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My stacker Sunfish Trailer

dradeka

New Member
I thought I would share my double - stacker Sunfish trailer for those looking for ideas. Having sailed my entire life, and having owned many different kinds of sail and power boats, and configured many different types of open and closed trailers for multiple purposes, has given me a lot of perspective on what works and doesn't work for me. I don't like to waste time with fussy setups when launching and loading, and I like my trailers to perform well, or travel well, without issues for the boats.
I just got back into the Sunfish after a multi-decade hiatus, because my son and I were looking for something to do in the winter when we're not skiing. With two "new" boats and the impending frostbite season upon us I needed to come up with a quick, but solid solution to transporting these boats.

For this trailer I repurposed a 3 year old Karavan trailer that I originally purchased for transporting and launching my sailboat's RIB/tender. I only did this because I needed to get the Sunfish ready for the frostbite season, and I could not find another trailer because of the pandemic. A lot of the used stuff on Craigslist was crap and the lead time on new trailers was longer. I will replace the RIB trailer later.

I removed the winch, roller and bunks from this trailer and then measured it to determine the best approach to get some sort of stacked rack built on top. I like to transport boats upright rather than upside down. It is just much faster to unload them and rig them that way. So I needed to allow for enough room for shaped bunks for the Sunfish hulls, one over another.

As it happens, some years ago, I found a decent, but somewhat beat up, Seitech storage rack on Craigslist. It was a triple stacker that was setup for 420's. We used it in our backyard for many years to store various dinghies, kayaks etc. I decided to re purpose this rack as the "base" for the new Sunfish trailer. It was way too wide, so I disassembled it and cut the cross bars down to a more manageable width for the Sunfish. I discarded some of the more bent and beat up materials but ended up with enough for a solid rack system. I decided to leave enough clearance in case we needed to transport some other kind of small boat in the future.

I used four big U bolts to attach this rack on top of the Karavan trailer. I then cut and shaped four pressure treated 2x8's as cradles for the Sunfish hulls. I bolted these to the Seitech racks. I wasn't able to get my hands on any padding material locally while I was doing this build so as a quick solution I cut up the Seitech pads and stapled them to the cradles. I later ordered some foam rubber and trailer bunk carpet, that I will need to install when I have a chance.

I left the top tier of the rack as is, in case we need to strap another boat or other stuff on top, however I may lower that tier downwards, and throw a Thule box on there that can accommodate the Sunfish blades and other small gear that currently gets tossed in the back of the car.

We tie the boats down with scrap StaSet left over from another boat project; nothing fancy, we just do a single loop over the deck fore and aft and use a truckers hitch to tighten them down. This trailer rides great. The boats are "shorter" in height than my 4runner so they are basically in the slip stream. We have a short highway run to the yachtclub where we frostbite, and it tows at 70-75 with zero fuss. It is really easy to unload the boats onto the dollies for rigging and launching.

I think the next upgrade will be to find some long PVC tubes for the rigs as I have found the sailbags are not waterproof; they collect rainwater if we leave them on the trailer.

sunfish trailer.jpg
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Nice job of redoing the rack, sometimes ya gotta make some creative modifications to improve a trailer... :confused:

As a former OTR driver who has built a number of custom boat cradles for trailers, I say that's one of the tests right there... if you can't tow the boat(s) safely at 75 m.p.h., something is wrong and additional modifications have to be made. ;)

Not that you'll always be towing the boat(s) at 75 m.p.h., but the whole setup SHOULD be able to withstand the forces involved. I might add that in my travels, I've seen a few boats which came off trailers at highway speeds... never a pretty sight, LOL. Glass freakin' EVERYWHERE... :eek:

That rig of yours looks pretty solid, and it doesn't hurt to have it a bit lower than the "power unit" as you tow... very well done. :rolleyes:

Edit: This reminds me of a wreck photo I have somewhere in my scrapbooks... old school scrapbooks, I mean, with actual paper photos (dating myself here). I'm gonna go see if I can find that photo, you'll get a good laugh out of it. :D
 
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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Holy Crap!!! I'd forgotten how many wreck photos I have in those old scrapbooks... didn't find the boat wreck yet, but saw a few classic shots which will still apply, as far as towing goes. I used to keep a simple 35mm automatic camera within reach while driving, just so I could photograph whatever struck my fancy, and also to photograph wrecks so I could show my friends at the surf shop once I returned to Coronado. In this way, they got to see many of the sights I saw while I was out there having the time of my life, playing the paid tourist ("turista pagado" en Espanol). Meh, I'll throw down what I found in one short search, no intention of thread-jacking, it's just that these photos are pretty funny, LOL. First, we have a slightly blurry shot of some poor fool's travel trailer disintegrated on the interstate... nice holding tank in the mix, complete with fluid leak. :confused:

