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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone use a dolly to help them get their boat into a garage? My old Skeeter was no problem to back into the garage and could easily be moved around by one person manually. My new boat is wider and probably 500 + lbs heavier and is on a trailer with a 3' longer tongue (when extended). My driveway is L shaped with a 90 degree turn to negotiate. Due to the longer tongue, I run out of driveway space for my tow vehicle to position the boat into the garage. Additionally, due to the greater width of the new boat, the side clearance for the boat/trailer through the garage door is minimal (3" to 4" on each side)- so extreme caution must be used to avoid damaging the garage door and/or the boat/trailer. I had not anticipated this situation when I brought the new boat home and, after lots of maneuvering when I arrived home with it, was able to position the rear end of the boat/trailer for entrance into the garage but did not have enough room for the tow vehicle to get a straight enough angle to push it into the garage.

"No problem" thought I; I'll just hop out and detach the trailer from the vehicle hitch and push it in. Well, the extra weight of this new rig is significantly greater than that of the old Skeeter package and was a major problem to move by myself. My driveway has a slight incline to the garage and the boat wanted to follow gravity when I uncoupled the hitch. Additionally, I have about a 1" higher lip from the driveway concrete slab to the slab in the garage. The small wheel on the trailer tongue jack does not pivot easily and I had to kick it to position its direction. After about 20 minutes of making a big racket in moving and positioning the boat, I was able to generate enough momentum to overcome the 1" lip and get the unit into the garage. I do not want to have to repeat this exercise ever again. It was physically very taxing and, without a doubt, disturbing to the neighbors.

So, with that in mind, do any of you guys use a trailer dolly to help in garaging your boat? These seem to be the options:

http://www.harborfreight.com/heavy-duty-trailer-dolly-69898.html
This is a manual, heavy duty dolly but I'm not sure how much mechanical advantage it would have over using the trailer tongue jack. It would definitely be superior for its ability to position the trailer quietly but will it lower the effort needed to actually move the beast? Since I was able to overcome the slight incline and generate enough speed to get the trailer wheels over the 1" lip when I was pushing and guiding from the trailer tongue when I brought the boat home, I'm guessing that this dolly would work but, if the physical effort to move the trailer remains excessive, I can't envision myself continuing to do this (I'm retired) forever. If anyone has used one of these or a similar style manual dolly, I would appreciate hearing of their experience. If someone has one of these that I could very briefly borrow to determine whether it would suffice for my needs, I'd be most grateful.

http://www.trailervalet.com/shop/tr...oogle-search&gclid=CO615qmT8L4CFdNzMgod-2AAaQ
This was suggested in a thread on walleyecentral.com . This unit is manual but has a 2 speed crank to assist in providing locomotion for inclines. (Some have speculated that the manual crank might be able to be operated using a cordless drill). Brackets can be permanently mounted to the trailer but it has a quick detach pin which allows for folding along the trailer when not in use or for removal. As there have been some reports of rust and wear for this unit and to minimize its attractiveness to thieves, I would detach it from the trailer when not in use and keep the trailer tongue jack that's already on the trailer mounted as is.

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/...um=CJ&utm_campaign=Redirect-Enabled+Deep+Link
This one is motorized using a 12v battery so a battery would need to be dedicated to its use- which would entail cost, storage and charging requirements (thought I'd solved my charging concerns by ordering a 3 bank charger on the new boat). I would assume that a connection to one of the boat batteries or the car battery might be able to be Macgyvered in. This unit can also have its mounting brackets permanently attached to the trailer frame but, for reasons similar to above, I would also quick detach it from the trailer when not being used and leave the stock trailer tongue jack on the trailer frame. Unfortunately, this unit is currently back ordered until late July.

There are also full electric dolly units but they are large and expensive ($1000+) and would present obstacles as far as storage so I am hoping to avoid them unless absolutely necessary. Seems like overkill for my needs. Here one of them at a very good price:
http://denver.craigslist.org/boa/4534096505.html
I just don't have the storage space to accommodate it.

I would appreciate any input or experiences that could be shared using boat dollys.

Thanks, Ratt.
 

