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Old 26 January 2012, 16:23   #1
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Towing Zodiac, remove tubes?

I just bought a Zodiac that has removable tubes. I'll be towing it on a long trip approx 1,200 miles in some time. The tubes on this boat are supposedly removable, is it recommended to remove the tubes for the trip? I'd be worried about keeping them properly inflated as the temperature changes (I'll be going from South Florida to Pennsylvania in the mid-March time frame so expect a temperature difference perhaps as high as 40 degrees F). Any specific precautions I should take prior to the trip? It's some time away but thought I'd ask.

Thanks!
steve
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Old 26 January 2012, 17:29   #2
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Just deflate as much as you can and go. I think a fully inflated 7m or larger zodiac is considered an oversize vehicle on its width. I use a few straps to keep the sags from hanging too far over the sides of the trailer.
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Old 26 January 2012, 18:21   #3
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Towing a Zodiac

I tow my Zodiac 470 long distances in the summer (600 miles each way). While it has removable tubes I don't take them off. It would be more trouble than it is worth.

I have noticed a couple of things while towing this boat.

If the tubes are too deflated they tend to flop around both from the wind and from the road. I think that flopping around for a long distance will probably damage the tubes and/or cause wear patches where the tubes rub either against the boat or against themselves.

I have also noticed that even if the tubes are firm while parked, the tubes will cool off somewhat when the boat is moving, causing the pressure in the tubes to reduce somewhat. On a few occasions I had the tubes reasonably firm before I started out, but had to stop and pump them up a bit after driving a short distance because they got too soft and started bouncing around.

Having firm tubes also seems to give a better ride in the tow vehicle. Having soft tubes can also give the impression (when looking in the mirror) that the boat is not very secure because the flopping tubes give the impression that the boat is bouncing around on the trailer.

When I bought this boat the dealer also said to never tow the boat with straps or ropes going over the tubes to hold the boat on a trailer. This will cause wear spots from abrasion due to vibration.

In one instance I was driving on the highway and encountered a thunderstorm. In the space of about 20 minutes the outside temp went from 95F to about 72F. The boat got really floppy. After driving for another 30 minutes the temp was back up to the low 90s. It was interesting to watch the boat go from firm to soft and back to firm again in such a short period.
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Old 26 January 2012, 20:46   #4
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sorry to clarify I don't strap the boat to the trailer, I just strap around the tubes to the hull with a bit of carpet fuzzy side towards the tubes to prevent chaffing. Unless you run over a whole lot of traffic cones the hull moves as one piece separate from the trailer so no chaff is possible.

So avoid the traffic cones.
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Old 26 January 2012, 22:16   #5
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Firm tubes travel better...even though I'm 6 inches over the legal width with my 7m, I keep chancing it. If I get pulled over, I'll play dumb and deflate them for the cop.

In California, only the Highway Patrol officers tasked to go after the big rigs would even know that rule (I just asked a local Sherriff and he had no idea) and they're too busy chasing the big trucks for speed/weight/etc. The sherriff concurred.

Just my thoughts....
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Old 27 January 2012, 11:27   #6
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Originally Posted by ssobol View Post
Having firm tubes also seems to give a better ride in the tow vehicle.
Huh? How do the tubes affect the tow vehicle?

My rig on the trailer as follows: Boat strapped down tight to trailer (ratchet strap over the motor pod [equivalent to a couple of tie-downs from transom to trailer], bow strap cinched up tight, safety chain on bow eye and shortened, additional ratchet strap from bow eye straight down to trailer to stop the nose from bouncing.

Tubes generally get softened upon pulling from the water, primarily to avoid overpressure from solar heating. If I pull the boat late in the afternoon with an upcoming night tow, I may not relieve pressure.

I agree that you should avoid over-tube straps if you can at all avoid it. Wear is one issue, the other is a false sense of security: tubes are pliable, and anything that tries to move the boat from the trailer will put a lot of force on the tube/strap junction. Once the tube fails, your hull is no longer tied down.

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Old 27 January 2012, 17:48   #7
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Huh? How do the tubes affect the tow vehicle?
I tow my boat with a Sienna minivan.

I would guess that the tubes on my 470 boat probably weigh ~100#. The air in tubes also has measurable mass. If the tubes are soft (but not flat) this mass starts moving around when being towed and it can sometimes be felt in the tow vehicle.

Having firm tubes will help keep this mass from moving independently from the rest of the boat.

No matter what explains it with my boat and my vehicle the ride is better when towing the boat if the tubes are firm rather than soft.
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Old 27 January 2012, 18:02   #8
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Isn't it interesting that you've only had replies from the States to this thread?
Do you think it's a subconscious thing from us Brits?
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Old 28 January 2012, 22:24   #9
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Thanks for the responses. It's a Yachtline 530 so inflated width isn't a concern (specs say it's 7'4" so that's comfortably within the limits) . I'm really more worried about underinflated tubes getting damaged while bouncing around during 20 hours at highway speeds. How difficult is it to remove the tubes. Even if it takes a few hours I'm thinking I'd rather have the piece of mind knowing that they're safe and not worrying. Is that crazy? Is it very difficult to remove them?

Thanks!
Steve
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Old 29 January 2012, 15:07   #10
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Personally, I think you're too worried. Most RIB's do anot have removable tubes, and trailer just fine. I've never seen anyone remove tubes specifically to trailer (though I have seen two people defer mounting tubes until after a tow, though I don't know if it was due to insufficient installation tools or location, or what. I do know a bare RIB hull looks silly going down the highway on a trailer.)

I would think your tubes would take more of a beating in the water, where buffeting forces have the weight of water behind them.

jky
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