Posts Tagged 'sunfish trailer'

wheeleez boat dolly

a few months ago, I just started randomly getting a magazine delivered to my house – “BoatU.S. Magazine“.  I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it was after I set up an online account at West Marine (although I never ordered anything – just got their free catalog… I should have known).  the latest BoatU.S. magazine happily let me know I could subscribe and keep getting it for only $15!  a steal of a deal.

so 99% of the time, I flip through the magazine each month and toss it out in the recycling bin in the garage, as it largely is focused on powerboats, with a plethora of advertising to suit those interests.  this month, though, something finally caught my eye – it was a Sunfish! here is a scan from the page:

the short “article” is promoting a new dolly that is being produced by Wheeleez.  this is the same company where I bought the foam tires that I have been using on my Sunfish PVC dolly.  evidently, they are entering the adjustable small-boat dolly market, hoping to compete with the Seitech, Trailex, and similar models – all in the several hundred dollar price range.

as for me, I’ll stick with my home-made version with the Wheeleez foam wheels.  at probably less than $100 total, it’s much cheaper than some of the dollies listed above, and it gets the job done just fine for me.

sunfish PVC dolly – update

just wanted to give a quick update on my home-made Sunfish PVC dolly. here is a new picture with my Sunfish, to give an idea of the scale of the dolly in relation to the Sunfish.

I’ve used it twice so far – and both times it performed great.  the 1st time was at a hard-packed dirt/sand ramp and the other time was at a regular paved boat ramp.  I still haven’t tested it out in any beach sand.  oh yeah – the PVC dolly floats, too!  it seems to take on a small amount of water at the axle, so I will probably either drill a hole somewhere in the PVC to allow it to drain the water out, or find a way to seal it up water-tight to make sure it keeps floating!

I was able to slide the Sunfish off the back roller guide on my trailer and rest the back end of the Sunfish on the PVC dolly, and then walk up and pick up and roll the dolly down the ramp using the bow handle.  to get the boat out of the water, it was a little more cumbersome to get the Sunfish onto the dolly down in the water but still manageable by myself.

PLEASE NOTE:

I did update the construction just a tad, though. as I was trailering the boat a few weekends ago, the vibration from bouncing along down the road caused the (2) nuts on one end of the axle to spin loose, and fall off as I was driving down the road!  in fact, if I hadn’t stopped in time, I probably would have lost one of the brand new foam wheels as well.

to prevent this from happening again, instead of using the (2) nuts on each axle, I reverted back to just (1) nut on the outside, but then drilled a 9/64″ diameter hole in the axle so that I could install a 1/8″ cotter pin to lock everything in place.  here is a picture of the installed cotter pin on the end of the axle:

sunfish trailer updates

while visiting with my in-law’s over Memorial Day weekend, I took advantage of having a father-in-law that likes to fiddle with fixing up old cars and has made many friends with unique tools (thanks Larry and Doyt!).  we pulled my beat up rusty old boat trailer out into the country farmland to Doyt’s house to use his heavy-duty air compressor and sand-blaster. all I had to do was pay for the blasting sand, and then sweat like crazy in the sun doing the actual work.  why did we pick a ridiculously hot day to spend several hours in the direct sun, though?!?  it was a hot messy process – I ended up covered in sweat with little bits of the blasting sand and probably flakes of old paint and rust.

here is a picture just before we started sand-blasting.  I had removed most of the hardware – the bunk boards and holders, the roller guides, trailer lights, and had tucked away the trailer wiring harness so we wouldn’t damage it.  Larry had offered to spray-paint a coat of black paint on it as well, but I was already so dirty and exhausted, plus I wanted to get a coat of primer on the trailer too.  I trailered it back home and spent the next couple weeks randomly spending a few hours in the evenings brushing on first a coat of Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer, followed by 2 coats of black Rustoleum High Performance Protective Enamel (sounds amazing, doesn’t it?).  I realize brushing might not look as pretty, but I wanted to have a heavy coat of primer and paint, and didn’t want to deal with cans of spray paint — and it’s a trailer for crying out loud!  it doesn’t need to be pretty!

here is a picture of the newly painted frame.  I still need to wire brush and paint a few of the miscellaneous attachments (fenders, bunk board brackets, etc).  I have been upgrading some of the boat hardware as well – new bolts/washers/nuts in a few places, new Z-clips to hold the trailer lights wires to the trailer frame.  I haven’t tried to wire brush the tire rims, so they still are a rusty white color… looks a bit out of place.

when I was trailering the Sunfish to a lake for a sail a few weekends ago, the rubber Y-bow stop had one of the branches of the “y” break off – it had some serious dry rot, so I’m not surprised.

