TIN BOATS, The Sequel


Here is my previous article.

Well folks, last time I rambled a bit about aluminum boats versus wood ones. Yes, I’m still at it. Its November and here in Florida the weather has finally changed from blistering hot and soaking wet to something more online with southern living. As I write this, its mid November and 75 degrees outside. I saw on the news it was 10 degrees in Chicago the other day! You know, I don’t miss that weather at all!

That’s enough of that. Now to the subject at hand. I just picked the boat up from the seller on my buddies flatbed and hauled it home. The boat was full of water and 20 years of assorted gunk.

Hmmmm, thats why nobody got too close to us on the trip home!

We dumped it in the backyard and displaced about a million mosquito larva and a frog or two and my bud left, but not before he shook his head and tried to control laughing too strongly about the rube {me} who just blew $200 on a portable slime nursery.

So, back to Craigslist I go, looking for a trailer. I got lucky [about time!] and found a guy selling a 14 foot EZ Load trailer for $100 bananas. Well, since I didn’t have that many bananas, I offered him cash instead. He had a fixture on it to accomodate 6 floating death boats, you know, kayaks, and was nice enough to remove it for me.

Yeah, I know, Kayaks are the hearts desires of many folks and the Eskimos used them on the open seas to hunt and fish with, but if they had aluminum semi-vees, they would have used the kayaks for planters.

Here is the trailer pretty much as I got it. The two runners you see in the photo didn’t come with it, I just had them laying on it. More about them later.

As you can see, its in pretty good shape. (Better than I am!) The winch was rusty, the coupler didn’t work correctly, and the tail lights were broken, but these things are normal wear parts that are easy to replace. Here in Florida, you have to take a trailer to the dump (poetic justice?) to get it weighted so that a registration tag can be issued. $5 and 15 minutes later, I knew it weighed 290 pounds and off to the DMV I went. Since the wheels didn’t fall off on the trip, I was reasonably sure they were in good shape.

Once I got it back home and disconnected from my van, I pulled out the most important piece of equipment I had to work on the boat and trailer. My lawn chair! Two cups of coffee and one trip to the can later, I was ready to start. The first thing I did was to repack the wheel bearings. That is when I discovered the first of many screwy things. The wheels were held on to the hubs with a combination of lug nuts and bolts. Off to Mikes Trailer supply. He said that combination was rather common and supplied me with bolts and lug nuts that would work. WHEW! Since the original tires were somewhat dry rotted, I replaced them with new ones along with bearing buddies. Bearing buddies are an absolute necessity in my book. They keep your bearings full of grease and make them last a long, long time. OK, now I could start replacing those few things that needed to be upgraded.

I put on a new winch, a new coupler, a trailer jack, new tail lights and built some guide-ons. Except for the guide-ons, everything cam from Harbor Freight as they had the best prices around. Now, it may seem like I spent a lot of money buying new equipment instead of repairing the old, but I like to start with a fresh point, and since this was going to be my “forever” boat, I thought, “why not?” After all, I’m 68  so “forever” may not be too long to wait!

Here are some pics of the new stuff. All together it was well under $100.

The guide-ons merit some story telling of themselves.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Hey!, I’m old and I ramble!

After installing all the new parts on the trailer, I got some good, old fashioned aluminum paint, the kind everyone used to put on thier chain link fences back in the stone age, and gave the trailer three good coats.

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

Now, back to the guide-ons. After checking the prices for guide-ons from Bass Pro and Cabelas, I realized factory made ones would cost more than the trailer! They were all aluminum covered with PVC pipe, Hmmmmm, PVC huh? Why not just make the whole things out of PVC and be over and done with it? $20 and two pieces of 1 1/2 inch PVC , some bolts, and pipe clamps later and we had Guide-Ons! They looked good and did the same thing that the fancy store bought ones did. And if you break one, So what? Get another piece of pipe for $5 and fix it!

Well, thats enough for now. Next time, we’ll get into fixing up the boat.

In future articles, we will talk about that 1955 Evinrude hanging off the back and that lovely rebuild STEEL 6 gal. fuel tank.

Thanks for reading and have a great time on the water.


  1. Timm:

    That fifty-five ‘rudie looks right at home back there. I had one of his big brothers, the 30hp Big Twin, hanging around my shop for years. The “Big Mill” from OMC that year. I think it reminded me of when I was eight years old, and desperately wanted to grow up and have a speed boat of my own. Lately, I’ve concluded that I’m not likely to grow up. And, thirty ponies, that weigh about half a Volkswagen don’t do speed. No damn idea why I hung on to that old motor as long as I did. Good luck with yours.

    Dan Rogers

    • I dunno, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve never done anything like this before so I’m learning as i go along. They just seemed neat on the trailer.

      • Timm, I would not give up on your rear guide ons before trying them. Two years ago I converted a Harbor Freight trailer to accommodate a boat I built. I made vertical PVC guide ons and they have worked great, without breaking. You are doing a great job!

  2. The reason you don,t use just PVC for guides is because they will break where they cross the frame when you hit the first road bump or at highway speeds the verticals will snap off. I know this because I tried to use PVC once. Perhaps by using a galvenized water pipe as the cross member on the frame you will solve the problem. I solved mine by going to Cabelas.

    • Really? I hadn’t thought of that. This my very first attempt at working on a boat or trailer. I’ve got some aluminum tubing off an old bimini top that is bent in kind of a “L” shape but it isn’t quite a 90 degree bend. That really happened to you, huh? I wanted to have the uprights at a verticle angle instead of slightly angled out but as i only have about $5 invested in the pipe, its no big dear to re-do them.

  3. They’re only death boats in the presence of inconsiderate and/or ignorant stinkpot operators. When everyone plays nice, they’re perfectly safe, safer than the stinkpots. No flammable fuel on board, they hardly ever have a 2-digit impact speed and if they get grounded (big if) you just step out, pick them up and carry them back to deeper water.

    • Good Answer! Just my opinion on them, probably cuz I swim like a rock and am too chicken to try them. Perhaps some time in the future tho, because I like canoes even less. Gotta figure a way to mount a trolling motor on them as at my age paddling for hours ain’t gonna make it. If you like them, thats all that counts. Different strokes for different folks!

  4. sorry guys, I don’t mean to criticize your choice of watercraft, I just like powerboats the best. I grew up near Lake Michigan and two miles from shore, it’s like being in the ocean. Anything with less than 12 inches of freeboard gives me the willies! I can’t get past the idea of me in a kayak turning over in 75 feet of water and trying to remember how to get upright again before I kiss the bottom.

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