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Old 08-29-2019, 08:22 PM   #1
Cal Coon
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Default Boat trailers - Bunk vs Roller pros and cons

I am aware of a lot of the pros and cons of both types of trailers, however, I would be interested to see if there are some things that I can learn about either type, with some suggestions from others that have had their own experiences with them, good or bad. I am conducting an informal, (personal) survey!
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:32 PM   #2
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I have had both.

I prefer bunk trailers but depending on the ramps you use sometimes a roller trailer is the way to go.

Bunk--Less maintenance, supports boat better, easier to center boat

Roller--Good for short ramps, shallow water

I grew up boating in New Jersey and a lot of the ramps we used you pretty much had to have a roller trailer depending on the tides.

For the ramps I use on Winnipesaukee (primarily Center Harbor), a bunk trailer is the way to go.
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:41 PM   #3
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For many of the reasons listed above I prefer bunk trailers as well.

Maybe its just me but when ever I see a trailer at the ramp with just rollers, I just kinda know its going to take a while for them to get it loaded back up.
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Old 08-29-2019, 10:12 PM   #4
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Iíve had rollers pretty much all my life. The key to loading the boat on them is to spend the time when you buy a boat to set the bunks up to match the hull. At the ramp Iím on the trailer (drive right on) just as fast any bunk trailer. I donít dislike bunks though. They work great. Iím a deep v Proline so rollers work better especially in fall when the waters low. Donít think Iíd ever get the bunks in deep enough for the boat and you have to crank it on the trailer rollers are your friend.
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Old 08-30-2019, 07:03 AM   #5
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I agree, It really depends on the ramp. Bunks work well on a steep ramp but if you have a shallow ramp you really have to back in pretty far. I don't really like the water going over the back wheels of my truck, esp salt water.
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:08 AM   #6
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I had rollers but I installed side bunks and vertical guide-ons. I boated in rivers a lot and the bunks acted as a cradle to keep the boat in place against a current.
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Old 08-31-2019, 09:56 AM   #7
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Never owned a roller trailer and if I ever did buy a boat with one I'd get rid of it. I don't like them for a myriad of reasons.

Three reasons why I personally prefer bunks:

#1 Excellent support of the boat where the weight of the boat is distributed across the surface area of the bunk(s). Easy to fix, replace or modify too. So swapping to 6" bunks, making them longer etc... easy to do. Rollers are just to overly complicated.

#2 Easy to load - they are almost idiot proof to load a boat on and will self correct minor mistakes in approach. I did say almost, there are those that manage to screw this up to which I just say there is no helping them.

#3 Boat is on a much LOWER center of gravity while sitting on the trailer. This is nice for towing. Rollers trailers place the boat way high on the trailer which I really don't like. I want the boat as low and snug to the trailer as possible, less wind resistance and better visibility while in tow.


Everyone has their opinions I guess.
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Old 08-31-2019, 12:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAXUM View Post
Never owned a roller trailer and if I ever did buy a boat with one I'd get rid of it. I don't like them for a myriad of reasons.

Three reasons why I personally prefer bunks:

#1 Excellent support of the boat where the weight of the boat is distributed across the surface area of the bunk(s). Easy to fix, replace or modify too. So swapping to 6" bunks, making them longer etc... easy to do. Rollers are just to overly complicated.

#2 Easy to load - they are almost idiot proof to load a boat on and will self correct minor mistakes in approach. I did say almost, there are those that manage to screw this up to which I just say there is no helping them.

#3 Boat is on a much LOWER center of gravity while sitting on the trailer. This is nice for towing. Rollers trailers place the boat way high on the trailer which I really don't like. I want the boat as low and snug to the trailer as possible, less wind resistance and better visibility while in tow.


Everyone has their opinions I guess.
Always had bunks and wondered why anyone would want rollers...they just "look" high maintenance IMO
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:44 PM   #9
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Recommend Bunk Only.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:15 PM   #10
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Recommend Bunk Only.
Bunks only.

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Old 08-31-2019, 08:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Never owned a roller trailer and if I ever did buy a boat with one I'd get rid of it. I don't like them for a myriad of reasons.

Three reasons why I personally prefer bunks:

#1 Excellent support of the boat where the weight of the boat is distributed across the surface area of the bunk(s). Easy to fix, replace or modify too. So swapping to 6" bunks, making them longer etc... easy to do. Rollers are just to overly complicated.

