Rather than bin a rusty dinghy launch trolley, Alec Marsh saves cash - and landfill - and repairs it

When you find the boat of your dreams – in my case a 40-year-old Mk II Wayfarer named Scarab – something important is bound to be wrong: in this case, the dinghy launch trolley that came with the boat had a gammy wheel.

Worse still, the wheel flange had corroded so badly that it had come adrift, taking the wheel (or what was left of it) with it.

Most of the business end of the trailer, where it submerges into the nice salty water as your boat floats off, was rusted over and the rubbers that were once on the metal hull-supports had perished beyond the point of being any use. What to do?

Buy the boat and throw the dinghy launch trolley away?

A boat up on a cradle in a yard

The Wayfarer dinghy Scarab that would need a useable dinghy launch trolley. Credit: Alec Marsh

A browse online showed that a new A-frame galvanised steel launch trailer could be had for as little as £337 plus delivery, and I confess to being tempted.

But I was mildly affronted at the idea of throwing away what was essentially a perfectly serviceable bit of kit – well, with a bit of love thrown at it.

Fortunately help was at hand: namely Steve, the chap who was selling the boat who happened to be an engineer by profession and who, like a lot of boating people, turned out to be a decent bloke.

He offered to help me, going well beyond the call of duty. So Steve gave me a shopping list.

Parts of a dinghy launch trolly laid out on tarmac

With the worst of the rust cleaned off, it was time for a coat of Kurust. Credit: Alec Marsh

My first buy was a 90ml pot of Hammerite Kurust from Amazon, followed by a 2m-long galvanised steel tube to act as our new axle.

Then I bought half a dozen galvanised U-bolts wide enough to accommodate the new axle, various washers, a new pair of solid wheels, and replacement rubbers for the supports – 3m of white PVC D-shaped fender, plus fixing strips, which with postage came to a terrifying cost of £80.

By that point, however, I’d splurged out £100 on all the other bits and pieces and was fully committed to the renovation.

For the absolute beginner, the most enjoyable purchase was something called Galvafroid – cold galvanising paint that came in a tin printed with more health warnings that a nuclear reactor.

I set to work. First it was a case of stripping off the rust from the A-frame.

Continues below…

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Fortunately, my engineer vendor spent a happy half an hour with an angle grinder buffing off the worst of it.

That left me to get to work on it with a wire brush: after an hour or so I declared the task done and got out the Kurust rust treatment.

I brushed a liberal coating over the corroded parts, jamming it into the rotten nooks and crannies.

This leaves a lovely purply sheen once it’s on, making it easy to cover metal quickly. It also has a pretty fragrant nose so, even outside, an hour in the company of this jollop can give you a mild headache.

parts of a dinghy launch trolly

New axle in place ready to drill for wheel retaining pins. Credit: Alec Marsh

Having left it to dry, I returned a few days later for the cold galvanising.

Prizing off the lid of the Galvafroid and giving it a stir, you realise this is black belt stuff. It goes on thick with a brush, like the heaviest of emulsion and is a satisfying job – though I’d recommend a face mask.

Having waited a few days for it to go off it was down to the nuts and bolts.

We measured and cut the axle to fit and bolted it on with the U-bolts.

A large black and red wheel

Wheels on axles, washers and pins installed and trailer ready to roll. Credit: Alec Marsh

We then slid the wheels on and carried out some refinement of the U-bolts’ positioning and washers until they were running just right.

I marked the point where we’d drill holes in the axle for the retaining split pins and Steve drilled the first hole in the bar – I did the second, snapping his 5mm drill bit in a jiffy.

He kindly fetched another… The second hole drilled, Steve returned from his garage with a tin of heavy grease for the axle; the wheels were slid into place and turned beautifully.

A washer was added and split-pins fitted.

The final job was the rubbers. I measured each support and cut the D-fender and fixing strips.

I marked where the holes would need to go, drilled them then riveted the fenders in place.

The rubbers looked good – in fact the trailer looked pretty good too. As well as not wasting the old trailer, I also had the pleasure of learning a huge amount in the process – and making a friend. Cheap at twice the price.

Which reminds me, I still owe Steve a 5mm drill-bit…

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