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I'm taking digital photos of old paper photos here, so bear with me. Here's a reefer truck (ice cream load, or so I heard on the CB) going for that "long layover" on I-10 in Arizona, LOL... ;)

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Here's another driver making it easy for the D.O.T. man to pull a chassis inspection... :D

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"Okay, you're good!!!" LOL... how about a couple of good-looking tractors? "Showroom condition!!!" :rolleyes:

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Damn... I'm sure the frame on that blue FreightShaker is perfectly straight, while the red Pete is sure to impress the ladies, LOL. :eek:

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Had to throw in that tile work in a rest area bathroom... I think it was in Tennessee, but I could be wrong, I just liked the tile work enough to walk back to my truck and grab the camera, LOL. Since we're momentarily on the topic of rest area bathrooms, here's one in Texas... "CRICKET PROBLEM??? WHAT CRICKET PROBLEM???" ;)

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LOL... here's some poor fool on I-70 in Utah, "IT'S OKAY, OFFICER, I ALWAYS PARK THIS WAY!!!" Nice fluid leaks too... :confused:

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Hmm, what else? Ah, yes, an ice storm on I-70 in Illinois... "WTF, guess I'll drop my wagon right here!!!" Or: "Those truck stops are gonna be crowded, let me park the rig in the median for the night!!!" :rolleyes:

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Nice buildup on the landing gear of my own wagon earlier during the storm, LOL... had to get out and knock that cr@p off with a hammer. All told, I saw over a dozen truck wrecks and about three dozen four-wheelers in the ditches, spread out between central Illinois and western Pennsylvania. Pretty good storm, I just eased through all that bad weather as safely as possible. Hey, I found an old climbing photo taken on Stonewall Peak in the Cuyamacas (San Diego County), must be an early shot because I'm wearing cr@ppy old EB boots, LOL. I only bought those boots because they were on sale for $29 or whatever... they probably made me a better climber in the long run, but they didn't stick for sh!t, nothing like later pairs of Fires (Fee-rays) or Sportivas. Oh, well, didn't make much difference on rappel, that 5.7 crack in the photo is a classic too, very clean with solid granite... :cool:

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Okay, guess I'll atone for my thread-jacking by tossing in some shots of the USS Cairo at Vicksburg Military Park on the Mississippi River... a Union ironclad, one of the 'City Class' named after various towns along the river. BTW, that's pronounced "Care-o"---an old trick back in the day, changing the pronunciation so town locals could easily spot out-of-town kooks, LOL. Bad@$$ boat though, you can walk through her and see the gun deck as seen by Civil War sailors... I used to visit those old battlefields and walk the ground to get a feel for the terrain, so I could better understand what each side had to go through during the fray. The USS Cairo was sunk without loss of life by a Confederate "torpedo" (in reality, a keg of gunpowder with a fuse, more like a naval mine), and she sat on the bottom of the Yazoo River for over a century before being salvaged (if I remember correctly, you can always Google "USS Cairo Museum" and read the particulars). Here we go with the photos, imagine trying to restore THAT wooden hull, LOL... that'd be a job of work. :eek:

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Okay, that's enough thread-jacking for one day, time for another beer anyway... hope y'all enjoyed the whirlwind tour, just a small sample of that separate reality known as OTR Truck Driving, LOL. Ya never know what you're gonna see next, AYE??? ;)
 
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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Hmm, I was just thinking how cool it would be to settle right-of-way disputes with those cannons aboard the ironclad, LOL... :rolleyes:

Of course, once the boilers went kaput, the ironclad would have a hard time against a Laser or Sunfish... ;)
 

shorefun

Member
My brother works on Mercedes. A while back he had a guy that took his larger boat from NJ to FL for the winter. He had a 300SD for his tow vehicle. He ran 75- 80 all the way down and back. He did this for a bunch of years.
 

dradeka

New Member
Holy Crap!!! I'd forgotten how many wreck photos I have in those old scrapbooks... didn't find the boat wreck yet, but saw a few classic shots which will still apply, as far as towing goes. I used to keep a simple 35mm automatic camera within reach while driving, just so I could photograph whatever struck my fancy, and also to photograph wrecks so I could show my friends at the surf shop once I returned to Coronado. In this way, they got to see many of the sights I saw while I was out there having the time of my life, playing the paid tourist ("turista pagado" en Espanol). Meh, I'll throw down what I found in one short search, no intention of thread-jacking, it's just that these photos are pretty funny, LOL. First, we have a slightly blurry shot of some poor fool's travel trailer disintegrated on the interstate... nice holding tank in the mix, complete with fluid leak. :confused:

View attachment 42413

I'm taking digital photos of old paper photos here, so bear with me. Here's a reefer truck (ice cream load, or so I heard on the CB) going for that "long layover" on I-10 in Arizona, LOL... ;)