#2 Easy to load - they are almost idiot proof to load a boat on and will self correct minor mistakes in approach. I did say almost, there are those that manage to screw this up to which I just say there is no helping them.

#3 Boat is on a much LOWER center of gravity while sitting on the trailer. This is nice for towing. Rollers trailers place the boat way high on the trailer which I really don't like. I want the boat as low and snug to the trailer as possible, less wind resistance and better visibility while in tow.


Everyone has their opinions I guess.
The main reason for this post is because I just bought a (new to me) boat, and it came on a bunk trailer, which I have never owned before. I have been trailering for over 30yrs, but have always had a roller trailer, so that is what I am used to. I find the biggest difference between the two is you have to get the boat a lot closer to the winch on the bunk trailer to winch it up, so you have to get the trailer deeper in the water, and I'm always afraid that you're going to pull it out and be all crooked on the trailer because it was in to deep. With a roller trlr, I have always left about 1/3 of the trailer out of the water and winched it right up as it levels itself out automatically, and (for the most part), have never had a problem. I have used the bunk trlr a couple times now, and am getting used to it already!! Not as hard as I thought it was going to be at all. I was going to sell it and replace it with a roller trlr, but I think I'm going to stick with the bunk trlr for now. However, I do have 1 question. This trailer is not original to the boat, because the chines of the boat are sitting on the bunks, not the flat part of the hull, and I'm sure it's not supposed to be that way (??), and I'm not sure if that is going to be an issue for the hull, long term. The bunks are not adjustable on this trailer either, other than changing the width of the bunks, so not sure what to do. Run it, or change it somehow?

Last edited by Cal Coon; 09-01-2019 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:40 AM   #12
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The bunks should catch the boat flat on the bottom not on the chines. I doubt it would hurt the boat per say but not ideal as you don't want the gel coat on the leading edge to crack with the full weight of the boat on it. Take a look at your trailer again and see if the bunks can be adjusted wider or narrower in relation to the trailer itself. Usually they can be. Trailers are typically made to be adjusted in some form unless it's some sort of specialized application. I'd be careful in using narrower bunks - might be worth having somebody who knows this stuff to have a look and advise you as to the best course of action.

Far as your needing to put the trailer deeper into the water, not sure about that. I have found that with all the trailers I've had sinking them to where the top of the fenders are just at the water surface is the sweet spot, just approach the trailer slowly, aim for the center drift the boat in and let it settle itself, trim up a bit give it a little bump of the throttle (should not take much at all) to get it started up the bunks and 99% you're perfectly centered. Crank it up the rest of the way and you're good. There is no need to "power load" like many do.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:24 AM   #13
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I have a bunk trailer with my 99 FW SD 245. The trailer is also FW and matched to the boat. Was going to swap for rollers at one point thinking they may be a better system. I did not and glad I did not after doing lots of comparisons. As pointed out bunks are easy to maintain and replace if necessary.


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Old 09-02-2019, 11:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
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The bunks should catch the boat flat on the bottom not on the chines. I doubt it would hurt the boat per say but not ideal as you don't want the gel coat on the leading edge to crack with the full weight of the boat on it. Take a look at your trailer again and see if the bunks can be adjusted wider or narrower in relation to the trailer itself. Usually they can be. Trailers are typically made to be adjusted in some form unless it's some sort of specialized application. I'd be careful in using narrower bunks - might be worth having somebody who knows this stuff to have a look and advise you as to the best course of action.

