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Zero tolerance swing tongue beware

mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
I have a zero tolerance swing tongue from Ameratrail as shown below. It's great for fitting in the garage but the Fulton swing joint wears out every 6 months and has to be replaced.

l_4819_640.jpg

After researching the Fulton installation instructions I found the winch stand should never be mounted on the swing portion of the tongue.

http://www.fultonperformance.com/support/installation/NHDPB330301.pdf

"Do not mount any accessories to Fold-Away tongue (i.e.jack, spare tire carrier, winch stand)."

With the winch stand on the swing portion the entire tension on the winch has to pass through the swing joint and that is way more force than the joint is designed for. Every little bump on the road makes the joint fail a little more. Before long the joint is obviously bent. If you disconnect the winch from the boat before towing you would be okay but then you have to find some other way to secure the boat to the trailer that isn't on the swing tongue.

The safety chains must also be attached to the boat side of the swing tongue and not just to the coupler as in the picture.

So if you're worried about trailer safety I would suggest not getting a "zero tolerance" option and if you do have a swing tongue make sure the safety chains are properly attached to the trailer..

I already have a new trailer with a swing tongue but without the zero tolerance so looks like I'll have to get the manufacturer to do the safety chains properly.

With any swing tongue you might want to check out your tongue weight too and see if your swing tongue length is inside the Fulton safety zone for tongue weight on the installation instructions.

Replies

  • TXWahooTXWahoo Posts: 565 Officer
    Did you install the swing tongue or did it come that way from Ameratrail?
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    TXWahoo wrote: »
    Did you install the swing tongue or did it come that way from Ameratrail?

    It came that way from Ameratrail. My EZ loader I had first that didn't fit in the garage was similar I think.

    When I had the new trailer built by The Hub on a Continental frame he immediately pointed out why the swing joints were always failing.
  • Egrets LandingEgrets Landing Posts: 952 Officer
    I've been happy with my ameritrail but I don't have the swing tongue. Now that BS stock jack they use is a different story. Horrible. I can't believe they put them on any trailer leaving that place. And if they did attach any jack to the swing tongue they should make good on that given the improper install and replace the hinge. They will mail the parts to you fast.

    I think an email to them would likely suffice.
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    I've been happy with my ameritrail but I don't have the swing tongue. Now that BS stock jack they use is a different story. Horrible. I can't believe they put them on any trailer leaving that place. And if they did attach any jack to the swing tongue they should make good on that given the improper install and replace the hinge. They will mail the parts to you fast.

    I think an email to them would likely suffice.

    They did fix the hinge once already and it soon bent again. My point is that the whole trailer design is not acceptable: the winch stand should not be on the opposite side of the swing from the boat.

    Do you have the Seasense SS $300 winch? That was the part that failed for me even after I told them it was broken but they said it was fine after adjustment: they were wrong. The broken winch let the boat slide way back on the trailer and lead to my near death experience at 70mph on the turnpike.
  • Egrets LandingEgrets Landing Posts: 952 Officer
    mbowers wrote: »
    They did fix the hinge once already and it soon bent again. My point is that the whole trailer design is not acceptable: the winch stand should not be on the opposite side of the swing from the boat.

    Do you have the Seasense SS $300 winch? That was the part that failed for me even after I told them it was broken but they said it was fine after adjustment: they were wrong. The broken winch let the boat slide way back on the trailer and lead to my near death experience at 70mph on the turnpike.

    I have had no issues with their stock winch. Only their crappy stock jack. Every time I use it I think about how dumb they are for sending them out with them bolted on and their ridiculous response to my complaint about that jack. I would not buy another ameritrail just because of that... and I think the trailer works pretty good. But I don't buy geico either for running those ridiculous ads and if I had geico I would cancel it the next time I heard kenny rodgers or saw that dumb fat guy screaming at the deli.
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    I have had no issues with their stock winch. <snip> But I don't buy geico either for running those ridiculous ads and if I had geico I would cancel it the next time I heard kenny rodgers or saw that dumb fat guy screaming at the deli.

