Kayak Cart, Small, Storable, Cheap.




Introduction: Kayak Cart, Small, Storable, Cheap.

I paddled the famous “Great River Rumble” (http://www.riverrumble.org/) in 2013 and plan to paddle both the 2014 Great River Rumble and the St. Croix Paddle (http://www.riverrumble.org/ this year. Several stops on last year’s paddle required storing the boats a long way from the river. The standard practice was to team up with someone so the first trip was one boat and the second was the other person’s boat. We made extra trips to help those who required a little extra help. At one stop, the one with the longest carry, a man pulls out two carts he had welded up, that were small and used wheels from a snowmobile. The carts worked great. Since that trip, I also purchase a much longer and heavier boat. It is too large for me to just pick it up and lift it to my roof rack. I decided to try my hand at making a cart to aid in loading my boats and to make long distance transport easier. I had built a cart many years ago to carry an 18” Alden Rowing Shell. The cart worked well for the boat but it is very big, heavy, and the shape did not work well for my kayaks. I required a new design. My first sketch looked great but failed in the prototype stage. With each prototype, the cart improved. The final design works great for me. It attaches to the boat easily, fits in a hatch, and rolls over hard surfaces and rough grass.

The Requirements:



Boat storable without disassembly

Provide clearance to allow lifting the boat off the top of my car without the boat dragging

Easy for others to build with basic tools

I think the final product meets all these requirements. With the small wheels, it may not work well on very sandy beaches. Using wide wheels designed for long boards should help a little on difficult terrain. The way the cart attaches to the boat requires a narrow stern. This design works well with all my boats, but it may not work well with all boat designs, but with a few tweaks to the design, you may be able make it work for your boat. I built half dozen different carts to arrive at the final design. It is a good thing PVC is cheap.

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Step 1: Parts Requirement:

Parts Requirement:

5’ Schedule 40 ½ inch PVC pipe (to be cut into 11 pieces)

4 ea. Schedule 40 ½ inch PVC Tee

4 ea. Schedule 40 ½ inch PVC Elbow

2 ea. Schedule 40 ½ inch PVC End Cap

12 inch Threaded Rod 5/16 18TPI

2 Standard Nuts 5/16 18 TPI

2 Nylon Insert Lock Nuts 5/16 18 TPI (I like using winf nuts with nylon inserts)

2 Skate Board Wheels with bearings and spacers. I have used longboard wheels both 72mm and 90mm. The taller the wheel the better it will roll over obstacles.

1 Budgie Cord. 48” works well. Hooks should be sized to fit around the PVC Pipe.

Tools Required:

PVC Cement

PVC Primer (purple works, clear looks better)

Pliers or wrenches to match nuts

Tool to cut PVC pipe

Drill with 5/16 bit

Costs to Build:

PVC parts $4

Thread rods with nuts $3

Skate Board Wheels with bearings $15

Bungee $2

Your costs may vary!

Step 2: Step 1: Cutting the Pipe


Follow all safety instructions provided with all the tools, primer, and cement. When cutting pipe use safety glasses.

Cut the PVC pipe with a fine toothed power saw, a hacksaw,or even a special cutter for PVC pipe. I have miter saw so I used it. To speed up measuring and cutting I placed painters tape on the saw and made marks at the lengths I required.

Pipes sections required:

3 ea. 1.5”

2 ea. 2”

2 ea. 3.5”

2 ea. 4”

2 ea. 8’

Step 3: Step 2: Assemble Ends

When assembling parts do a test fit before applying the cement. The PVC primer and cement can be very messy so protect your work surface. Use the primer on the ends of the pipe where the pipe will contact the fitting and on the inside of the fitting. When using the PVC cement, only put the cement inside the fitting, ensuring the cement cover the full circle inside the fitting. By applying the cement to the inside of the fitting, any excess cement is pushed into the fitting instead of on the outside. Just looks nicer. The cement will set very quickly, so ensure the pipe is completely inserted into the fitting and parts are aligned as required.

The steps for assembling the parts will start with the shortest pipe working through the lengths with the longest pipe being last. In the pictures, I have shown one side assembled and the second side with the parts laid out in order of assembly.

