If you can move the axle a little then you can have the bow of the boat pretty close to the towing vehicle so you don't have quite such a long load. Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Vernon Langille, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity and a quiver of unamed 'yaks. I actually don't mind the distance between bow and hitch, as it allows launching on bad ramps and beaches without submerging the car's exhaust in salt water, and gives you room to hop up on the trailer tongue to get out to the winch stand. It seems that we are coming to a point: Every trailer is a compromise, much the same as the boats themselves. Oh I spose I should have been following this thread - the title was about lightweight suspension - which I've not much explored. After years of dragging around a rusted thing I built out of the small HF trailer, I finally got one of the Trailex singles. I was watching a rerun of 'PAWN STARS' yesterday and a customer brought in a large radio control Hummer. There is a shop in seattle that fabricates leaf springs to one's specifications, about $100. For my purposes the King y frame trailer rated at 700 lbs (I assume gross) would be an attractive option. Hows this, found at the Herreshoff Museum, wood and metal with motorcycle sidecar wheels and fenders. So there is probably a lot we aren't taking into consideration here, from the perspective of actual forces acting on the wooden boat hull. If I do disassemble the trailer I imagine taking one of the original leaf springs down to Craigs and have the old man tell me what he thinks of it - how he might rate it. If you had properly rated leaf springs to hold the load, you could easily add shock absorbers to dampen movement. I want to comment on tire pressure, first thorne you are correct that an underinflated tire is not good. This suspension looks interesting and it's not something I've seen in Australia .I wonder how 2 motorcycle shockers would go in place of the spring and auto shocker ? My camera angle misses the shocks that are outboard of the springs on the aft face of the frame member. The trailer that came with my wodden Melon Seed Skiff had the same sort of wheels and tires as the Apache Camper.
An option that can be considered for lightening the load capacity of the springs to handle lighter boats is to cut down the springs. I actually don't mind the distance between bow and hitch, as it allows launching on bad ramps and beaches without submerging the car's exhaust in salt water, and gives you room to hop up on the trailer tongue to get out to the winch stand.
I do not think cutting the coil springs shorter will actually give you a softer ride, if that is what you are trying to do. Shorter springs will just reduce the amount of travel (compression) that is available before the spring starts to bottom out against itself, and this can actually result in a harsher ride. There are probably more Holsclaw motorcycle trailers out there than intact small boat trailers. One cool thing about this is it can be converted back to a motorcycle trailer in about an hour. Don't forget that sway-bar, or whatever that diagonal gizmo connecting the frame and axle is.
Paint: It may be a very low-tech approach, but I've been amazed at how well just knocking off the big rust chunks with a wire brush and brushing on a couple coats of Rustoleum has held up - and mine sit outside year-round.
I really appreciate your comment about the rustoleum because I have spent more time trying to figure out the best way to paint it.
My problem with Todd's Holsclaw is that the suspension makes it very high and therefore accentuates the sway on the highway, plus having to put it further in the water to launch.
Couple of points on home built trailers, the pitching load is important, as is the swaying stress on long tongues caused by bumps. Using wishbones and a cranked cross-member allows me to launch without dunking my hubs, a primary consideration. I don't know squat about all your theoretical stuff, but I've been using that same trailer for almost 25 years now with a variety of boats - sailboats, inflatable motor boats, multiple canoes and kayaks stacked two-high and my iceboats and have never noticed any sort of sway (or any other undesired driving characteristics). My objections are all about the current rubbish systems that are normal and bounce around the road, giving the boat a rough ride. If'n you're building your trailer from scratch, how about sort of turn the above design upside-down? 2) On an original, the spring is probably a rising rate spring, so it automatically adjusts to momentary loads and is somewhat self damping.
3) This is a true trailing arm suspension with the locating points well forward, which provides a more fluid range of motion over larger arcs than does the conventional and simpler leaf spring set-up. 5) The load carrying beam is attached at more than one point - ie: at both ends of the tuning-fork shaped frame member. Seems to me that if you are equipped to do the simplest of welding, it would be pretty easy to self-build for a lot less than the usual purchase price. I used to build a few trailers for Lotus Cars, in the days when Colin Chapman was running it.