    The $300 SS winch is the upgraded winch but unfortunately SS is very weak and it really shows in that winch. The Fulton F2 rocks. I buy Geico because State Farm wouldn't go after the pedestrian that jumped in front of my truck at night. He got two tickets from the police when he woke up on the side of the road and I got to pay for the damages! State Farm wouldn't even contact his insurance company!
  • Renagade69Renagade69 Posts: 1,234 Officer
    mbowers wrote: »
    The $300 SS winch is the upgraded winch but unfortunately SS is very weak and it really shows in that winch. The Fulton F2 rocks. I buy Geico because State Farm wouldn't go after the pedestrian that jumped in front of my truck at night. He got two tickets from the police when he woke up on the side of the road and I got to pay for the damages! State Farm wouldn't even contact his insurance company!

    You hit a pedestrian at night and expect State Farm to go after their insurance?? I have to hear this whole story.
    Hells Bay Estero Bay Boat and Hells Bay Marquesas
  • FlatsBoyFlatsBoy Posts: 1,393 Officer
    Epic! :funnypost
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    Renagade69 wrote: »
    You hit a pedestrian at night and expect State Farm to go after their insurance?? I have to hear this whole story.
    I was entering a fresh green light and paying the utmost attention for a Pittsburgh left (when some jag off turns left as soon as the light goes green in front of traffic) which often happens at that intersection. I just get to the other side when this moron jumps in front of the truck and gets whacked. He had stepped into the stopped oncoming traffic that was waiting for the light to go green and stood between two headlights. There is no way anyone could have seen him except the poor lady on the other side of those headlights that had to watch this moron vandalize my truck with his body. He left his shoe in the middle of the road and skidded to a stop on the shoulder. Took a couple of seconds to wake up. He wanted to leave and settle the damages but I said no way I'm leaving an accident. Cops came and gave him a ticket for jaywalking outside the crosswalk and a ticket for crossing against the red light before the ambulance hauled him away. I have about $3000 damage to the truck with a $2000 deductible because I never have claims. State Farm did a great job handling the repairs but refused to go after his insurance and after he lawyered up, a lawyer friend said probably best to just let it lie. I'm glad I was paying so much attention at the time because I KNOW there is no way any normal human could have done anything to prevent it. Here's the front of the truck. I think he was really lucky to hit a lot of area on a big truck and not a small car that probably would have broken some legs.

    2012-02-03_08-09-32_228.jpg
  • Renagade69Renagade69 Posts: 1,234 Officer
    mbowers wrote: »
    . There is no way anyone could have seen him except the poor lady on the other side of those headlights that had to watch this moron vandalize my truck with his body.

    Although hitting someone is not funny your description is.
    Hells Bay Estero Bay Boat and Hells Bay Marquesas
  • FlatsBoyFlatsBoy Posts: 1,393 Officer
    mbowers wrote: »
    I was entering a fresh green light and paying the utmost attention for a Pittsburgh left (when some jag off turns left as soon as the light goes green in front of traffic) which often happens at that intersection. I just get to the other side when this moron jumps in front of the truck and gets whacked. He had stepped into the stopped oncoming traffic that was waiting for the light to go green and stood between two headlights. There is no way anyone could have seen him except the poor lady on the other side of those headlights that had to watch this moron vandalize my truck with his body. He left his shoe in the middle of the road and skidded to a stop on the shoulder. Took a couple of seconds to wake up. He wanted to leave and settle the damages but I said no way I'm leaving an accident. Cops came and gave him a ticket for jaywalking outside the crosswalk and a ticket for crossing against the red light before the ambulance hauled him away. I have about $3000 damage to the truck with a $2000 deductible because I never have claims. State Farm did a great job handling the repairs but refused to go after his insurance and after he lawyered up, a lawyer friend said probably best to just let it lie. I'm glad I was paying so much attention at the time because I KNOW there is no way any normal human could have done anything to prevent it. Here's the front of the truck. I think he was really lucky to hit a lot of area on a big truck and not a small car that probably would have broken some legs.

