Monday, February 6, 2012

Build a strong DIY kayak cart instructions + VIDEO

After forever and a day, the metal cart writeup is finished.  My goal was to design a very rugged, bolt together cart that would work well with the 2012 Ride 135's pontoon style hull.  This design carries my fully loaded kayak (100+ lbs) with ease. The previous Palmetto Kayak Fishing PVC cart works great, but I wanted to design and build a cart that better mimicked some of the commercially available options.  The new model had to be super strong, lightweight, easy to disassemble/reassemble and somewhat aesthetically pleasing.    

Let me start by saying this project is a little on the expensive side as compared to some of the other PKF builds due to the initial cost of a few items.  For example, the SuperStrut metal framing channel costs around $15 for a 10' section, but the build only requires 15.5 inches of material.  Same goes for the thick $10 professional dense poly cutting board from Sam's Club.  One board is large enough to make 3 pairs of the bunks that the kayak rides on.  The build also requires drilling out thick metal and two flat washers to accommodate the 3/4" axle.  Many machine shops will drill the required holes on the cheap if you don't have a step bit available. 

With all this being said, take one look at similar commercially available offerings that cost north of $150 and in the grand scheme of things, this cart isn't so bad on the wallet.  Most importantly, it fits my Ride 135 like a glove and can handle many different types of terrain with a heavy payload.  The cart weighs in right at 11 pounds - that is just one pound heavier than the popular C-tug cart.

For me, it's not always about the destination, but more about the journey getting there.  I find these DIY projects to be very fulfilling and enjoy sharing the process.  Round up a friend or 3 that are interested pursuing this project and the per-cart costs go down significantly.  Lastly, for the steel axle, call a metal or scrap shop that will sell you a small section of the 3/4in. x 1/16in. in plain steel tube and pay less than HD's price of $10.  If you can find a stainless steel tube in the same size, even better.

Parts List: (click red text for links and pictures)

10' SuperStrut metal framing channel - (only 15.5" is needed per cart), Home Depot - $15.57

 3/4in. x 1/16in. in plain steel tube - cut to 25.5", holes drilled in each end to accept the linch pins, Home Depot - $9.32

Bakers & Chefs Commercial Cutting Board 1/2" thick, 15" x 20" - cut two 3" x 15" sections per cart  (1 board is enough to build 3 carts) Sam's Club $11  

2 - 10" Low Speed Tires - Northern Tool - $9.99 each.

NOTE: I chose these over the cheaper Harbor Freight wheels b/c of the reduction of weight and simplicity of design.  They look very similar - if not the same - to the wheels that come on Hobie's Universal Kayak Cart or the pneumatic C-Tug wheels.

2 - Superstrut 2-Hole 90-Degree Angle Brackets - $1.34 each

1 package of Crown Bolt Inc. 1/2" Create-A-Bolt - Home Depot - $3

2 - Crown Bolt Zinc Plated 1/2 in.-13 x 1-3/4 in. Rod Coupling Nut (the only link is for a 25 pack, HD sells them in single bags, HD part no. 030699191567, at  $1.31 each) - Home Depot - $1.31

2 - Crown Bolt 3/16 in. x 1-1/2 in. Zinc Plated Linch Pins - Home Depot, $1.73 each

2 - Crown Bolt Zinc Plated 1/2 in. - 13 x 1-1/2 in. (the only link is for a 50 pack, HD sells them individually)- Home Depot, >$1 for two

2 - Crown Bolt Zinc Plated 5/8 in. Flat Washers & 2 additional 1/2" Flat Washers (the only link is for a 65 pack, HD sells them individually) - Bore out the center hole of the 5/8" washer to 3/4" to fit over axle - this size is modified b/c the outside diameter fits the wheel profile perfectly, Home Depot, >$1 for two.  The additional 1/2" washers do not need to be modified.

1 Crown Bolt 1/2 in. x 12 in. Zinc Threaded Rod - Cut into two 6" sections, Home Depot, $1.57

2 - 1/2" stop nuts

6 - 1/2" PVC couplings

2 - 3" sections of 1/2" PVC

Outdoor Carpet scraps and padding of choice to cover the cutting board bunks

11" zip ties

Loctite thread locker

Lashing strap to hold the cart to the kayak


Foam tubing to cover the vertical PVC arms.

U bolt and 1/2" PVC parts to fabricate a tube to accommodate a push pole of some sort to get the cart in place under the kayak (see video).  I use a stake out pole for this, but just about any rigid tube will do.

Automotive 15 oz. Truck Bed Coating - Home Depot, $8

Detailed VIDEO

The Build:

The video pretty much explains the process but here are some tips.  I cut the SuperStrut to 15.5" for my application, leaving 8 of the oval cutouts. If the build is for a different model kayak, adjust the length of the SuperStut, axle and kayak bunk placement for a custom fit.  Make sure to measure and cut the axle at the end of the entire processes to ensure proper fitment.   

