Once you start collecting kayaks, you will soon find yourself with more than you can carry on top of your truck. You can build a simple one that requires no welding and an old boat trailer. Old boat trailers are not difficult to find. Check junk yards, watch the classifieds or if you see one in someone's backyard, stop and ask. They may give it to you in exchange for hauling it away. Once you have your trailer, you are ready to begin.
1. Clear away any trailer protrusions, winches or boat cradle hardware from the trailer. Unbolt parts or cut away with hacksaw. Check the wiring, tires and make sure you have a title to the trailer before starting. Obtain a builder's title to get the trailer licensed. Consult your local tax assessor for information.
2. Attach two 2-by-4 studs end to end with door hinge. Turn them over and stand up to form an upside down "V." Do the same with the other two stud length 2-by-4s.
3. Drill holes in the front part of the boat frame and in the support legs (the upside down "V") at the base of the legs. Bolt studs to frame with carriage bolts.
4. Attach rear support legs the same way.
5. Attach top cross member to the top of the leg supports with a lag screw or bolt at either end. Either side will work. For added strength, bolt a second top cross member to the other side of the "A."
6. Cut two 2-by-4s to the width of the trailer and bolt or lag screw to the legs to form an A-frame at either end of the trailer.
7. Cut the long 2-by-4 to run diagonally from the top of one pair of legs to the base of the other pair. Bolt the cross member into place behind the outside faces of the leg to allow for the kayaks to rest against the frame.
8. Attach screw-in eye bolts at the tie-down points shown in the diagram at the end of each cross member top and bottom. Two should be placed on either side of center to hold down a kayak in the middle of the "A."
9. Cut Styrofoam swimming "noodles" to the length of each section of the cross member where the kayak will rest. Cut each noodle section halfway through to the "hole" as shown. Duct tape the ends and spread the cut open and fit over the tops of the cross members.
10. Zip tie short pads on the outside cross members in the center of the "noodle" to make a shallow "V." For the center pads, zip tie in thirds to create a shallow "U." The taped ends will lift up and provide a padded cradle for the kayaks.
11. Paint or water seal the wooden frame. Strap kayaks securely to the trailer.
Items you will need
- Boat trailer
- (4) 2-by-4 boards, standard stud length
- (1) 2-by-4, 12-foot length
- (3) 2-by-4, 10-foot length
- 2 door hinges
- (6) 1 ½-inch wood screws for attaching the hinges
- (16) 4-inch long by 1/2-inch carriage bolts with washers and nuts
- (2) 2-by-4, 6 foot length
- (10) ½ inch or 3/8-inch screw-in eye bolts
- Drill with appropriate bits
- (10) 3- to 6-foot long bungee cords
- Package of 2-foot long zip ties
- 4 Styrofoam fun noodles with hole in the center
- Take care of your wood frame to prevent rot. Keep it painted or water sealed.
- Use lock washers on all carriage bolts to prevent them from vibrating loose.
- Toss paddles and gear in the truck. Do not try to carry them loose in the kayaks.
- Double check all tie-downs before driving off. You may not notice a kayak blowing off until far down the road.
- All images (c) 2009 by Tom King