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Here are tips for trailering, buying, and even building a laser trailer.  Also tips on avoiding trouble with the boat and trailer.

Trailer Tips

Trailer Modifications and Homemade Trailers


Tips for Laser Trailering

By Brian McHenry

Howdy Laserites, There seem to be two main issues for trailering: optimal support for the hull, and protection from flying rocks and other debris. Deck up mode has one major advantage--ease of loading/unloading. Two principle ways of supporting the boat in this manner are bunkers under the hull and hanging by the gunwhales. The gunwhale-hung method (e.g. Kitty Hawk & Trailex trailers) seems to be preferred, as this is the strongest part of the hull. If you use bunkers, make sure they are form-fit to the hull shape to spread the load over as wide an area as possible. If your boat is in good shape, and you want to keep it that way, use a hull cover or something to protect it from damage. Hull up mode also has many devotees. They say that the deck is much stronger than the hull, and so the deck should carry the load. There is also a smaller chance of damage from debris, and what occurs will probably be limited to the deck, and will not affect performance much. Disadvantages of this method are more hassle loading/unloading and the possibility that water in the boat will soak into the foam core of the deck (especially if you leave it on the trailer over the winter.) In my opinion, the best way is gunwhale-hung, with hull and deck covers. Currently, my trailer is set up to carry the boat hull up, but I plan to change it this spring. I do a lot of sailing on my own in out of the way places, so I want a system that is easier to use on my own. I have built my own industrial-strength launching dolly, and plan to modify my trailer so that I can drag the boat/dolly combo up onto the trailer piggy-back style. I would also like to get or make covers (maybe a cocoon type thingy that would cover the boat, dolly, and gear on the trailer platform.) Can you tell that I am an engineer/gearhead? :-) Regards, Brian *------------------------------------------------------------------------* 

Brian T. McHenry 2225 GG Brown Graduate Student Research Assistant Mechanical Eng. and Appl. Mechanics phone: (313) 763-4056 The University of Michigan e-mail: Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2125 *------------------------------------------------------------------------* 

On Tue, 25 Mar 1997, Susan Kuehn wrote: > 

Hi all, >

 > A question: When you travel long distances with your Lasers, do you 
> travel deck up or hull up (upside down). Please explain your reasoning if 
> you would. 
 > Thanks in advance. 

> Susan Kuehn > 
> #116451 FLAWLESS >

Re: Trailering your Laser


Subject: Re: Trailering your Laser.
From: Brian McHenry <>
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 21:47:03 -0500 (EST)

Trailer Bounce 

by Brent Benson

About the recent comment about trailer bouncing with light boats onboard: I strongly recommend removing one of the leaves of the spring. Small trailers often have 500-600 lb capacity. With only a 150 lb Laser aboard, the springs are far too stiff. Usually the springs have 3 leaves (some have 2). Unbolt the Ubolt(s) that hold the axle to the spring; unwrap the metal band that holds the leaves together at the end; remove one of the shorter leaves; reassemble the rest. (oops..also remove/replace the bolt in the center) Compare the side you did first to the undone side by standing on the side rail and bouncing. Since you weigh as much as a Laser, and since all of your weight is on one side, the bounce should feel pretty soft to you if it will be right for the Laser. Remove another leaf if necessary. Another tip: reverse the locating bolt in the center of the spring, and put the axle above rather than below the spring. This lowers the trailer by several inches making it easier to rig and launch the boat. There is still enough clearance between the axle and the frame on the trailers that I use. I have done the above changes with good results on several trailers for boats weighing 140 to 300 lbs. The softer ride is vastly better for the boat.


Brent Benson

Hull up or Down?

by Randy Saint

>> I just purchased a trailer and I do not know how to hook up 
>> my spars to my boat. How can I do this? Also, should I put 
>> something under them so they don't damage my boat. Furthermore, 
>> is it necessary to have a hull cover? Can I launch my boat from 
>> my trailer? Thanks if you reply if not sorry for the mail [snip] 
>Undercovers are a good idea and prevent damage if towing regularly but be 
>careful to prevent stone chips being caught in the cover and then 
>abrading on the hull. 

Even better, if your trailer can handle it, put the boat on the trailer upside down. You reduce the stresses from the trailer on the all important underside, and reduce the chance of rocks chipping the bottom. I do this and I tie my spars to the frame of the trailer before I put the boat on. I would still recommend a bottom cover to protect your hull from the elements. Trailering upside down does prevent you from launching your boat directly from the trailer, though. 

