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Trailering a 31 Commander

While not a small task, trailering large boats is possible with the right equipment and preparation. I started by getting a good idea roughly how much the boat weighed and it’s dimensions. For many Chris Crafts that can be found in our section. Having a tow vehicle and trailer that are up to the task, particularly stopping the load are very important. I already had a 1 ton pickup truck. Only modification I made to it was to install a class 5 18,000lb rated receiver hitch and a brake controller.

Next, the trailer. I considered a new trailer, and would go that route to do it over again, but they were hard to come by at the time. I found a used triple axle trailer rated at 18,000lbs. It was quite long at 47’ and needed basically everything that moved, but it was a solid foundation to start with.

Next stop was to get the boat on it to get a good idea where it needs to sit for balance and any modifications that need to be made. Height wise, just above the fenders is as deep asI could get the boat. The keel wasn’t a limitation on this trailer.

First thing I did was to cut 5’ off the tongue to make the trailer at least a little more maneuverable, it was definitely not needed for my 31. I installed a new 21,000lb rated 2-5/16” coupler to replace the surge brake actuator it came with. The general them with this whole rebuild was quality parts overbuilt for the application. I put 6 new Good Year Load Range E tires on it. Removed the 4 drum brakes and installed 6 Kodiak disc brakes with new Timken bearings, all new hydraulic lines powered by a Hydrastar electric over hydraulic actuator. A new battery back up breakaway system ways also added. I wanted to make absolutely sure I could easily stop the load. I completely rewired the trailer with all new lights also.

I bought new hardware and 4 2x12’s 12’ long To build my bunks. I took 2 2x12’s and glued and screwed them together to make 1 3” wide bunk. Next I painted them with some outdoor paint, then cut out the sling pockets. Setting the bunks as wide as I could on the frames set the bunks right under the stringers and outside the shafts and props. I cut up some 1/2” thick rubber floor mat to pad the bunks, then wrapped them in indoor outdoor carpet. The front bunks would be 2x6’s also with rubber padding and carpet.

Once I got the trailer complete now it was planning time. I knew I needed permits since the boat is 11’3” wide, so I planned my route out, using as many state roads as possible as the offer the best clearance. I was under 13’6” which helps alot. You’ll need all your truck and trailer measurements, total length, width, axle tracks and distance between axles. I use Mercury Permits to do the actual permits, one call and they can set up the permits in a couple hours generally. You’ll need oversize signs to attach to the front and rear of the truck and trailer as well as flags on the widest corners of the load. The permits in Michigan give you 3 days to complete the trip, over 10’ wide can’t travel on weekends, after dark or during rush hour. So plan the permits with the haulout. Permits in hand and haulout scheduled I headed to the marina to load up. I had the marina set the boat on the trailer where it needed to be for balance, then adjusted the front bunks to the boat. I strapped it down front and rear with 4 10,000lb straps. I also removed the radar and spot light from the top and secured the antenna. This made the boat 12’ tall on the trailer, well under 13’6” limit. Towing the boat I would say just take it slow, leave plenty of room to stop and a wide berth in turns. The first stop I made I found out just how good the new brakes were, it just about ripped the frame out from under the truck the worked so well, turned the controller down and dialed it in over the next couple stops. I kept it under 60mph for the whole trip. I did run through a truck stop with it and found that the boat as empty as I could possibly get it weighed 10,540lbs. My little 350 wasn’t thrilled about pulling the load, but left in Drive it performed ok. The rig handled great though, very stable and stopped great.

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