Launch ramp safety

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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:14 pm

cracker39 wrote:I mentioned earlier that I block the front wheels of my truck when launching or retrieving the R21. A question ocurred to me that I’m not sure I know how to answer. If the truck is in 4-wheel drive, and the emergency brake is applied, does the emergency brake acting on the rear axle only, as is generally the case, lock the front axle as well, via the mechanical linkage through the transmission??? My initial thought is that it does - but I’ll happily defer to those more knowledgeable.


I never got an answer to this question so I thought I’d bring it up again. The 2003 GMC 3500 pickup (—-like its’ Chevy counterpart) has a notoriously poor emergency brake - but, if properly maintained it should be able to lock the rear wheels of the truck on a ramp regardless of the transmission “Park” selection and, if what I surmise is correct, lock the front wheels if the transmission is in 4wd. At that point, placing the transmission in “Park”merely adds additional security and also acts to lock the front wheels. Surely there’s a knowledgeable GMC/Chevy tech out there that has the answers?
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby NorthernFocus on Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:54 pm

Brakes and transmission have nothing to do with one another regardless of four wheel, two wheel, posi-track, whatever.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:22 pm

NorthernFocus wrote:Brakes and transmission have nothing to do with one another regardless of four wheel, two wheel, posi-track, whatever.


That really doesn’t answer my question and I’m not mechanically illiterate. My thought is that if the rear wheels are locked to the front wheels, via the transfer case, and the emergency brake is engaged, and/or the transmission is in Park, are the front wheels also locked up - not withstanding the ability of the front differential to permit independent rotation?
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby YukonRon on Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:21 pm

cracker39 wrote:, if what I surmise is correct, lock the front wheels if the transmission is in 4wd. At that point, placing the transmission in “Park”merely adds additional security and also acts to lock the front wheels.

My take on this is: These newer vehicle drive trains do not have physical gears locked together like the mechanical gear boxes of the old days. Manual transmissions, torque converters, and transfer cases are loosely coupled with hydraulic fluids, bands, and sensors that transfer power on demand as determined by computers. I leave my GMC 2500 diesel 4x4 in 4wd mode all winter and it has no problem running from snow to dry pavement and back. The system allows for enough slip to not bind up like the old gear driven systems did.
All this to say, putting your truck in Park in 4wd may add some extra resistance to it rolling away, but I would not count on it holding your truck in place under load. My guess is, your front transfer case may not be locked solid when the truck is parked. I don't know what year your truck is or what options you have. It's probably part-time 4wd. Do you have a 4_LOW low range setting that locks up the transfer case to prevent slippage?
Maybe someone who knows for certain can jump in and confirm or correct me?
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby NorthernFocus on Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:50 pm

cracker39 wrote:
NorthernFocus wrote:Brakes and transmission have nothing to do with one another regardless of four wheel, two wheel, posi-track, whatever.


That really doesn’t answer my question and I’m not mechanically illiterate. My thought is that if the rear wheels are locked to the front wheels, via the transfer case, and the emergency brake is engaged, and/or the transmission is in Park, are the front wheels also locked up - not withstanding the ability of the front differential to permit independent rotation?

In the context of whether that would provide additional resistance to rolling down a ramp the answer is no. Resistance provided by the brake is a function of pad area, psi load and friction factor. Additional axles mechanically linked woill not add resistance unless they have additional brakes.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby YukonRon on Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:05 pm

Good point Dan! I was way over-thinking it. Since their are no parking brakes on the front wheels, it really doesn't matter if the whole drive train is locked up solid. As far as braking is concerned.
However, if sliding down a slippery ramp is a problem, having the whole drivetrain locked to the braked back wheels will add the additional traction of the front tires on the ground. I personaly have experienced a situation where I had set the parking brake on a slippery slope but could not take my foot off the brake pedal without sliding down the hill. Only the braking of all 4 wheels held me in place. It was a 2wd pickup with no weight in the back. In that instance, a locked-up 4wd would have helped.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby NorthernFocus on Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:10 pm

YukonRon wrote:Good point Dan! I was way over-thinking it. Since their are no parking brakes on the front wheels, it really doesn't matter if the whole drive train is locked up solid. As far as braking is concerned.
However, if sliding down a slippery ramp is a problem, having the whole drivetrain locked to the braked back wheels will add the additional traction of the front tires on the ground. I personaly have experienced a situation where I had set the parking brake on a slippery slope but could not take my foot off the brake pedal without sliding down the hill. Only the braking of all 4 wheels held me in place. It was a 2wd pickup with no weight in the back. In that instance, a locked-up 4wd would have helped.

