Jamestown Distributors is offering $25.00 credit for any contribution to their "Pimp My Boat" contest, and NO - I am not making this up - it's for real. Since I still have numerous items to get for my ZIP build I submitted the restoration of my trailer to the contest.
The following is most of what I posted on their contest site, apparently it should be posted for public viewing soon, but thought I'd share it here in the meantime. I've only included two photos for viewing here.
It all started in 2007 when my Uncle was 'downsizing' and gave me his old outboard motor, which turned out to be a 1959 Keikhaefer Mercury Mark 35A; a four cylinder 35 horsepower two stroke outboard motor. I spent the next two and a half years or so, on and off, restoring it to mint condition, until eventually it became part of out living room decor, much to the chagrin of my wife.
Some time later a 'little voice' inside my head said "You should build a boat for that motor", and having a 'senior moment' at the time it seemed like a fine idea. The GlenL company supplied me with a set of plans and I was off to the races, boat building away. It wasn't far into the project when I just knew I would want one of those compound curved wrap around windshields from yesteryear for my boat, and I also knew that I would need a trailer for the boat. With those thoughts in mind I started looking for a 'donor' boat on Craigslist.
Eventually I found a 'donor' boat, motor and trailer.
The 'donor' boat was later 'dumpstered' after salvaging any useful parts, the floor of the hull was totally rotted, as was the transom. The windshield awaits polishing and being cut down height wise to better fit the boat I am building, and the motor turned out to be a '61 Mercury inline, six cylinder, 70 horsepower outboard that runs well and will likely be my next project.
When purchasing the boat I realized the trailer axle was bent, which helped me significantly reduce the selling price, but I had every intention of replacing the axle in any event. It wasn't until I got the trailer out from under the boat that I realized that there was quite a bend in the tongue tube and that one of the tilt bunk brackets was broken.
Using a hydraulic jack, a low retaining wall, and the house foundation - I placed the bent tongue tube 'between a rock and a hard place' and straightened it out.
It took me months of searching in, and lurking around, antique boat and outboard organization sites before someone was able to identify my trailer. It's a "Champ", a poor cousin of the relatively noteworthy "Gator" trailers, and made by the same company. Guess that explains why "Gator" is stamped into the winch housing and embossed on the rollers. She's a '60 or '61 model with a trailer weight of 253 pounds and a carrying capacity of 700 pounds, perfect for the boat I am building.
Here is a photo of what the winch tower looked like when I bought the boat.
From all I had learned researching trailers, the winch high on the tower and above the bow roller was not the way to go. As I understand it the winch should be below the bow roller to help hold the bow of the boat down and help restrain the boat from it's natrual tendency to want to roll up and over the bow roller in the event of a sudden stop. I was able to relocate the original winch, which I really wanted to keep for 'character' sake, since the name "Gator" is etched into the side of the housing.
The next step was to have all the components sandblasted and powder coated. The real "Gator" trailers were apparenty painted yellow so I went with that color. That process was taken care of by Top Coat Inc. here in Raleigh who did a fine job.
Alternating between trailer and boat work eventually the two came together, literally! I temporarily assembled the trailer upside down on top of the boat Iwas building, which is built upside down. This allowed me to roughly establish where the winch tower would be located on the tongue, and what height of cradles I would need for the hull to clear the fenders.
It's worth mentioning at this time that I had two additional cross rails welded onto the tubular frame. This allows me to build and install cradles that will lie directly belown the boat's main frames for maximum support and minimum stress to the hull.
I totally rewired the trailers electrics using LED light I purchased at Northern Tool & Equipment Co. here in Raleigh. I routed all the wiring through the trailer tubing wherever possible, using rubber grommets wherever the wiring entered or exited the tubing. All connections were soldered, heat shrink tubed and taped. Northern Tool and Equipment Co. also had the new lug nuts I needed, item # 124121W.
Thank heaven for the internet. I was actually able to find the exact size, shape, diameter and length replacement bushings for the leaf springs. They came from Tampa Springs Co., Inc. in Tampa Florida with part number HB-735.