I picked up a new Y-stop and a new bunk roller as well (it had somehow fallen off while driving down the road! – I think the cotter pin must have been too loose).

this is the new roller, towards the front of the boat, at the locking pin for the folding trailer.

I’ll post more picture of the miscellaneous hardware that gets repainted as I get around to actually doing the work!  I’m also still toying around with a new method to stack 2 Sunfish on the same trailer.  my old method got the job done, but I think there is a ton of room for improvement.

sunfish PVC dolly

I wanted to build myself a dolly to transport my Sunfish down the beach, or maybe just to get the boat from a parking lot to the water if the boat launch ramp is too crowded.  I have spent some time looking around online at a few different options, including options to purchase as well as a variety of home-made dollies.

Seitech dollies seem to be one of the more popular brands to purchase,  and start at about $425.

Seitech Sunfish dolly

another similar option is the Trailex universal dolly, starting at about $450, but that is with the 6″ wheels – another $100 to upgrade to 8″ wheels!

Trailex universal dolly

a third option, similar in style to the 2 above, is the voodoo dolly by Windline Sails (he has a GREAT “how-to” section for Sunfish) – the Sunfish version of the dolly is $370.

voodoo dolly

a much smaller option is the Rollaboat Tote dolly, priced at $135.  I didn’t like this option, as I was concerned that there was too much of an possibility to over-stress the daggerboard trunk area.

Rollaboat Tote Dolly

this is a home-made version, built using mostly threaded pipe sections, and details of its construction are here.

this is a nice video series for a homemade sunfish dolly – here is part 4 of 5 (there’s 5 total videos, this one gives you a good idea of what the dolly looks like and how it would work).  it’s made with mostly lumber products, so avoids threaded pipe or dealing with PVC.

there are several other options for Sunfish dollies over in the “Files” section at the Sunfish Sailor Yahoo Group – if you’re not a member of that group yet, go sign up, and browse through the files to see more options for the dolly, as well as a wealth of other information. probably my favorite option from that group is the Sunfish Beach Dolly by Jim Manta. it is made out of PVC pipe, is plain and simple, and seems to be favored as a good do-it-yourself option.  there are detailed instructions and a parts-list at the Sunfish Sailor Yahoo Group.

I decided to build my own version of a PVC dolly, similar in style to Jim’s, but a slightly different setup, and a few tweaks (not necessarily for the better!).  I used 1 1/4″ PVC pipe, a slew of PVC fittings, a 3/4″ threaded rod for the axle, and these foam beach wheels.  these wheels were a cheaper option than the fat beach wheels Jim Manta used above – we’ll see how well my PVC dolly performs on sand, though.

my sunfish PVC dolly

the top bars are about 36″ total length, and the supports are about 21″ center to center. here’s a general breakdown of parts (all parts can be found at your local hardware store except the wheels):

axle:

  • (1) 3/4″ x 36″ threaded rod
  • (4) 3/4″ flat washers
  • (4) 3/4″ nuts (there are only 2 in the picture – I will pick up another pair to act as locknuts) (SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM)

PVC:

  • (2) 1 1/4″ pipe x 5′ long
  • (2) 1 1/4″ crosses
  • (4) 1 1/4″ tees
  • (4) 1 1/4″ caps
  • (8) 1 1/4″ 45-degree elbows
  • (2) 1 1/4″ to 3/4″ slip and thread fittings
  • (2) 3/4″ slip and thread fittings

miscellaneous parts:

  • (1) 6′ piece of pipe foam insulation (supposed to be for 1″ pipe – it was the largest I could find, on sale for 31 cents… it doesn’t wrap all the way around, but covers enough for me)
  • (2) foam wheels w/ plastic bushings
  • a handful of zip-ties
  • and spray paint (if desired)

I probably got the names wrong on the last 2 PVC fittings – the 1 1/4″ fitting slips into the 1 1/4″ cross, and the other end is female threaded for a 3/4″ fitting. then the 3/4″ male threaded portion is screwed on. the 3/4″ axle fits pretty snugly inside of that fitting.  I will probably revisit the hardware store to see if I can find a PVC piece to fit inside the 1 1/4″ pipe, and then the 3/4″ rod inside of that – similar to the style Jim Manta used for his dolly – but I think his axle diameter was smaller, so am not sure if I can get that to work out or not, based on available pipe sizes, anyway.

UPDATE 7/17/2013 – I have put together a set of dimensioned plans for my Sunfish PVC dolly

anyway, the PVC dolly is now built, seems to hold my Sunfish pretty well, and a beach test will hopefully confirm that it works in sand.  the dolly should work fine, though, to roll my Sunfish down the boat ramp at my local lake.

UPDATE 07/19/2010….PLEASE NOTE:

I posted an update after almost losing the tires of the dolly when I was driving down the road – using (2) nuts didn’t work adequately as “locknuts”:

I did update the construction just a tad, though. as I was trailering the boat a few weekends ago, the vibration from bouncing along down the road caused the (2) nuts on one end of the axle to spin loose, and fall off as I was driving down the road!  in fact, if I hadn’t stopped in time, I probably would have lost one of the brand new foam wheels as well.

to prevent this from happening again, instead of using the (2) nuts on each axle, I reverted back to just (1) nut on the outside, but then drilled a 9/64″ diameter hole in the axle so that I could install a 1/8″ cotter pin to lock everything in place.  here is a picture of the installed cotter pin on the end of the axle:


sunfish trailer flag – update

so, an update on my Sunfish trailer flag.  as you may recall from my initial review, I lost the little orange bike trailer flag on my maiden voyage with my Sunfish trailer flag.  I then resorted to slicing a tennis ball, and jamming that thing down onto the 3/8″ diameter aluminum rod – this worked quite well, but I ended up losing that too!  it worked fine for the 300 miles up to our vacation, but I lost it on the way home – not sure even when it happened!  I still the tennis ball route is a good, viable solution for short-term trips, but maybe nothing long-distance.

anyway, my darling wife went away a few weekends ago for a girls weekend with my mother, sisters, and sisters-in-law.  a nice getaway to a quaint little cabin to relax and enjoy some time without husbands or children – and she spent a large chunk of her time making me an awesome flag to use! the color balance is off in my photo – the dark lines are a much nicer shade of green (green and white – for my favorite Michigan State Spartans!).

we still haven’t decided the best way to attach it to the 3/8″ aluminum rod – we are leaning towards adding a few grommets.  we also aren’t sure if we need some kind of support for the bottom of the sail, although I think when we’re driving it will probably flutter just fine… although another 3/8″ rod at the bottom of the sail might look alright to – it’d sort of mimic the boom of the Sunfish.  we also need to come up with a way to add a Sunfish logo – I’m wondering if an iron-on decal might work?

sunfish trailer flag – a new option

from my Sunfish trailer flag performance review, you may recall that I lost my bicycle trailer flag after driving maybe only 5 or 10 miles down the road.  I needed to come up with a better option instead of just a thin little 3/8″ rod.  I described how I made the trailer flag here.

so today I tried a new option for my Sunfish trailer flag – an old tennis ball!  I used a utility knife to cut a small slit into the wall of the tennis ball, maybe a 1/2″ long total.  I then just squeezed the tennis ball to open up a small hole, and inserted it onto the 3/8″ aluminum rod.  the small slit still provides a very snug fit.

Img0148_002 trailer flag tennis ball

I trailered the Sunfish about 50 miles round trip today, and the tennis ball option performed spectacularly! the height is just about perfect – centered quite well right in my line of sight when I use the review mirror.

highly recommend it as a short-term solution, or even the final solution!


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