With the local water levels already low and going lower, the time was right for us to modify Sunset Chaser's trailer for shallower ramps. Here's how we did it.
For a small, light boat like Sunset Chaser, a modification like this is a pretty straightforward DIY metalworking project. The idea is to get an extra metre or so of tongue length, so that the boat can get farther down the ramp without having to dunk the back of the car. A long tongue won't fit in the garage, though, so the extension has to be collapsable.
Here's the position we want in the water. The trailer's bunks are submerged to almost exactly the same depth that the boat's hull draws with one person aboard. The V-chock is just barely out of the water, and the car's brakes remain high and dry.
On land, it looks a bit funny, almost like it's overloaded and sagging in the middle. This is not, in fact, the case- we are far from being overloaded, and while the trailer does flex a bit, it certainly doesn't sag like that under load.
Rather, we've built a kink of slightly less than one degree in by design. This lifts the stern and drops the bow slightly, which makes it a bit easier to float (rather than winch) the boat onto the trailer. The difference is marginal with the low-profile Elantra serving as tow vehicle, but every centimetre counts when dealing with the higher tow point of a truck or van.
A slide-in coupling, similar to a tow vehicle's drawbar, is simpler and easier to fabricate than a folding hinge. We've welded a steel box section around the old tongue and added a skid plate underneath it to take the weight when the trailer's parked. There are drain holes underneath to prevent water from accumulating in the joint.
The extension is secured with three 1/2" hitch pins, the same type used for Class II drawbars. Any two of them can fail and the coupling will still be more than strong enough for this boat. The outer sleeve section overlaps about 30 cm of the original tongue section; the two are joined by fillet welds at the back and around a 10 cm notch in the top of the sleeve (now inside the winch stand), plus a series of plug welds on each side.
We also moved the winch stand forward onto what is now a heavily reinforced area, and welded it in place. (There's not much need to move the winch stand on a trailer that will only ever carry one boat.)
It's simple, it's crude and it doesn't look like much, but it's a cheap and convenient way to get a better-handling trailer that's usable when the lake levels are down.