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Boat Tow Vehicle


hogexpress
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How steep is your ramp and how far do you have to tow it? Tow rating aside as you'd be going severely over it, you do have to remember that any a basic ski boat will probably be around 4 times the weight of a UTV so traction and braking could be a problem even just backing it in.

 

I was curious so I searched youtube for utv pulling boat and found a couple videos of some pulling boats on flat land and one video of one failing while trying to pull a pontoon boat out. The failure was a bad video so I'm not sure what happened but I'm guessing something broke.

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@hogexpress‌ I do this often with my Polaris Ranger 700XP. Our ramp is fairly steep. Pulling the boat out is no problem in low range. Backing it in is a different animal. The boat is obviously much heavier and once it's starts going down the ramp if your not straight it's a problem. The tires on the Polaris will just slide if you try to stop with the brakes. I usually let the boat tires get to the top of ramp and then put the Polaris in forward low. I just feather the throttle a bit as we drift down backwards instead of using the brakes and never have an issue. All that being said, I don't condone this method. I'm just telling you what I do. Definitely be careful.
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Thanks for the replies. My ramp is not that steep and my garage is 20 yards tops from ramp. Maneuvering space is a problem for my truck. Talked with my 'hunting' friends who have these toys and they said no problem. Just wondering if anyone was actually doing it.

 

For the $$$ looks like some of these little compact tractors might do better.

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Back when, I had a front bumper hitch on my 1978 Suburban. Maybe another alternative to

consider. Don't know if today's truck front bumpers can be rigged for one. Sure is easy

to maneuver when you're not looking over your shoulder or in the mirrors. Used at one

of the early AWSA Boat Tests at McCormicks.

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Another idea is to look for commercial surplus auctions for a bob cat (Skid steer) or a fork lift. Sometimes can be a deal at the right government auction and both have amazing tight steering ability.

"Do Better..."

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A few guys near me launch with 4x4 John Deere Gators. One is gas the other is diesel. They just launch from their garages on their own private ramps. Great utility vehicles for working as well. Not great offroad machines. I'm looking for a 6x4 gator because I would have to pull my boat a half mile to my launch ramp. The extra wheels in back will help with that. However no rear suspension on the 6x4.
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They make front mount draw bar receivers for just about every truck and full size SUV. Just google "front mount hitch" and "your vehicle name" some options should come up. They are all about the same.

 

I wouldn't rule out a UTV but look for ones with hydrostatic transmissions like the Polaris stuff. A John Deere Gator may be more viable with 6 wheels and the increased traction. As mentioned a small farm tractor with 4 wheel drive is more up to the task and designed as such. I've seen a few marinas use tractors for launch and retrieve duty but when I say "small" we're talking the equivalent of a bobcat.

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A friend of mine uses a Farmall "A" to launch his high perf outboard tunnel and I'm pretty sure he pulls his pontoon in and out with it too. Quite a bit lighter than a tournament boat but the ramp in front of his house is really steep and the tractor doesn't even know the boat is behind it. I agree with the others, a small tractor would probably be better.
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After research, I agree with small tractor option. For almost same price i can get a 25 hp Kubota with loader for same price as one of these Side by Side UTV's. Every man should own a tractor plus tractor lose very little value over time. Great investment!

 

Can't wait to tell my wife.

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If you don't have one of those UTV's already, I certainly wouldn't buy one for that purpose. With some experience (and possibly from frustration), you should be able to use your truck anywhere the boat will fit. I back my boat down my 200 foot driveway with a bend in it and I have maybe an extra 12-18 inches on each side. Steep slope on one side and concrete wall on the other. There isn't much wiggle room but if I go slow and make minor corrections before they get out of hand, it works just fine.
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Note for @Waternut‌

 

For sure, think about a front mount hitch for your truck. I see in another posting that

it should be a viable option for most any truck.

 

Of course, much less of a backing challenge, but also something that most anyone could

handle, not just a pro-backer. Cost would more than cover a major OOPS.

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@Wayne - yup, and a posthole digger, trencher, plow, 3 pt hitch and a bunch of other scary looking stuff. It was the post WW2 tractor

http://www.ewillys.com/wp-content/uploads2/2013/04/ted-cj2a-with-options.jpg

http://www.thecj2apage.com/1948_willys_cj2a/images/tk48farmjeep.jpg

http://i624.photobucket.com/albums/tt322/ralfwv/mow.jpg

 

 

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@xr6hurricane - I've dropped in with a Farmall Cub - even smaller than the A. There are some really big issues with doing so - one the band brakes - they work far better slowing forward motion (which tightens the band) and backwards motion (which loosens the band)

 

Have to be very careful using antique farm equipment for any heavy towing - can be very sketchy.

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@uflbret I'm cool with that. It has over 4000 miles on it and at least 75 boat launches. Not wearing them out too soon I don't think. It's really just a little bump if I'm not going straight. I did put a new belt on it last year but also think that was reasonable timing.
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another vote for tractor. We don't launch a tow boat (yet) with ours but we launch the pontoon on a flat sand shore, after driving down the hill, maybe 1/4 mile from shed to lake. Goes back up the hill just fine.

 

Also been called on in the days before 4wd prevalence to help more than a few stuck rigs down at the local access. One memorable night involved a double decker pontoon owned at the time by a certain local aluminum lift and dock company.

 

And it serves yearly duty for a steel frame dock.

 

Best picture I can find of it right now

http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg9/yz125x/IMG_3089.jpg

 

http://i812.photobucket.com/albums/zz45/minnewawa/166073_385411298193151_1617371979_n.jpg

 

http://i812.photobucket.com/albums/zz45/minnewawa/964453_10151446096378461_631765297_o.jpg

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I have a friend who uses his electric Titan UTV to put in/out his 200. It has no issues at all with it. The ramp there is not super steep, but steep enough to see plenty of trucks spinning a bit in 2wd. Personally, I vote for the tractor since it has much more utility use available.
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