I have both an original Holsclaw (slides over the tingue and pinches it with bolts) and one other (top mount using U bolts) that I can measure and photograph if you need additional design ideas. Does your ice boat have a wing like the Blackbird on your sight that is a mean looking sail. Our current iceboat is a modified Arrow side-by-side two-seater - comfortable and not too extreme with a normal fully-battened sail. The Blackbird design is one that I drew up a few years ago for a little bow-steerer based on some of the big Skeeters with the aft-mounted sails.
I used to have a little iceboat that was only about 7' long and it was a blast to sail, except for the fact that it had foot-pedal steering. If my wife ever wins the lottery, I plan to hire a couple full-time employees to build some of my crazy prototypes, just to see if any of them work - because at the rate I'm going, I'll never get around to most of them myself.
I found a piece of 2" square tubing in my steel pile that I am going to use for the bow post. This is an interesting site the library has lots of classic boats in wood fiber glass and aluminum.
Just as far as the ride, it seems that summarizing a lot of the comments on this thread, most of the light trailers have springs too stiff and no shocks, so even if you had a simple generic design to add-on shocks to a HF (or other typical) trailer and optionally also remove a leaf, then we could get a soft ride without a lot of fuss and expense? It's better to think of the shock absorbers as dampeners, as in they dampen the springing action of the (leaf or coil) springs that do the actual work of buffering the bumps in the roadway. The key is to start with springs that are appropriate to the load, don't use a 2000lb suspension on a 200lb load, it won't flex nearly enough.
Coastal Pro OEM Suspension Seat Mechanism has been designed as a lightweight and compact shock mitigation seating solution. The OEM Mechanism is an adaptive shock mitigation mechanism and uses dual parallel swing arms and a coil spring shock absorber to offer 130mm (5”) of progressive vertical travel to smooth out impacts. For retro-fit applications a standard seat base can be utilised by removing the fixed seat top and replacing with a suspension mechanism. The Coastal Pro OEM Mechanism (CPXR) has been developed for the commercial boat operator and is manufactured entirely from marine grade components. Since the axle, wheels and tires are basically "Floating" via the boat trailer spring suspension system - jacking up your trailer to work on requires extra thought. Stengel Brothers website is excellent and will walk you through all you need to repair or replace your boat trailer springs. The Axle U-Bolts, lock nuts and plates secure the axle to the middle of each trailer leaf spring. Make sure the wheel assembly is not simply attached to the end of a transverse leaf spring.
Again, this trailer design question isn't for my immediate needs -- I have two that should work OK for my boats. A few years ago, I read an article about building a wooden trailer, maybe designed by LF Herreshoff?
And of course if you are concerned about these you can set up a wiring run to clearance lights on either side of the wiring harness for the light board. An interesting design, but I'd modify it to take a commercial boat trailer axle and the lightest leafsprings possible. I wanted to raise another issue at this point, which is that boat trailers can be too lightweight for some trailering conditions.
But when the road ran up onto the top of the levee along the Sacramento River, the wind was blowing across the river with gusts over 70mph, and the boat and trailer were blown up onto one wheel at around 30 degrees -- the maximum that the towball would allow. I suspect that this would not have happened had I been towing my dory skiff (350lbs or so) on the galvanized EZLoader trailer (200lbs or so). To get WoodenBoat delivered to your door or computer, mobile device of choice, etc, click WB Subscriptions. Its not a lot of weight, maybe 100lbs I think, Steel or lead bolted to the frame of the trailer.
A light duty trailer is going to be light weight and potentially unstable in cross winds, and a heavy(er) trailer is going to be too stiff for our little boats. But in the world of the American business economy companies do not do things because they are easy, they do things because they are profitable.
My $.02 is that they have suspension travel needs the average trailer won't use, slamming through ditches and boulder fields with a boat behind your truck it might be handy but who does that to their precious boat? It's isolated from the brackets on both sides of both ends by thick rubber washers where the bolts go through. I built a small trailer with Renault parts (Le Car, over there) Very soft, but firmed up as I loaded it.
I should have said that the height makes it look as if it might have problems with sway etc.
