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  1. #1
    steve45's Avatar
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    The Trailer--Revisited

    I bought a couple of Kawasaki Ultra LXs last fall. There was no way that they would fit on any double trailer I had, but I had a rotted out trailer that I planned to use for parts. I got the trailer with the purchase of an Ultra 150. I really didn't want it, but it was all or nothing. I noticed that the trailer had 13" wheels and the seller told me that it had a 3500 pound axle.

    When I got around to trying to build a new frame, I discovered that the 3500 pound axle was really a 2000 pound axle--not enough to hold a pair of the new super-sized 'Skis. The springs were 3500 pound springs. I planned to use the Karavan fenders, but found that one was damaged on the inside from a blown tire.

    Anyway, before work commenced I decided that I wanted a Bulldog-style hitch. Two beams welded to the hitch was a lot stronger than one. I also built it out of 4" channel. No more boat trailers made out of steel tubing for me! Here are a couple of shots of the old trailer, showing why you should avoid them:



    The next problem was how in the world to bend the channel to get the curve that I needed. I wanted single piece side rails, no welds. I didn't want to heat the steel, cold forming would give a stronger beam. After a few iterations, I finally came up with a bending jig. I used two pieces of 5-1/2" pipe buried in the ground. I welded on a couple of plates to hold the beams in position while I bent them. It turned out that the ground wasn't strong enough to hold the posts, so I poured concrete around them. That didn't work, either, so I also welded braces to the pipes. The pictures below show the story. Note: I did NOT use the forklift to do the bending. I used the forks to support the beams and used the block & tackle to apply the bending force to the beam. I marked the beam every inch, then bent each mark about 2°. I needed 25°, so 12 marks did the trick.



    I think there's a limit on the number of pictures per post, so I'll continue this in another one.

    EDIT: Somehow the pictures didn't show up in this post, so I'll try to fix it.
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    Last edited by steve45; 09-18-2018 at 06:54 PM.


  2. #2
    steve45's Avatar
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    Building the new trailer turned out to be a much bigger project than I anticipated. However, I'm happy with the way it turned out and plan to build a couple more.

    Here are some pics showing how it was done. It was rather difficult to lay out the bunk rails to hold such wide 'Skis. I wanted the 'Skis to sit between the fenders, but given their width, there was no way to do this. The 'Skis would have to sit above the fenders, and even then they had to be close together.

    Here are some shots of the construction:



    I built an adjustable sling that allowed me to position the 'Ski exactly where I wanted it in order to arrange the bunk rails. (I've since come up with a different sling design, but that's another topic).



    Here you can see a trial run with bunk rails. You can see the marks on the side rail that I used for bending:

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    Last edited by steve45; 09-30-2018 at 11:22 AM.

  3. #3
    steve45's Avatar
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    I've made a bunch of bunk rail brackets in the past and figured that there must be a better way. I came up with welding a piece of 3/8" square stock to the sides to keep the brackets aligned:



    After I got it together, I only had about 2 inches between the 'Skis and wanted more room. I designed an offset bracket:



    I decided to do try some different ideas on the back end of the trailer. I thought the idea of a 'bumper' would help protect the business end of the 'Skis from damage if I were to accidentally back into something--of if someone backed into me. After I gave that idea some more thought, I thought a roller to help guide the 'Ski onto the trailer without hitting the crossbeams would be a good idea. Then, I discovered Boat Buckles! I had heard of them before, but had never seen them. I found them at Academy and bought a set. These are the 1" size. I may upgrade to the 2" size, but this is what I have right now:



