Kayak Dolly




Build this simple 2-wheel dolly to make it easier to trundle a small boat to the water. Hobie did not have its take-apart dolly available when I bought my Mirage, and I did not need to stow my dolly in the boat, so I designed and built my own.
To see my related Instructables, including "No-Pour Concrete Boat Ramp" and "Plug for Hobie Mirage Propulsor Slot," click on "unclesam" just below the title above or in the INFO box to the right. On the new page that appears, repeatedly click "NEXT" to see all of them.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

MATERIALS: Dolly consists of wood body, a piece of 2 by 6 lumber (actual 1-5/8" 5-3/4"), whose length is determined by the shape of your boat, 12" worked for my Hobie Mirage. My wheels are two 6" diameter plastic lawnmower wheels running on a 1/2" diameter steel axle that runs through the wood, the wheels, two washers and two push-on nuts. If you push your boat over soft ground or sand, you way wish to get bigger wheels with pneumatic tires. Home centers sell them for wheelbarrows, and some tires are filled with rubber foam so they can never go flat. These wheels may need a larger diameter axle rod. Two lengths of foam pipe insulation, attached with 14 screws and washers, provide padding.
You will need several feet of 1" nylon webbing, length determined by your particular boat; several feet of 1/4" bungee cord, depending on your boat; four bungee cord hooks.
TOOLS: hacksaw to cut the axle; drafting aid to transfer shape of boat to wood dolly body (alternate: cut and try using cardboard and scissors); coping saw or bandsaw; drill and bit extender for drilling hole for axle through wood body (alternate: attach axle to bottom of wood body using large staples or put nails or screws through axle into wood body).

Step 2: Shape the Wood Body

Cut out the wood body so that it will fit the shape of the bottom of the bow of your boat and so that the dolly's wheels will not hit the bottom of the boat. The wider your dolly, the more stable your boat will be as you trundle it. Determine the shape of your "Vee" by trial and error using cardboard and scissors, transfer it to the center of the wood body. I used a drafting aid made by Alvin, which consists of a flexible plastic tube having square cross section and filled with a strip of metallic lead. Once bent over a shape, the aid will hold that shape until you can get it to paper or piece of wood.
The hardest task is to drill hole for axle through wood body. I used drill press, wood bit and bit extender. It should work just as well to attach the axle to the bottom edge of the body using large staples or by drilling four holes through the axle and driving nails or screws through the axle and into the wood body.
Another way to attach the wheels without drilling a long hole through the wood body is to use two lag bolts. Choose bolts whose diameter is a fit for the hole through the wheel and are long enough that the wheel can run on unthreaded metal at the head end. Predrill a pilot hole for each bolt into the wood body, use a washer on each side of the wheel, drive the bolt into the driled hole.

Step 3: Attach Padding and Straps

Cut 2 lengths of pipe insulating foam that are four inches longer than needed to fill the inside sides of the "Vee," split lengthwise and attach to the body using screws and washers. Cut away the extra length of each foam tube to leave a flap that can be bent over its tip of the "Vee" and fasten flap to wood using screw and washer.
Cut a length of 1" nylon webbing that will snub the dolly onto the nose of the boat, with enough extra length to allow sewing across the webbing to create two loops that will accept the hooks of bungee cord. Position the loops where bungee cords can run from the loops to hookable spots on the boat. Attach the webbing to the dolly body using screws and washers, folding the webbing over itself at the attachment points.
Cut two lenths of 1/4" bungee cord and attach hooks to both ends of each, adjusting lengths so cords can hook to boat and dolly webbing to secure dolly firmly to the boat. I used hook points that were built into my Mirage by the manufacturer (see photo).
I always remove the dolly from the boat when it is not in use so that it will not distort the shape of the rotomolded plastic boat.
Photo shows Mirage about to merge with the misty morning margins of the marshes. See Instructables "No-Pour Concrete Boat Ramp" and "Hobie Mirage propulsor slot plug."



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    8 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    Nice! It looks stable, the clevis pins make for easy breakdown, and we gotta love the many uses for pool noodles! :)


    11 years ago on Introduction

    You should add the word, 'canoe' to your keywords, because this will work for a canoe, too. Where do you get the axle material?

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Wheels and steel axle came from a rusty old metal garden hose reel. I was going to toss it anyway at the time because it was not Y2K compatible. Wheels may run into the brackish water, so I wash dolly with fresh water after each use. Axle may rust, but that is not such a problem with the plastic wheels. Hardware stores and home centers sell wheels and 1/2" diameter steel rod.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    To see an easier way to attach the wheels to the wood body of the dolly, see my Instructable "Caddy for Garden Sprayer." U.S.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Wanting to avoid the $80 cost of this dolly in a kayak shop, I planned on building one like this. Thanks for doing the advance work. Brilliant!