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I didn't even know these things existed, they look sweet, but I have no experience with such thing. I can manually move around my 17ft tracker by myself, it takes a little effort though. It seems like this is only swapping the front of the trailer tire with a bigger tire, I guess you are also exerting your force down instead of up to life the boat if necessary. I don't see it making that much difference though I could be wrong, maybe someone one here has more experience with them. I think you need to just learn to do a L turn with a trailer behind your car ;)
 

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The answer may already be attached to the front of your trailer.
set an eye bolt or eye ring in the concrete floor of the garage where the back of the trailer needs to be when parked in the garage...
disconnect the hook from the boat from the hand wench that is mounted to the trailer... freespool the line and run it down thru the front of the trailer and back to the eye ring mounted in the floor... engage the wench and start cranking, pushing the front of the boat from side to side as needed...
you're welcome! ;)
 

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Is your trailer single axle or tandem? Tandem offers so much better stability in a trailer, but makes it nearly impossible to manuever by hand. I have a difficult time moving my tandem axle utility trailer by hand - even when it is empty.

I have the Harbor Freight dolly, and it works reasonably well for my Lund. That said, I think it would give you no advantage in your situation.

I had a PowerCaster for a short time to try to get my ski boat into the garage at my parents house. It worked great on flat, hard surfaces. It did not work on road base.

I think that Craigslist find is what I would jump on if I were you. It will work well for your situation.

Would a front hitch for your tow vehicle help you out?
 

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if it's at all possible to back it in but you're uncomfortable with the clearances... mount a ball on the front of your truck and push it in instead.
 

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I've got the Harbor Freight unit and it works, with some limitations. You are manually moving your load, and so you have to be the power and the brakes. Works fine for my small boat, not so well for the bigger one with the tandem trailer. For that the other choices you posted would be much better. It would be great to have the right tool for the job -- thanks for posting the links!

One thing to consider is your tongue weight. I found it a whole lot easier to move my boat around when I made some adjustments to the trailer and moved the weight of the boat back just a bit.
 

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My II Cents

1 Craigslist electric dolly.

Modify if necessary.

Why risk an injury? Cheaper than a medical issue?

2 Fasten a winch at the back of the garage to the floor with a remote control or long cord.

3 Buy a different house. :biggrin1:
 

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Get a boat winch and mount it on the garage wall...attach a hook to the back of the trailer and winch it in?

use a 12 volt electric winch. attach to your tow rig, trailor ball or a short 1/2 inch chain and hook to your safety chain attachment point, connect to your trailor light plug on your tow rig. run the cable to a pully attached to your back wall or floor, hook to the back of your trailor. push the switch and the boat will park itself. i think i would rent a concrete grinder and get rid of that 1 inch lip
 

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Get a boat winch and mount it on the garage wall...attach a hook to the back of the trailer and winch it in?
Very close to what I do. 12 volt winch from Harbor Freight mounted to the floor. I also have a 90 degree turn into the garage. Back the boat up until the tire away from the garage door hits a strategically placed 2X4. Unhook and fold the tongue of the trailer. Push the nose of the boat towards the garage door...keep pushing until the front wheel is on a preset mark on the driveway. Hook the winch strap to the nose of the trailer and let the winch pull the boat into a preset/marked spot. Reverse to take it out. Takes about 7 minutes for me to put the boat in the garage and about 3 minutes to take it out. BTW - I lengthened the control mechanism by about 20 feet to allow me to walk around the boat as it gets winched in.

Where are you located?

I winch mine in nose first because the back of the boat is too wide to allow access to the door leading to the house. I cannot see winching in a boat backwards...you are at the nose steering it and cannot see the sides.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the responses- some of which are truly inspired.

Here are clarifications and thoughts.

I love the house and the area where I live- near University and Arapahoe in Centennial- so I won't be moving- LOL. Unlike Slayer, I seldom suffer from reptilian attacks at my location. The garage is a 2 car but has 2 small doors rather than one large one. The trailer is a single axle and needs to be backed into the garage for storage. It pulled wonderfully behind the 2013 4Runner but mileage decreased to 16s and 17s. Couldn't get a real good read on mileage because the bugs were out in force and I pulled over for gas 3 times on the return trip in order to clean the windshield. Eastern Wyoming is very green this year and has gone all Kansas on us.

I am disinclined to begin installing an eye bolt/ring in the garage floor on speculation that it may be helpful. Ghostman's suggestion of doing so and using the hand winch on the trailer borders on brilliant but there are too many sharp obstructions on the trailer and the force from the strap would likely lift the front of the trailer before pulling it back into the garage. I won't take the chance at damaging/marring the boat, motor or trailer on this new rig.

Suggestions to install a ball on the front of the vehicle are appreciated but the driveway lacks the width to allow the vehicle to align in any way directly behind/in front of the boat. I would prefer not to modify the Toyota with a front hitch/ball. The narrow width of this garage door requires finesse to avoid damaging the door frame or the boat/trailer and this is the main reason for my interest in the Trailer Valet or the Sportsmansguide 12v unit- both of which provide control and braking.