Panhard made cars from the turn of the last century up to sometime in the 60s, when what was left went to Citroen.
I'm really limited for space in my web closet, so things tend to come and go depending on what I'm working on at the moment. The faster you went, the more touchy the steering became and at about 45 mph it got downright scary.


It was a concept cartoon for a high-performance dedicated sailing canoe and was placed opposite a Rushton old-style sailing canoe.
Made from a hunk of 3-sided channel, cut open on the bottom so that it can slide down over the tongue.
As a practical matter it seems there is typically additional height available on the sides by the bunks for the additional height required for shocks as opposed to jacking up the entire bed ala Holsclaw? Fancy-pants adjustable shocks have adjustments for both the compression and rebound side of the equation and you fine tune them along with the spring rate to get the ride you are looking for. This mechanism enables OEM boat builders to fabricate their own suspension seats using their own seat designs and upholstery. The OEM Mechanism offers simple installation and can be retrofitted to most existing jockey seat bases whilst retaining existing under-seat storage.
My first canoe yawl once adopted an alarming and noisy list at 50 mph, and it took me a good 10 minutes to find where that wheel went.
I am still inclined to go with the light bar and just hope I never run into a (ahem) law officer with an inclination toward strict compliance. Just last night you could see more pages, including a dimensioned profile and a cross section looking forward at the axle. To control point loading aft, I get the boat on the trailer then bring the roller up so it just kisses the keel.
I seem to recall he uses a fairly light weight flat bed trailer and props the boat up with fenders. And the ideal suspension is more complicated than one of us could manage without some metal fabrication equipment, and the simple suspension doesn't reverse engineer down to our load level very well.
A trailer such as you desire would be easy to design and make, but I do not think there is enough demand, or those few who do demand one will not pay enough, to make it a profitable venture. Using a solid axle limits the amount of travel too, it needs room to move vertically under the platform and most of us want the boat as low as possible for easy launching.
The torsion bar extends from one side to the other rather than being in the middle of the axle.
I also heard that it does not take much removal of the length of the coil spring to significantly change the capacity. If there is anything that causes concern about it at all, it's that it rides so smoothly and quietly that you have to remember that you're pulling a trailer when going through traffic. In theory it's more efficient that way, but for home-built or specialized, it's easier to engineer them separately. The Blackbird will have tiller steering, which is a lot easier to control and it should be a pretty interesting ride with so little visible structure out ahead of the sailor.
The shock absorber has adjustable spring pre-load which enables the OEM Mechanism to be easily adjusted to provide a comfortable ride for a variety of occupant weights and sea conditions up to a maximum seat capacity of 135kgs (300 lbs). If the trailer had rollers down the middle a carpeted 2 x 4 fits neatly in those welded on brackets. Its the same reason that no wooden boat manufacturers are out there building thousands of skiffs to sell, there is not enough demand. Spring steel is real tough to cut so a carbide disk on an angle grinder would probably be necessary.
You can also change the coil spring with relative ease if you change the load it has to carry. There are about a jillion off-the-shelf units available with a wide range of characteristics. If anybody wants copies of the pictures, it would be a good idea to save them to your hard drive as there is no telling how long they will be in there.
There really isn't a plan as such for it, as it would need to be developed on a case-by-case basis in order to match the sail's luff curve and spar bend allowance to the flex patterns of the mast. The base plate hole patterns are compatible with a wide range of existing seat bases and custom base plates are available to order. I imagine the trailer frame weighs a couple of hundred pounds, lumber platform and ballast weights about 250, boat weight 200 max.
I probably have 2000 miles on my trailer at this point, inspect it regularly, and nothing has moved. I don't know, but if that's the only complaint I have with it after all those years, it's pretty close in my opinion. Going back to Thorne's original brief, it would also help in reducing the storage length, by being able to disconnect the front towbar section. After all, the function of a trailer is to transport, launch and retrieve the boat without tearing up the boat or the car and without annoying the driver or being a pain in the ass to use.
Originally staged to celebrate the lifting of the speed limit from 5mph(!) and not having to have a guy walking in front with a red flag. The other ends of the front and rear spring are connected to the stabilizer bar by the shackles (sidebars) mentioned above.



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