Good luck,  
Randy Saint Houston, TX


: Re: Trailering
From: Randy Saint <>
Date: Fri, 03 May 1996 08:25:08 -0500

Boat Support

by Oliver Smith

I have an older hull and have been trailering on a standard 12' trailer with carpeted bunks running longitudinally. I place thick slabs of foam between the hull (right side up, by the way) and the bunks which distributes pressure somewhat from the bunks, and provides an adhesive, cushioned and stable seating for the hull. While travelling i strap the hull down tight and release the straps asap. This arrangement allows for easy single handed launch (including rigging the boat on the trailer which is a big plus) and haulout which is my key criteria at this point. 

I certainly would *not* use this approach with a newer boat, or an otherwise fine racing hull due to the obvious stresses on those delicate regions of the wetted surface. 


On Tue, 4 Jun 1996, Mark Gehlhausen wrote: 
> Are hull lip support trailers all they're cracked up to be? I see 
> Lasers upside down on trailers in boatyards. How do these guys 
> singlehand launch the boat? Do they depend on a passerby for help? 
> Can you float it upside down and flip it at the dock? How about 
> cartopping? Is there a safe method for one person to get it to the 
> ground without dropping it? Mark


To: Mark Gehlhausen <>
Subject: Re: Trailering/Cartopping
From: Oliver Smith <>
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 1996 09:41:05 -0400 (EDT)

Hull Cover?

by Leonardo Biagioni

>is it necessary to have a hull cover? 
>Colin #124375 
> james macready 

A hull cover is a good bet if you are going to trailer your boat: it prevents scratches on the boat from stones throwed by the car rear wheels. 
Leonardo Biagioni 


Subject: Re: Trailering
From: Leonardo Biagioni <>
Date: Fri, 3 May 1996 10:15:04 GMT

Highway Tires

by Steve Cottrell

Also, I called the Warrantor of the tire, who tells me that if any tire has "DOT" on the sidewall, it's rated for Highway Use.  If the tire has "NHS" on the sidewall, it's rated" Not Highway Service".


-Steve Cottrell LAN Administrator - Transaction Systems Customer Support (919) 254-7993 / 8-444-7993

Multiple Boat Trailer

by Brian Bauman

At the 1993 nationals, I saw a great trailer idea... it was just a small trailer on the bottom, with an a-frame on top. they stored one laser on the trailer, and two against the sides of the a-frame. now, this makes me wonder if it's okay to trail lasers on their sides like that, with the weight of the boat being held by one gunwale...? -mark 

This is a great idea! I think the lasers would be ok. Lasers are quite strong at the gunwales. Many people (myself included) store the laser on its side when space is tight without trouble. BTW, I've seen two lasers carried on their sides on San Diego YC's behemothic laser trailer (seven lasers!). I'd just make sure the load is spread out a bit... 
Brian #128360


Subject: Re: stacking trailer
From: (Brian J. Bauman)
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 95 18:54:04 -0700

Steel Trailer

Suggest using square section galvanised steel, approx 40mm by 40mm by 2.5mm, use the size the fence builders use in your country as the volume they use drives the price down. In Australia I can buy enough steel of the above size to build a trailer and dolly framework for $50AUD. Decide if you want the dolly to piggy back on the trailer now and build the two together. Ensure you use a spray cold galvaniser on the welds. As far as wheels go try and use the same pattern as the car you drive so you only have to carry one spare but if you have a rare type car this will cost an arm and a leg so pick a common type and definitely purchase a spare. When you purchase your wheel bearings buy an extra set so your sure they fit if they seize on the highway.

Suggest checking out some local trailers and amalgamating the best ideas,
pay particular attention to gunnel support position.


Good luck
Darryn Kopp

Quick Double Trailer

The best "quick and dirty" method I've seen is to some of those tubes of open cell foam, such as pool toys, that will cushion the two boats. Then stack one on top of the other upside down. I've also seen carpet cover 2x4's used between the boats. You need something at the maststep, the forward edge of the cockpit and either at the transom or the aft edge of the cockpit. These are the strongest parts of the boat and least likely to be deformed by another boat resting on them. 