Far as your needing to put the trailer deeper into the water, not sure about that. I have found that with all the trailers I've had sinking them to where the top of the fenders are just at the water surface is the sweet spot, just approach the trailer slowly, aim for the center drift the boat in and let it settle itself, trim up a bit give it a little bump of the throttle (should not take much at all) to get it started up the bunks and 99% you're perfectly centered. Crank it up the rest of the way and you're good. There is no need to "power load" like many do.
I am going to talk to a couple different Marina's about it, because from all the research I've done on line, it has it going both ways..., some say get it on the "flat" part of the hull, and some say it is better on the chine because it is the "strongest" part of the hull..., so I'm just not sure about it yet, but common sense tells me that it should be on the flat part of the hull. However, I agree with you on the "sweet spot" about the position of the fender's of the trailer, but I usually launch and retrieve my boat by myself, and I just pull it on the trailer with a bow line these days which requires a lot more winching. I don't drive it on the trailer any more at all because of all the uproar over power loading. Just driving your boat on the trailer is someone's definition of power loading these days, no matter how "little" you throttle up to get the boat on the trailer. That's one of the reasons why I thought the bunk trailer has to go in a little deeper than a roller trailer, cause the boat (4300lbs) is harder to winch up the bunks than it was on a roller trailer. What I have found with this bunk trailer though, is if I put it in the water to the "sweet spot" you refer to, (just like I always did with a roller trlr), I get it hooked, and crank it up a little to the point I know it's centered and level, and then I get in the truck and back it up a little to put it in a little deeper to make it a lot easier to crank up the rest of the way. I would rather do that, than put the trailer in deeper initially, and be able to crank it up all the way without having to move the truck backwards, but now I worry about it coming out crooked, and having to put it back in and starting the process all over again. Pros and cons, but I got the system down pretty good already, and can have my boat loaded in just a couple minutes by myself, and I know it's coming out level.

Last edited by Cal Coon; 09-02-2019 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 09-02-2019, 01:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAXUM View Post
I have found that with all the trailers I've had sinking them to where the top of the fenders are just at the water surface is the sweet spot, just approach the trailer slowly, aim for the center drift the boat in and let it settle itself, trim up a bit give it a little bump of the throttle (should not take much at all) to get it started up the bunks and 99% you're perfectly centered. Crank it up the rest of the way and you're good. There is no need to "power load" like many do.

Perfect ........ you can't do any better than that.

Very well defined.

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Far as your needing to put the trailer deeper into the water, not sure about that.
Agreed, most of the problems I have seen seem to come from going in to deep from the start.
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Old 09-02-2019, 06:27 PM   #16
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All of my trailers have had bunks.

Some also had a keel roller or two.

Lately I have added pvc guide posts located in the aft 1/3 of the trailer.

They help a lot.

The other thing I do is back the trailer in far enough to wet the entire length of the bunks and then pull forward to expose 1/3.

Wet bunks help with winching.
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Old 09-02-2019, 08:34 PM   #17
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Damage wise it could, depending on the boat. Whalers for ex., should have bunks because the rollers can form indentations in the hull over time. Of course I’ve heard people may they’ve never had a problem.

I just replaced my little whaler trailer and got the guides too. A little overkill for a 13 but they do make it so much easier with wind and current. All I have to do is catch the bow on one post and I’m in. I also want my boys to start learning how to run and load the boat.

They’re also really helpful for backing up. I’ve been having people drive that aren’t used to trailering so the posts help them know where the trailer is. I did have side bunk guides in my 20’ but find they could be hard to see as they were often submerged.

I’ve never had a roller trailer so don’t know which is better. I will say few weeks ago in the cape At one ramp I couldn’t get my bunks wet. That was a little challenge lol. But we managed to get it off the trailer. Granted the boat doesn’t weigh much.


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Old 09-03-2019, 11:01 AM   #18
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Iíve also seen some suggestions to ďsoapĒ the bunks so they donít stick when the boat is layed up for lengthy periods. This also helps with winching the boat the final few inches if required.


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Old 09-03-2019, 09:30 PM   #19
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Red face Bunks Have Friction...

Rollers work both ways...

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Old 09-04-2019, 05:14 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal Coon View Post
I am conducting an informal, (personal) survey!
I did forget one thing that is a draw back, with carpeted bunks, but can be ignored if you don't use your boat in the really cold weather.

When its really cold in the 20's boats won't slide off of the bunks. Have had it happen a few times when launching.

Surprised me, frozen right to the trailer until the lake water melted it. Just like it was supper glued on.
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Old 09-04-2019, 06:16 PM   #21
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Quote:
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I did forget one thing that is a draw back, with carpeted bunks, but can be ignored if you don't use your boat in the really cold weather.

When its really cold in the 20's boats won't slide off of the bunks. Have had it happen a few times when launching.

Surprised me, frozen right to the trailer until the lake water melted it. Just like it was supper glued on.
That is something that I never even thought about, but would not be a concern for me as I am a "fair weather" boater!!
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