Small boat trailer conversion

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Oct 31, 2007
Vessel Name
Vessel Make
Willard Nomad 30'
Was given a small utility trailer and am converting it to a small boat trailer. Mostly for my new 12' rowboat. A Gig Hbr Boat Works Defiance. I intend to make an add on attachment that would permit mounting any of my three canoes or 2 kayaks.

1. Rigging up a crane to lift up the bed so as to be able to install the wheels and axel. The back yard crane worked well enough.
2. Removing the plywood trailer bed.
3. The only mod I've made here is to remove a spring leaf to give the trailer a smoother ride w the light loads anticipated.
4. It's been sitting out in the weather, Will need some TLC.
5. Attached to my old 87 Stanza (Nissan(the intended tow car)) backed into the garage w the original short tongue.
6. Here the lengthened tongue is evident as well as the extended aft end w the new receiver bar attached. Far from finished but as long as she gets.
7. Instead of a line of rollers I made a keel bed in the center. The aft roller is slightly higher than the bottom of the keel bed. So contact will be on the roller and the keel up near the bow.
8. Close-up of the roller and aft end of the keel bed.
9. Boat eye view coming out of the water.

There's considerably more to do but I'm rushing along a bit so I can use it (and the boats) some before the summer is gone.
The wood is Douglass Fir seconds and better plus one cedar board. Finish is (very incomplete) RustOleum primer and red topcoat. Wood is coated w my own oil .. 25% varnish, 35% turpentine and 40% kerosene .. approx. The same kerosene I burn in my Wabasto.


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Knotched spreader boards to keep the keep the gunnel from being pulled inward. Open boats have a given structural weakness that should be considered in any kind of handling. But a gunnel bent in may bend back out whereas if it was supported w a frame the frame may break where the gunwale may bend and bend back. Also w the frame the gunnel would be likely to break near the frame.

So pad eyes and straps w tensioners yes. There will be cedar walking boards too.
Nearly Done.
But now my arm's in a sling .. rotator cuff op.
The CG is not perfect so may need to carry the boat a bit further fwd. I'm going to add a roller fwd and straight bunks on each side. A bit of a change from original idea. Was going to have curved bunks to match the hull but now I want to be able to put the boat in various positions fore and aft to change the CG ect.

Sure glad I took out a leaf on the springs as it's still rather stiff.


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OK, dumb question coming so brace yourself for it.....what is that wood extension out the back for?

See, I warned you!
HaHa I spoze I should'a splained that. Going to be a stepping board in the ctr so I can walk out and pull the bow up about 3" onto the cross pice and drag/pull it fwd to the roller. The boat slides real nicely on the bunk material. And there will be another roller fwd.

I'm having thoughts of having a center council, low in the boat w the 6hp so I'll have reverse gear. Not as low as a BW but somewhat similar. Tiller steering can be hard on one's neck especially w beaches on the stbd side.
Gotcha, and thanks for answering that stooooopid question.
Nice work Eric. The dinghy looks good also.
I've done much the same several times. A cheapie trailer sold for a '14' jon boat' refitted to carry a 20' Flying Dutchman sailboat. Basically fitting the centerline rollers to suit the FD hull shape and setting the bunks correctly. You don't want to transmit a twisting trailer's loads to the hull of a lightweight sailboat!

Then I add a plywood deck making it into a utility trailer.

Since the FD is so long compared to the trailer, I use a second set of lights hung on the boat's transom. I just have to transfer the license plate from one set of lights to the other. Pic shows the FD in 2012 rigged for the first time since 1992 (at the end of an 11 summers' eve long restoration). Towing pic in the Airondacks in 2015. Somewhere, I have a pic of my other trailer with an Atomic 4 sitting on blocks on the plywood.


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Thank you Marty!
Been work'in on the trailer instead of the boat .. as if that was'nt obvious.
Intend to try towing it. With it's FD hull she won't be racing down the face of waves trying to overtake Willy. Probably won't take on much spray either but over time .. ? Since Willy will be going 6 knots the dink will be way above her hull speed and that may be a lot of drag. Don't really want to tow but I want the dink in the anchorages. But by the time I get out of this arm sling summer will be over though.

Still have the 10' w the SP hull in case the Gig dosn't work out.
Atomic 4 ... From the fifties?
Can't see much of your trailer in the pics. Buut I can see you were think'in similar ....... long.

I had another trailer similar to to the one above. It was for my 18' freight canoe. Beat it to death on northern BC drit roads. This trailer is to replace the one lost.

I moved my lights aft and need to finish the wiring.

My first canoe trailer (RIP) had a plywood deck also. But on this one I'm going to use 1" red cedar sawn lumber I have from SE Alaska. It's light and takes an oil finish well.
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NW, the Atomic 4 was, and still is, in the 1972 Morgan 27 that my dad bought new and I sold in 2005. That engine is still running and that boat is sailed and loved by her owner in Baltimore.
They were a well loved engine it seems from all the praise I've heard. 4cyl flat head and 25hp? Should be quiet and smooth. Cute describes them but they were more than cute. And to be sure popular in their day.
NW, at the risk of hijacking a post, yes the A 4 was a long-lived production (perhaps 1950 to 1975?) and would give excellent service with adequate care. Ours was terribly unreliable until I got rid of the mechanical ignition and replaced it with an electronic ignition, and had the top end (valves) worked over by skilled people. I think I replaced the mechanical fuel pump with an electric one. I rebuilt the carburetor correctly (as opposed to how my brother-in-law and my father before him did). And I put the thing on engine mounts in lieu of the original direct bolting to the beds.
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