Harbor Freight Sunfish Trailer

Alan Glos

Active Member
Thread starter #1
Next spring I was thinking about buying a Harbor Freight utility trailer frame and using it for a Sunfish trailer. I was at the Syracuse, NY HF store yesterday and saw one assembled, and was fairly impressed with how sturdy and well made they are. I also like the 12" wheels that come stock with the kits.

Question: I assume that you need to retrofit a longer trailer tongue to make a Sunfish sit on it properly. Has anybody out there done such a retrofit and if so, how did it work? Also, any general reviews on how the HF trailers hold up and ride?

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
The tongue is fine as-is, trailer is for a 12'-14' boat. I got the 8" wheels, 12" wheels would help reduce the bounce. Anyway, the trailer is sort of a add you own hardware kit as in add a winch, better safety chains etc. Mine works fine but if I were to sell one of my trailers it would be the HF, I'd keep the one with the shocks and coil springs I got used for $150 bones.

One mod needed to carry a SF. Get rid of the roller that comes as a bow snubber and use a rubber V-Block. And a couple of Eye-Bolts replacing the fender bolts to fasten a strap over the hull.


Member Emeritus
. . . you might also consider moving the bunks out where they carry the hull closer to a point where its strongest, less flexible, and least susceptible to fatigue..., and shift the whole carrying load a little forward.

A "V" bunk near the bow, in combination with longer, wider main bunks might also help distribute the weight over a broader area.

. . . or use the gate-side utility model trailer. Remove the gate-sides, drop in your bunk frame, and slide on the boat. I used that method for a few years..., kept the boat hoisted to the garage ceiling when it wasn't being used.


This is how I modified the trailer for my sunfish. I used 2x12's with the contour of the bottom of the hull cut into the top. My neighbor had just recarpeted so I got to go nuts padding it up :).



Pirateer, Sunfish & Sailfish Owner
Very interesting, Sailandsurf_89. I'd always wondered how those incredibly inexpensive, new HF trailers would hold up. Apparently they don't.


Well-Known Member
I'm not surprised at the criticism. :rolleyes: You don't have to Google very far to find descriptions like "crap" for Chinese-made steel. :(

I first noticed it many years ago when I was using coat hangers for oxy-acetylene welding. The old ones were American-made and worked fine for welding, but there's so many impurities in the new foreign-made coat hangers, you really have to buy dedicated welding materials. :oops: When it comes to tools, most new tools are made in China, including Snap-on, Stanley, Husky and Craftsman. You're better off buying used American-made tools.

That said, I don't know where American trailers get their steel. A neighbor gave me a Continental trailer, about six years old—routinely immersed in salt water. The ocean had rusted it badly, and he couldn't trust it—although it was galvanized from the factory. I sold it to a boater who needed to move his boat from the water to his back yard—a distance of about 300 feet! (A good use of that trailer, I'd say... :) ).

Since I car-top, I probably shouldn't be offering trailer advice; however, I believe it is better to really cinch-down the Sunfish to the padded bunks. While traveling, a loose Sunfish can head south, while the trailer bunks are heading north. The hammer-effect would shake the structural foam loose, and not do the trailer any good. :confused:

Has anyone tried using no bunks at all on the trailer, by instead using a sling, trampoline- or net- material?
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