Posts Tagged 'sunfish dolly'

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:

IMG_1971

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.

IMG_1969

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- gmail.com

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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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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.

sailing log: 2011-07-23 (lake erie)

after the major frustration I’ve been having with sailing at Kent Lake, I decided to try out a new option.  I realized that driving down to Sterling State Park on Lake Erie near Monroe, Michigan, would only be maybe 10 or 15 minutes farther of a drive than I had been making up to Kent Lake.  that was a short enough increase in driving to make it worth checking out.

the weather forecast for the weekend was a chance of rain on and off.  I got a little worried as I was driving down – there were pockets of rain (some light, some a little heavier) as I was driving, and I thought I might have to skip out on the sailing.

the state park has a boat launch, but it is located back in one of the lagoons, and you’d have to motor out into the main waters of Lake Erie.  so instead, I was planning to launch from the beach, but the parking lots are set off quite a ways from the beach, so I parked and walked down to scope things out.  there was a gravel access road that went down to the beach (I think the state park uses it to re-grade the beach).  the water looked pretty shallow, and fairly calm, but there was a bit of wind.  as I was walking in the parking lot back to the truck, there was a strong wind blowing at my face and towards the water – I was hopeful for some good sailing.

it took me 20 or 30 minutes to get all my gear around, and stacked nicely in and on the Sunfish.  this was the 1st time I’d be using my Sunfish PVC dolly to haul my boat a considerable distance, and I needed to get everything, as I didn’t want to make multiple trips.  the PVC dolly did great through the parking lot, across the grass and gravel path, and even some in the hard-packed sand, but it gets bogged down in the softer sand, so it made it maybe 25 to 30 feet from the waterline.  I had to drag the Sunfish the rest of the way across the sand.

I got everything all set up and started out on the calm waters of Lake Erie.  but that beautiful wind out of the west I had felt up in the parking lot had completely died off, and I drifted and had to use my paddle for the first 20 minutes or so.  it was plenty hot, though, so after a while I stuffed my life jacket in the storage cubby, and sat down in the cockpit and let the sail all the way out to try to let the boat run in the light breeze.  right about then, the wind started picking up a little bit (and coincidentally, that’s when my GoPro Surf Hero camera quit on me – the memory card was too full of old videos!).  I did get this screen-grab, but the rest of the video isn’t very exciting as I drifted/paddled in the calm water.

the wind stayed pretty light, but I was at least able to sail a few nice reaches back and forth as the wind came and went, and then finished up with a nice easy run back to the beach after maybe an hour and a half on the water.  the PVC dolly worked great hauling the boat back up to the truck and trailer, where I packed it all up and headed back home.

so, now I’ve sailed a Sunfish on Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan – 3 of the 5 Great Lakes.  I think the last 2 will be a bit harder to accomplish… both would require a serious drive: probably 6 hours to Lake Superior, and Lake Ontario would be 4 hours if I drove through Canada and dealt with the hassle of customs at the border(s) or 7 hours if I drove entirely in the US to avoid Canada.  maybe I can plan some camping trips for next summer at one, or the other, or maybe even both!

 

 

sailing log: 2011-05-29

I got my 1st sail of the year in this weekend – probably my earliest sail ever to start a year.  my spring and early summer is usually busy with sports for the boys and the end of the school year, and it is often colder than I currently have gear to deal with.  for Memorial Day weekend, we were heading down my in-law’s house, a little bit south of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  right in the middle of flat farmland, without any real lakes close by.

I did some preliminary scouting online prior to heading down there: there was a pretty large lake not to far away across the border into Ohio – but a little digging on The Google revealed that there were water health issues at that lake – harmful algal blooms (HAB’s… for more information, see this .pdf file), enough to warn against any swimming or boating activities.  a little closer to my in-law’s house, there are (2) reservoirs, Salamonie and Huntington – so long, narrow and winding dammed up rivers to make lakes that might have wide enough sections to maybe make it worth sailing on.

the down-side to those (2) reservoirs, of course, is that we’ve had probably the wettest spring in 30 years in this area, so the rivers flowing into those reservoirs were full or flooded, meaning the reservoirs would be quite high (if not flooded), and gunked up with all kinds of debris from the rivers.

since we camped last year at Salamonie, I decided to drive over and check out the Huntington Reservoir (or Roush Lake).  as I got to the entrance to the state park – the check-in station was boarded up, and the road to the park area was closed due to flooding.  the boat ramp access road was open, but signs were posted saying that the ramp was closed.  I drove down the access road to check things out – the water was very high, up into the parking lot areas, and debris was all along the shoreline – large branches and other garbage.  I probably could have used my sunfish PVC dolly to launch there, but I also didn’t have the DNR boat sticker required to sail on the reservoirs, so I decided to skip sailing on the over-full reservoir.

luckily, my father-in-law had mentioned there was a small lake nearby, so I drove a few miles to check it out.  Clair Lake is an old gravel pit that filled up with water – in fact, my father-in-law mentioned that one of the cranes they were using to dig the gravel pit still sits at the bottom, because when they hit water, it filled up the gravel pit so fast, they didn’t have time to get the crane out!

the lake was very full – in fact it was over-flowing a little bit on the southwest side, spilling into Broadway Street.  but there was only 1 fishing boat on the lake, and a nice breeze coming from the south, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I set up and launched from the small boat ramp, and was underway.

I quickly realized that this was indeed my 1st time sailing this year, and I was a bit out of practice! first and foremost – I forgot to bring both my GoPro video camera as well as my DSLR – so no video or pictures, or than the cell phone picture I snapped (above) before I left to go home.  on top of that,  I had forgotten to bring my collapsible paddle, so I had to be careful I didn’t get stuck somewhere – although I probably could use the daggerboard to paddle if I really needed to.

then, I realized that I had fed my mainsheet into the ratchet block backwards – not a deal-breaker in the light winds, but no “ratcheting” action to take advantage of – so I fumbled a bit and switched that around.  about 30 seconds later, things still seemed weird, so I looked up and out at the lower boom, and realized I had fed the mainsheet through only (1) of the boom blocks.  again, a bit more fumbling, as I pulled the mainsheet back out of the ratchet block, finally got it through the boom block, and then back again through the ratchet block (the right way this time!).

after that, things went pretty well.  the lake was pretty small, so I had to turn around quite a bit, but I didn’t mind the practice sailing on different tacks – a beam reach for a while, a close reach, a little bit of downwind.  the wind was shifty, and would come and go, but I got the Sunfish planing on a reach more than a couple times.  I pretty much had the lake to myself, as the only other boat was the one fisherman who stayed up next to the shoreline at the south end of the lake.  several other people were fishing from the shore, but that was it.

other than the sloppy start with my planning and setup, it was a nice first sail to start the year.  temperature was in the mid-80’s, and one of the few days lately that hasn’t had rain.  I was actually quite warm in my swimsuit and rash guard shirt, and the water was cool enough to be refreshing, but it didn’t look too appealing for swimming – a little too much rainwater lately had brought enough silt and a little bit of debris, so I skipped out on swimming in it.

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 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:



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