Assembling the Ends:

Use 2 ea. PVC Elbows and 1 ea. 1.5” length of PVC pipe. It is important the two elbows are parallel. Repeat so you have two ends.

Step 4: Step 3: Assemble the Center Riser Support

Use 2 ea.PVC Tee and 1 PVC pipe 1.5”

Tees should be parallel.

Step 5: Step 4: Axle Assembly

Use 2 ea.PVC End Caps and 2 ea. PVC pipe 2”

Step 6: Step 5: Assemble the Risers

Use 2 ea. PVC Pipe 3.5”

Step 7: Step 6: Assemble the Top Support

Use 2 ea. PVC Tee

Watch the alignment. The Tees should be perpendicular the Tee they connect to and parallel to each other.

Step 8: Step 7: Assembly the Rear Extension.

Use 2 ea. PVC Pipe 4”

Step 9: Step 8: Assemble the Rear Connector

Use 1 ea. Elbow Assembly

Step 10: Step 9: Assemble the Front Extension

Use 2 ea. PVC Pipe 8”

Step 11: Step 10: Assemble the Rear Connector

Use 1 ea. Elbow Assembly.

Step 12: Step 11: Drill the Axle Holes

Drill a 5/16 hole in each of the two end caps. This is where the axle will go.

Step 13: Step 12: Add the Axle

Use 1 ea. Thread Rod, 2 ea. Nut

Tighten the nuts so the expose threaded rod is equal on both ends.

Step 14: Step 13: Add Wheels

Use 2 ea. Lock Nut, 2 ea. Wheel, 4 ea. Bearings, 2 ea. Spacer.

Add a bearing, then spacer, then wheel and then the last bearing. It is important to assemble the wheels on the threaded rod otherwise; it is difficult to install the bearing spacer. Leaving the spacer out is not a good idea because fighting the lock not will apply side pressure to the bearing, which will cause them to not rotate freely and fail.

Step 15: Final Product:

Left has 90mm Wheels, Right 72mm Wheels. The 90mm is the preferred wheels, it handle larger bumps.

Step 16: Installation 1:

Feed the Budgie under the rear shock cords, with the two hooks on one side and a loop on the other.

Step 17: Installation 2:

Place the cart over the lower stern of the boat with the shorter section to the rear. Pull the looped end of the Budgie over the wheel and on to the axle. Then pull the two budgie hooks over the other side of the axle. The cart may sit a little crooked when first connected but will straighten out once the weight of the boat straightens the cart out.

Installed on an Old town Tandem Kayak

Step 18: Installed on a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175 Pro

Step 19: Installed on a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145

Step 20: Final Thoughts:

Installed on a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140

Final Thoughts:

I would like to know who builds this cart and if any of my instructions require clarification. It would also be cool to learn of any tweaks to the plans someone makes.

If you require several of these carts, the project really works well with making several at one time. It would even be a little cheaper per cart to build several because one can of cement and primer would be enough for several carts. If building more just buy larger bottles of both. The wheels, bearings, and spaces normally come in sets for four wheels. Right off you have enough to build two carts.

Good luck, let me know if you will be on either the Great River Rumble or the St Croix Paddle.

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    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the Plan and tutorial. I just bought my first kayak and loooking for DIY solutions for taking it from the car to the lake/pond/stream. Your tutorial was helpful to me:

    1. uses tiny wheels (i bought 2 identical discontinued 10' wheels in 2 different places.will uses them).

    2. showed the pieces laid out before and after the glue-up..helpful to me

    3. THE PHOTO OF THE CARRIER ON THE BOAT. the bottom of my boat does not loook like that! so modifications are in order!

    4. the simplicity!...of the design...WHO KNEW YOU COULD MOVE A KAYAK WITH 2 WHEELS AND A BUNGEE CORD? sort of.

    5. I WILLNOT be in the Great River Rumble....maybe next year.

    6. when i get something useful made, i will attempt to post it!

    7. You use the 'cart' to help you get it on and off the cartop! GOOD THINKING.