Building the Trailer

Page 7

In order to properly paint the trailer you need to be able to access the frame from both the top and bottom side. I knew it would be a pain sitting at normal height.  I had considered trying to raise it up and thought that 55 gallon drums might work  I was planning on painting it outside at my home which sets in the middle of 26 acres of trees.  Looking at all the vertical hickory gave me an idea.  I had some 1/2 wire rope laying around and a small electric wench.  By stretching the cable between a few trees I was able to raise and lower the trailer to about 6' off the ground.  This made it fairly easy to paint the frame.  I also hung the fender assemblies from another cable and was able to paint both top and bottom without having to reposition.

Once the painting was done it was time to assemble. Bolting it all back together was easy and it was satisfying to see it quickly go together. With the lights installed it was time to add the bunks.  I had purchased some indoor/outdoor carpeting with a marine backing from Home Depot. On the top surfaces I added a single layer of carpet and then wrapped the entire 2x6 or 2x4 with another layer.  The idea was to add an extra cushion for the hull.  I also cut 3/4" treated plywood to form the steps in front and behind each fender.  These were then covered with carpet and bolted in place.

This fairly well finished up the trailer project - or so I thought.  After loading the Cabin Skiff and pulling it around for a short period of time it was very apparent that it was too low to the ground.  Many changes in grade would cause the center member to drag in the rear.

I had been concerned about this since I first set the frame on the axle and saw how low it was.  When building the trailer there were several things that controlled the height of the boat off the road and I did want it as low as possible.  The first is he size of the tires.  The next was whether to build the frame flat (cross members not V ed) and use upright supports to raise the bunks for hull clearance off the frame.  The third method is to use a straight or 4" drop axle.

I used 14" tires, the V frame members and a 4" drop axle.  Obviously it was a bad choice as it ended up too low.  I had paid extra for the drop axle and had it made so the springs were mounted "under" the axle. Looking back now I probably would have been better off with the less expensive straight axle.  This would have raised the frame 4" higher which would be just about right.

One problem with this arrangement is that with the spring mounted below the axle the amount of travel is somewhat limited.  Several times when I hit a good bump the frame would bottom out and hit the axle. This wouldn't happen often but it would happen.

As the say hindsight is 20/20 but now I have a problem to fix.  I decided that the easiest way to recover from the error was to simply move the springs from under the axle to on top of it.  In order to do this a went back to the trailer supply store and bought the two blocks used to mount the springs.  I jacked up the trailer and dropped the axle. I then welded the blocks in place on top of the axle directly over the old ones.  I hit them with some spray paint and reinstalled the axle.

This solved the problem as it raised the frame 4" and gave me the needed clearance.  I have not had a bottoming out since.  One negative affect was it raised my fenders over the tires by 4".  I thought at first I would cut the fenders off and lower them (just for better appearance) but I have got use to it.  But one of these days I will still probably cut them down. 

Something that I am glad I did was to use all "sealed" lights.  I feel they will hold up well and prevent the constant corrosion problems which causes bad connections and lights that work sometimes.  In fact, I don't even unplug when I drop I in the water.  They cost a little more but to me it is money well spent.

I have to say I am quite pleased with the trailer.  I have owned several factory units and I feel this is better than most all of them.  It tracks straight and I have pulled it at 70 mph with no problem.  I am particularly pleased with the fender assembly.  They are solid as a rock! They don't bounce or vibrate while towing like several of the factory units did.  I can stand in top of the fenders with no fear of damage.