Enjoy!  -  Paul


  1. Thanks for the post. I will be going on vacation and need to haul my 2k8 Ride 135 to the lake. I have not needed to cart my boat at my local spots, they all have have ramp access. I was looking at the expensive NRS cart, but after fiding your blog and video I'm excited to build one for my boat.
    Thanks again.

  2. Question:
    In the "Build" section, third picture down, it appears the middle piece of PVC used in the PVC Arm is a smaller diameter than the 1/2 PVC coupling. I don't see that listed in your parts list. Is this an illusion or did I simply miss something?

    Charlotte, NC

    1. Hello - the PVC arm is constructed from 1/2" diameter PVC pipe and the couplings are the 1/2" variety as well. When you go to Lowes or Home Depot, look for "PVC 1/2 inch slip couplings". These are what match up with 1/2" pipe and will be wider in diameter to fit snugly over the 1/2" pipe.

  3. A little easier on the eyes than the PVC version you see everyone with... can already tell I'm gonna need a cart to save my back with the new yak!

  4. Your parts list shows Crown Bolt 36 in. x 3/4 in. x 1/16 in. Plain Steel Round Tube; however, I cannot find 10" wheels with a 3/4 inch axle bore that will fit on the 3/4 inch round tube. 5/8 seems to be the standard axle bore for all the wheels I'm coming across at Home Depot, online, etc. Do the wheels you purchased for this build have a 3/4 axle bore? Thank you,

    1. Hello Chris - thanks for the question. The wheels do not need to be a 3/4" bore. The 10" wheels linked in the instructions as well as the 10" ones that are available at Harbor Freight are indeed a 5/8" bore. The tube is 3/4" so it is just 1/8" smaller in total diameter than the wheel bore. This matchup in size works just fine as there is no wobble or leaning since it is just 1/8" difference.

    2. Thank you for your response. I could not find a 3/4 tube that would fit the 5/8 bore. I tried several 3/4 tubes from different stores but the 3/4 was too large in diameter to fit into the wheel in each instance. I ended up going with a 5/8 metal rod that fits perfectly. Thanks for sharing your project.

  5. Hi Paul, fine job with the project. Thank you for taking the time it illustrate and document the process so well.

    I am about to build your design but was wondering about making it wider. I also have a Ride 135 so I would keep the bunks in the same position but it seems that a wider cart would me more stable on uneven terrain. My current card has tipped over several times.

    What do you think?

  6. what is the black tube that you used on the 3" pvc that goes over the all threads rods

  7. Hello Paul! I appreciate you taking the time to put this together. I was wondering how those ties do on loose sand? Wheelez makes tires they claim are incredible on sand, much less everywhere else. I take it their tires can be used interchangeably here? They are pricey.
    Appreciate any feedback.

    1. Hello. You are very welcome - if I had more time, I would post many more of these types of posts! I haven't used these on loose sand and would suspect that they might bite in a bit. One option might be to add TWO of these wheels per side and reduce the air pressure quite a bit. The Wheelez tires are very nice, but as you said, quite expensive. Airing down these tires to a very low psi would help them float over the sand instead of dig in. If you had a total of 4, you would be in business. Harbor Freight also sells some much cheaper tire with bearings that also work very well - google "Palmetto kayak fishing bulletproof cart" Recently, the folks at C-tug came out with a different type of sand wheel that isn't inflatable. That may be worth looking into as well. Have a great weekend.

  8. I love the cart design. Seems solid and looks great. I saw your diy pvc cart first but I like the look and sturdyness of this one much better.

    About 12 family members and I go on 2-3 canoe trips a year and would like to incorporate portages but they are tough with all the gear we have. These carts seem like they would be perfect for what we need. What would I have to change to accomodate a larger vessel like a 14-16 foot canoe. I was thinking if i measure where I want the canoe to rest on the boards, I could adjust the diffrence between the wheels of your cart and what I would need for the canoe. Or is ground clearance an issue?

  9. Paul - your ingenuity and attention to detail about your cart are much appreciated. The parts list and assembly instructions were well done. They enabled me to build one that works for my Field and Stream fishing kayak and my 16 ft touring kayak. Thank you for taking the time to chronically this very useful project.


  10. Paul - I meant chronicle not chronically. Thanks

  11. Hey Palmentto, really enjoy your blog and Facebook page. I've used your DIY for the anchor trolley and the large storage bin for my own kayak. thanks again.

  12. Is an inflatable canoe/kayak made of PVC any good ...?
    best inflatable kayak

  13. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog about the heavy duty,.
    heavy duty dolly

  14. Spot on with this article, I really think this website needs more attention.  I'll probably be back to read more, thanks for the info.