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I need my boat nose-in so it fits in garage, this requires me to winch the boat in from the drive using the rear wall studs to support the winch. The Drive has a very slight incline, I estimate 1' rise along 20' run. total weight of trailer & boat is 4,000 lbs. I plan to secure the winch to a 6' x 6" x 1" piece of solid wood. I plan to screw the wood to 4 x studs in the wall.

Is there any risk to damaging the studs in this regard?

Edit # 1:7/8/2022 Thank you all for great advice. A couple of additional points to add:

  1. I have an upgraded front wheel on the trailer that not only raises & lowers the trailer onto the hitch of the truck, its primary role, it also has a hand crank with 2 gears, high & low, to manually turn the crank and move the trailer and steer the front wheel. This is how I'm currently getting the boat into the garage successfully, I reverse the trailer onto the driveway sideways on a 45 deg angle, I then chock the wheels & disconnect the hitch and move the truck away, I then use the low gear hand crank to move and steer the trailer up the incline driveway, its not too hard to do.

The biggest problem is there is a 1.5" step between driveway and garage that is impossible to overcome with the crank so I built 1/4" hardboard x 6 "steps", ie a ramp and this works. I ramp in the front trailer wheel, I then ramp in one of the main trailer wheels on 45 deg angle so the 2nd wheel is not near the step as I can only pull 1 wheel at a time on the ramp, I then place a 2"x8"x6' block of wood ( same height as the 1.5" step on the driveway and reverse roll the 1st wheel out of garage by 5 feet onto the block of wood which is the same height as the garage floor so its easy to roll back in. then I move the ramp to the 2nd wheel and crank that in.

It works well... but... it's a lot of hard work which after a full day on the boat is not easy and I tend to not do it that day, leaving the boat on my drive overnight which is a HOA violation., hence the idea to use a winch, it would be a whole lot easier & quicker.

  1. the boat & trailer was 2" too big to fit in the garage so I punched out the sheetrock between two studs to buy an extra 4" without touching the studs as the width of the nose of the trailer and boat is less than the distance between 2 studs. Works great except I cant reverse the trailer fully in using my truck as naturally this would be rear end first and the rear end is 4' wide meaning I'd have to cut the studs and put a header beam to form a goal post setup. This might be an option but I'd rather not touch the studs, its a brand new house.

  2. I do agree the studs are designed to carry vertical weight, not designed for horizontal pull but my logic is if the hand crank and ramp can do it then a shared load across 4 studs should also suffice but yes, I don't want to risk damaging the wall. I could use more studs to spread the load more.

  3. The winch is a 2000lbs winch with a plate at the bottom. I could secure this to the concrete slab but my thinking was the 4 x studs option is less damage to the garage than drilling holes in the slab. But i'm open to drilling into the slab. I'll need some guidance here on what type of bolts.

  4. taking the trailer out of the garage is easy, I do use chocks, the hand crank allows me to control the process and I live on a quiet cul de sac so I can easily & safely get the boat onto the road and hitched to the truck.

Edit 1 summery:
so the choice is:

  1. do nothing, keep the hand crank process
  2. use winch and spread the load over more studs
  3. secure winch to slab
  4. remove studs and add a header so I can reverse the whole thing all the way in.

EDIT 2 Wall appears to be non load bearing, its a single story home, the joists in the attic run parallel to the inside garage wall so maybe removing the studs and putting a header is the best plan ?

Edit 3: New idea Im now thinking reverse boat into garage, then jack up trailer, put dollys under the 3 wheels, spin the boat manually to put nose first. Question is can I manually spin a 4000 lbs trailer on 3 dollys.

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  • 2
    Most studs are not attached for pulling force placed upon them. Imagine you could move that boat/trailer a few feet by hand. Would add a second board(2x6 or 2x8) at the bottom, screwed or better lag bolted to bottom plate/s and studs.
    – crip659
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:33
  • 2
    Remember, you aren't pulling 4000 pounds, you are fighting the rolling resistance and the slight incline (actually the incline is likely the biggest bit here). Keep the winch low and as @crip659 notes try to attach to the bottom plate as well. How big a winch are you thinking?
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:43
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    That's still 200 lbs from the slope + rolling resistance, not insignificant. Use lag bolts, not simple screws. And follow the trailer closely with wheel chocks, a loose trailer is a much bigger hazard than whatever you might do to your studs.
    – Olivier
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:52
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    @spuck Drive has an incline, so getting it out is as easy as undoing the winch and watching go down and crash into traffic, while filming it for youtube.
    – crip659
    Jul 7, 2022 at 22:31
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    5% is not "very slight". For railroads it's "I can't stop, we're all gonna die". For airport taxiways it's almost unheard of. For my car it's like "we will not be maintaining 80 up this". Jul 8, 2022 at 1:18

6 Answers 6

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I will try but I do not have much information of where all of this is and how your existing stuff is built. Consider placing a large diameter steel post on the outside of the wall where you want to attach the winch set in concrete. You can place a substantial I bolt through the post to attach the winch to. Filling it with concrete can only help. That Way your walls will not be pulled down by the boat. If you have access to welding equipment you could make a very nice setup. You could put it inside but you will lose some space or place two one to each side then place a small horizontal I beam between them to attach the winch to that. This will keep you from having to place a hole in the wall.

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  • This sounds pretty reasonable! A 4" to 6" steel pipe, sticking 12-18" out of the ground and buried about 4-6 feet deep, filled with concrete would probably be a sufficient anchor point. Of course, it would need to be bedded in concrete and have the backfill dirt thoroughly compacted to help resist the horizontal forces. The winch cable could run through a small piece of PVC conduit to go through the wall to minimize the wall penetration with some sort of weather cover over it for winter time.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 8, 2022 at 17:56
  • the wall in question is shared between garage and closet in bedroom so this is not an option
    – Dave1
    Jul 8, 2022 at 20:25
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Your garage wall isn’t really designed for any kind of a sideways pull, so attachment to pretty much any of it is a bad choice.

My best suggestion is that you anchor into the floor. (Hopefully, it’s concrete and at least 4” thick.) I haven’t done the calcs, but 4-6 bolts, 3/8” diameter, 3-4” embedded should do the job. [Edit to say that any sleeve anchor that fits the description would work: Red head, Hilti, and many more make them. Eg: sleeve anchor. The hardest part of this plan is laying hands on a drill (preferably a rotary hammer drill) to make the holes.]

I understand that you might not be able to get as close to the wall as you want with this arrangement, but you could pull it most of the way and then attach further back on the trailer for the last bit of pull.

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  • Wouldn't the wall be built to at least withstand wind loads? Those are sideways and not trivial.
    – Olivier
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:54
  • Agree that the wall is built for wind, but I don't think this is comparable to trying to winch off it. Jul 7, 2022 at 20:00
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    @Olivier Wind isn't concentrated static pressure on a 6' x 6" x 1" section of wall.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 7, 2022 at 20:00
  • Will depend on the amount of pull force required. If a single person can move the boat/trailer a few feet by hand, then it should be okay, trying to pull it sideways would be a big no.
    – crip659
    Jul 7, 2022 at 20:16
  • There are very few people that are able to move a 4,000 lb boat & trailer by hand. Throw in a slight incline - no way. This is not a small skiff with a 10 hp motor on it.
    – SteveSh
    Jul 8, 2022 at 1:52
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Add a tongue and socket to the other end of your trailer.

This will need to be removable. Leave it at home. Use it only when moving the trailer in and out the garage.

Winch not necessary.


The temporary tongue will pull up on the hitch ball so you have to be sure that it will stay locked under negative weight. You will need to raise the small wheel when moving the trailer with the temp tongue.

You won't move the trailer all the way into the garage with the temp tongue, just get the main wheels over the 1.5" step. Then lower the small wheel, unlock the temp tongue socket, and proceed manually.

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  • wow, i love the thinking outside the box, thank you. would the boat be steady and maneuverable with the tongue at the rear end ? also, would the 3rd small front wheel be up or down ?
    – Dave1
    Jul 14, 2022 at 15:10
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Your boat may weigh 4K but the force to bring it up a slight slope as you have described is many times less,

The force on the wall will really only need to be 18” from the slab max so most of the force is close to the foundation.

tied wall Or slightly above the tongue height I have had many boats putting them in the garage in one case I did take out the Sheetrock but I backed it in and cranked the nose all the way down so the out drive was above the stem wall.

