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There are two distinct types of pontoon boat trailers used to transport pontoon boats to and from the water. The oldest and most common type is the narrow, deck-supporting style of pontoon boat trailers. This design places the pontoon over the trailer framework while the pontoon decking rides on padded rails. There are pros and cons to this type of trailer, and this design is most popular when the trailering distance is short. The newest and most stable design in pontoon boat trailers is a cradle style that allows the pontoons to sit in small cradles running the length of the trailer, providing a very stable platform for long-distance trailering.
Pontoon boats are very popular on both lakes and rivers for fishing, entertaining and enjoying leisurely cruises. Once in the water, most pontoon boats remain there until the end of the boating season when they are stored over the off-season months. This is when most pontoon boat trailers are used. There is also a great need for pontoon boat trailers when the boat owner does not live on the water. This necessitates that the boat be trailered to and from the water for every boating excursion.
The earliest design used in building pontoon boat trailers used the deck support-style of trailer. The pontoon boat trailers were very narrow designs, using two connected beams riding on inboard-mounted tires and wheels. The trailer was placed in the water at a boat ramp and the pontoon was driven onto the trailer, straddling the two beams and keeping them centered under the boat's deck. As the trailer was pulled out of the water, the boat rested on the rails and was, therefore, able to be transported. The problem with this design is that the trailer is very narrow and the pontoon boat will occasionally tip when negotiating a sharp corner.
The more modern design in pontoon boat trailers uses a wide trailer that carries the pontoon boat under each pontoon instead of under the decking. The trailer has two cradle-like assemblies that fit underneath the pontoons, providing a wider and more stable stance when traveling. The cradles are typically carpet-covered to protect against damaging the aluminum or composite pontoons found on most pontoon boats. The carpet becomes very slippery when soaked in water and allows the pontoon to slide easily into place on the trailer when it is backed into the water.