    2012-02-03_08-09-32_228.jpg

    Sad to see someone get hurt like that. But your story just said it all!
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    More info on the swing tongues. I don't know exactly what part is wearing out, just that the formerly straight line between tongue section in front of and tongue section behind the swing joint has a very noticeable upward angle. I suspect it is the cast parts in the area with the holes for the pins. The holes are probably getting stretched out into bigger ovals. The pin doesn't seem to get hard to drop in. Ameratrail immediately replaced the part without accusing me of abusing the trailer (inside joke with all the Egret owners! :) ) but I didn't really trust it so I did some more research.

    Looking at the torque on that joint in my case there's a 4000lb rig with a 300lb tongue weight which is 38in from the joint. The winch is exerting I estimate 2500lb on the strap when cranked up tight to the bow eye at a distance of 22in from the joint. A basic torque balance tells you that the joint is resisting a torque of 950 ft lbs from the coupler and 4600 ft lbs from the winch for a total of 5550 ft lbs of torque on the joint. You can overload trailer parts a good bit but I think if you're putting 6 times the manufacturer recommended max load on the swing joint, you couldn't really blame Fulton if it failed. With the safety straps just attached to the coupler, which is also against manufacturer requirements, if the whole joint fails almost the entire trailer from the swing joint back would be liberated from the tow vehicle which would just have a coupler and a short piece of tongue still attached. Better make a run for the border at that point! :) I think even nanny state naysayers would have to admit that putting so much load over the recommended max on the joint is probably gross negligence. :)

    If anyone else has different measurements or has a problem with my calculation please flame me up. Unlike boat builders, I honestly LOVE it when someone double checks my work.

    Here's a video showing how much the coupler moves when the winch is tightened. This swing joint is about 6 months old and has about 2000 miles on. I think the coupler moves about 3" up and down. Excuse the man legs and ashy knees. I know I should have shaved / detailed my legs and lotioned up if I was going to make a video showing an Egret.
  • 91tiger91tiger Posts: 555 Officer
    My tounge moves up a slight amount when I tighten down on the winch but nothing close to that. I pull about 8,000 to 10,000 miles a year with all my trips from NC to the Glades and Keys (same year trailer as yours).

    Not saying you were doing anything wrong, but I don't think I'm cranking my wnch down as much as you are. What was all that popping as you were tightening down on it? I've never heard anything like that before. Once mine is good and snug I quit cranking.

    You do make a great point about the saftey cables not running through the swing joint to the trailer. I hadn't thought about that.
  • kerleekerlee Posts: 74 Deckhand
    I have an EZ-loader trailer on mine. I requested a zero-clearance tandem axle trailer. Frank could not use the normal 189 trailer because the tandem axles would not fit. He used the trailer from the 210. I requested a "zero-clearance" trailer and Frank met the request that I made by making adjustments to the trailer by moving the bunks, etc... After delivery, it took a few tries to get the trailer adjusted in terms of bunk placement, winch position, etc... Frank was absolutely hands down great at making sure any trailer issue was resolved. I did change my desire of having a zero-tolerance to having one that is about 8" longer w/ trolling motor on. It still fits in my garage. In the future, if anyone wants a near zero clearance, tandem axle EZ loader trailer, Frank has it dialed in. The bunks on the tandem axle 210 trailer are farther back, so the trailer loads and unloads shallower than the standard single axle trailer. Attached are picture of the final product. As you can see the bow winch is on the boat side of the swing tongue, the swing bracket it welded and not bolted. the safety cables are anchored on the trailer and run through the swing tongue bracket underneath it. I have included pics of how far the trailer was in to launch, certainly nor a "dry launch" but it works for me.
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    That popping sound is the broken down "upgraded" $300 SS winch. The winch is in forward gear for both up and down cranks but it just can't hold any torque. If you're not careful and leave any load on that thing the handle will suddenly let go and will beat you with a windmilling steel arm. I brought the winch in to Ameratrail acting like that and told them it was broken. When I picked up the boat it wasn't popping like that and they said it just needed adjustment. Silly me again trusting the "expert"! :) A week later I was Keys bound on the turnpike and the winch let go again just like it had been doing before I took it in and said it was broken. Boat slid way back on the trailer until the back straps caught and caused the near death trailer experience. To be fair to Ameratrail they were totally embarrassed and would have replaced the winch with the stronger standard galvanized one and refunded my money. I think Scott was generally good to work with (great actually) in person but he just wouldn't return my calls and Ameratrail is far away so I went back to the local shop. The Hub built my 2004 trailer for my old 2000 Egret and gave great customer service. That old 3000lb trailer is still rolling around Texas at 80 mph with the old lightly rigged boat on it. I changed the hubs / bearings every 2 years and the axle every 5. I have no tolerance for breaking down / causing an accident on the turnpike due to poor trailer maintenance. Many people in FL seem to drive the trailer till it breaks but I'm throwing the money in ahead of time and not killing people or wrecking fishing trips. I get one chance a year to fish with some old friends and I'm not spending the trip running around Miami trying to get trailer parts while another friend stays with a dangerously broken down rig on the turnpike.

