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WakeWorld Discussion Board » >> Boats, Accessories & Tow Vehicles Archive » Archive through April 21, 2006 » need help tandem vs. single axle « Previous Next »
By Philip (skymasterp) on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 5:06 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
I have finally bought a new boat. Now I must decide to get a tandem or single axle trailer. I do hook up my boat by myself often and like the ability to push the boat around easily. I also may put the boat in my garage at times so single may be the way to go. However, I do want to take some far trips with the boat and may pull fairly often so tandem may be better.

I am trying to find out how much better a tandem axle trailer pulls and how much maneuverability I lose with one. Are there any other advantages/disadvantages I am missing?

I appreciate any and all input.

By entrust clothing (entrustclothing) on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 5:20 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
my last boat was single and the new boat is tandem, the tandem is much nicer. first it looks better and second it's much easier to drive with, espsecially backing up, my new trailer is like 3' longer than the single axle and its still easier to drive with, it doesn get as twichy backing up, i think it's deffinitely worth the money and will help resale when you sell it
By T (tbonus) on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 5:46 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
I would always go with a tandem axle trailer for anything above say 3000lbs for pulling stability, tracking, bounce control, and overall ease of towing on the driver and vehicles. The loss of maneuverablity just means you have to increase your backing skills.

On the other hand, if you go with the single axle for maneuverability you can not increase it's ride control.

Another consideration: The weight of your tow vehicle has a big influence on the ride control as well. If your vehicle is not at least 1 1/2 times the weight of what you are towing i would definetly go with the double axle.

Also brakes: Two wheel braking versus four wheel braking. Do you have many hills or city driving?

By Chad Davis (garman) on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 6:02 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
You will not move a loaded tandem axle trailer in any direction other than forward or backwards without a vehicle attached. No turning at all.

As stated though, the tandem is much better for carrying the load.

By wakeitup (wakeboard19) on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 6:13 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
I would hate to blow a tire on a single axle trailer with my new boat.
By John Boy Holmes(Johnny Wadd) (surfnfury65) on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 6:28 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
It Takes me and one if not two others to push my tandam axel trailer in my garage to get it at the right angle. It's a little harder to get in the spot over my old sinle axle but well worth it.
Board More/Work Less!

By Anodyne (anodyne) on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 6:45 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
wakeitup... agreed! I know during Murray/Nunn's 2005 Backyard tour they blew 4 trailer tires over the course of their escapade (granted, it was 7000 miles...). I swore to myself as soon as I read that I would never own a single-axle trailer again.
By Rod McInnis (rodmcinnis) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 10:51 am:    Edit Post Delete Post

If you need to muscle the trailer around by hand a single axle trailer is the only way to go. I assume that what you would need to do is push the tongue over by hand once you have backed it into the garage type of thing. On a single axle trailer that is not hard to do. On a double axle trailer in order to push the tongue sideways one set of tires need to scuff sideways. It is not easy to drag a tire sideways!

As far as manuevering many people find the double axle trailer easier to back up. It is NOT because the double axle turns better, it is exactly the opposite, they generally turn slower, but this often helps.

If your tow vehicle has a short wheel base and/or a very tight turning radius then you can manage a trailer that has a short hitch to wheel distance, but it does require a more subtle control from the driver as a very small turn of the wheel can have big change at the trailer. If you are towing with a long wheel base vehicle that won't turn very sharp having a trailer that does can be very difficult as once it passes a certain angle there is now way the vehicle can turn it back without pulling forward.

If you need to steer through an obstacle course, a short wheel base truck with a single axle, short wheel based trailer is what you would want. If you want your wife to be able to back it down the ramp a tandem axle will get your day started with one less argument.

The biggest reason I promote tandem axle trailers is the load on the tires. A typical inexpensive tire might have a load rating of around 1500 pounds. Two of those is only 3000 pounds, which has to carry the trailer, the boat, a tank of gas, ballast, and all the junk you pile in the boat (which can be a LOT when you head off for that week long camping trip).

You can buy tires with higher load ratings, but they tend to be bigger (may not fit under the fenders), are more expensive, and if you do blow one on a Sunday night out on some lonely highway the chances of you finding a suitable replacement before Monday are slim and none.

A tandem axle spreads the load out across four tires, so 4 1200 pound capacity tires will carry 4800 pounds, more than enough for a typical wakeboard boat. If you blow one of these a gas station might have something that will suffice. If you detect the blown tire in time and slow down you can often nurse the trailer to the nearest town on three wheels and at least not be forced to abandon your boat on the freeway.

Other than the last little bit of putting the boat in the garage I would say everything else points to a tandem axle. Perhaps with a cable "come-along" and a floor jack you could muscle the trailer where it needed to go. A pain in the ass, but believe me, being stuck with the whole family on the side of the road is no picnic.

By notidad (noti_dad) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 11:23 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
Get the tandem and one of these. They work awaesome.

