Inflatable Boat Launch Wheels
How to get the boat to the waters edge? That was the question, in fact it still is. You may have seen from previous posts that I enjoy boat fishing from an inflatable boat or SIB (soft inflatable boat). I chose SIBS as I have nowhere to store a boat and am not willing to pay the extortionate mooring charges for a boat I may not use that often. SIBS are ideal as they can be stored in a garage, then transported to the beach in the boot of your car before being assembled at the destination. I’ve had many different models of inflatable boat starting with a Humber 13ft, then on to a Honda Honwave T40, then a Seapro 340 and then on to my current boat, the Honda Honwave T38. The Humber 13ft inflatable boat came with drop down launch wheels at the back which worked quite well but like all drop down wheels you need to lift up the boat to drop them down. That’s fine when you are launching. You can quite easily lift up the side of the boat enough to release the locking pins and raise them up. If you do this on dry sand at the waters edge you can then drag the boat the few metres into the water. Or if you like you can wheel the boat into the water then raise the wheels once the boat is floating. The problem is when you return after a days fishing. You try to do this in reverse, the waves are hitting the boat so the boats going all over the place, you’re tired from the manic days fishing, your body is aching and the boat is now a lot heavier as everything is wet plus the fish box is full (hopefully). I’ve actually bent a set of drop down launch wheels when a wave caught the boat as I was dropping the wheels down whilst in the shallows.
I used a different deployment system when I bought the Honda Honwave T40. I had the boat rolled up then bound to a sack barrow using straps or ties, the ones used normally for securing items on a roof rack. With the car seats down it would fit in the boot as is so I could just wheel it out then wheel it down to the waters edge. There is an assembly video here I made for my Youtube channel where you can see the T40 at the waters edge. You may be able to see the sack barrow there also. This system worked, but only when the tide was coming in. The Honda Honwave T40 itself weighed 86kg and fully laden with outboard and other kit weighed in excess of 150KG. Try dragging that a few metres, it wasn’t easy. After a few trips out I’d decided to go for a boat that was a bit lighter. In the picture below I’m still using the sack barrow to move the boats about but instead of a car, I’ve upgraded to a van.
The next boat was a Seapro 340 airdeck. At 40KG, less than half the weight of the Honda Honwave T40, I was hoping this would solve my launching issues. I purchased some drop down launch wheels from a shop on Ebay. They were reasonably easy to install and involved just drilling a few holes in the boat transom, applying a bit of sealant then bolting the 2 wheel brackets to the transom. The wheels then just attach using large pins. This system sort of works but this design has a major flaw in my opinion, the problem with these type of wheels is their position at the back of the boat. When you lift up the boat from the front you are carrying most of the boat weight. Even the Seapro Airdeck when fully laden was close to 100KG. Pulling that weight up a beach, even on wheels was extremely back breaking. Even worse on soft sand. I still have this inflatable boat and use it for solo expeditions but I needed something a bit bigger for taking people out with me.
For my next boat, the Honda Honwave T38, I again purchased some drop down rear wheels off Ebay but this did not go to plan. One of the brackets was not manufactured correctly as the hole where the pin goes in did not line up correctly so they had to send me a replacement part. Looking back now, I should have just returned them and looked elsewhere. Anyway the replacement part arrived and I attached the brackets then went to test out the wheels. I was shocked when I tried to maneuver the boat. The wheels or brackets were loose and the boat was unable to stay upright. On closer inspection I could see that the holes in the brackets were too big for the pins which meant there was a lot of movement on the wheel leg. A few mm of play on the bracket was causing 3 to 4 inches of movement at each wheel. Both wheels were affected by this so you can see how 6 to 8 inches of movement at the wheels would make it unsturdy. In fact both legs were pointing inwards as you can see in the following video.
By this time I was a bit annoyed to say the least. This was a brand new boat with holes drilled into the transom with a launch wheel system I could not use. I had a couple of attempts at rectifying the issue, I purchased larger pins hoping to be able to just re drill the holes to the size of the new pins but drilling into the brackets removed the protective metal coating and the brackets began to rust within a couple of days. A word of advice…..
IF YOU BUY A HONDA HONWAVE AIR DECK INFLATABLE BOAT THEN BUY GENUINE HONDA HONWAVE WHEELS
The cheap launch wheels didn’t work for me. They cost about half the price and because of this decision I now have a boat with two useless redundant wheel brackets bolted onto the back of the boat. I would have happily purchased some genuine Honda wheels even after all this if I knew the Honda brackets, or more importantly the bolt holes were the same as the non Honda brackets. The only way I can check is by finding someone else who has the genuine ones and taking some measurements from them.
My next option was a launch trolley. I’d seen these online previously but didn’t want a system that required me having to go back to the vehicle after launch. The launch trolleys are just too large to carry on the boat so need to be taken back to the vehicle. Not ideal but better than the flimsy launch wheels used previously. I purchased the one below online. It is rated to carry inflatable boats up to 150KG. It was self assembly so there is an assembly video below.
The build quality was not ideal but this seems to be the norm nowadays when buying online I’m afraid. Just the usual issues, bolts not fitting correctly, edges not lining up correctly and parts slightly damaged. Not really an issue as it did work when assembled. I could also use the design for ideas to create my own heavy duty version in the future but that’s another project for another year.
I have since removed the bolts along the shaft and replaced them with quick release pins. This allows me to assemble and break the trolley down quickly. It also means I can transport it in a normal sized vehicle if needed. I would also like to replace the two padded sections with rollers or wheels to allow me to pull the boat up onto the trolley without all the lifting.
This is a video of it in action together with some footage of the Seapro 340 launch wheels. It does work quite well and is easy to manage due to the wheels being more towards the middle creating a pivot. The wheels are taking most of the weight.
For Honda inflatables: http://www.honda.co.uk/marine/products/inflatables/overview.html