pontoon trailers - Center Lift Pontoon Boat Trailers
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Center Lift, Scissor, or Up/Down Pontoon Boat Trailers

I have possibly towed more center lift pontoon trailers than any man alive (REALLY).  In all those miles and I mean 100,000 + miles, I only lost one load. Yet, generally speaking, center lift pontoon trailers can be dangerous. The trailers haven’t changed much. The pontoon boats have. Modern pontoon boats have 25+ gallon gas tanks, 300 lb. captains stand’s, and maybe a bar with a granite counter top all on the same side of the boat. Ten years ago the biggest engine on most pontoon boats was a 60 HP. Today 150’s and I/O’s are common. A modern pontoon that isn’t balanced properly (the manufacturers don’t pay much attention to balance because of the large tubes on modern boats) on a narrow axle wheelbase center lift pontoon trailer can be trouble. Marine dealers use center lift pontoon trailers on a daily basis and they all have horror stories.
center lift pontoon trailers
Center lift pontoon trailers do have their applications. If you launch at a shallow ramp it’s sometimes difficult to get the pontoon off the trailer, although plastic bunk wrap partially solves this problem. This is where a center lift trailer might come in handy. Although heavier boats might still need 3’+ of water to get underway. The other reason for a center lift trailer is so that you can sit your pontoon boat down on your garage floor and clear an overhead door. People want to save money on winter storage and that’s fine, just as long as you don’t jeopardize the safety of your boat when you travel. Think about how much you’ll save on storage versus the deductible on your insurance policy.

One last word on center lift pontoon trailers; whatever you do, don’t buy a single axle model. Four tires are always better than two. If you have tire trouble with a single axle center lift trailer, you will lose your boat.  Tandem axle models also tend to be more stable. If you have a failure with a center lift pontoon trailer, in most cases it will result in catastrophic damage to your boat. If you’ve got a nice ten year old boat, the insurance company will give you the depreciated value and you could potentially lose thousands of dollars.
The Stability of Center Lift Pontoon Trailers
center lift pontoon trailer tip testcenter lift pontoon trailer tip testThere are a couple of things that you’ll want in a center lift trailer. The most important is the stability of the trailer. Some trailers can tip over easily. When looking at a center lift pontoon trailer give it the “tip test”. Stand with your back to the trailer and see if you can lift the wheels off the ground. The trailer to the left weighs 650 lb. A young man can lift one side off the ground without using his back. The trailer to the right weighs 795 lb. but the man lifting with his back can barely lift the tires off the ground. If you’re looking at center lift trailers give one the lift test. If you can lift it, it may flip easily.
Will it fit your pontoon? This is critical if you have a pontoon with larger diameter pontoons on an 8’ deck. Check the width of the opening. Many of the newest boats are 8’6” wide and it’s not as critical.
fitting the trailer to your boat
Be careful of the length of your transom. Modern pontoons sometimes have long transom pods that interfere with the throat on some brands of center lift trailers.
How easy or difficult is it to crank? If you have a lightweight older boat this may not be important but modern boats with big engines can weigh 3000 lb. Most center lift pontoon trailers use a pulley and cable system to help raise the top frame. A lightweight 1200 lb. winch working through a couple pulleys will raise a 1500 lb. pontoon, but for something heavier you’ll want a 1500 lb. winch with a larger drum and the more pulleys the better.
pintoon trailer winches
How low will it go, How high will it raise? Most center lift pontoon trailers will sit modern boats with 23” diameter or larger tubes on the ground. Boats with smaller (19” diameter) may need blocking, but blocking is a good idea with any pontoon. Height has become a problem for some modern pontoons, especially with 27” diameter pontoons. If the trailer doesn’t raise high enough you may scrape bottom on sloped ramps or driveways. Most center lift pontoon trailers will raise from about 37” to 41”. If you have a pontoon with 25” or larger diameter pontoons, the 4” may make a difference. This is something to consider when buying.
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