West Marine here in Raleigh were happy to sell me three sets of tire and rims. I went with galvanized rims. West Marine was also the source for the new square u-bolts I purchase to mount the new axle, the u-bolts were model # 519272.
The Bolt Depot.com became the source for the stainless steel u-bolts I needed to remount the winch tower. They were 18-8, 3/8-16, 2 1/2x3 5/8 with nuts and strap and were product # 12542.
Lowes had a hay day with me as I replaced every fastener, nut, and bolt on the trailer. Iwent with grade 8 bolts for all the suspension components and stainless steel for all the fender and winch tower mounting requirements.
The axle turned out to be a real kaffufle. I worked with the folks at Raleigh Hitch Inc. here in Raleigh and they were most helpful and understanding. After discussion of options they ordered me a new fangled 'wet hub' axle. When the axle arrived it turned out to be over 2" wider wheelbase than my original. Turned out there was some miscommunication and the axle supplier did not make these new axles in custom wheelbase widths so fter some more evaluation I decided that I could in fact offset the fenders enough to accommodate the wider axle. It's a 1,680 pound rated axle and the hubs are totally sealed and the bearings run in a 'bath' of 50 weight oil, the 'hub caps' are transparent so you can actually see the oil level in the hubs. I guess it's a bit like putting 'state of the art' axles on a 'state of the ark' trailer, but wanted to ensure the safest ride possible for the boat that will take up two years of my life building.
Jamestown Distributors were my source for the bunk carpet (SCP-55991), the transom tie downs (IMI-F17631), the 1/2" eye nuts for the transom tie down anchor at the frame (SUN-S0321-0013), and the 316 stainless steel safety chains (SUN-S0275-0001-2) with forged stainless steel clevis slip hooks (SUN-S0452-0007).
I dressed the trailer up a bit with some of the white oak that I am using to build the boat. The winch tower looked like swiss cheese there had been so many holes drilled in it over the years, so I inserted some wood panels onto the sides of the winch tower. I could not find square bend u-bolts to mount the winch itself to the front of the tower so I wound up fabricating some half round pieces of white oak with grooves to accommodate the stainless steel u-bolts that I did find.
The original axle had worn out and bent spindles, and was one solid 'billet' of mild steel 1" square. The new axle was over 2" square so I had to have a local welding/machine shop cut me some 1/4" plate. These plates I then shaped and drilled to accommodate the new u-bolts required for the larger dimensioned square tubing axle. One fringe benefit of the larger new axle and the new leaf spring bushings is that I was able to upgrade the wheels and tires from the original 8" rims to 12" rims, a huge improvement!
I used a 3/8" eye nut from Jamestown Distributors, together with a carriage head bolt to attach the safety chains onto the tongue tube. Since this trailer tilts, this safety chain serves two functions, it prevents the trailer from tilting when 'snugged up' and limits the amount of tilt possible when launching.
The jack that came with the boat I modified to alter and improve its mounting to the winch tower. First I cut down the width of the mounting bracket to fit within the winch tower side. This put the mounting bracket closer to the center which was good, but angled the mounting bracket. I had to adapt some brass pipe fittings and drill an extra locating hole to be able to have the jack verticle when in use, yet rotate to be in line with the winch tower when not in use.
In this next photo you can see the 'mock up' or template of the boat support system I will be using. These templates are 2x6 material cut to determine and fine tune the fit prior to fabricating the final pieces out of 8:4 white oak. There will be 3 cradles, each directly under a boat frame, and 6 bunks, each directly under a boat batten. The middle and rear rollers are not mounted in this picture, but the front roller, as you can see, is non adjustable, save for 'shimming' it up, which is why I have to tailor the height of the cradles to get the keel of the boat high enough to be able to bring the front roller up to contact the keel. You can also just make out the nylon spacers I found at Lowe's that allowed me to 'bump out' the fenders to accommodate the wider axle.
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This is my first, last and only boat build.http://www.gdzipbuild.blogspot.com