Types of Canoe/Kayak Trailers
Some Trailer Types
Alphabet Soup - Trailer Designs
The letters of the alphabet, it turns out make nice homemade canoe trailers. The designs shown below include an "A" frame, a "T" frame, an "H" frame and a "V" frame. These letter style trailer frames hold canoes quite securely, aren't difficult to build and can be done on a budget. All you need is an old used trailer to build on, because if you're like me, you don't want to build the actual trailer frame. I might rewire an old one, but wheels, tongues, frames and axles I like to leave to the professionals.
A great place to find trailers for your trailer building project is around lakes and shores where people have boats. Often the boat sinks or gets destroyed leaving behind a nice unused trailer. Simply troll the want ads or online sites like craigslist or local newspaper online classifieds. You can find trailers there; sometimes in surprisingly good shape.
If you are the creative sort and good with a tape measure and a pencil drawing up plans for some of these designs is pretty easy. Just find a local welding shop if you don't do your own welding and talk to the folks there about how best to put your canoe trailer together so it is as strong as you need it to be. You'll be surprised at the cost compared to a new trailer.
Your welder will cut up the tube steel (which I recommend for safety reasons and strength). He's your partner in creating the design. Check the web for design tips. For now, I've given you some ideas about basic types. What you do with it is up to you. Whatever you build, it should be the best one for the kind of canoe trailering you do most.
If you take out groups of kids, you may want a nice big closeable locker for all the gear. If you have a smaller vehicle and only one canoe, make something smaller. You don't want to drag around an empty trailer with just one or three canoes on it when it was designed for 4 to 6 boats. On river and lake roads, especially if the wind is up, an unbalanced load can be hazardous.
Think low and balanced. Good luck finding your perfect trailer. It'll make all the difference in getting your boats to the water AND keep the scratches off the top of your car or truck.
End view showing loading for a 3 kayak A-Frame trailer
ABOVE: Here's just one way to load a trailer. The A-Frame requires you to bungee cord the outside Kayaks (or even canoes if your trailer is wide enough) to the outside of the A-frame legs and tuck one down the center underneath. Loading is easy AND the whole thing is pretty streamlined if you're driving on windy wilderness roads.
Add easy attachment points
ABOVE: Again using the A-frame design, notice the attachment points. Eyebolts are best. You can either drill through the cross members or uprights and bolt them in place or weld them to the frame. Welding is stronger and doesn't weaken the structure. Whichever way you do it, having a place to slip a bungee cord hook or pull a rope through is going to speed up loading and the easier the loading job is, the quicker you can get on and off the river.
Having pulled in at the takeout point with 20 kids and a driving Texas rain, easy loading was a lifesaver for the adults in the group. Make your life easier. Install tie-down points. Not all canoe trailers come new with adequate tie-down points. I always do some modification to customize my trailers in a way that makes things go more smoothly for me.