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Windswept (too's) Trailer (updated May 21, 2017)  

February 28, 2016. Paul Lugin has recently aquired Windswept, Yankee #245 and is currently in the 'joys of dolphin trailers' phase. Here is a collection of emails over the past couple of weeks between your webmaster and Paul on this sometimes painful subject. (emails consolidated/edited)

Hi Ron

I've read the trailer section in the technical info on the site but did not find any references to the aft length of the trailer or the pitch of the boat on the trailer. Thanks for your comments. My poppits should be adjustable if they are not rusted too badly. I'll send before and after pictures if I make the changes.


The aft end of her trailer extends all the way back under the rudder. I'm not planning on putting the trailer in the water because it has all new axles, springs, disk brakes, wheels, etc., and would rather pay for the travel lift than risk trashing the trailer which is not galvanized. I would like to shorten the trailer far enough so we could get a travel lift strap under the keel just in front of the rudder. I see no problems in doing this - have you heard of any problems  in this regard? The boatyard says the strap is 12" wide which could put an inch or two of strap on the rudder gudgeon.

Also, the keel bed is parallel to the trailer frame. Because the Dolphin keel slopes down as you go aft the boat doesn't sit on the trailer with her water line parallel to the ground which means the deck won't drain when the trailer is attached to the tow vehicle. When unattached, I can solve the problem by tilting the trailer way back. I plan on shimming the front of the keel up to get the boat to sit correctly. Is that how your trailer and others solve this problem??



Webmaster replies

My trailer poppits are adjustable - I use the forward ones to get the boat tilt angle I want - then I block the keel and ease off the poppits a bit so most of the weight is on the keel. And, I can raise/lower the nose wheel to get a different boat angle....Of course, when ashore she is in my barn so cockpit/deck draining is not an issue. Also, Marionette's cockpit and seat drains are located in the forward end of the cockpit so, if left outside we want a slight angle bow down. When trailering our goal is level - by eye.

I think a lot depends on how your particular trailer is designed structurally. Mine was originally a steel cradle with a frame and poppit walls that could hold the Queen Mary....http://dolphin24.org/Marionettes_trailer.html. There's a section on trailers in Technical - makes for good late night reading. http://dolphin24.org/technicalindex.html  It doesn't sound like there is any load on the aft end of the trailer. But the lift straps are detachable so they can be 'fed' without worrying about the location of the poppit stands, except, of course, in your case with a 100% keel bed you have to worry....

Looking at the picture I think that you could cut off what looks like all the keel bed extending aft from the aft cross beam. That should give you enough room for the lift straps aft of the the rear poppits and not even get close to the rudder post. Its not a good idea to have the lift strap overlap the rudder post bottom fitting

Look at the sketch that shows the balance point http://dolphin24.org/trailer_overview.html



Hi Ron,

I just looked again at Marionette's trailer and it does look fairly short aft, but hard to tell with the angle of the photos. Would you have a profile picture detailing where the keel bed ends with regard to the keel? In other words, how much keel hangs over the aft end of the keel bed.

Thanks, Paul

Webmaster replies (based on the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words)


Marionette's keel 'overhang'

removable rear keel block

removable keel blocks forward (note angle) and rear

bow guide, strong but not structural. Positions boat fore/aft

Click on the above photos for a larger image - click the return arrow on your browser to get back here

March 6, 2016 Webmaster Postscript Note: Responding to Paul's questions/concerns on keel bed structure/strength, we took a a few pictures of Marionette's trailer keel bed - they are on Marionette's Trailer page - click here to go there. Click the return arrow on your browser to get back here.


Hi Ron - Quick question. Seems like the best place to keep the outboard when trailering the boat is mounted in the engine well. Is that the best place? Seems that the vertical position is recommended by Tohatsu.

I've got the trailer shortened so now there is 15 inches from end of trailer to forward end of rudder gudgeon. I raised the keel bed 2 1/4" under the front of the keel so now the boat sits level when the trailer is level. Now I have to raise the poppits which is unfortunately not easy because the adjustable tubes supporting them are rusted together so I have to lengthen them by some other method, not yet determined. Thanks,


Webmaster Replies

Hi Paul - Re trailering with a 50lb -60lb+ motor in the well would be my choice - although, since I use 32 lb and 35 lb 4 hp motors, I store them below http://dolphin24.org/marionettes_4hp_engine_setup.html

Its tough to work on those poppits when they are loaded with the boat weight. I don't want to get you started on another project but have you checked out the 'no travel lift lift'? http://www.dolphin24.org/no_travel_lift.html



Hi Ron,

Yes, I've seen the 'no travel lift' and was considering a similar design. I'll send pictures and an explanation when I get the trailer done.Thanks so much for your help.



March 3, 2016. Paul and your webmaster have a continuing exchange on Windswept's trailer

Hi Ron,

I realized that we have to use the forward poppets to hold the bow up in order to roll the keel load back toward the aft end of the keel bed. When I bought the boat there was no load on the forward poppits and I assumed they were there only to balance the boat. The boat rode the trailer nose down and I think this is why most of the boat's weight was on that single forward cross beam.

Today I raised the bow of the boat and could see the load moving back and start loading up on the rear cross beam. My poppits aren't adjustable (major problem) so I had to squeeze slabs of plywood in to support the hull ( see picture).

I raised the hull 4 1/4" over the forward poppits and 2 1/4" over the middle poppits.

Then I weighed the tongue using a bathroom scale and the graduated beam method (Webmaster Note: Click here for a diagram and explantion) and ended up with about 600 lbs tongue weight. What I can't do is weigh the load on the 2 axles so I'm going to spring for a good tongue and axle scale so I can be sure I'm distributing the load evenly. I've got to make my poppets fully adjustable.

Also, I'm going to move that extra cross beam back where I had it between the fore and aft cross beams. I hope you know how much you've helped me figure this out. I was really quite ignorant about how this all works, although if I'd read the trailer section more carefully it would have helped.

Thanks again,


postscript: Well I got the extra cross beam strengthened today by having a thick steel strap welded to the top and bottom chord. Also the brackets I made were welded to the beam . I then installed the beam about half way between the forward and aft beams on the trailer. This new beam will take some of the load off of the other beams.

Click on the above photos for a larger image

Next is to figure out how to make the poppets fully adjustable and weight the axles to make sure both axles are sharing the load. The trailer lights need to be rewired because the wiring had to be cut when I cut off the end of the trailer.

I can move the boat around my property with my Tacoma but have to rent a full size pickup to move Windswept any distance.Looking forward to getting it done but it may be a while yet.

I'll keep you informed.

To be continued

March 13, 2016. Paul is working hard on his masters degree in trailer restoration. Here is his latest course work - note his comment re weight distribution on tandem axle trailers.

Hi Ron,

Here is an update on Windswept's trailer upgrades. I have yet to order the tongue and axle scale because of this new project
which will require some suspension parts which I hope to order soon.

One new factoid, in my searches for info on tandem axle trailers I've read that the forward axle should have 60% of the load and the rear axle 40%. This is so the trailer can turn and the rear tires can slide more easily because they carry less weight.

My trailer frame is made of 6"x2" channel. There is 2"x2" angle bolted to the bottom of the channel and this angle has spring
hangers welded to it that support the suspension ( see pictures ).

There was quite a bit of rust exposed and I tried to ignore it figuring I'd get the boat in the water and fix the trailer sometime before fall.

Well, as you say, it's better to be lucky than smart but I was afraid that I was neither so I decided to fix it before I drove the 250 miles to Seldovia.

I did get one side removed and will replace with thicker and wider angle and have the hangers welded to that.


