Posts Tagged 'plans'

sunfish pvc dolly – handle upgrades

I love when I get feedback from fellow Sunfish sailors after they build their own Sunfish PVC dolly, more or less following the Sunfish PVC dolly plans that I posted several years ago. often they mention little tweaks here and there, but now Mark has made some major improvements and we both thought it would be great to share them with the rest of the Sunfish sailing community. here are a few of his modifications:

  • modified the handle attachment to use hitch pins to allow the handle to be removable (major upgrade!)
  • adjusted the axle design so that instead of a long threaded rod, you can use short bolts instead
  • the axle design changes allow you to widen the dolly width (so as to not be limited by the length of threaded rod you can easily source)
  • changed to all stainless steel hardware to allow use in saltwater environments
  • added bunk supports to keep the dolly bunks from dragging

Mark put together a very thorough blog post that outlines his ideas and directions on how to tweak my dolly plans to incorporate his changes. if you’re interested in his improvements, check out his blog post and his very detailed instructions.

Mark’s handle connection and bunk supports
Mark’s hitch pin handle connection

sunfish pvc dolly & handle [plans]

several years ago, I blogged about the Sunfish PVC dolly that I built for moving around my Sunfish.  I later drew up plans for building the dolly, and posted them here for free!
my sunfish PVC dolly
I have since then built a handle out of PVC that attaches to the axle of the PVC dolly, and makes it a little easier to pull the dolly with a Sunfish on it, particularly if you are trying to drag it through sand. the handle lets you pull on the dolly, instead of just pulling on the Sunfish bow handle, and having your Sunfish slide off the dolly and fall onto the beach (speaking from personal experience here…). here is a picture of my Minifish sitting on the PVC dolly with the PVC handle.

minifish on pvc dolly

I’ve had requests for details on the handle, so sketched up the approximate size and layout that I used.  it requires an additional approx 20 lineal feet of 1 1/4″ PVC pipe and a handful of PVC pipe fittings.

for my version of the handle, I used a reducer tee at the axle of the Sunfish dolly – so my handle swivels (the reducer tee had a larger diameter size at the “arms” of the tee so it is larger than the 1 1/4″ pipe at the dolly axle).  if you are building a dolly from scratch, you could consider just gluing the handle at that location.

at the upper part of the handle where you pull the dolly, I added a PVC tee and a PVC plug.  I screwed an eyelet into the plug, and you can use a carabiner or short length of rope to attach to the bow handle on your Sunfish.  full disclosure: I’m not sure it is necessary or even really helps any! I did also add a couple pieces of pipe insulation on the parts of the PVC dolly handle that will rub against the boat gunwales.

if any of you would like to create your own dolly out of PVC, the dimensions should give you a pretty good head start (download a copy of the .pdf plan here). and here is a drawing for the handle (download a copy of the PVC dolly handle drawing .pdf here).

so there you have it:  a bit more detail on my Sunfish PVC dolly and its new handle option.  if you have any more specific questions, please feel free to post it in the comments below, or you can send me an email: my2fish -at-

best of luck, and let me know any comments or questions!


sunfish PVC dolly plans

about 3 years ago, I did a long & exhaustive search online for various ways to transport a Sunfish down to and around the beach.  after finding several fairly expensive versions you could buy, and a handful of decent DIY style dollies you could build at home, I instead decided to try to come up with my own idea and this was the result:

my sunfish PVC dolly

my Sunfish PVC dolly has served me really well – and works great for my normal use.  but for use in soft beach sand, a handle of some sort would be recommended. [I actually made a new PVC handle for mine this spring, but haven’t tested it on beach sand… will report in detail later on.]

so now at long last, I have finally put together a sketch showing the dimensions and details for my Sunfish PVC dolly.  if any of you would like to create your own dolly out of PVC, the dimensions should give you a pretty good head start (download a copy of the .pdf plan here).

sunfish PVC dolly sketch

I’ll go into a little bit of detail: I used a little less than 12 feet of 1 1/4″ PVC pipe, a slew of PVC fittings, a 3/4″ threaded rod for the axle, and these foam beach wheels. a general breakdown of parts is shown on the .pdf file (all parts can be found at your local hardware store except the wheels).

the detail at the axle with the PVC fittings is a bit tricky, so I put the pieces together at the hardware store to give you an idea of what I did (also see the detail shown in the .pdf file).

the 1 1/4″ x 3/4″ PVC bushing (spigot & thread) looks like this:

IMG_1970and the 3/4″ x 1/2″ PVC adapter (thread & slip) looks like this:


these (2) PVC fittings aren’t tightened completely together in my picture below, but it does illustrate how the parts go together.  I also had to trim the left piece (the 3/4″ to 1/2″ adapter) – basically removing the portion to the left of the “nut” part.  the wide end of the 1 1/4″ piece (to the right) then just slips into the PVC cross as shown on the plans.


you might also consider a few miscellaneous parts to complete your Sunfish PVC dolly:

  • (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)
  • I later also covered the pipe insulation with bunk carpet (same stuff used on boat trailers)
  • a handful of zip-ties
  • and PVC safe spray paint (if desired)

as I noted in my Sunfish PVC dolly update, instead of using double 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:

so there you have it.  a bit more detail on my Sunfish PVC dolly.  if you have any more specific questions, please feel free to post it in the comments below, or you can send me an email: my2fish -at-


or, if you’d like a more detailed step-by-step process and less money in your pocket, there is a guy selling Sunfish PVC dolly plans on eBay, with a dolly that looks pretty much exactly like mine.

“imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Charles Caleb Colton

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