DIY Kayak Trolley

A couple of years ago I was having serious doubts as to the suitability of the C-Tug kayak trolley to do its duty of moving my Prowler Big Game kayak from car to launch site. In the space of a couple of months the trolley had tipped over on slight inclines, or even when bumping over a stone sticking out on a sandy beach. The results were cracked rod rings and one angry and embarrassed kayak angler. The greater width of the Big Game over other kayaks mean that the Big Game, or other similar sized kayaks, do not sit well on the C-Tug trolley. I’d given some thought to making a more suitable trolley, though to be honest I just couldn’t find the time to pursue my thoughts.

On the ‘Anglers Afloat’ forum one of the users, ‘Bucket Boy’, produced a truly excellent piece of design. His trolley was based on a dingy trailer, though lighter in build and collapsible. He also own a Big Game kayak and is fully aware of the limitations on the C-Tug trolley. I was extremely intrigued and decided to go ahead and make one for myself. There were a few minor changes/enhancements which I’d decided upon, though it essence it was a straight copy.

Below is a photograph of it fully assembled and ready to go.

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It breaks down into three main sections and two wheels, all of which fit into the front hatch of the Big Game kayak. You need a couple of trial runs to get the stowage correct, but basically the largest sections go in first and are pushed aft, the wheels go in last. Despite the tyres being considerably bigger than the C-Tug (4.8/4.00-8), they fit into the front hatch without a problem.

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The rear axle section is basically the business end of the trolley and it’s here where the real manufacturing work takes place.

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Triangular brackets are bolted to either end of the aluminium box section axle with hinged aluminium wedges to which a canvas support strap is secured. This strap is bolted to the underside of the wedges using countersunk screws. They not visible in the above photos due to a protective/gripping rubber strip being glued to the upper side of the wedges. A Thule strap was stitched and glued to the underside of the canvas strap. This is of a suitable length to allow it to pass around the kayak securing it firmly to the trolley. What’s amazing is that once strapped to the trolley, the kayak does not move at all, unlike the C-Tug.

Once required for use the hinged section is swung forward and locked in position using a ‘pip pin’.

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The bracket plates were made from machined aluminium, though heavy gauge plate would also do the job just fine. I used aluminium opposed to nylon board as an elongation of the holes would prevent the pip pins from operating correctly.

The centre section is plain aluminium box with a machined locating spigot at one end. This slides onto the rear trolley section and again is locked in position with the use of a pip pin.

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You can see various silver markings on the trolley, long and short painted sections, triangular marks, etc. These allow me to fit all sections correctly as all holes were drilled to suit during the manufacturing process.

The front handle section is also collapsible and is constructed from two sections of aluminium box, two brackets and a handle assembly. Again a pip pin allows the section to be extended and locked into position.

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This final section is then attached to the trolley and locked in place… with a pip pin.

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At any point during the assembly the wheels can be fitted. It’s perhaps better to fit them at an early stage, though it doesn’t make a huge difference to be honest.

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So with it all connected and secured with pip pins the trolley is fully assembled and ready to go.

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Loading the kayak takes seconds, it’s merely a case of lifting the kayak onto the rear axle followed by swinging the nose onto the trolley. There’s an angled bracket on the handle upright in which to locate the bow of the kayak. I fitted a rubber strips in various location to help keep the kayak correctly located at all times.

So what’s it like in use?. When it’s very well balanced with little weight on the handle when lifted. This can be fined tuned during the build process by ensuring the centre of gravity of the fully loaded kayak is positioned on the rear support strap. It’s a pleasure to pull the kayak along either smooth road, sandy beach or rough ground. What I really love is that you can happily traverse very uneven surfaces and steep side slopes without being concerned about the security/safety of your kayak.

The oversize wheels allow it to be taken across terrain that would see other trolleys faltering. Is it a pain to assemble/disassemble and to stow in the kayak?. It takes approximately 1 minute to strip into its component parts and another minute or so to stow within the front hatch of the kayak. It is bulkier than the C-tug when disassembled, though its advantages far outweigh this one disadvantage.

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I do still use the C-Tug for short distances and on surfaces that are hard and flat, it’s just convenient. It is smaller and lighter and doe have its uses. However, should the trolley journey be long or arduous there’s only one trolley that I’d trust to undertake the task…

The ‘Bucket Boy’ kayak trolley