By Johnny Neves (johnny_jr) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 11:52 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
Not to bash the power mover, it works great pulling and pushing a tandem, but making that tight cut to move the tandem axels is not it's strong point. I returned my mover and found that a pair of car casters thrown under the front pair of wheels works great, you can back into the garage and by hand put a tandem axe into the corner. I can get my sanger into a space that is only 8" longer then the boat/trailer.

By Peter Chandler (peter_c) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 11:57 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
I think Johnny means these Go Jacks
They can be found for less and will allow you too easily pivote a trailer in the garage. If you are pulling it into your garage you can buy a winch from Harbor Freight for cheap that will allow you to do everything by yourself.

By Brad Spooner (spoonman) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 12:27 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
A floor jack under the front axle allows me to push my tandem all over the garage with out the expense of a mover or car dollys.
By entrust clothing (entrustclothing) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 1:38 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
go jacks are sweet :-) we moved a coworkers car with them the other day and she has no clue how we did it :-)

By Mikeski (mikeski) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 2:03 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post

Most Californians prefer a tandem trailer for looks. I have had both and in most situations the single axle is perfectly adequate if not superior. They are actually easier on tires because most of the tandem's tire wear is from scrubbing in the turns. If you know how to back a boat with any competency you will not notice a difference between a single/tandem except that the single turns easier. I hate trying to move my boat around by hand with the tandem trailer, the old single was a breeze. I am not completely convinced that tandems are more reliable for long distance trailering, if you have oversized over capacity tires properly inflated on the single they work fine. Lots of blowouts are caused from guys smacking the tires into curbs because they don't drive that well. At resale time you may have a difficult time selling a single (maybe not in Indiana, just don't try to sell it to a Californian).

Here is my bottom line opinion...

Functionality = single
Appearance = tandem

By adam Curtis (acurtis_ttu) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 2:28 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
Mike’s probably right “in most situations”. It’s always the one time something happens you’ll be kickin yourself saying why didn’t I just get the tandem axel trailer. For instance on 200 mile road trip, across Texas flatland, I was coming home and a plug (from a previous repair) in one of my tires came out and leaked air…I notice the tire was flat and there was not a gas station in sight (nearest town about 60 miles) I was able to drive on three wheels until I got home……on a sunburned Sunday drive home knowing you have to wake up at 6 for work on Monday…the last thing I want to do is screw with my trailer…..I would have paid $1k to get me home…lol.

Kinda like a second battery….you don’t “need” it, but when you do it’s a life/party saver.

And you have the resale side….a tandem axle will sell a lot easier than a single and probably for more.

By Elane (ebone66) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 2:36 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
You can always get the spare w/bracket mounted to a single axle trailer. Cost about$300 and is is definitely worth it.
By Joe H (superairdawg) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 2:49 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
One other consideration I haven't seen mentioned is gas mileage. A bud of mine that just switched from a single to a dual axle dropped a couple mpg behind his diesel Excursion due to the extra drag of 2nd set of wheels. He trailers his a ton and wanted the extra security of the tandems.

That being said, if you need to maneuver yours into a garage by hand it's nearly a no-brainer IMO (single axle). However, if you don't then a tandem is good for extra security.

I think it just boils down to preference. If you're pretty safety-conscious or LOOKS conscious, you might go tandem. For maintenance and ease of use, go single. I've done both and I have friends with both and either work.

(Message edited by superairdawg on March 16, 2006)

By Philip (skymasterp) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 8:51 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
Hey everybody thanks so much for all of your help. I am new to the forum and I am very glad to see how many are willing to lend some advice. The dealer accidentally ordered my X2 with a tandem but did not charge me yet. Maybe I can get tandem for discount?? I may just stick with it. I have blown a tire or two on my prostar 205 on long trips with single axle.
By Barefooter4Life (grud8) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 10:39 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
Joe H - Funny your friend is getting worse gas mileage with a tandem. I went from a tandem to a triple (and a heavier boat) and picked up a little more than 1mpg. My Excursion is the V-10 though, I wonder if that has anything to do with it?

One thing no one has mentioned is the wear and tear on the axles. If the boat is heavy enough that can be a factor. This is something I experienced with the tandem and is the reason I went to the tri-axle for the heavier boat.

By Joe H (superairdawg) on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 5:02 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
his Excursion is a Powerstroke, but I doubt that has anything to do with it. I'm just relaying his experience. Last season towing his single axle MC back from Cumberland (5ish hours) he had lug nuts shear and lost a wheel. Not cool. Pretty much totalled the trailer and he decided to replace it with a tandem, so his only variable was the trailer.

Doesn't make much sense to me that can trade up to a heavier boat with more axles, but get better mileage? Maybe your new trailer has significantly nicer bearings or top secret grease formula!?

