Gone Outdoors

How to Extend a Boat Trailer Tongue

by Rich Finzer

Many boaters enjoy towing their craft to different lakes and rivers. Sometimes when they arrive at an unfamiliar launch ramp, they are met with a challenge. The ramp leads down to very shallow water, too shallow, in fact, to permit their boat to float free without backing their vehicle into the drink, which is not advisable. This headache was probably the driving force behind the extendable trailer tongue. If your boat trailer is equipped with one, here's how to extend it and address the vexing problem of shallow water at the launch ramp.

1. Park your boat and vehicle on flat, level ground.

2. Place a chock in front of each trailer wheel and kick them firmly into place against the trailer tires.

3. Instruct your helper(s) to remove the clips and retaining pins holding the tongue in its retracted position. If the pins are bound by corrosion or rust, spray them liberally with lubricant and, if necessary, use the sledge hammer to help pound them loose.

4. Put your vehicle into gear and pull forward very slowly. Ask a helper to call out when the tongue extension begins to move.

5. Continue driving ahead very slowly until the helper(s) calls out that the tongue has been fully extended and the holes in the extension are aligned with the forward set of holes in the tongue. Stop the vehicle by braking, but do not put the transmission into "Park" or the vehicle may move slightly, causing the holes to become misaligned.

6. Instruct the helper(s) to reinsert the pins and retaining clips. Test the connection by backing up a tiny bit then stopping.

7. Remove the wheel chocks and place them in the boat or the vehicle. Once this is completed, attempt to launch the boat following your normal launching routine.

Items you will need
  • Wheel chocks
  • Spray lubricant
  • Sledge hammer (optional)
  • Assistant(s)

Tip

  • Keep the tongue extension and retaining pins well coated with spray lubricant, motor oil or marine grade grease. It will make extending the tongue much easier.

Warning

  • The key to successfully extending the tongue is pulling ahead very slowly. If you jerk the vehicle ahead or go too fast, you could potentially bend the tongue extension and cause it to become bound, or you could pull it completely out of the housing and cause the trailer to collapse. So drive very slowly to avoid ruining your day on the water.

About the Author

Rich Finzer earned his boating license in 1960 and started his writing career in 1969. His writing has appeared in "Northern Breezes," "Southwinds," "Living Aboard," "Good Old Boat," "Latitudes & Attitudes," "Small Craft Advisor," "Life in the Finger Lakes," "BackHome" and "Dollar Stretcher" magazines. His maple syrup has won awards in competition. Rich has a Bachelor of Science in communications from Ithaca College.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images