View attachment 42414

Here's another driver making it easy for the D.O.T. man to pull a chassis inspection... :D

View attachment 42415

"Okay, you're good!!!" LOL... how about a couple of good-looking tractors? "Showroom condition!!!" :rolleyes:

View attachment 42416
View attachment 42417
View attachment 42418
View attachment 42419

Damn... I'm sure the frame on that blue FreightShaker is perfectly straight, while the red Pete is sure to impress the ladies, LOL. :eek:

View attachment 42420

Had to throw in that tile work in a rest area bathroom... I think it was in Tennessee, but I could be wrong, I just liked the tile work enough to walk back to my truck and grab the camera, LOL. Since we're momentarily on the topic of rest area bathrooms, here's one in Texas... "CRICKET PROBLEM??? WHAT CRICKET PROBLEM???" ;)

View attachment 42421
View attachment 42422

LOL... here's some poor fool on I-70 in Utah, "IT'S OKAY, OFFICER, I ALWAYS PARK THIS WAY!!!" Nice fluid leaks too... :confused:

View attachment 42423

Hmm, what else? Ah, yes, an ice storm on I-70 in Illinois... "WTF, guess I'll drop my wagon right here!!!" Or: "Those truck stops are gonna be crowded, let me park the rig in the median for the night!!!" :rolleyes:

View attachment 42424
View attachment 42425
View attachment 42426
View attachment 42427

Nice buildup on the landing gear of my own wagon earlier during the storm, LOL... had to get out and knock that cr@p off with a hammer. All told, I saw over a dozen truck wrecks and about three dozen four-wheelers in the ditches, spread out between central Illinois and western Pennsylvania. Pretty good storm, I just eased through all that bad weather as safely as possible. Hey, I found an old climbing photo taken on Stonewall Peak in the Cuyamacas (San Diego County), must be an early shot because I'm wearing cr@ppy old EB boots, LOL. I only bought those boots because they were on sale for $29 or whatever... they probably made me a better climber in the long run, but they didn't stick for sh!t, nothing like later pairs of Fires (Fee-rays) or Sportivas. Oh, well, didn't make much difference on rappel, that 5.7 crack in the photo is a classic too, very clean with solid granite... :cool:

View attachment 42428

Okay, guess I'll atone for my thread-jacking by tossing in some shots of the USS Cairo at Vicksburg Military Park on the Mississippi River... a Union ironclad, one of the 'City Class' named after various towns along the river. BTW, that's pronounced "Care-o"---an old trick back in the day, changing the pronunciation so town locals could easily spot out-of-town kooks, LOL. Bad@$$ boat though, you can walk through her and see the gun deck as seen by Civil War sailors... I used to visit those old battlefields and walk the ground to get a feel for the terrain, so I could better understand what each side had to go through during the fray. The USS Cairo was sunk without loss of life by a Confederate "torpedo" (in reality, a keg of gunpowder with a fuse, more like a naval mine), and she sat on the bottom of the Yazoo River for over a century before being salvaged (if I remember correctly, you can always Google "USS Cairo Museum" and read the particulars). Here we go with the photos, imagine trying to restore THAT wooden hull, LOL... that'd be a job of work. :eek:

View attachment 42429
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Okay, that's enough thread-jacking for one day, time for another beer anyway... hope y'all enjoyed the whirlwind tour, just a small sample of that separate reality known as OTR Truck Driving, LOL. Ya never know what you're gonna see next, AYE??? ;)


Crazy pictures!
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Haha, that whole OTR lifestyle can be crazy at times... but ya sure see some interesting sights, LOL. Here's a photo from yesterday's batch that somehow eluded me while I was posting, I'm thinking we should caption it... "HEY, THE CUSTOMER WANTED HIS HOME RIGHT HERE, DIDN'T HE???" ;)

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Upside down as well, note wheels atop inverted mobile home... meh, it's the desert, no need for a conventional roof, LOL. :rolleyes:

I'll have to look for that boat wreck later, it's worth finding, but I have a dozen or more large scrapbooks so it might take awhile to find it... :confused:
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Great rig. Check those tires and make sure you have the highest load rating available, C or D. Nowadays radials are available which hold up better on the highway, and you are running 12 inchers, way better than 8 inch. The tires need to be less than 6 years old, look for the Manufacture date on the side which is in a WWYY format (Example 4017 = 40th week of 2017). And proper inflation to keep heat buildup down ensures a great trip.

FWIW Dynamic Dollies and Racks sells all of those racks also, we are considering doing the same rack system and maybe adapting it to ride on a 5x10 utility trailer. If anyone wants a dolly or rack we can get them drop shipped to CONUS with free shipping. Send us a PM.
 

