesting answers.
The railway is our preferred method. We were dropped in 1997 on our last boat. The rear strap broke, dropping us 2' on pavement.
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:30 AM   #16
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Man...what kind of boatyards do you guys use???

Mines a dump and still the straps are maintained and used correctly.

The toilets and showers suck...but at least they don't drop boats.
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:37 AM   #17
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A friend had his old 34 Mainship dropped from a travel lift several years ago. The hydraulics failed and the emergency drum brake had been inoperable for many years. They dropped the bow onto a piling, then the large tubes that support the sraps dropped and drove all his stantions thru the deck, both sides.
The marina (in RI) tried to claim it was "an act of god".
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:46 AM   #18
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Man...what kind of boatyards do you guys use???

Mines a dump and still the straps are maintained and used correctly.

The toilets and showers suck...but at least they don't drop boats.
Well now you've done it! You had to brag on them. Now they'll drop one for sure.

At least the heads and showers will still keep working. :-)
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:12 AM   #19
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Since we were dropped, if we have to haul out on a travel lift, I inspect the wear threads or red core warning yarns on the travel lifts straps before we haul out. All modern straps should have warning indicators sewn into detect if the straps have been overloaded or have core damage. Ask your travel lift operator to see them. If they baulk, go somewhere else.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:37 AM   #20
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There was a travel lift failure last year at Canoe Cove with the lift going off the tracks.

For a really big surprise ask the marina/yard/ retrieval company whose insurance applies in the event of failure, then when they say "yours" ask your insurance company. Then ask your insurer if you are covered for "consequential damage" if the marina is harmed, business slowed or an employee hurt. What say TF's insurance members in this regard?

For safety sake, select a travel lift rated at double your vessel's gross weight, if one can be found. And one with an owner who has proper liability insurance and the ability to fix the hull breach when the stabilizer, rudder, or shaft supports strike the ground.
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