    License plate mounting and light mounting is always a pain. I decided to make brackets that bolted on rather than welding. Since they stick out, that makes them a target for damage. Making them bolt-on means that they are easily replaced. The license plate is mounted on a hinged plate that allows it to swing when pulling the trailer out of the water without bending the plate. The taillights are LED, and I put some HydroTurf on top of the brackets to serve as a step. I put a board between the 'Skis to walk on when launching & recovering the boats. The ends are covered with Delrin caps I made to fit. If you look closely at the right side rail, there is a blue line. I ran the light wiring through PEX, the plastic plumbing pipe. It seems that I have to re-wire trailer lights about every two years because the UV from our intense sun destroys the insulation. The wiring is almost completely enclosed except where the lights connect to the harness. I used to solder the joints and put shrink tubing over them, but even that didn't last as long as it should. The best solution I found was to simply twist the wires together and put a grease-filled wire nut on it. The grease seems to prevent corrosion better than shrink tubing, and it's easy to fix when it does go bad. EDIT: I also ran individual ground wires from the plug to each light assembly that had a ground wire on it. This is in addition to grounding the plug to the trailer frame. Can't have too many ground connections on a trailer!
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    Last edited by steve45; 09-18-2018 at 07:00 PM.

  4. #4
    steve45's Avatar
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    The water level in our lake fluctuates a LOT. In fact, a month after I bought the Ultra LXs they closed the ramp at our lake because the water level was too low to use it. I've launched from the shore a number of times, and I've spent 4 hours trying to get a 4-WD Jeep Wagoneer out of the water after retrieving my first Waverunner. Ain't doing that again if I can help it!!! I wanted an extendable tongue. Doing this with a Bulldog hitch required some thought. I finally came up with the idea shown below that uses a pair of 2"x2" tubes that slide out. Trailer hitch pins lock them in place, and another hitch attaches to the front. I haven't had to use this yet, so it remains untested. The tubes slide pretty easily because they are supported on the back end by 1/2" round bars. There are a couple of nylon blocks inside of the 2"x2" tubes that keep the round bars aligned. The tubes have holes top & bottom to allow drainage and flushing. Total extension is about 8 feet. Stainless steel tubes would be nice, but would increase the cost by about $500. For now, I'll just try to keep some Fluid Film on them.

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    Last edited by steve45; 09-16-2018 at 02:24 PM.

  5. #5
    steve45's Avatar
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    The biggest problem I've had is that I made the crossbeams that the bunk rails mount to too far apart. With a 12' 'Ski, I wanted a fairly long bunk rail. I didn't count on kiln-dried wood being so stiff. I've used it for bunks a number of times without problems, but this time I cracked two of them. I thought I'd try soaking them in my pool for a week, then trying to bend them--still didn't work. Turns out that drying the wood seals off the cells so they don't absorb much water. After soaking for a week, I cut into them and the water had penetrated about a millimeter. Looking online, I found that I really needed green wood and a steam cabinet. That wasn't going to happen, at least not just yet. I ended up buying pressure treated lumber, which I hate. It shrinks, it warps, etc. I went ahead and bought some and wired the boards into place, then put the 'Skis one them for a week to try to get them to take a set as I wanted them to. It seems to have worked so far. If I have trouble with cracking, I can run a thin piece of steel under them, or go with artificial lumber made from recycled plastic. I've got one trailer equipped with this stuff and it works, but it really changes length with temperature changes. I'm afraid that they would work the mounting hardware loose (stainless steel carriage bolts & locknuts), or wallow out the holes. The bunk rails are covered with TieDown Engineering Glide-Ons. They work great!

    Anyway, here are 'finished' photos. It's really not quite finished because I need to touch up the paint, etc. It has taken a lot of adjustments & modifications to get it where I want it. It tows really well, and it's nice to look back and see that the trailer isn't flexing and flopping around like a fish out of water. The 4" channel and crossbeams was definitely the way to go.

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    Last edited by steve45; 09-30-2018 at 11:29 AM.

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  7. #6
    Awesome, thank you for sharing


  8. #7
    canuck's Avatar
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    Nice trailer I like that the rear of the skis sit fully on the bunks instead of hanging off the back like most do.

    FYI on the Boat Buckles I bought a set of the 2" ones and they are big I had a hard time finding somewhere to mount them on my trailer without them getting in the way I could have fabricated a different mounting system instead I exchanged then for the smaller version and no problems so far.
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  9. #8

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    Nice build! I love boat buckles, they came on my new tandem.

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