Preview: Small Boat Dolly

Here’s an idea for moving small boats around the dooryard using a wheeled dolly—one that I bought at Home Depot for $49, then modified as shown to support a boat. The big job is in grinding off about 2/3rd of the heel plate so it clears the boat. (It’s hardened steel, so forget the hacksaw; it will strip the teeth right off in the first dozen passes.)

homemade small boat dolly

Building a Homemade Small Boat Dolly

A short length of 2×4 placed crosswise near the wheels (hard against what’s left of the heel plate) carries most of the weight, and built up from that cross-piece are the cradle arms that hold the boat more or less upright. The boat’s keel nestles in the space beteen the arms.

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13 Responses So Far to “Small Boat Dolly

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    Steve Godfrey says:

    Great idea! But I hook a trailer Foley to the front it gives me four wheels and a handle

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    Dick Tatlock says:

    Hmmm…an alternative to the Sea Tech bespoke dollies out of Rhode Island.

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    David Platt says:

    Believe it or not, there’s an even easier way to make this dolly — start with the same rig (mine came from the hardware store), drill holes through the ends of the heel plate and the round stock that makes up the two sides of the dolly, and then mount 2x8s (on their sides) up along the round stock. Screws through the heel plate hold these pieces in place. They clear the heel plate (no need to grind it off), and I’ve mounted a couple of cradle-like crosspieces to bear the load and stabilize the boat, an 18-foot Expedition Wherry from Chesapeake Light Craft.

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      Barry Sherwood says:

      Thanks for your idea – do you have details for the construction and materials

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    William Lavender says:

    About what size boat is that you’re hauling and what would you say is the size limit for this dolly? I’m building a 14′ Peapod and this looks just perfect for it (and my budget).

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    Jerry Rose says:

    Great idea Maynard. In Florida we make the dollies out of 1 inch PVC pipe schedule 40 with SS bolts for axles and plastic rimmed tires. Easy and cheap to build and withstands years in the saltwater.

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    Nathanael Bray says:

    Very cool! Yankee ingenuity at work, I would say!

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    Carolyn & Ron Pease says:

    maynard……….Great idea…….. I’m going to use mine as a beach dolly to get my dinghy up the beach and on a low tide, move her out to the out haul. Thanks for the idea!!!!!!!! Ron

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      Maynard Bray says:

      Hi Ron,
      Should work fine, but will rust early in salt water. Too bad they don’t make galvanized dollies, but if they did, you couldn’t get it for $49. Life’s a compromise.

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    ED PURCELL says:

    Maynard – Great (cheap) idea for hauling my dinghy from the river to the backyard!

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    Eric Blake says:

    What a sweet rig! Your ability to move boats around so easily baffles me.

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    Wyatt Lawrence says:

    Looks like this might work for my shop… time to get the grinder and put some boats in the water.