Thursday, June 7, 2012

Paddle Cart Modification

The PaddleCart when new.  The upturned ends clearly show how the
weight of  the boat would cut the foam that covers the tube ends.

I have a dual-wheel canoe/kayak cart produced by, which is obviously also where you can find them on the net. It has a couple shortcomings, one of which I address here. However, let me emphasize that I still recommend it and think it is one of the best carts available.

It has heavy-gauge aluminum construction that is light enough to carry, and easily disassembled by merely pulling four secure pins for fitting into a tighter spot if needed. It has 12-inch tires (2” wide) with bearings, and I got it with dual wheels, called the Dually, making it easier still to pull it through grass, soft soil, or sand.

The problem I decided to tackle today has to be with the longitudinal tubes that support the boat’s hull. They are 1 ¼”OD aluminum tubing cut off square at each end. A dense foam sleeve with a rounded end slides over each end of the tubing to cushion the boat and protect the boat from the sharp ends of the tubes.

The left arm shows how the sharp tube ends cut the foam cover.
The liberally duct-taped end was an effort to cushion the ends.
The vinyl tubing provides for this modification.

A contributing problem is that the cart has no leg to hold the weight-bearing tubes either horizontal, or better yet, in line with a boat being lifted by one end to be set on the cart. Without a leg, the cart rests on the ground on its wheels and two ends of the tubes, with the other ends of the tubes pointing skyward at a sharp angle. The recommended procedure by, after setting the boat on the two up-raised ends of the bars, is to then reach under the boat and flip the lowered ends up until the bars come into full contact with the hull. A synch strap then goes around the hull to secure boat and cart as one. The problem is that during this process, the boat is resting on the sharp ends of the tubing. Although the ends are protected with the foam sleeve, by the time I had used the cart four times, the tubing had cut through the foam leaving a sharp edge of metal exposed to gouge the hull. To protect the boat, I had to wrap multiple layers of duct tape around the foam ends to provide the needed extra protection. As soon as the duct tape warmed, it slid around and spread adhesive all over the boat, with each use, that could only be removed with a solvent (acetone).

New vinyl tubing protecting aluminum arms of cart.

After much brainstorming, to try to deal with this, I went to the home improvement store today and bought a three-foot section of 1 5/8” OD X 1 ¼” ID clear vinyl tubing or hose. This was cut into four 9” segments, just the length needed to cover the four ends.

Once the vinyl tubing was cut into four equal sections, they were dropped in a tub of boiling water to soften for ten minutes. The metal tube and inside of the hose was lightly lubricated (soap or Vaseline) to enable getting the hose over the aluminum tubing. If the hose seems too loose, slide the hose off and wipe away the excess lubricant until it slides back on snugly. Once the vinyl cools, it will tighten right up. The 9-inches of hose on each leg left a bit protruding beyond the end of the tubing to protect the hull.

Cart with new protective coverings in place.

I’m still working on an idea for a leg that will hold the longitudinal bars off the horizontal just enough, so that whether the boat is being lifted by one end and set on the cart while the other end of the boat is on the ground or in the water, the hull would come very close to resting in full contact with the bars. If the leg was implemented, there would be no extreme shearing stress on the tube ends, and perhaps even the foam end sleeves would be sufficient.

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