Fixing the Portage Cart




About: Jack-of-all trades, master of some. I would probably be much more modest if it wasn't for these delusions of granduer that I suffer from.

Soooooo there was a bit of an issue with using my portage cart for a bicycle canoe trailer.

I have used the portage cart many times without any issues, but those previous uses were always moving at walking speed.

What I failed to take into account was the speed I would be traveling at. For the first short trip down to the river it did well. On a longer trek to a different launch there was a catastrophic meltdown .. literally.

The clean out plugs used for the wheel mounts melted as a result of the friction generated by the wheels since they do not contain bearings.

I carefully got the canoe back home and sat down to assess the extent of the damage. I initially designed this cart to be able to have interchangeable wheels for different terrains, so I was able to pop the wheels off the cart easily just by unscrewing the clean out plugs that the wheels are mounted into.

The wheels were still in good shape. The clean out plug took the brunt of the damage and they can be replaced.

two things have to happen:

1) the portage cart is getting repaired to resume it's job as a portage cart ... and only a portage cart.

2) Bicycle canoe cart 2.0 has to be designed and built .. stay tuned .. I have an Instructable coming soon. This one will be able to handle the speeds much better.

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Step 1: Tools

Cordless drill

Assorted sized bits (man I gotta remember to get a step bit)

Vice grips

Robogrip pliers

Ruler ( I was originally just going to use my tape measure but I ended up using a small steel ruler) and a sharpie

Piece of scrap wood to drill on so I don't ding the table.

Step 2: Taking It Apart

after struggling to fit the vice grips into the clean out plug to grip the bottom nut so I could twist off the top nut that locks the bottom nut in place. I realized I could just grip the bolt and loosen the nuts in order.

Don't laugh ... Like Edison said .. "I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Once the nuts were off I was able to remove the damaged clean out plugs and scrape the bits of melted PVC off the bolt.

Step 3: Drilling New Wheel Mounts

Using a straight edge draw lines from opposite corners to find the center of the clean out plugs.

Start out using a small drill bit and work up to the 1/2 inch bit gradually. If you try to drill a 1/2 inch hole in the clean out plug in one shot I can guarantee it will not end well. Then you will have to go back to the hardware store for another clean out plug .. one without big chunks missing from it.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

The wheel are now once again perpendicular .. Time to give it a well deserved face lift.

The pool noodle I used to pad the arms that support the canoe have earned a much needed retirement.

I know .. I know .. the noodle is the wrong color. The Dollar General didn't have any teal noodles so I had to get lime green instead.

In the 5 years since I made the cart, apparently Dollar General changed their brand of large pool noodle from "super wacky noodle" to the "Inno-wave large noodle" and this new brand has a smaller inner diameter.

I had to cut the noodle to fit on the arms of the cart.

Once I had them in place I realized how easy the cut noodles were to knock off so I grabbed the zip ties.

Two zip ties on each arm keeps the noodles firmly in place.

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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Harbor freight has a great pnumatic wheel with bearings in the hub for $5.00 US. with coupon. Even without the coupon they are like 8 bucks is all. They fit on 5/8 in axle. You could buy a 5/8 inch threaded rod and some bolts and washers and I beleive the 5/8th rod will fit into 3/4 pvc and you could practically make the exact troll frame you already have but this would have much higher speed rated wheels. Only downside is if a tire goes flat you would need to carry a hand or foot pump. Good luck on it.

    6 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    The problem with using those for a boat cart is that wetting and drying of steel bits tend to rust those bits, even with protective coatings. All plastic is better in that regard, but doesn't handle high speeds well. I wish that fully plastic wheels with common sized bearing assemblies were more common.


    Reply 3 years ago

    While I will agree that water and metal bits are not the best of friends, I can tell you this... I have used this cart for 5 years now and the bolts are still rust free. The cart is watertight so I don't have to worry about water staying inside and negatively affecting the bolt and nuts on the inside of the clean out plugs, and water air drys off the outside of the wheel mounts fairly quickly. A quick spritz of WD-40 after each use will make sure there is no water between the wheel and the bolt to cause trouble.

    I agree that these wheels and other plastic wheels don't do well at high speeds, that is why I am working on canoe cart 2.0 (if rain ever stops I can get the paint job done and post it up lol)


    Reply 3 years ago

    "A quick spritz of WD-40 after each use will make sure there is no water between the wheel and the bolt to cause trouble."

    This is why you have no problems with the bolts.

    I look forward to 2.0.


    Reply 3 years ago

    if the sun ever stops playing hide and seek behind the rain clouds, I will be able to get 2.0 painted and post it up. got to make it look pretty for its debut hehe


    Reply 3 years ago

    I don't know thr OP original location but unless he us gonna be in the ocean and getti.g salt water everywhere these pnumatic wells will handle regular wetness for a good while. Probably 3 to 5 years. I have a set I got from the trash off an old hose rack. The only problem is the tunes are shot. Almost no rust.

    No matter because harbor freight to the rescue. Item number 96691. This is a fair price harborfreight item that is a plastic wheel and sealed bearing. Its rated for 300 pounds per wheel.

    I really wish harbor freigjt paid me to promote their company but I dont. I'm just a thrifty guy who uses their products and I cannot see how this doesn't meet your criteria. This wheel tire bearing combo is mostly plastic, the sealed bearings are steel and zinc plated to last. There isn't much to beat that for 15 a wheel or 30.00 total. Even the pnumatic I originally suggested will last well. The main benifit here is not air for the tires. It's a great deal for anyone. Plus of it fails in 90 days harbor freight will exchange or refund no questions asked so it's risk free.


    Reply 3 years ago

    thanks for the heads up .. I will look into those tires. In the mean time I am busy building and documenting canoe cart 2.0
    I will be publishing the results soon.


    3 years ago

    FYI lord drake check those plastic wheels out with bearings.. they seem like a step up but three times the money. Still 15 a wheel and 30 total for something that should last well may be worth it to you. Good luck with cart 2.0

    1 reply