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Thread: Wooden Trailer

  1. #1
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    Default Wooden Trailer

    I seem to recall several years ago seeing a short article in WB about a wooden trailer. It used oak planks for the tongue and axle and motorcycle wheels and fenders. I really want a wooden trailer for my small wooden boat so if anybody out there has the article or can point me to plans I would really appreciate it.

  2. #2
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    That article was in issue 101 of WoodenBoat. According to a brief correction in issue 102, in the text of the article the dimension of one part (the axle board) is listed incorrectly. It is correct in the drawing. There is a letter with some rather pointed critiques of the trailer design in issue 103, and it would be as well to read these critiques before you proceed with making the trailer to the plans in issue 101.

    Unfortunately, issue 101 is only available from the WoodenBoat Store as a photocopy, but it may be available from your local library.

  3. #3
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    IIRC there is also a set of plans for a wood trailer included in the Marisol Skiff plans. If anyone has built that they might chime in.

  4. #4
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    I think that Glen-L used to have plans, or could it have been Dynamite Payson?
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  5. #5
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    Glen-L's book "How to Build Boat Trailers" describes how to build a wooden boat trailer.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  6. #6
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    Sam Rabl's "Boatbuilding in Your Own Backyard" has plans for a wooden trailer. It uses wheels and axle from an old Ford, which obviously would not be available today.

  7. #7
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    Talking Wooden Trailer

    If you have your heart set on a wooden trailer for aesthetic reasons that's one thing. If you're thinking wood because that is the construction material you're most comfortable working with; well, that's another consideration. But if you're looking to get by on the cheap take a look at the little utility trailer kit that Harbor Freight sells in the $150-170 range. When I finally decided that my little 8 foot sailboat was too much of a hassle to get off the top of my truck shell and into the water I got one of these HF kits. It's complete up to the 40 wide by 48 long metal frame. You supply the plywood deck or whatever wood structure you want the boat to sit on and hardware tie it down to. The biggest engineering problem you have is that the trailer tongue is short for a boat much longer than 9-10 feet. Once you've figured out what practical resources you have available to you to lengthen that tongue to fit your boat you're good to go. It's a simple job for a welder; but that can push the price up a whole lot if you have to go into a professional shop. If you go that way and think you may run into "We don't work on trailers" just take the part to them and tell them what to do. But make sure you design it strong enough. A good test is pile as much weight as the entire boat weighs with all its gear in the center of the tongue with the trailer hooked up to the pulling vehicle. If a metal tongue bends enough to take any kind of permanent set then it isn't strong enough. If you decide to make it wood then ask the test weight in the form of some friends to jump on it all at once from about 12 inches above. If they hesitate then you'll know it isn't strong enough. Ed Weldon

  8. #8
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    Ed's experience with the Harbor Freight utility trailer conversion was different from mine. Same goal, to save money, but I've ended up spending as much as a 'real' commercial small boat trailer would have cost.

    http://www.castlecraft.com/sut-500-s.htm



    Near the end of my dory restoration page I show some of the conversion work on the HF trailer. I bought a much heavier metal tongue and extended it fore and aft of the trailer's frame.

    http://www.luckhardt.com/dory1.html




    Had to do quite a bit of welding to get the bunk and fender supports right. But the cheap Chinese steel failed me in the end, and I had to buy another trailer just to swap out the axle, bearings and wheels.
    Last edited by Thorne; 04-25-2007 at 11:58 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  9. #9
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    Default Wooden trailer

    Thorne-- Your experience is instructive. There are some limits to which someone trying to use that cheap little trailer will run into. Looks like you ran into them in spite of some good initial intentions. Perhaps we should have questioned Laxreff on just what he meant by a "small wooden boat". To me a small wooden boat is one I can lift up on to a roof rack. (about 125 lbs for me). I used one of those trailers very effectively for my little 8 footer until I retired it in favor of my current larger boat which rides on a conventional boat trailer. The initial question inquiry was about wooden trailer designs and sources thereof and some others posted real answers. I should have probably left it at that. Ed Weldon Los Gatos, CA

  10. #10
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    No, Ed you are correct -- there are a lot of these utility-to-boat trailer conversions around, most of 'em seem to work out OK for the owners. At the last TSCA event I attended about a third of the small, light pulling boats were on converted trailers, with owners about split on whether they'd buy a new boat trailer next time or not.


