How To Make a Dinghy Roller for Less Than $25

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homemade dinghy roller

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Making a portable set of dinghy wheels is relatively simple and inexpensive. Reader (and PS contributor) David Liscio sent us the following DIY how-to on dinghy-roller making, a timely Reader Workbench as we’ll be reviewing dinghy wheels in an upcoming issue. Email us your DIY project ideas at practicalsailor@belvoirpubs.com.

How To Make a Dinghy Roller for Less Than $25

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According to Liscio, here’s what you’ll need:

• One pair of lawn mower wheels, 8-inch diameter with axle, washers, and wheel caps. ($10 or less)

• One pair of metal brackets to fasten axle to bottom of wood panel. ($3)

• 24 inches of rope, roughly a half-inch diameter; most any kind will do. ($1)

• Wood glue. ($2)

• One-quarter sheet of ¾-inch plywood. Marine grade is best but not necessary. (lumber yard surplus, $5)

• A dozen self-tapping stainless screws, 2-inch length. ($2)

1. Cut two panels of wood, one 14-by-11.5 inches, the other 14-by-9 inches. Also cut three spacers, 14-by-9 inches each.

2. Glue and screw one of the spacers to the larger of the two wood panels, making an L-shape. The screws should be started into the wood panel and enter the spacer.

3. Glue and screw the second smaller wood panel, only this time, start the screws into the spacer and then enter the wood panel. You should end up with what looks like a U-shape, with one wood panel slightly shorter than the other.

4. Screw the two axle brackets into place on the bottom spacer and fit the axle and wheels. Take one of the two remaining spacers, and glue and screw it directly onto the spacer already in place.

5. Then slip the entire device onto the transom of your dinghy to take a quick measurement. The wheels must not rub against the gunwale on the transom. To ensure clearance, screw the third spacer into place inside the U at a point that stops the transom from going any deeper.

6. Drill two holes into the larger (outside) wood panel for the rope. Tie knots in both ends of the rope. This will provide a carrying handle and an easy way to slip the device onto the transom, if the dinghy is stored in a rack or the back of your SUV. As you pull the dinghy from the rack, hold the device in place using the rope handle and slowly set down the dinghy.

David Liscio
Nahant, Mass.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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