UP or DOWN – Trailering Boat

Trailering your boat is a very common thing for the vast majority of boat owners.

The problem is that the motor and lower unit of a boat can drag or contact the ground if it’s not properly secured for trailering. The lower unit is made to sit below the boat, which is ideal for water but a big issue for roads.

How you should have your boat motor sit is important for trailering, and the answer might surprise many new boat owners.

The Best Position For Trailering

The ideal position for any boat motor is to be down, or completely vertical, but the size of the boat and trailer can make this impossible.

If your boat motor is going to drag on the road, keep curbs and low areas in mind, then you need to raise your motor up.

Raising your boat motor up puts extra stress on the transom, hydraulics and motor when out of the water, this is a big problem for long trips or even short-distance trips. You don’t want to rely on your hydraulics as they can give out and the motor will drop.

While many boats have locks and stop blocks to rest your lower unit on, these are not meant for long trips on the road.

If you can’t keep your boat motor vertical while on the trailer, then you need to get a transom saver.

Use A Transom Saver!

A transom saver gives the engine something to rest on that doesn’t over stress the transom.

You can get transom savers here. *

The transom saver connects to your boat trailer and supports the lower unit as shown in this video:

If your manufacturer did not give you a transom saver, most don’t as trailers are not always included, then you need to get one and slightly modify your trailer for the bracket. It’s easy to install a transom saver!

Skeg Clearance

The skeg of your boat is the fin that is on the boat engine’s lower unit. If anything is going to catch or drag on the road, it will be the skeg, so what is the ideal clearance?

You ideally want at least 10 inches of ground clearance, but I prefer 12 inches and anything over 16 inches is overkill and definitely don’t need a transom saver.

There is no set skeg clearance, so it can vary, but I find these numbers to be my ideal for most boats I come across.

Do You Need A Transom Saver?

Needing a transom saver is just one of those hotly debated topics in the boating world. Everyone has a different opinion on it, as everyone experiences will be different.

My rule is if you have to raise the motor just one click (just a little) then you should use a transom saver. This is especially true if you don’t have at least 10 inches of ground clearance.

The ideal towing for your motor is completely vertical, but that is not possible with some boats on trailers as it will drag. So, you raise the motor, but every manufacturer says you can’t tow like this as it puts stress on hydraulics, which could fail, and stretch other parts, so you need something that raises the lower unit up and that is why we have transom savers.

What Size Transom Saver

The length of transom saver you need depends on your skeg clearance, as talked about in the last section.

You want at least 10 inches of ground clearance at the lowest part of your boat motor, with 12 being more ideal.

If your clearance is over 16 inches, a transom saver is not needed, which is common for some pontoon boats and trailers.

Making A Transom Saver

I know a few guys who make their own transom savers out of 2×4 wood, and it will work, but a metal purpose-built one will work better and last longer.

Wood can split over time or break apart, which is not what you want for your boat lower unit. I highly suggest you buy a metal transom saver at the right size for your boat and trailer.

Do Pontoon Boats Need A Transom Saver?

For a lot of Pontoon boats, they tend to sit just high enough from the ground on their trailers that you don’t need a transom saver.

So having a transom saver is not something you see, if ever, on a pontoon boat.

For a pontoon boat, it’s best you tow the motor vertical and do not trim it if space allows for it. Your pontoon boat would have to sit very low to the ground to need a transom saver; if you don’t have at least 10 inches between the lower unit and the ground, then you will need a transom saver.