El Cheapo Sunfish Dolly

Regarding the 1¼" freeze-plug replacement for the bailer, I stumbled on a plastic knob that screws firmly onto the exposed ¼"x20 threads. The nut that comes with the plug takes a ½" socket, and not the expected 7/16ths. I've forgotten what object the knob came from, but I save interesting hardware from broken items I throw away—like lawnmowers and drafting tables. Sears might have them.

A nylon "acorn nut" would also protect the threaded end.
The black hand-nut looks like those found on appx 20 inch push/self propelled lawn mower handles.
Thread starter #23
Nice. I think I might have doubled or tripled the load carrying pieces. I'm concerned mine does not spread the load far enough along the hull. Would love to know exact location of the support structure on the inside.
..the load carrying pieces are also scribed to the SF keel. Longer might be better, but didn't seem necessary, weight seems to spread nicely so far.


Well-Known Member
So what should I run across today—at a yard sale—less than 9 months after suggesting modifications to a Northern Tool "trailer dolly"?

:) Yup...a $20 Northern Tool "trailer dolly".

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Active Member
If you entertain the notion of another DIY option, I have had good success with my dolly I created out of mostly PVC pipe.
You can see the details and download plans here: sunfish PVC dolly plans

I've since added a handle, also made using PVC pipe.
this is the PVC dolly with my Minifish on it.

View attachment 15661
I followed the design almost perfectly except: (I didnt want to drill through the 3/4 inch axel, so I used one nut, locking washer, then another nut, on EACH SIDE of the axel. In order to make room for the extra nut on each side of the axel, I made the axel 17 inches wide instead of 19 inches. It works perfectly – and needs no major tools or skills to make.)

Cost for the dolly alone without the handle:
Wheels: @ tractor supply 16 bucks per wheel = $32 (worth it – very beefy)
Parts list: axel, washers&nuts, all PVC (all of it @ Lowes) = $64

Out the door total = $96 bucks. (Buying on line from store new costs for manufactured dolly is $300-$800 bucks)

Dont forget you will need (all can be bought at Lowes):

PVC glue

PVC primer

2 1/2 inch PVC cutting tool – (an extravagance, but very worth it. Its a cross between hand held pliers and a heavy duty exacto knife, that cuts through pvc safely, exactly, and quickly. Allowed me to finish the job in under 2 hours from start to finish).

Nice job Tag! Lots of fun to build. Will build the handle today!
(His dolly plans are located here)
(His handle plans are located here)


Well-Known Member
I followed the design almost perfectly except: (I didn't want to drill through the 3/4 inch axle, so I used one nut, locking washer, then another nut, on EACH SIDE of the axle. In order to make room for the extra nut on each side of the axle, I made the axle 17 inches wide instead of 19 inches. It works perfectly – and needs no major tools or skills to make.
Using a drill by hand, drilling through the axle is no fun; however, a grinder can make a "flat" area to start drilling—graduating from smaller-to-larger drill bits. Drill at a slow speed, and make sure that chips are still flying. An oil drip will keep temperatures under control. I keep used oil around for that purpose. :cool:

Wheels: @ tractor supply 16 bucks per wheel = $32 (worth it – very beefy)
Around here, wheels that "sit" start deteriorating and leak air. I've had valve stems fall off tube-type tires :( each made in China. :confused:(Except for tires I've filled with Great Stuff, I haven't bought any of those foam-filled tires).

'Think I'll take a page out of my car-show days, and spray-paint them with Rustoleum in satin-black color—and see how that goes. :)


Active Member
Thanks for the tips! I was just too worried about drilling through the axel and ruining the threads on it. The whole process of drilling seemed unnessary to me, as all I had to do was buy an extra nut and lock washer for each side - very easy to do and turned out perfectly whith no extra hassles.

As for the tires leaking over time? You may be right there. I have a wheelbarrow like that. Each time I use it (about 4 times a year) I have to take about 30 seconds with the bicycle pump and hit the front tire. I may have to do that process with my new dolly over time. (Or Ill just replace those wheels in a few years - we'll see how it goes). Thanks again for the input on this one.

Here is how Tag's plans turned out:

Thanks again, Tag. Your dolly plans appear to be a fun and cost effective way to get my boat back and forth from my shorline to my garage (without waiting on help from my neighbors to carry it all that way).

Ill end up using the dolly for the first time today, to facilitate the addition of a hiking strap; Ill keep you all posted on how it goes.

Hope this helps somewhere.

Warm regards,
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Active Member
Dolly report:


1. The dolly gently floats, and the rights itself perfectly as it floats off the ground, making it easy to fit the floating sunfish onto it.
2. Walking the dolly into the water, with one hand on the dolly handle, and the other hand on a line attached to the sunfish bow handle, I was able to easily pull the floating sunfish onto the dolly. Due to the weight of the Sunfish on it, the dolly sank down underwater to make contact with the ground. Then I pulled the line again, moving the sunfish bow under the front of the dolly handle and tied the bow line to the dolly handle to keep the boat in its proper position. Perfect line up - Effortless really.
3. The dolly was completely sturdy enough for the job. No extra supports, or scews needed for the dolly - just follow the plans.
4. Use ziptied, 1" pipe insulation to cover the dolly where the sunfish contact to it.
5. Was easily able to pull the dolly and boat over a sizeable pile of shoreline debris and leaves, then up the boat ramp. (3/4" axel and and wheels seem very beefy - seems to easily support the weight of the sunfish.)
6. The 36" wide axel (per the plans) is wide enough to securly transport the sunfish across rough, uneven gound over fairly long distances.

A) Strengths - At first use, this seems to be a very easy way for lakehouse owner to get his boat to and from the shoreline with out any help from anyone else. Im very happy with it so far.

B) Weakness - its big. (with the handle in place, its a little over half the lenght of the boat). For me, thats not a problem. I will store the dolly behind the shed in the back yard. For a person who does not live on the water, I DONT think this dolly, with the handle in place, will fit in the back of your truck. (The handle is not needed - its a luxury that makes the dolly more effective as a whole. The dolly, without the handle, WILL fit easily in the back of your truck.)

Thank you Tag, for a great project that my son and I could do together!

From the dolly, to all the help all of our Sunfish Forum members gave me - bringing this old, broken, beast of a sunfish, back to life - I am very grateful.

Last year was a fantastic year for us. These are the days in my life that I want to spend with him, building those memories, and fostering a love for the water, the Sunfish, and for sailing - and you all are part of that.

Warm regards,
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Whitecap - looks great, and I'm glad my plans worked out for you. I trailer my Sunfish, and just set the dolly on top of the Sunfish after I have it back on the trailer, and then use ratchet straps to hold the dolly and Sunfish to the trailer.