Fold-away trailer tongue install instructions

I wanted to be able to store my boat and trailer straight in my garage so that it would only take up one car space, instead of having to store it at an angle. That meant doing something about the long trailer tongue, since the overall length of trailer,boat, and motor was just under 25' (with the motor turned sideways) and my garage is only 20'10" deep.

But, as you can see from the before picture, even if I installed a standard fold-away tongue, the winch stand was going to be my length limiting factor, preventing me from getting down to my target length.

Before Photo:

After Photo:

I found that I would have to do several modifications in order to reduce the trailer length as much as possible. I had to do the following main tasks:
  1. Cut the tongue and install the Fulton fold-away hinge
  2. Cut the excess length off of the winch mount post
  3. Cut the winch mounting bracket to shorten it
  4. Move the winch post farther back on the trailer tongue
  5. Move the trailer jack to the side aluminum I-beam instead of the tongue
  6. Attach an extra safety cable to the trailer behind the tongue hinge
  7. Add a flexible section of brake hose to run through the hinge
  8. Rewire the trailer electrical harness to run through the hinge
I'll get into the details of each of these steps now.

1. Cut the tongue and install the Fulton fold-away hinge
This is pretty straight-forward. Just follow the directions that come with the hinge. I used a 10" miter saw with an abrasive blade for cutting metal, but there are other options (sawzall, etc). I cut the foldable portion to be about 40" long, and I think I also cut another couple inches off of the remaining trailer tongue to toss out in order to help shorten the length even more. Drilling the 16 holes to fasten the hinge to the two tongue pieces took quite a bit of time. Try to use a high quality bit meant for steel, and keep it as cool and lubricated as possible. This is the Fulton hinge kit that I used: 220-HDPB330101

2. Cut the excess length off of the winch mount post
Similar to cutting the tongue. Measure the existing height of the trailer winch bracket, and figure out where you need to cut the post in order for a modified version of the bracket to sit directly on top of the cut post, instead of hanging off the side of it.

3. Cut the winch mounting bracket to shorten it
This is a little more awkward, but can still be done with a power miter saw. The idea is to cut away as much of the bracket as possible and leave just enough room to mount the winch as close to the boat bumper as possible. You'll have to drill new holes to mount the winch in its new position.

4. Move the winch post farther back on the trailer tongue
This required some creativity in order to mount the post where I needed it. The two aluminum I-beams join to the steel tongue right where I needed the post to mount, so that didn't provide a clear flat 8"x5" space for it. I ordered a piece of 8" x 5" x 3/4" thick aluminum (from speedymetals.com) to use as my mounting base. I cut out V notches with a skill saw to avoid the bolts and I-beams. This gave me a flat elevated surface to bolt the winch post to. I had to order longer U-bolts to reach. See the two photos below if my description doesn't make sense.




5. Move the trailer jack to the side aluminum I-beam instead of the tongue
With the fold-away tongue installed, there is no room to mount the trailer jack on the tongue. I moved it to the I-beam, as far forward as possible. Depending on the trailer jack that you have and the exact trailer that you have, you might have a hard time since the I-beam on my trailer is 4.5" tall. There are jacks that can accommodate that height, but they are in the minority. Most only go up to 4".

6. Attach an extra safety cable to the trailer behind the tongue hinge
Since there is now a hinge on the trailer tongue, I thought it would be a good idea to attach the safety cable to the tongue behind the hinge in case the hinge ever fails while I'm on the road.

7. Add a flexible section of brake hose to run through the hinge
I just ordered a 24" length of flexible brake hose and a short section of rigid hose to be able to have the flexible section run through the hinge. This is fairly easy to set up, except that you have to bleed the air out of the brake lines when you're done. You can find that procedure in a number of places online. I used a ratcheting strap connected to my truck to help me cycle the brake cylinder while bleeding the brakes.

8. Rewire the trailer electrical harness to run through the hinge
This is also pretty straight-forward, and you might be able to get away without having to do much rewiring if you can route all of the wires out of the way before cutting the tongue.
 

Comments

#3
I assume you moved the winch back to move the boat back to keep tongue weight about the same as prior to the modification. But, if you moved the boat back, did you extend the bunks to extend past the transom?
 
#4
Great Article! And I found a video with a overview of the install process today when researching a lock to use with this set up :)


Now most who use these trailers have them in a garage so they are very secure. I on the other hand, have it parked under the house and was looking for a way to slow down those who may want to remove our baby :rolleyes:

What I found out, was my receiver hitch lock, fits well right where the Fulton swing tongue pin would normally sit...

IMG_0215.jpg

So this stumbling block should help slow them down at least long enough, to turn around and be looking down the barrel of my Glock G34 :oops: The motion light also comes in handy, since my eyes are not what they use to be even with the Trijicon Night Sights ;)

And it looks like I have some more cleaning to do, and swap out those nasty chains for nice new safety cables :cool:
 
Top