Yes. On ice etc more tires equals more grip.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby YukonRon on Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:39 pm

NorthernFocus wrote:Yes. On ice etc more tires equals more grip.

Or on a slimy, algae-covered boat ramp exposed by a low tide.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby S@LTD on Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:19 pm

Cracker39,
I love the fact you are looking for advice on how to use the boat the way you want vs. whether or not you should do it at all. Starting with the truck yes I would put it in 4 wheel low and set the E brake and add your blocks if you prefer. For a 3500 compared to the weight of your boat it should be just fine. I back mind down a 12 percent grade into my shop with a Duramax 2500 and my weight is much higher than yours. Don’t ask we to explain how but mine holds much better locked in 4 low with the brake on. We do the same on the ramp. I would not trust mine in 2 wheel drive.

From the boat side I am not a fan of rollers as we drive on and drive off. I put Gatorbaks instead of carpet as they wear better but other options are available and carpet works too. Many options are available for how you hook up the bow hook to the winch. I have had success will all the ones mentioned and on some boats like our ski Nautique power out together with the driver not hooked up at all. I have not tried the electric winch but watched a guy have success with that one too. Frankly if you get that close to the bow stop how you hook it is a personal preference for convenience. If I were in your neck of the woods I would welcome the opportunity to help you work something out. There is definitely a solution here for you. Go for it and good luck!
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:36 am

My assumption, with respect to the emergency brake, is that it should be adequate to prevent rotation of the rear wheels, without assist from the parking pawl in the tranny. Unfortunately, this was found to be in error when the truck was new (2003). The emergency brake would not hold the truck on a slight uphill grade when parking with my 8,400 lb Airstream trailer. This frequently caused the parking pawl to take part of the load. The GMC tech that inspected the brakes (—-under warranty) reported that the emergency brake was operating properly but that the lack of “holding” power - especially in reverse - was a known design flaw for this particular truck. The truck is rated to tow 14,500 lbs but the emergency brake is apparently incapable of holding much more than the weight of the truck alone. That said, I continued to tow the Airstream for the next ten years, choosing my parking sites carefully to avoid parking upgrade. I also carried a commercial set of wheel chocks, which I would use on occasion, and which I am still using today under the front wheels on Boat ramps. The truck does have two 4wd positions - one of which can be shifted on the fly, and the other which requires stopping and passing the tranny through neutral to engage the “stump-pulling” gear. The ability to shift on the fly is the only feature that makes the 4wd in this truck superior to earlier 4wd trucks, as making a sharp turn on dry pavement will still cause binding. It is not really a full-time 4wd system. The load on the front axle, by scale weight measurements, is over 1,000 lbs greater than on the rear axle with the duals when the truck is not loaded. The idea that more rubber on the road makes for greater traction is generally untrue for a dually when lightly loaded. The simple fact is, the duals share the load and, on slippery ramps or icey roads, they generally have less traction - acting more like big skis. This is why few people use a dually for snowplowing here in New England - unless they have a sander in the bed. The duals will ride up on the snow rather than dig down for traction. The weight differential is the reason why, I currently place the chocks under the front wheels at a boat ramp rather than the rear - i.e., more bang for the buck. If you watch You Tube videos of cars and trucks that have gone in the drink on boat ramps, invariably you’ll see that the rear wheels are still not turning as they drag the vehicle out of the water. Dual wheels, on an algae-covered ramp, can be a serious problem - but if some of the emergency brakes’ holding power can be transferred to the front wheels it would add another factor of safety. That is why I sought to find out just how the 4wd system functioned. Kindly forgive the long-winded dissertation.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby NorthernFocus on Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:29 am

