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Old 03-24-2011   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 70s
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 63
Raft Trailer Winch Height ?

I have added a flat deck to a utility trailer with rear roller for my 14" selfbailer.....I plan to add a post for a winch up initial idea is to have the winch at the same level as the bow of the raft, though I have seen some trailers that have the winch set up down low at the level of the flat deck......this would pull in line across the trailer, and have a shorter winch idea is to have it high, as would be typical for a speedboat trailer setup so the winch is exactly at the level of the raft handle/front D ring and could keep attached there for travel.................any opinions/experience re NOT wanting the winch attachment at the bow level, vs. lower down re function or banging into the raft with transport or anything I'm not thinking about???? any opinions re winches (since a set up raft is still light, a cheap low poundage winch seems safe to me?)............thanks, Chet

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Old 03-24-2011   #2
Carbondale, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 317
I did a similiar thing with my utility trailer...deck, rollers, winch, etc. I keep meaning to take pictures and post to here so the setup can be seen. My winch is set up even with the bow D ring, so it doesn't pull the raft down onto the deck, thus reducing friction once the raft pivots down onto the deck after most of the weight has cleared the rollers. I made the winch post removable so that is doesn't interfere with the back door of my slide in pop-up camper when it's on the truck. I got a low geared winch for steep ramps (fishing rigs are heavy) but it is overkill on a level ramp and I wind up spinning my arm off bringing the last half of the raft onto the trailer. Six one way, half a dozen the other. I keep the winch strap hooked up when driving to keep the raft from moving backwards, and still tie down at four points, back straps pull the raft backwards so it can't move forward, winch keeps it from sliding back, front staps control lateral movement.

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Old 03-24-2011   #3
Beaverton, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 569
When you settle on the height of the post, pay attention to where the post is relative to your dropped tailgate. Round one of my winch post was in a conflict with my truck's tailgate. The winch won the damage contest, and then we moved it back 3" so both could operate.
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Old 03-24-2011   #4
The Mogur's Avatar
Oregon City, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 457
I built my old flatbed raft trailer with a post and a winch, but I found that the winch really couldn't do much. There was so much friction between the bottom of the raft (which was fully loaded and pretty heavy) and the artificial turf that the winch was unable to move the raft. Invariably I ended up backing the trailer in deep enough to float the raft onto the trailer.

So when I built my new trailer, I didn't bother with a winch. I just made sure that the design of the trailer kept the trailer deck as low as possible, and instead of artificial turf, I used plastic decking lumber for the deck surface. Go to and find my trailer at post #18.
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Old 03-24-2011   #5
Osprey's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
I have a custom rapid-rig, so kind of like yours with the deck height high enough for storage underneath. My winch is tall enough so it matches up with the front raft handle but it came that way, I didn’t tweak it. Works fine but my raft slides on 1” rails so no issues with the winch bringing it all the way up. Only thing that happens with mine is the handle on the front of the raft can hang up on the roller when it is making the climb to deck height. Someone there to give it a little lift/shove past that point is all it takes though. Winch does the rest.

Mine is just a regular cheap boat winch like you would get at walmart. Plenty of power (but someday I might go baller and get an electric one J). It is far enough back on the tongue of the trailer to open my Tahoe door so no issues there. Flip side of that is if I ever go to a longer raft it would be nice to slide the raft further forward than the winch would allow now.

I used the extra height of the winch mount pole to mount a bike rack on the front. If the trailer tongue is long enough for a dirt bike or something for shuttles that is the way to go. The other side of the pole takes the spare mount. I’ll see if I can link a pic.
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Old 03-24-2011   #6
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
Winch to a pulley on the lumber rack is the way to go, if you have a lumber rack.

The higher the better, so you are lifting the bow to avoid friction. I'm sure the pulley adds some friction and there is a lot of strain on the boat. I clip into the full perimeter liine, not just the D-ring, so it spreads the love to the other d rings.

I have a little hand crank one and you have to really get after it.

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 03-24-2011   #7
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,105
Mine is mounted to the trailer jack (which is not functional). I worried the post wouldn't be strong enough, especially if I didn't mount it at the base, but thought it would function better if it was mounted as high as possible. I opted to mount it high and so far the post is holding up. I have rollers on the the back of the trailer and find the winch most useful when I only have one person to help me load Supercat. In some situations, it would be possible to load it myself.
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Old 03-24-2011   #8
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
ok, here's a couple

with my motorized bike shuttle vehicle on the front

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Old 03-24-2011   #9
forks, washington
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 24
I have an adjustable one on the front of my trailer.

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Old 03-25-2011   #10
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 56
Osprey, thanks for the pictures. Looks like your trailer has about 2 ft sides? I'm looking at getting a trailer like that, but I'm concerned that it could be a bit hard to load the boat onto a trailer that high. Has it worked out well for you? Any big troubles loading the boat?

I love the idea of being able to carry a lot of stuff in the trailer as my family will do week long car camping trips with raft day trips (as well as multi-day raft trips), and it would be great to carry all the stuff we need in the trailer.

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