    I now have the 3500lb Fulton F2 winch on a 5000lb axle, 5in Ibeam, 4in tongue 2200lb tire stainless brakes $6K trailer (with REALLY bad fender steps :) ) It's the 3rd trailer in 2 years but I think I've finally got the right trailer for my heavy boat. The 2990lb rated Ameratrail is just not up to being under a 4000lb rig when I'm heading to the Glades. Hopefully your boat is much lighter than mine and that's probably why your swing joint has only worn out a little so far. The zero tolerance is till not to swing joint manufacturer specs but hopefully yours will hold together! My boat is only on the Ameratrail right now because the new trailer is down getting the fender steps custom built by the Hub at no charge instead of using the POS steps that the manufacturer sent up and fell off under Pete's watch. :) I think maybe he was lucky the Hub had built those spacers ("modified" the steps even though anyone with a basic knowledge of physics knows a spacer never makes the original piece weaker). When the fender fell off the spacers at least it was further from the boat and didn't tear into the boat as it fell off.

    To be fair to Ameratrail and all the trailer manufacturers I think maybe all boat factories are not accurate in the total weight or center of gravity information they give to the trailer builders. There is a huge range of layouts and weights for these flats boats so no "one size fits all" trailer is appropriate for every boat IMHO. Tongue weight in particular has been WAY too heavy on all 4 straight from the manufacturer trailers I've owned as rigged to Egret specs. For Pete's boat (super basic old hull with a couple batteries and a push pole) those specs may well be good. The new trailer was measured out by Bill and I together at the Hub and we got the tongue weight right at about 250lbs. The Ameratrail is only rated for 300lb tongue weight at the coupler but it had a 650lb tongue weight with my boat on it.

    I've also done what I think are some improvements to the strapping of the boat which is key for safety. If you look at the winch manufacturer specifications I think you will find the winch is technically NOT to be used to keep the boat on the trailer when on the highway! When I get the new trailer back from the Hub I will post some pictures and explain why I think it's a good system.
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    That's not a true zero tolerance but I will give that it's "near" zero tolerance. :)

    Way to go on getting the safety chains to the right place though! I'm impressed!

    I would suggest that you get the Fulton F2 double wheel jack and mount it in front of the swing tongue instead of that POS jack wheel. The Fulton F2 stuff is REALLY well engineered. I know it's technically a violation of what I've just been typing but the jack wheel is only under load when you're moving the trailer around in the garage, it's only creating as much torque on the swing tongue as the coupler does on the trailer ball and it's never under dynamic load like the winch is when the rig is on the road.

    I would also suggest seeing if you can shorten up the safety chain to the bow eye. Even one less link is 2" or whatever less that the boat can slide back if the winch fails you. Look very closely at how that safety chain is attached to the winch. I've seen some terribly weak connections from many trailer manufacturers on the trailer side of the bow safety chain that make the bow safety chain just a joke and a technical way to not break the law. One or two hundred pounds of force and they break free. A 3000lb boat needs at least a 1000lb capable bow safety chain IMHO.
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