Homemade Boat Dollyby Pauline Gill
Transporting kayaks, small boats, sailers or aluminum fishing boats up to 12 feet can be strenuous work any time the terrain becomes more challenging than level paving or short grass. Most times, boaters merely need to move the boat a short distance from a summer home or storage to the lake or waterway where they will launch. A homemade boat dolly you can push by hand or quickly hitch to a lawn tractor makes easy work of moving portable watercraft around.
Boat Dolly Wheel Strategy
The boat dolly consists of a 3/4-inch diameter stainless steel axle with two polypropylene or rubber, 10-inch diameter, pneumatic wheels for small boats up to 200 pounds. The wheels should have plastic insert bearings to preclude corrosion. The axle is held to the crossbeam by four 3-by-4-by-1-inch thick blocks of UHMW polyethylene with 3/4-inch bores to hold the axle. The blocks also have two vertical 13/32-inch diameter holes for the stainless steel hex head bolts that connect the axle to the crossbeam.
Cross Beam and Support Beam Structure
The crossbeam is a 28-inch long section of pressure-treated 2-by-6 wood stud that is drilled in four places along its length with eight 13/32-inch holes to receive the four UHMW blocks that mount the axle. Space out the blocks evenly along the crossbeam. Before mounting the axle, bolt another 28-inch long piece of pressure-treated 2-by-6 wood stud with the six-inch dimension being vertical to the top of the crossbeam. The top of this beam should be cut out with a scroll-saw to accept the boat’s bottom shape towards its stern. Top the cutout with strips of four-inch wide black poly plastic garden border edging to prevent scratching the bottom of the boat when it is on the dolly. The support beam should rest directly above the axle line on the axle crossbeam so that weight forces are transmitted directly through the first crossbeam to the axle. Use both construction adhesive and six diameter lag bolts four inches long through the crossbeam into the vertical beam. Then mount the blocks holding the axle and fasten with the eight stainless-steel 3/8-inch hex-head bolts.
Longitudinal Tractor Beam
Use a ten-foot length of 1-1/2-inch diameter fence post galvanized pipe to form a longitudinal draw beam. It should have a V-block of the UHMW towards the front to support the pointed front of the boat’s bottom. It should also have a T-bar handle on the front end to pull or push the boat, and a 5/8-inch hole for the tractor’s tow bar. Connect it to the rear dolly assembly with 2-by-2-inch aluminum angle brackets. Also bolster this with diagonal supports made with the same aluminum angle. Connect these to the outer axle support bolts for additional lateral strength.