Good Luck,
Kevin Mott

Homebrew Trailer Tips

by Malcolm Osborne

The '93 version of the Laser Handbook recommends: `A good Laser trailer should have contour cradles for the boat to snugly fit into' ( the '96 version has omitted this Boatcare section ) In this case, the forward cradle should be below the mast step and the aft one under the rear of the cockpit. I would think that gunwale supporting a Laser for travelling would run the risk of hull/deck separation strain from the vibrations (unless you have an active suspension system on your trailer :-) ) 

Three point launching dollies are common for Lasers - is this what you are referring to ? From one I built, I seem to recall a figure of 2.7m (8.9') from the front of the boat to the aft support struts (measuring along the sides of an A frame).


Malcolm Osborne (L160100) 
Pretoria South Africa

Multiple Boats and Dolly

I created my own trailer design to hold two lasers with the Seitech dolly with on the boat with out taking the tires off the boat. I started with a 18' galvanized trailer and cut the tongue down by 3'. Starting with the larger trailer gives you a wider wheel base which is a plus, in addition the square part of the trailer is much bigger. I bought my trailer used and saved a bundle. Most newspapers have used trailers with the boating adds. I replaced the leaf springs with 800lb springs and even these are a little heavy. I had a welder put a rack on the trailer out of steel box tubing, I will email the dimensions when I find them. I think this design is better than a frame since I can put one or two boats on the trailer at once and in if you do not put the bottom boat on you can sling one boat under the top boat and take three boats. I can go down the road at 70mph with no problem. I did two smart things: 
1) added bearing buddies to the trailer. 
2) bought a spare tire in advance. 



Subject: Re: trailer and car
Date: Tue, 7 Jan 1997 21:37:12 -0500 (EST)

Bridge Supports

by Bill Betts


I fastened a frame made from pressure-treated 2x4's onto the trailer (like a cradle) to carry one boat deck-side down. Then I added 2 removable bridge-like supports for the 2nd boat, also 2x4 and 1x6 pressure-treated -- also deck-side down. The 2 bridge supports just fit into slots in the lower bunk. Padded and carpeted everything that touches the boats. That way, it can "convert" easily from carrying 1 to 2 boats, plus the lower boat is easy to get off (just lift off the bridges). It looks precarious, but it's really worked well. Oh, I also turned the winch arm upside down and raised it to be even with the upper boat's bow, for support there. (Sounds more complicated than it is).

Multi-Boat Trailer (Rack Style)

by Ericka Amon

Well- I have a three boat trailer. Looking at mine- it doesn't have any welding on it! It is Metel rods- STRONG. Each joint on rack- is joined with a cotter pin.. Actually- it's not a cotter pin- but one to keep the two supports together... The part that the boat is resting on, is a wooden rest- covered in carpet to fit the deck. Anyway- the way the trailer is set up- you can take a rack off the trailer when not in use-or two- whatever. It's a really compatible trailer. I'm thinking of getting rid of the bottom rack- and putting a storage box- for sails and boards there.... 

Ericka Amon 
Laser Radial 
TRYC- Laser Racing Team


To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: Laser Trailer Ideas
From: (Ericka L Amon)
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 17:24:09 -0500

"Dink Blocks"


We manufacture "Dink Blocks" custom formed blocks so you can stack 2 boats without having to do any custom fabricating on your trailer. Typically bottom boat up top boat down. Set of blocks is approx $80.Contact us at 516 264-0005 334 S. Bayview Ave Amityville NY on the Great South Bay.

Double Trailer

We have a trailer made by Marine Cradle in Toronto, Ontario, and sold by Fogh Marine in Toronto.  Carrying a single laser, it was easy to load and unload. It carried the laser well. One disadvantage--I couldn't see the trailer with boat behind the van I had at the time.

We bought a second laser, and had the trailer modified by Marine Cradle. Each boat is stored deck-up and supported under the gunwales. Yokes support the weight. There is an extension for the upper boat, and a standard bow gunwale yoke. Near the axle of the trailer there is a rectangular frame made of square section tubing. It supports the after gunwale yokes. It is very rigid. And I can see the rig behind the car I have now; the trailer bounces less. I suspect there is more load on the springs.


