Monday, June 14, 2010

PVC Beach Cart for Canoe, Kayak or Cooler

Need to get you boat or picnic cooler down to the beach from the car through the sand and beach grass. How about a nice beach cart.  This easy to build lightweight PVC rig will tote your kayak, an empty or light canoe or a cooler full of ice and picnic stuff.  This doesn't take much to build.  Just run down to your Home Depot or Lowe's and pick up this stuff:
  1. 20 feet of 1-1/2 inch PVC pipe (the heavier schedule 40 pipe, not the lighter stuff)
  2. PVC cement and cleaner
  3. Hacksaw
  4. 6 PVC T's, 1-1/2 inch schedule 40
  5. 2 PVC 90 degree elbows, 1-1/2 inch
  6. 4 PVC caps, 1-1/2 inch schedule 40
  7. 2 wheel (wide and low or tall and narrow)
  8. Axle to fit the wheel - 3 feet long 
  9. 2 foam swim noodles
  10. Zip ties

Start out by measuring the axle you are using.  Cut an 18 inch piece of pipe.  Test fit two T's and measure the length.  Measure the depth of both wheels put together, subtract that from the length of the axle. Next subtract the thickness of the end bolts and washers.  Then subtract the length of the pipe and T's.  Divide the remaining length by 2. This will be the length of the final piece and cap on the outside of the T (far right and far left in drawing). Cut a piece of PVC including cap so that fitted into the T, it extends
beyond the T the end that final distance.  If, for instance, the axle is 36 inches long, the two wheels are 3 inches deep each, the bolts and washers an extra inch each.  That leaves 28 inches in length.  If the 18 inch center pipe is 18 plus 2 inches each for the T's, the total length is 22 inches. Subtracted 22 from 28 inches gives you 6 inches. Divided by 2 equals 3 inches. So the final the two short pieces with caps need to extend 3 inches beyond the ends of the T's on each end.

Test fit the rest of the assembly.  The upright pieces should total 12 to 24 inches tall total including the T's, depending on how tall you want to make the cradle.

Test fit the pieces of the axle assembly to make sure the length against the length of the axle.  Make sure you'll have enough axle left to bolt the wheels on.  Clean and cement the joints of the axle assembly.

Drill holes in the caps the size of the axle. To make the caps last longer, insert a metal or wood bushing inside the pipe that fits the axle and protects the pipe from wear from the turning axle. You can get buy with replacing the cap as it wears. Just don't cement the caps in place and let the wheel bolts hold them in place.

Next glue together the legs and top brace.  The T's on top should face each other and the pipe should be glued parallel to the lower axle assembly.

Clean and cement the short pipe sections on top of the T's holding the top brace and then glue the last two T's that will hold the cradle so the ends are perpendicular to the axle as shown.

Push the axle through the end caps of the axle assembly then thread large flat washers to protect the caps, then the wheels, then bolt them in place. Make sure the wheels turn freely. Attach a cotter pin or keeper bolt to hold the wheels in place as they turn.

Cement the forward support arms in place as shown with caps on the end.

Next cement two 4 foot long PVC pipes to the other end of the top T's to make handles.  Clean and cement two 90 degree elbows to the end and cement an 18 inch PVC pipe between them.

Split two foam swim noodles (the kind with the hollow centers), then wrap them over the pipes as shown in the diagram.  Zip tie them in place and you are done.  To attach a kayak or canoe, set it on top of the cradle and bungee cord it in place balanced on the cradle lengthwise.  Then lift the back end of the boat and roll her down to the beach.  You can also set a cooler on top of the frame and bungee it in place. Pick up the handle and roll it down the hill. This little cart will carry a lot of stuff.  Bungee a net over the cradle arms and you could throw most anything on there (grocery bags, paddles, suitcases, blow up swim toys or whatever).  This thing will cost you less than 30 bucks, especially if you can scavenge wheels and an axle somewhere.

Tom King - Tyler, TX


  1. Great Idea & Excellent details !!!!
    Your "bill of materials" and descriptions were well researched & presented.....

    Ran across your site while looking for some ideas for a cooler/fishing pole toter - (sand & hard surface terrain version). ANY unpublished ideas yet???

    I'll use your basic concept, and move on from there, if you don't mind...

    Was actually looking for a collapsable version, which will take up less space in the mini-van and when stored.

    If I may be so bold, and add one suggestion to your design.
    It would be to make it "Telescopic, in Length" since some of the PVC piping fits inside another size, and one could pre drill some holes, with locking pins or so to accomadate different carriable items, or lenghts, and would again, take up less transport/storage space.

    Whatyathink, Howdyadewit???????

    What program did you use to illustrate the diagrams..... ???? pretty good.

    Enjoyed your Philosophy on life comment, and that Train does stop many times on it's daily route!!!

    Take Care and Keep a Creative MIND!!!

  2. Instead of using glue to hold the thing together, you could always glue sections and create disassemble points by drilling holes for keeper pins or bolts. Just slide the pieces into the joints, line up the holes and insert the pin. Then you could take it apart and lay it flat in the trunk.

    Good luck with your cart.


  3. Ooh, my first spam comment. I'm flattered in an odd sort of way.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Wow... I built one out of 6061 T6 Aluminum which I had had anodized that looks almost like yours... Mine has lockpins with sleeved assembly that allow breakdown... however yours cost a lot less, weights less, looks good and serves the same function!
    Kudos on the design - looks great!

    ><((({* ,> de_fishmon

  6. So glad I found your blog!! Who in their right mind would pay upwards of $150 for a beach cart to use a few times a year. Thanks for these instructions. Your drawings are awesome - need to see it so I can do it! Beach trip coming up soon, so off I go to get all my supplies!

  7. Exactly what I was looking for!! Kudo's to you and your design! You are a genius that needs to be paid for your excellant work! I tried to research on igloos web sit and they have a telescopic angled handle with adiquate wheels, but your design can be modified to fit larger tricycle or bicycle wheels!! What a idea!! Keep up the good work If I ever see you in-person I will take you to lunch AND dinner!! Ha HA

    Dave in Colorado

  8. I hope it works for you. It did what I needed it to do anyway.

    If I ever come through Colorado again, I'll take you up on lunch...


  9. I dont understand where the cooler sits w/out shifting or falling?

  10. You do have to bungee a cooler in place. If you do a lot of cooler hauling, you might suspend a wooden seat between the long handles to sit it on and THEN bungee it in place!