Canoeing can be something of an expensive habit. You want the best gear, the best canoe, etc. so you might not have a lot of spare cash lying around. That’s okay. If you are handy with power tools, you can save yourself some money by DIYing a lot of items.
A canoe trailer can be one of those big expenses, so in this post, we are going to look at building a canoe rack. We are going to look at converting a boat trailer, so this is not building a trailer from scratch. You will need a model that does meet all the requirements for road-worthiness.
Remember, don’t leave your canoes on the rack. Be sure to move them inside a shed or garage. If you don’t have room consider purchasing a weatherproof canoe cover.
Start With Canoe Supports
Remove any sections that are going to get in your way, like a winch, for example. Now you are ready to build your canoe supports. Start by measuring how deep the canoe is at its deepest point. Add an extra four inches to allow for wiggle room. That is how deep each compartment will have to be.
You are going to be able to fit two boats side by side. If you need to carry more than that, you will have to make the construction taller. Work out how many levels you need and what each level should measure.
We recommend a maximum of six boats in total. The frame you will be making is steel, and that will make it heavy.
Now get the width and length right. Measure again, this time at the widest point and from end to end. You are going to be making a series of crosstrees. These measurements will determine how wide and long the rig should be.
When figuring out the height and width, remember that leave space for the support. This will add another six inches or so.
Now Get the Steel
You will need two 2/4’s to use as uprights. You will use 2×2’s to make the cross-trees. The number will depend on how many canoes you are carrying. You will need one per canoe. Get the store to cut them to length.
Build the Cross-Member
Measure the length between your rear and front vertical. You will use a 2×2 to create the cross-member so mark it off here. Repeat for all the other steel. Once you know exactly how long it is, you can cut it or get it cut.
Be careful and test out each piece to make sure that it is exactly right before getting it cut. You are essentially going to be creating a cage for the boats. This means creating a steady framework using the steel pieces.
Make sure that all the pieces match up properly and that they are evenly and correctly spaced. From there, it is a simple matter of welding everything together.
You need to provide as much support for the boats as possible and making sure that the weight is evenly distributed. (If you don’t, the structure of the hull might be damaged during transport. It is best to divide the length into three equal portions and place the uprights accordingly.
When those are in place, start welding the cross trees onto the uprights. Gusset plates should be used on the joints to make them stronger. Do be sure that the weld is done properly to make sure that the framework will be strong.
It is also a good idea to weld some eye bolts in strategic locations. This gives you an area to fasten off ropes on when you are strapping in the kayaks.
Measure the distance between the front cross member and the trailer hitch. Allow at least 1/3 the length of your longest canoe (6 feet for an 18-foot canoe) plus another couple of feet to allow the vehicle to turn without the canoes digging into the back of the vehicle. If your trailer hitch is too short, you’ll have to cut it off and extend it to an adequate length. Your welder can do that easily when he’s welding the pieces together.
Make the Box
Using plywood, create a bottom, lid, and sides for the trailer. From there, prime the steel and paint it whatever color you like.