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.
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):
- (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)
- (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
- (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.
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: