Thursday, May 26, 2016

Paddle Cart

Before I start, we’ve had two new folks join Log of Ibi as subscribers.  Thank you for joining us, and a continued ‘thank you’ to all of you that have been long-time subscribers.  The second-most-recent to come aboard was Anne Muntean, a paddler from Ogden Dunes, Indiana.  The most recent, just yesterday, was Sandy Tarburton, the Membership and Communications Director for Northern Forest Canoe Trail.  Thanks, Sandy.  I’ll be out there paddling while knowing you all will be peeking over my shoulder the whole way, and not feel so alone.

Ibi, a heavier Superior Expedition decked-canoe on the PaddleCart
after the new stainless axle replacement

 I’ve had the PaddleCart ( for quite a few years.  It is everything it was promised to be and has served me extremely well.  On the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a reliable canoe cart is essential, and there has been a long list of carts that have failed to make the grade.  While reading blogs from previous through-paddlers, I’ve seen reports of broken plastic wheels, failed bearings, failed axles, and failed frames.  The PaddleCart is one that has had no breakdowns on the portage trail.  It is rugged, yet light, being made of welded aluminum, and it can be quickly disassembled for storage in any stage of readiness.

The old aluminum axle about to be replaced was
again slightly bent at both ends.

Nothing is perfect, however, and in spite of the dependability of this cart, there have been a couple things I’ve had to address as glitches in R&D.  First, I purchased the Dually, which has four large wheels and tires.  This model greatly aids moving the load through mud, sand, grass, gravel, or normal trail obstructions.  The four wheels also mean you have immediate backup for flats or bearing problems.  I started getting flat tires from sand burrs.  The first thing I did was replace the thin, standard equipment tubes with thick puncture-resistance tubes.  As a further precaution, I installed tire liners like those I had purchased to stop bicycle tire flats, and put them in each of the four tires.  In the five years since, I have never experienced another flat tire.

Buffalo Gal is ready to go with a new axle, and I anticipate
no further problems.

If you order a PaddleCart now, you will not experience this last issue.  The cart was originally all aluminum, including the axle rod.  The projected load capacity, consequently, was low.  I called PaddleCart, and emailed them, saying that they needed to change to a stainless steel axle.  The weight of many boats would reach their load limits while empty, and any camping gear and provisions would make them overloaded.  My aluminum axle had been bent.  A couple paddling friends asked to borrow my cart to bring their boats from the beach, through the state park, and to the parking area.  I found out later that instead of moving them one at a time, they had erred in loading both boats on the cart at once.  I straightened the axle, but with the weakening of the axle from the metal fatigue caused by bending and straightening, particularly with aluminum, I’ve never been able to fully trust the cart since.  I knew I had to get the new stainless axle before attempting the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.   I never received any acknowledgement to my communications, and perhaps others were telling them the same thing, but they did change to a stainless axle.  As a small company, they couldn’t afford to eat the expense of a recall, but they did supply the replacement axle and carriage frame at cost.  I now have 100% confidence that I can portage indefinitely with no further concerns.  

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