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Thread: Best features for a cataraft trailer?

  1. #1
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Question Best features for a cataraft trailer?

    Looking for opinions on what features are best for a cataraft trailer.

    Aluminum -VS- steel?
    Tandem axle -VS- single axle?
    Rollers or not?
    Astroturf/carpet or not?
    How long should trailer be in relation to cataraft length?
    What protective features for road debris?

    Thanx, Dave.

    PS -What brand offers the most of these features that you recommend?
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Catararafts are pretty light, so it doesn't take much.

    I modified a galvanized EZ Loader single-axle, single-bunk trailer and its worked great for over ten years now. Replaced the bunk brackets, decked it with 3/4 marine ply, plus galvanized eye bolts for ratchet strap tie downs across the tubes. The decking is secured to the trailer brackets with round-head carriage bolts (galvanized). The bow of the boat is held down with the trailer winch strap, threaded through the center bar of the cargo module. Tying the bow down is really important, as is using heavy-duty trucker's ratchet straps. We used cheap straps once, and the bow of the cat caught the wind on the highway, both straps snapped in half and the boat "loosed its earthly bonds", skidding down the highway upside-down at 65 mph. We were lucky nobody ran over it. I was going to do astro turf or indoor-outdoor carpet over the decking, but I'm glad I didn't. Traps moisture against the wood, and contributes to the degradation of the decking.

    As to the length of the decking, I think it's about 10' or so, by 8' wide. It of course required 3 sheets of plywood. I ripped one of them into a 2-foot-wide strip and placed that one in the middle, between the other two sheets. I framed it together with treated 2x6 lumber and used wide washers to back my carriage bolts. Narrow washers didn't give me the support I wanted. I'm hauling an 18' Super Leopard on it, so I do have some overhang. But the tubes have great support, so it works for me.

    Used to use snowmachine trailers (Karavan brand), but the tongue is short, the side rails can gouge your tubes, and the trailers float. Not a good thing for taking out in moving water.

    Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    "Catararafts are pretty light, so it doesn't take much." ---- That was the key idea for my trailer. I'm of the "use what ya got" persuasion, and I need to continue using my utility trailer for other utility uses so it's got to do double duty. The utility box sides are to narrow for the boat, so when I need it to be a boat trailer I throw three 8 foot 2x10" planks across the top of the trailer's box and pull the boat onto those planks. I cut small notches to hold the planks in the right place but that's about it for boat modifications. It's very simple but it works well. The three planks are enough to hold the boats fine. I have stacked rafts three high on this for short hauls, but two is my usual limit; one 17.5' Cougar and a 14' self bailer. It is by no means ideal, but it works.

  4. #4
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Tongue length: at least for a cataraft, a friend (AK Troutbum) suggested having the trailer tongue extended, which has simplified tight turns for me.

    Tilt deck: simple but effective feature sometimes when you can't (short ramp) or don't want (current, river traffic) to get the trailer further out.

    Rollers: The one place I've seen a roller work well is across the back edge - eases the raft up if you can't tilt the trailer bed. It was homemade but really helped reduce the effort at the winch in some conditions. Otherwise though, I have appreciated Mike's advice about turf - simple is good.

    Tires: Awhile back, someone suggested insuring the tires are rated for highway speeds.

    Been happy with the Triton I got from Marita.

    Good luck.

  5. #5

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    I'll see if I can find pictures, I had Aurora Trailer on Tudor (not sure if they are still in business) custom make a trailer for me that to used for my Rhino and cataraft. Mounted a boat winch high on the front, rear roller, gear box on the front, it's an over deck with full sized tires so it's pretty tall which can make loading the raft at Jim's landing during low water challenging. It has removable side rails that double as the loading ramps for the rhino. Cost about $2000.

    Steve

  6. #6

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    Single axle with tilt is the way to go. As long as you have a couple guys you really don't need a winch - unless of course you are trying to load your raft loaded!

    We have a ten foot triton, it once held a 17" dual pontoon which we have sold, and now has a single pontoon 16". With the 17 foot we would slightly deflate it and pull the tips of the tubes back with straps so they didnt hit the truck. I recently bought an 18" hitch receiver extension on cabelas - highly recommended! Wanted a little more support, so made 12' runners from 2x4, 2' wide, with astro-turf, and roller on the ends. I wouldn't use carpet because it will rot, but astro turf glued down well without air pockets does just fine. If you have a good slanted end that is shaved down smooth with nothing to catch on you dont really need rollers - but they are an easy install if you do it this way.

    Since we had the 2' wide runners, we ended the decking about four inches short of the end, hole sawed some holes in either 2x4 and shoved a piece of schedule 40 through the holes, with a piece of abs pipe in the middle around it as the roller. Works great, and very cheap!

    This way, you could also come up with 2x8's, etc, to give you more room in the middle of your trailer for gear. I've seen people build 18" boxes on either side to have a lot of storage room under their rafts, even using 8' trailers and boxes to extend to hold their rafts - even though you don't actually need to boxes to support the whole underside of the tube because they are stiff enough to hold their own ends up - but I definitely prefer good solid contact with the bottom especially if you deflate a bit in the cold, etc. As long as you make sure your decking is over the center of the axle the hitch extender doesn't make any difference in how your raft rides.