Malcolm

New Member
I thought I would share my double - stacker Sunfish trailer for those looking for ideas. Having sailed my entire life, and having owned many different kinds of sail and power boats, and configured many different types of open and closed trailers for multiple purposes, has given me a lot of perspective on what works and doesn't work for me. I don't like to waste time with fussy setups when launching and loading, and I like my trailers to perform well, or travel well, without issues for the boats.
I just got back into the Sunfish after a multi-decade hiatus, because my son and I were looking for something to do in the winter when we're not skiing. With two "new" boats and the impending frostbite season upon us I needed to come up with a quick, but solid solution to transporting these boats.

For this trailer I repurposed a 3 year old Karavan trailer that I originally purchased for transporting and launching my sailboat's RIB/tender. I only did this because I needed to get the Sunfish ready for the frostbite season, and I could not find another trailer because of the pandemic. A lot of the used stuff on Craigslist was crap and the lead time on new trailers was longer. I will replace the RIB trailer later.

I removed the winch, roller and bunks from this trailer and then measured it to determine the best approach to get some sort of stacked rack built on top. I like to transport boats upright rather than upside down. It is just much faster to unload them and rig them that way. So I needed to allow for enough room for shaped bunks for the Sunfish hulls, one over another.

As it happens, some years ago, I found a decent, but somewhat beat up, Seitech storage rack on Craigslist. It was a triple stacker that was setup for 420's. We used it in our backyard for many years to store various dinghies, kayaks etc. I decided to re purpose this rack as the "base" for the new Sunfish trailer. It was way too wide, so I disassembled it and cut the cross bars down to a more manageable width for the Sunfish. I discarded some of the more bent and beat up materials but ended up with enough for a solid rack system. I decided to leave enough clearance in case we needed to transport some other kind of small boat in the future.

I used four big U bolts to attach this rack on top of the Karavan trailer. I then cut and shaped four pressure treated 2x8's as cradles for the Sunfish hulls. I bolted these to the Seitech racks. I wasn't able to get my hands on any padding material locally while I was doing this build so as a quick solution I cut up the Seitech pads and stapled them to the cradles. I later ordered some foam rubber and trailer bunk carpet, that I will need to install when I have a chance.

I left the top tier of the rack as is, in case we need to strap another boat or other stuff on top, however I may lower that tier downwards, and throw a Thule box on there that can accommodate the Sunfish blades and other small gear that currently gets tossed in the back of the car.

We tie the boats down with scrap StaSet left over from another boat project; nothing fancy, we just do a single loop over the deck fore and aft and use a truckers hitch to tighten them down. This trailer rides great. The boats are "shorter" in height than my 4runner so they are basically in the slip stream. We have a short highway run to the yachtclub where we frostbite, and it tows at 70-75 with zero fuss. It is really easy to unload the boats onto the dollies for rigging and launching.

I think the next upgrade will be to find some long PVC tubes for the rigs as I have found the sailbags are not waterproof; they collect rainwater if we leave them on the trailer.

View attachment 42412
Very nice. I see that the trailer is much too long overall. That makes it hard to maneuver and also causes excess tongue weight.
Take a hacksaw or an angle grinder and reduce the length of the trailer by cutting off the long part about 2 feet in front of the bow of the boat. Move the hitch receiver and nose wheel back accordingly.
 

dradeka

New Member
Very nice. I see that the trailer is much too long overall. That makes it hard to maneuver and also causes excess tongue weight.
Take a hacksaw or an angle grinder and reduce the length of the trailer by cutting off the long part about 2 feet in front of the bow of the boat. Move the hitch receiver and nose wheel back accordingly.
I disagree with you on both points Malcolm.

If you are familiar with how a lever works, the longer the lever, the more force that can be induced with less input. In this case there is very little tongue weight. The boats are just forward of the axle and the trailer is nicely balanced with maybe 30 lbs of tongue weight. Some might argue that it is too little. You typically look for about 10% on the hitch when you start getting into bigger trailers with heavier loads.

As for maneuverability, I've driven boat and other trailers for almost 40 years, up to over 30 feet in length. It is far easier to drive and back a longer trailer, than a shorter trailer. Longer trailers track really well on the highway, and they are super easy to back up, because you don't have to constantly correct them. I have absolutely zero problem with backing pretty much any trailer into any tight spot. I also like the trailer longer because it is easier to access the back of the tow vehicle. I can open the hatch and load crap; why would I want the boats stabbing me in the back?

Cheers.
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Haha, I'm gonna find the chassis of an old 53' wagon so you can make a STATEMENT at the boat ramp, LOL. :eek:

Might not be too popular when it comes to parking in the lot though... :rolleyes:

CHEERS!!! :cool:

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P.S. This one might do, though it won't be the STRAIGHTEST trailer you ever pulled or backed... meh, you're a pro, you can handle it. :D
 
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