I would still like to try a manual dolly like the Harbor Freight unit just to see if the rolling resistance of the small wheel on the installed trailer tongue jack might have increased the effort needed to move the boat up the slight incline. It surely would help in maneuvering the trailer quietly by eliminating the need to kick the small wheel on the trailer tongue jack each time a change of direction was required but, with the freer roll and without any braking, might also create a bad situation when moving the boat out of the garage and down the incline to the tow vehicle. I would love the opportunity to borrow and test a manual dolly's usefulness- both entering (uphill) and leaving (downhill) the garage- but would only do the testing when I had someone else with me to help control the boat/trailer if braking were an issue. I don't really want to buy a manual unit before testing one and, then, discover that it provides no benefit.

If I had more room to accommodate the Craigslist electric unit, that would be a no brainer. The cost would be the same as the Trailer Valet or the Sportsmansguide 12 v dollies but the space availability in my garage was greatly decreased with the introduction of the new boat.

The boat is a Crestliner Fish Hawk 1650 walk through with a Merc 90 4 stroke. I've ordered vinyl registration numbers for it from boatus.com and they should arrive any day. I also don't have a license plate for the trailer and the temp plate supplied by the dealer in Spearfish is not mountable on the trailer brackets. (That made for an interesting/nervous drive back from SD but I was never stopped by the law during the 7 hour return trip. I think that having no license on the trailer would result in a life sentence in Wyoming for a Greenie.) The boat was 3 weeks late (11 weeks total) arriving at the dealership and my anticipation was off the charts during the wait but it's worse now having the boat and not being able to put it on the water as yet. I'll post pictures of the rig when I can move it confidently. The in-garage photo angles just won't do it justice plus that's where I chain up the Guatemalan hookers. I am anxious to begin the motor break in and start to learn the 899 and 859 'birds and the Terrova 80 with IPilot (no Link). It's my retirement present to myself and I can't wait to slime it.

Many thanks for your suggestions and help. Keep them coming.

Ratt
 

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We've really been looking at the same boat in an 1850. Why was it 3 weeks late. Why did you by it in Spearfish and not in CO, if you don't mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I bought it in Spearfish at Recreation Station due to a $3000 difference in price between Rec Station and the CO dealer for the exact boat equipped exactly the same. The CO dealer was unwilling to budge on price and presented additional issues. PM me for more info.

Ratt
 

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Discussion Starter #18
We've really been looking at the same boat in an 1850. Why was it 3 weeks late. Why did you by it in Spearfish and not in CO, if you don't mind.
I sent you a PM. If you would like any additional information or to discuss my PM, please send me your phone number and I'll give you a call.

ratt
 

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Ratt have you searched like iboats.com for trailer valet? I also see it is on amazon.com as a product and there are various buyer reviews on what it did well and what it didnt...u may have looked there too.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Z,

I've read reviews on the Trailer Valet from several sources (about 5 pages of Google links) and it appears that complaints about it were much more common during its introduction. Issues were initially cited regarding the wheels, underinflated/deflating tires, rust prone metals, metal gauge and overall quality. The company seems to be responsive and has rectified many of these concerns through retooling and improved materials although rusting seems to be continuing. More recent reviews generally are more positive. The rusting issue would not be a difference maker to me as I would remove the valet from the quick mounting bracket (by removing a pin) and leave the valet at home. The already installed trailer tongue jack would remain on the trailer also. It would seem that there might be too much temptation for theft if the Valet were left on the trailer.

Cabelas stopped carrying a Chinese made knock off of the Trailer Valet called a Tow Tuff which was a complete waste. The reviews of it were consistently abysmal. It was from a completely different source and the owner of Trailer Valet acknowledged that the worthless knock off exists but the costs for litigating against patent infringement are prohibitive. Some reviews of the Travel Valet are misplaced as the reviewers were referring to the Tow Tuff.

I will likely try this unit since the Sportsmansguide 12v option is back ordered until late July. I have read some credible, positive reviews of the 12v unit on walleyecentral.com but no one on the forums has much input about the Trailer Valet. Waiting until late July to take my maiden voyage seems excessive to me.

Would really like to test a manual unit like the Harbor Freight, too, and would be very pleasantly surprised if that were workable.

By the way, Z, one of the reasons I put a 80 Terrova on this small of a boat is to be able to deal with the wind at your haunt. Looking forward to getting out there- or anywhere for that matter!
 
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