Dave Lynch

Dolly on a Trailer

The hot setup is to have your dolly fit onto the top of your trailer. Then you can launch the boat across the beach, lawn or dock and never have to get your trailer into the water (salt water in my case). My trailer is a converted Home Depot utility type ($175) and I've added chocks to hold the dolly on top of the trailer and under the boat. A simple support to hold the Laser above the dolly (takes the load off the dolly) during long road trips. The added advantage with the support system is you can haul the boat on the trailer with out having to have the dolly under it. This helps when you stack two boats on the trailer and need the dolly for the first boat you unload. All this sounds a bit weird but it works really great, at regattas you just slide the boat and dolly right off the trailer as a unit. When you get home you just leave it all together. The supports from the trailer to the boat are just some 3/4 " plywood 4" wide and just tall enough to be slightly higher than the dolly supports when the dolly is on the trailer also. There are 2 supports about 4" aft of the bow one on each side just under the gunnel running down to the front of the trailer and 2 supports aft under the gunnels about even with the back of the cockpit. On my trailer the aft supports hinge out of the way so the boat and dolly will be free to roll off but you could make them removable. All the plywood supports have a bit of carpet on top to protect the boat. I use a Seitech dolly (a great piece of gear) and the pull handle fits just in front of the trailer bow supports so it's locked in place. All you have to do is lift up the handle and push the dolly and boat back off the trailer and you're rolling! 
I hope this helps you and anyone in the group who has struggled with the same problem. 
John Vissat #156862


Trailer Recommendation Summary

Looking over the responses, it seemed like the Calkins Z-14 was the best choice for me. I bought one today for $350, and will try to put it together tomorrow. I'll let you know how it worked out... 

Laser Trailer Recommendations Summary: 

--- Calkins Z-14 (500) 

"The Calkins is a standard small trailer, designed to carry boats up to 500 lbs" 

"The advantages of the Calkins is that it is a good trailer/$, relatively well constructed, and should last well." 

"The Calkins Z-14-500 trailer is a good low price alternative ($400-$450) to the Kitty Hawk style (gunwale support) trailer ($500-$600), and a lot more durable. You can easily make wood and carpet cradles that 1.) span the rear bunks and 2.) replace the roller in the middle of the trailer, or make a U-shaped rod that replaces the front roller and fits the gunwale on the bow similar to the Kitty Hawk." 

"The disadvantage is that it is not designed for the Laser, it does not support it under the rails, and it weighs about 165 lbs, making it heavy to use as a dolly. A couple of local Laser sailors modified it for Laser use (it cost them about $200) and they ended up with a very solid trailer. It can easily support the weight of 2 or 3 Lasers." 

--- Kitty Hawk 

"There is one made for Lasers called a Kitty hawk that looks nice. Holds the boat under the rail so that nothing touches the hull or the deck." 

"For a trailer to be used only for a Laser, I too would take a look at the Kitty Hawk: light, easy to use as a dolly, well designed for the Laser. I own a Calkins (originally purchased for another boat) and would probably buy a Kitty Hawk trailer if I was buying one for a Laser."

"I just got a Kitty Hawk. Looks like a great trailer but it has not left the driveway yet.... I had a choice between driving to N. Carolina (I'm in Kentucky) and picking it up (I assumed assembled) or having it shipped by truck ($50 shipping). It took almost six hours to put together, so if you are near Charlotte NC or can get a dealer to put it together for you, I'd recommend that you let someone else to do the assembly....." 

"The kit was missing one bolt which I had to purchase at the local hardware store for $0.20 - not a big deal...." 

--- Trailex 

"A friend just bought a Trailex. This one is designed for a Laser, but neither he, or I, is impressed. The frame is not very rigid and the trailer is too wide to be used as a dolly at some of the local launch areas. The width also makes it more difficult for 2 people to lift the Laser on and off the trailer (the wheels get in the way ... ) But it is light, and does support the hull under the rails." 

Thanks to: 
Will Sadler #151008 
G. Osowiecki 
Doug ? #154263 
Hugo Steemers #148065


To: laser@polecat.Law.Indiana.Edu
: Laser Trailer Recommendations: Summary
From: (Scott Gillespie)
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 18:48:29 -0800

Two Lasers on a Gunwhale Support Trailer

You should be able to sandwich two lasers on a Trailex trailer or other gunwale support trailer. The maximum load capacity on the trailer says 250 so assuming two with rigging weigh 130+ without rigging (hull only) they might be 120 or less. So you should be able to put to hulls together with out much trouble but don't have anything else on the trailer and stay under 65.


Jon Deutsch


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