Introduction: Make a Pair of Bunk Glides for Your Boat Trailer
Trying to launch my 18' boat has always been a strain. It would be easier if my trailer had rollers, which it doesn't - it has carpeted bunks. It's all I can do to push the 1400 pound boat and motor combination, especially when I'm perched on top of the trailer tongue, trying to keep my feet dry.
Then again, I have heard several people talk about the potential corrosion my boat can incur from the aluminum hull sitting on carpet, wet with salt water and wrapped around pressure treated wood. I haven't seen any damage, but the boat is new and I'm not crazy about the idea of it happening.
I looked at several different bunk glide products, but realized I would have around 100 bucks in it by the time I was done. There had to be a better, and cheaper, idea. One I could build instead of buy.
Step 1: PVC Is Slippery
PVC may not be quite as slippery as nylon, but while looking at a piece of 1x4" PVC trim board, it occurred to me that it would still make a good bunk glide: it is easy to work, thick enough to countersink the screw heads, and best of all, would provide little friction when I was either launching or pulling the boat out of the water.
I bought a piece of the trim board and twenty 1 1/2" stainless steel screws at my local building supply yard. That's all I needed, and at $30 dollars, it was considerably cheaper than any commercially made bunk glides I had seen.
The piece of PVC trim I bought was 18' long and the bunks on my trailer are about 7' each, so first I cut it to length. Then I cut a slight bevel on the front end of the pieces and lopped the top corner off the rear ends. I then sanded both cuts, making the rear into a rounded bullnose. I also planed and sanded down both top sides for the length of the boards so there were no sharp corners in contact with the hull of my boat.
The photo shows the trim piece after the cut but before finishing the rounding.
Step 2: Screwing and Countersinking
Next, I marked where I wanted my screw holes. Using a countersink, I drilled and recessed the holes so there is more than 1/4" inch of PVC above the screw heads. I don't know how fast it will wear away - not that fast, I would guess - but I'll be sure to keep an eye on the screw heads every time I launch. I don't want them scratching my hull.
Step 3: Mounting
Using the stainless screws, I mounted the glides to my bunks. I decided to leave the carpet intact for appearance, although it now serves no other purpose. The good thing is it doesn't touch the hull anymore.
Step 4: Finished Product
This is the trailer after the addition of the bunk glides.
I am very pleased with the end result. Before, it was hard to launch the boat and equally hard to recover it. There was so much friction that I was afraid that I was going to pull the bow eye out of the hull.
Now, the boat slides easily onto the glides and I can crank the winch with one hand.
I could have bought a similar thing, but I did this for much less money and very little effort.
Note: After two years, the PVC is holding up well and the screw heads are still out of the way.