cracker39 wrote:My assumption, with respect to the emergency brake, is that it should be adequate to prevent rotation of the rear wheels, without assist from the parking pawl in the tranny. Unfortunately, this was found to be in error when the truck was new (2003). The emergency brake would not hold the truck on a slight uphill grade when parking with my 8,400 lb Airstream trailer. This frequently caused the parking pawl to take part of the load. The GMC tech that inspected the brakes (—-under warranty) reported that the emergency brake was operating properly but that the lack of “holding” power - especially in reverse - was a known design flaw for this particular truck. The truck is rated to tow 14,500 lbs but the emergency brake is apparently incapable of holding much more than the weight of the truck alone. That said, I continued to tow the Airstream for the next ten years, choosing my parking sites carefully to avoid parking upgrade. I also carried a commercial set of wheel chocks, which I would use on occasion, and which I am still using today under the front wheels on Boat ramps. The truck does have two 4wd positions - one of which can be shifted on the fly, and the other which requires stopping and passing the tranny through neutral to engage the “stump-pulling” gear. The ability to shift on the fly is the only feature that makes the 4wd in this truck superior to earlier 4wd trucks, as making a sharp turn on dry pavement will still cause binding. It is not really a full-time 4wd system. The load on the front axle, by scale weight measurements, is over 1,000 lbs greater than on the rear axle with the duals when the truck is not loaded. The idea that more rubber on the road makes for greater traction is generally untrue for a dually when lightly loaded. The simple fact is, the duals share the load and, on slippery ramps or icey roads, they generally have less traction - acting more like big skis. This is why few people use a dually for snowplowing here in New England - unless they have a sander in the bed. The duals will ride up on the snow rather than dig down for traction. The weight differential is the reason why, I currently place the chocks under the front wheels at a boat ramp rather than the rear - i.e., more bang for the buck. If you watch You Tube videos of cars and trucks that have gone in the drink on boat ramps, invariably you’ll see that the rear wheels are still not turning as they drag the vehicle out of the water. Dual wheels, on an algae-covered ramp, can be a serious problem - but if some of the emergency brakes’ holding power can be transferred to the front wheels it would add another factor of safety. That is why I sought to find out just how the 4wd system functioned. Kindly forgive the long-winded dissertation.

I guess you should have been long winded to start with :D

Definitely two different answers.

Will leaving it in 4wd assist with the poor EB to prevent the truck ROLLING down the ramp? No. Regardless of transmission.

Will it help prevent the truck SLIDING down the ramp. I'd say with that age truck highly likely the answer is yes, just as you surmised to start with. But someone knowledgeable on the specific drive train would need to verify. I'd google up a forum for that model truck. I'd be surprised if there aren't plenty of gear heads more than willing to share their knowledge of that particular model. Or just test it. Jack the front wheels off the ground with the EB engaged and see if you can turn the front wheels.

If one is interested in optimizing safety around the ramp, one thing that is good practice is to never stop in an intermediate position on the ramp. One thing that seems to escape many people is that without significant momentum the truck will stop sliding (and likely the EB will stop slipping) when the boat floats. So if the truck is already at the edge of the water when something starts slipping it's not likely to go far. Different story if the truck is left out of gear, no EB set, etc. But if it's an issue of sliding on slime or the EB won't hold the total weight of boat/trailer then it's highly unlikely one will sink a tow vehicle once it has stopped at the bottom of the ramp. But if you stop half way up/down the ramp and something gives it's Katy bar the door.
Dan

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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:05 pm

I appreciate all of the comments and, like Dan suggested, I’ve been hoping a knowlegeable gearhead would jump in here. Said gearhead might even have a possible fix for GMC’s undersized emergency brake. I mentioned earlier that I was planning to install a 10’ extendable tongue on the trailer and that’s still in the works for this summer. That extension will also include the safety handrail I was considering that will run from the hitch to the vicinity of the winch ——- too easy to fabricate and no reason not too! I don’t mind getting wet and with that setup I should be able to bring the bow eye within reach. Granted, a bunk trailer, in lieu of my rollers, would work just as well for my intended use but, lacking the horsepower to drive this little boat up to an automatic latch, and not being able to get out of the boat afterwards to drive the truck up the ramp, makes the automatic systems somewhat worthless to me. Keep in mind that I’m an Old F—t with a lovely old wife who refuses to give up his love of boats.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:32 am

In my initial post I talked about using an old pair of golf shoes to prevent slipping on a boat ramp. It occurred to me yesterday that the “slip on” ice grips that we use to walk on ice during the winter are perfect for walking on a potentially slippery boat ramp. Southerners may have to buy them online but they’re readily available in stores here during the winter months. Just slip them on an old pair of shoes (—-probably with hard soles) and you’re good to go.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby NorthernFocus on Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:33 pm

cracker39 wrote:...Just slip them on an old pair of shoes (—-probably with hard soles) and you’re good to go.

Most of them also work on tennis/running shoes. For use on hard surfaces the ones with really small spikes work best.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:00 pm

NorthernFocus wrote:
cracker39 wrote:...Just slip them on an old pair of shoes (—-probably with hard soles) and you’re good to go.

Most of them also work on tennis/running shoes. For use on hard surfaces the ones with really small spikes work best.


OK - I usually use them on my boots, so I was a bit concerned about whether or not they would stay on anything with a softer sole.
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