    But since mine is 'all over the web' and has been discussed here several times, I wanted to do the full disclosure thing and make it clear that for my uses a used commercial one would have been better.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  11. #11
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    I just now finished assembling my Trailex SU-200 from Castlecraft to carry my Piccolo........I had been carrying her around on a set of bed extenders on my F150 Ford truck but the SU-200 is really a beautiful little trailer and I can use it as a dolly to launch the boat. I'm going to order a couple of the HF trailer kits for a couple of 7'7" Nutshell prams I've built for my granddaughter and my lady friend's granddaughter........these two trailers won't be doing any long range travelling so hopefully they'll work out okay.
    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation......Thoreau

  12. #12
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    If you build a wood trailer, use ash instead of oak. It has more flex, they actually built some horseless carriages with ash frames.

  13. #13
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    I saw a fabulous wooden trailer (DF) last year at the local boat fair. I thought I took pictures, but I can't find them. It was sealed in epoxy, bright finished and magnificent!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonW View Post
    If you build a wood trailer, use ash instead of oak. It has more flex, they actually built some horseless carriages with ash frames.
    Like this one, for instance:
    The Strength of the Pack is the Wolf... And the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorne View Post
    But the cheap Chinese steel failed me in the end, and I had to buy another trailer just to swap out the axle, bearings and wheels.
    Thorne, what exactly happened? I'm considering buying the Harbor freight boat trailer for my skiff, but don't want to put my boat in jeopardy. I know it's going to be a cheap POS, but at half the cost of the next cheapest "real" small boat trailer it's very tempting.


  16. #16
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    One of the inside/rear seals failed on the axle, even though it had been carefully repacked with waterproof trailer grease. This caused the bearing race to turn to mush, pitting the spindle and inside of the hub. Cheaper to purchase an entire new HF trailer than try to find a replacement axle, hubs and bearings.

    I'm also unable to get bearing buddies to fit on the HF hubs...they are either too big or too small, and I've tried all the standard sizes.

    Also all of the cheap brass grease nipples broke, I replaced them with better ones from a blister pack from the autoparts store.

    The fenders won't take a person's weight, so you can't use 'em to step in and out of the boat while rigging at the ramp -- cheap steel again. I replaced 'em with commercial hot-dipped fender supports and sections of aluminum diamond plate.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all of the replies. I've been busy lately, as my username implies I ref lacrosse and 'tis the season. I already have a stout utility trailer on whicj I installed a wooden rack similar to what you would see on a pichup truck. It works fine foe a canoe or a couple of kayaks but I want someting the boat will live on while not in use. I really liked th elook of the wooden trailer and I can get my ands on olde motorcycle spoked wheels. I can do a little metal work so attaching axle ends to steel plate is a non-issue. My neighbor (not a boater) is an architect who works for a timber frame builder and he says use hemlock. I know hemlock is rot resistant but will it clean up like ash for a bright finish? He claims the strength and flexibility are better than ash or oak. I also have a pile of 1"i.d. black iron pipe, a pipe threader, and easy access to fittings if I can cobble something together along with wood. After all is said and done, I just feel that my 14' pulling boat just deserves something a little nicer than the standard aluminum or galvanized trailer. I've already made the steel concession for a trailer for my International 210. Thanks again to all.

  18. #18
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    Default Harbor Freight Trailer

    I've had a Harbor Freight boat trailer for one year now and performance has been satisfactory, but I've had to make two minor modifications and one VERY IMPORTANT modification.

    The first minor modification was replacing the tail and marker lamps with LED lamps. I found that the bulb contacts were constantly corroding and that I had to fiddle with or replace lamps almost every time I used the trailer. I got a replacement LED set for about $65 and they work great, since everything is permanently soldered in.

    The second minor modification is replacing the safety chains with hot dip galvanized chains. I haven't actually done this yet, but the safety chains the trailer came with had only a lousy electroplating job and are now pretty rusty. I'll buy some hot dip chain and replace them soon.

    The major modification was removing and reinstalling the lip seals on the wheel bearings. As received, the lip seals were installed BACKWARDS. The seals are supposed to be installed so that when you put grease into the bearing with a grease gun the lips lift up and grease/crud is free to leave the bearing. When water tries to enter the bearing the lips push down and seal to the shaft.

    I discovered this was wrong the first time I tried to regrease the bearing with my grease gun and pressure built up until the whole seal popped out of the housing. I then removed both hubs and reversed the seals.

    In the original setup, the seals would work to let water into the bearing and then hold it inside once it got in. This would, I think, make the bearings fail in short order.

  19. #19
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    Hemlock is not rot resistant!!!
    Doug Fir is more rot resistant!!! And prettier!!
    Hemlock is for paint grade interior trim of houses.
    Jimmy
    __________
    Loving Living on Lake Bacalar.

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