Swing-back storage solution
  |  First Published: November 2007

Boat storage has always been a problem for boat owners. If you own a house then you are able to erect a carport or secure lockup garage to store you pride and joy if it won’t fit in the garage. Storage of boats in a rental situation is a bit more difficult and can pose a serious problem for boat owners.

With real estate prices going through the roof, more people are finding boat storage a continuing problem when in rental situations.


Some anglers, even those with their own houses, are forced to leave their boats out on the street with only a tarp to protect it from the elements. Obviously in this situation, nothing can be left in the boat, as theft is a common thing these days. Anything that it is not nailed down is likely to disappear quickly. Many residences, in both old and new areas, are built on smaller blocks with limited or no side access and little room at the front of the property for storage.

In this situation some anglers are forced to acquire storage sheds for their craft. With prices of around $100 per week for a 7m secure shed, this is a big financial deterrent for many to own a boat. Even for those anglers who do have a carport or lock up garage available to them, there has always been a problem with the length of boat trailers, especially due to the draw bar, which can often extend a couple of metres forward of the boat. You can also generally add a metre to the length of your hull for the motor, even when the leg is down. In most standard garages this limits you to a craft of less than 4.2m in length, even less in some cases.

Recently I moved out of my house and had to go accommodation hunting. As a result I was faced with a problem of not fitting my boat into the garage at many of the units and townhouses I looked at. I could have rented a storage shed but that was definitely an expensive exercise on top of rent and other costs. My boat is 4.65m in length and even though the places I was looking at had a 5.7–6m lockup garages, the boat trailer would not fit in by at least 60cm, even with the motor down and on full lock. The only garages I could find that were long enough were in the much older style units, which were not what I wanted, especially as the security at many of them was suspect. I had a problem on my hands that needed a solution.


When I built my boat as a project in QFM some years ago, Specialty Trailers at Brendale built me a Sea Link trailer for my hull that included a tilt drawbar. With a problem such as mine, and a need to try and shorten my trailer I again called upon their expertise to provide a solution. A quick discussion with David Heath and things were looking up. They don’t call them Specialty Trailers for nothing and he had a solution to my problem. A swing-back drawbar was the answer and this would reduce the length of the trailer by around 1.2m in my situation. This is not a widely known modification in Australia, however in the USA swing-back drawbars are basically a standard feature on most trailers.

Due to the fact that I had a tilt trailer, I could just unbolt the entire draw bar and take that to Specialty Trailers for the work to be done. If you had a fixed draw bar then you would have to take the entire trailer to them. After resting the frame of the trailer on a pair of jack stands, I unbolted the drawbar and delivered it to them to get the work done. The work was completed in a couple of days with the swing-back fitting in place and the entire drawbar was again hot-dip galvanized to protect against future corrosion. In my case the cost was around $400 although this may vary slightly depending on the trailer. This can be done on virtually any trailer, even if you have brakes, as I do.


I took the draw bar home and attached it to the trailer again as it was previously. My tail light cables still ran up the centre of the draw bar and I strengthened them with some loom tube to provide extra abrasion protection where the draw bar hinged. I had to disconnect the 7 pin plug from the wires to allow the wires to pass the three new bolts securing the hinge plates on the draw-bar, so replaced the slightly corroded plug while I was at it. Once the boat is pushed far enough into the garage, I simply wind the jockey wheel up and place two jack stands under the frame of the trailer. Lowering the jockey wheel again allows the jack stands to take up the weight of the trailer and the pressure is therefore taken off the jockey wheel and the front section of the draw bar. The pin is removed from the hinge section and the front of the draw bar is swung back against the frame. My hinge is directly in line with the front of the winch, which reduces the length of the trailer to a minimum for my craft.

The draw bar can be swung to either side of the boat as you can easily change the direction in which it swings by removing the fixed pin from one side to the other. If you do not want to use jack stands to support the boat, then you could add another jockey to the trailer frame behind the hinge. For me, the jack stands work fine. I gained so much room in my garage that I can now walk around behind my boat, which makes access a lot easier, especially when putting things into the boat before a trip. If you have a similar problem with your boat then give the guys at Specialty trailers a call on (07) 3881 3568. I know they definitely solved my storage headache!

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