I moved it back in by hand. Then I got a bigger boat 2’itus as some say, no way that would fit in the garage at all it was 3’ two long… a modified tongue on the trailer that allowed the trailer to pivot 3”~ in front of the bow the 4’ folded left plenty of room , then the next boat,

well I had to move because the hull and drive was longer than the garage,, but if 4” is long enough you should be able to back it in then easily move it by hand on the flat slab.

I could with a tandem trailer and the few times we did use a cargo strap to pull it in. Just me and my son one of us guided the front while the other pulled the strap. Strap on the trailer between wheels and at the center to the garage wall , pull sideways was enough force to back my alumaweld offshore with a 80 gallon fuel tank and a 200 Hp back into the garage , just needed to get the wheels inside the garage, and it only took a few minutes as all the weight was on the almost flat slab, yes some slope to the door we just had to overcome the 300-400 lb tongue weight on the slope and it was not hard with a single strap to 2 studs pulled to the side pulled the boat back to the wall with a very steep driveway.

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With access behind the garage, some sort of reinforcement on the wall will be good idea. consider that houses which have stress points have a cross of metal, something like 4' from tip to tip, usually as an X. The centre is attatched to something inside. In your case, the wheel that the cable runs through.

This could be below or above the end point of the boat/trailer, so taking up no room, allowing the lot to get to the back of the garage.

That brings me to another point. Why not reverse the trailer up the drive as far as possible with the tow vehicle, and reverse the trailer into the garage with the winch? Or maybe all the way with the vehicle. Then it's easier for the start of the next journey. (Couldn't quite understand the situation), but trailers go just as well backwards! If that's the case, get the trailer as close to the garage as possible, attatch the rope/cable to the end of the trailer, run it round the wheel on the garage wall, under the trailer, and onto the vehicle. No need for hand winching then! I used to do that for my boat which needed to go down one side of the house, across the back, and down the other side. Winch wheels attatched to a tree one side, a wall the other. And a long rope!

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  • rear of boat is 5' wide requiring me to cut studs to make an extra 4" room, that i need. Front of boat is 1' wide so can simply punch hole in sheetrock and leave studs alone
    – Dave1
    Jul 9, 2022 at 22:15
  • How wide are the boat and garage? Diagonally, perhaps?
    – Tim
    Jul 10, 2022 at 6:02
  • its a 3 car garage, boat is 20' , i actualy got the boat in using truck i.e. rear of boat towards back wall, on a 20 deg angle and both cars but its tight. i do believe there is room if the dollys work as advertised, i.e. to move heavy vehicles. I've actually ordered the dollys so we will see
    – Dave1
    Jul 11, 2022 at 17:35
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The biggest problem is there is a 1.5" step between driveway and garage that is impossible to overcome with the crank... as I can only pull 1 wheel at a time on the ramp.

  1. do [a better ramp, not] nothing, keep the hand crank process

Rip a ten foot 2"x12" into the most severe triangle possible with the largest diameter circular or table saw you can get your hands on. Belt sand whatever hump is left. Might be better as two pieces, and easier to store.


The 5' board that you put there to back it out on, could just be there already if it had an angle cut on the end. Then you just need a small 2x12 ramp for the other wheel. That would make it : one wheel; one ramp at a time, to crank it on to.

The deeper you make the ramp the more likely you'd actually be able to do both at the same time. Built out of 1/4" hardy board or w/e, I'd make the bottom piece like 16"~24". Then minus 4" increments stacked on top. You don't really have to 'build' it either; they're just shims laying there.

Could also make it so the 4" increment is offset by 2" for each ramp, so that you're never even fighting 1/4" x2 at a time.

Failing that, whoever came with you on the boat doesn't get to go home until they Murphy bar the rear axle with a 2x6 while you crank. (perhaps vice versa as that's slightly dangerous)

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  • " offset by 2"... wow... very smart. thank you
    – Dave1
    Jul 9, 2022 at 22:21

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