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The Lowly Launching Dolly

My club has a great number of home-made boat launch dollies. Here are a few. Some have lasted better than others. I dug a few derelicts from a corner and admired the ingenuity with which they were put together.

Since my Skerry dolly had failed because I had not made the handle strong enough and the boat support had also bent, I was trying to sort out how other people had made their launching dollies!

Plastic Pipe Dinghy Dolly

launch trolley made from black plastic pipe

There were several dollies made from black plastic pipe. A few had failed at the joints which were not well glued. They were made from 3 inch pipe. I think black pipe can be made to work for light boats, I don't think it is really quite strong enough. It also bends quite a lot.

The wheels are attached with cotter pins mostly. There is usually a wood or metal axle.


Below the dolly wheel were held by a pipe attached to an aluminium bar by u clamps. Lots of washers to stop the plastic wheel hub from rubbing. Wheel assembly still strong. Some of the pipes were broken.

launch trolley made from black plastic pipe launch trolley made from plastic pipe
I don't think that black pipe is quite strong enough for a large dolly. It is too brittle and not stiff enough. I think it would float too high to be easy to use.

launch trolley wheel made from woodlaunch trolley wheel made from wood

Wood dinghy cart on a welded pipe frame.

This wheel is made from wood and is still strong! Looks medieval. 2 layers of 2x6 lumber going in opposite directions. There are a few Robertson screws on each side. In the centre there is a square plywood plate bolted on.

The steel bar which acts as an axle, is made from a piece of rebar and just fits in a hole drilled in the wheel and held in place with a cotter pin. There is not even a washer.

The wheel is about 12 inches in diameter. The wood is quite soft, not oak or any such lumber. There were not any knots that I saw. It rolled quite well. I find this quite brilliant in it's simplicity and retro cool.

It would also not float very high. Floating dollies is not a great advantage and makes taking the boat out of the water more difficult.

Aluminium pipes and fiberglass box.

launch trolley aluminium tube

Simple little tender launch trolley. Aluminium pipe fits into holes in the fiberglass box. Steel pipe holds the wheels and also goes through the fiberglass box. An aluminium brace is broken and replaced by green rope. This makes the launch dolly a bit floppy but it's still working.


2 Launching Trollies made from angle iron

launch trolley angle steel tube

These 2 Dinghy dollies on the left, are both put together from angle iron. The top one is not welded. The lower one is welded and has a triangular configuration.

Dolly welded from square steel pipe


launch trolley square steel tube
launch trolley square steel tubelaunch trolley square steel tube club

Welded sturdy boat dolly

Steel dollies are very sturdy but heavy. They has quite large wheels. The pile of boat dollies are used for the school boats. They can take a lot of abuse. The length of the dolly can be adjusted. There is a screw that allows the long square iron pipe to slide forward or back. The dolly can be shortened that way. That's the kind I finally decided to use for the Skerry.

Because it comes apart, it is easy to put the dolly in the boat when I trailer it out.

If I was set up to weld, I would use that method to make a new dolly.


The Launch Trolley I built for my apple pie dinghy

Read about my Launch Dolly

This is the dolly I finally made for my little Apple Pie Tender. The dolly has been working very well. I would not change anything. I used old iron pipe, an aluminium tube and glued the joints with carbon fibre. The Carbon Fiber joint is holding perfectly. The dolly works very well and after 2 years is not showing any wear except for some rusting on the wheel.

Construction details are here. NOTE: I have now been using this new dolly for a couple of years and it has held up really well.



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email me: Christine