Click on the above photos for a larger image

March 18, 2016 Paul sent in the following update (minor edits)

Hi Ron,

I've had a running conversation with the boatyard in Homer alaska about launching my Dolphin off the trailer with a travel
lift. Homer is about 15 miles from Windswept's future home of Seldovia and possesses the closest travel lift to Seldovia which only has a hydraulic trailer. It appears that their travel lift can't get it's straps close enough to launch Windswept in the conventional way but can do it if we move one of the straps forward just in front of my forward poppits. This looks ok to me, what is your experience , if any, on this. What's your opinion? This seems better than moving the rear strap back to just above the rudder.
See full length picture the above - "To be continued" caption. Webmaster reply - probably ok, better, I think, than that aft strap located above the rudder - I wonder if the other poppits location/set up would let you lower the front set of poppits for the launching/hauling phase and slip the front strap in/out that way??

March 20, 2016 postscript: Paul's reply

Hi Ron,

Yes, I see no problem with balancing the boat with the 4 aft poppets and lowering the forward 2 poppets to allow the strap easy access. That way the yard can set the travel lift straps as close as possible without having the forward poppets in the way.

Thank you,


The trailer frame lost some material due to the rusting I've purchased 1/4" 3x3 angle steel to replace the seriously rusted 3/16" 2x2 angle. I haven't had time to start installing it yet but hope to start soon.

Click on the photos for a larger image

I've ordered a MIG / flux core wire welder to do the welding of the spring hangers and to make the poppits adjustable. It's been a while since I've welded but have wanted to get back into it . Also have lots of projects around here I can use it on. I'll keep you up to date.




June 18, 2016. Paul sent in the following trailer report - get a cold beer before you start this....and after, there will be a test!

Hi Ron,

Sorry for the delay in getting this update in but I had so many projects to complete at home before I could launch Windswept that time got away from me. I also decided that I should actually deliver the boat before writing about the trailer refit just in case there were any unexpected problems with the new design.



Click on the photos for a larger image

Picture #1 shows the new angle steel clamped to the trailer frame for hole drilling and a bolt dry fit. The original 3/16" angle steel was held on by only 3, grade 5, 1/2" bolts. I used 5, grade 8, 1/2" bolts and 5, grade 8, 3/8" bolts to connect the new 1/4" steel angle. Probably way overkill but made me feel good about the connection.

Picture #2 Shows the spring hangers welded on and the unit painted while being caulked and bolted together. The caulking is intended to keep water out of the joint between the trailer frame and the steel angle.



Click on the photos for a larger image

Picture 3 shows an extension I welded on to raise the winch. The winch was originally too low and when the winch strap was tightened it pulled the bow down and put unnecessary stress on the forward poppets and front axle. With the added height the winch now helps support the bow.

Picture 4 Shows how I dealt with the fact that the trailer frame was about 1 1/2" to narrow for the new axles that were installed before I bought Windswept. I noticed this when taking the old steel angle off the trailer frame. The springs were twisted in in order to attach to the spring hangers. After lots and lots of measuring and re-measuring I decided to extend the new spring hangers outwards so they would sit directly over the springs. I accomplished this by welding a modified piece of steel angle on the outside of the new steel angle to give me a good base to weld the spring hangers in the proper position. This picture shows the new unpainted fender brackets that were built to hold the fenders out over the tires. The original fender hangers were welded to the original steel angle that had rusted badly and had to be replaced. While the boat has no chance of fitting into my garage, the trailer will, and I plan on doing some more modification and lots of painting this winter. Windswept will either be on the hard in Sedovia or I will attempt to lift her off the trailer at home using your method. Webmaster Note: Paul is referring to this http://dolphin24.org/no_travel_lift.html

On the subject of fenders I'll keep the fenders attached to the trailer with bolts because I found that the fenders are seriously in the way of any work you are trying to do on the trailer, axles, brakes, etc.. Literally in your face, so removing them is a major plus.

Last picture (below) is Windswept resting in her slip in Seldovia harbor.



May 21, 2017. Check out Paul's 'how to' bleed your trailer's brake lines - article appears in our Technical Section - Trailers http://dolphin24.org/brake_lines.html









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