    You really shouldn't have to worry about road debris. If your raft can't handle some dirt and rocks on the road, it definitely won't handle dragging on dirt and bouncing off rocks in the water!

    And as long as you make sure your galvanized doesn't get too chewed up - or gets painted if it does - galvanized last just as good as aluminum. My

  7. #7

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    We completely agree with Mike. We have an extended tongue, steel (8x12), single axle, 13" tires, tilt bed, standard boat winch.. Great for loading a heavy 18' raft. The indoor - outdoor carpet is nice, but as Mike said, traps moisture and also can stain the raft (mold, as mine is) after time. Looking at snow machine guides or a similar type of product..
    Make certain that bad boy is tied down.. They like to catch air!!

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    dgrant09, I don't know if the black stuff which accumulates on my cat tubes (and decking) is mold or not, but I had my pressure washer out last weekend to blow off the snow/leaves and discovered it worked great on that mold. I did my Royalex shell canoe with the pressure washer too. Great results.

    ...and could you elaborate on "They like to catch air!!". Or not.. haha.

  9. #9
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    dgrant09, I don't know if the black stuff which accumulates on my cat tubes (and decking) is mold or not, but I had my pressure washer out last weekend to blow off the snow/leaves and discovered it worked great on that mold. I did my Royalex shell canoe with the pressure washer too. Great results.

    ...and could you elaborate on "They like to catch air!!". Or not.. haha.
    Just a comment on the pressure washer (I know you know this, but this is for others who may make a mistake). Be sure to use the proper tip on your pressure washer! If you use a narrow stream, the water pressure can severely damage your tubes. I...uh... well, I knew this guy.... oh, forget it!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Here is one I made from a 1957 camper trailer, 20 some years ago.
    Still going strong.
    Nice long tongue.
    Big wheel bearings.
    15" wheels

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    Tilt deck, with motorcycle shocks and springs to hold open.
    This a great feature when you don't have a good landing.

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    4 grocery rollers across the back.
    Recessed sealed beam lights.
    Deck plywood wrapped with old PVC cargo tarp.
    I like this better than carpet, as it holds no dirt or grit.

  13. #13

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    Hey Mike-- I know what you are saying on the pressure washer tips !! DONT USE THE RED ONE!! The only hole I ever put in our older model SOTAR was trying to get a stain off with the max red one!!. A little liquid urethane fixed it --- but I sure learned a lesson!! It also cut up my deck at the house! Stick with the yellow on it now.
    Safe boating,
    Goo

  14. #14

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    You know what I am seriously considering instead of the raft boxes is composite decking runners(trex/choicedek). It'll cost about 100 bucks for the cheaper stuff, but last forever!

  15. #15
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    I was thinking about Trex type decking, too.
    No rot, no mold, no staining the rafts, no splinters.
    And marine plywood ain't as cheap as it used to be!

    Thanx, Dave.
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

  16. #16

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    I’m on the slope right now, so I can’t get pictures, but I’ll do my best to describe what I did this year, because it worked out excellent!
    So I have an 8’ wide x 10’ long snowmachine trailer. I measured center on my tubes and ran two 6” trex deck boards on either side under where the tubes would be, so I have 12” of board underneath each tube. I put a miter cut on the end of the trex so it wouldn’t have any corners to drag. Those were $25 a board.
    I took short piece of trek and put it right in the middle on the back end of the trailer for a roller support. The trailer has aluminum side rails, I cut 1” holes on either side of the back of those rails, and slid a ˝” schedule 40 galvanized pipe all the way through with two pices of abs pipe as rollers, with bolts on either side through the pipe to hold it in, and pipe clamps on the middle support. That was about $20 in parts.
    The 10’ footprint of the trailer is actually just fine for my 16’ cat. I do use an 18” hitch extender bar to make sure that the ends of the pontoons aren’t scraping on my truck.
    I was a little worried it would drag too much, but upon sliding the raft on dry, by myself, I found it wasn’t too much of a concern. So $120 invested, is solid, works fantastic, and easily removable for my sleds in the winter. I’ll probably just leave the runners on the trailer to protect it from studs in the winter!

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    Member Ridgerat's Avatar
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    Micheal Strahan, can you post some pictures of your trailer? That is similar to what I have been thinking of building for my 18' S.Leopard. Thanks.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridgerat View Post
    Micheal Strahan, can you post some pictures of your trailer? That is similar to what I have been thinking of building for my 18' S.Leopard. Thanks.
    Not the greatest images, but you can see some of the final result anyway...





    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  19. #19
    Member Ridgerat's Avatar
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    Thanks, that gives my some ideas!

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    Member Colby Jack's Avatar
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    I have a Karavan Ultra Flatbed trailer with tilt, and I have fallen down while trying to hoist it on deck. I would prefer a UMHW Runner set up that I could splash with water to get it slick, and a winch to hoist it, with guide bars on the corners, with an extended tongue on the trailer to jack knife,with storage up front, with a single axle, and 4 foreign bikini models fanning me with banana leaves in the shade... I can dream can't I????

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