By shane (auto) on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 6:39 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
somebody already said it, when i was looking at used boats, boats that did not have a tandem were not even considered.
By Dante (hal2814) on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 7:06 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
You can't manhandle the boat with a tandem, but I think that's worth it for the added security and stability. I'd easily fork over the extra cash for a tandem and I'm a pretty cheap guy. However, I'm perfectly happy with my single and I sure wouldn't pass over a nice used boat just because it's a single. Just keep a spare wheel if you go with a single. (And from personal experience, I recommend carrying spare leaf springs for a tandem or a single if you travel far with it but I know that's not common practice.) If you do go tandem and need to manhandle it a bit, you might look into the hitch attachment you can put on a riding mower. I know I can put a hitch on my mower if I'd ever need to that would give me enough push to move a 5000lb boat rig around a bit.
By TR (biz) on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 9:39 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
Dante you wrote "I know I can put a hitch on my mower if I'd ever need to that would give me enough push to move a 5000lb boat rig around a bit."

I was curious if you have done this persoanaly and are speaking from experience? I have asked this question and got a few opinions but no one could say they actually put a hitch/ball on a riding mower to move a boat. Also how heavy of a boat, for instance 19 ft vs. a 23 ft is a big difference. Obviously safety is a prime concern! Flat ground would probably be easy however I would imagine a 23 ft boat could overpower a riding mower on even a mild grade. I am talking about a riding mower, not a tractor.

(Message edited by biz on March 17, 2006)

By Mikeski (mikeski) on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 4:46 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
I believe Wakejunky uses his riding mower to put his tandem axle trailered boat into his garage. It's a tight 90 degree turn.
By Dante (hal2814) on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 11:31 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
The attahment I've seen looks like a hitch dolly with a place to bolt that onto your mower (NOT tractor) where you usually mount those overpriced lightweight utility trailers. I guess the two wheels on the attachment (hence like a hitch dolly) keep the boat from lifting the front of the mower. I've never used one. I just know that my mower salesman was trying to upsell one when I bought the mower. I figure I can go back and get one if I ever needed it but I have a single axle and a 3500lb rig so I can manhandle to my hearts content. I sure wouldn't use that thing for anything but adjusting the boat in the garage. I doubt I'd even try to pull the boat all the way out of the garage with something like that. I'd be afraid the boat would get away from me. Ask your local mower shop. They should be able to answer your questions.
By Pete McCarthy (simply_peter) on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 3:47 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
How much are they asking for the single vs. tandem axle trailer?

By chad (dcwillette) on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 4:34 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
I would probably go with a tandom if the price difference was right. That said, one thing to consider is the rating of the single-axle trailer. Mine is a HD-Single axle rated for 5,000 lbs. The optional tandom axle trailer was rated for 6,000 lbs.

In this case, each axle of the tandom was only rated for 3,000 lbs so if you blew a tire you were stil stuck on the side of the road unitl you put on a spare.

By Randy (dudeman) on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 4:40 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
Chad, extremely good point. Tandem doesn't mean you keep on rolling if you blow a tire.
By Greg Mercer (greg_mercer) on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 5:06 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
I have a 2" reciever on the front of my golf cart. Works like a charm for moving my trailer around in tight places.


By Craig Strait (yosquire) on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 6:19 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
I've actually driven a tandem about 5 miles on 3 wheels..

(it's a funny story, so I'll continue)

We blew a tire on an interstate bridge. Continued 500ft or so and pulled over just after the bridge. This was an older heavy I/O I had. Fortunately, we had two jacks. We jacked up the trailer as high as we could, then we blocked the gimp axel up. let the trailer down. Then I took the safety chains off the tongue. (I know this is sounding really bad at this point--just go with me here) We used the safety chains to chain the gimp axel up and hold the spring compressed so the rim would not drag. (we had about 1 inch of clearance) We then proceeded to pull the trailer back to the house at 10 miles an hour -- it was only another 1/2 mile to an exit off the interstate. Sounds easy, but it actually took about 1 hour to get the axel jacked up.. a couple of attempts, on the side of a 70mph freeway, with 6 inches between the tire and the concrete barrier.

Here's the gheto part of the story.. So I didn't get around to fixing it right away.. So we went wakeboarding another 4 times with a 3 wheel trailer.. (by this point I had taken the wheel off the trailer -- so we had ~5 inches of clearance) I could get away with this because there is a launch 1 block from my house. I don't even have to get up past 10 miles an hour to get to the launch..

For the love of wakeboarding...

I'm sure people are going to start in with the safety complaints and all the reasons I shouldn't have done that. But whatever, I solved the problem and got the rig off the free-way.

By Peter Chandler (peter_c) on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 8:33 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post
"Mine is a HD-Single axle rated for 5,000 lbs. The optional tandom axle trailer was rated for 6,000 lbs."

Correct if I am wrong but doesn't last years X-Star weight 4000 lbs? Not sure what the new X-2 weights. If so 4000 lbs plus the trailer that weights at least another 1000-1300 lbs puts it right at the limit. Better to have a large margin of error than non at all.

By Richard (ramhouse) on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 10:14 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
Always tandum......
By Mike Barker (thedog01) on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 6:30 am:    Edit Post Delete Post
Some tandem trailers have less ground clearance below the prop guard. If you need to back up a hill (like your driveway for example) or use a ramp which is in poor condition, clearance may be an issue.
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