Canoe Trailer Help!

I just bought a 17 ft, dual axle boat trailer that I intend to use for my Old Town Tripper. The tires say “4.8-8” on them… I want/need to buy new tires and I don’t know anything about trailers. I do plan on bringing it into the North Maine Woods on the Golden Road, so will need relatively rugged tires. Any tire suggestions? Where do I get trailer tires that size changed? Do I need to buy new tires that are already on wheels? Should I try to change the tires myself?

Thanks! I don’t know anything about trailers, I kind of bought on a whim, sick of throwing canoes up top on truck racks and my wife likes the tonneau cover staying on the truck…

If you change tires, go to a larger size and larger wheels. always bring a spare.

I have used a canoe trailer for 20 years hauling an OT Guide which is cedar and canvas and weighs 90 pounds. Keep in mind the fact that canoe trailers have poor suspension. Some have leaf springs. On rough roads they can bounce, a lot. At the wrong speed the harmonmics in the road can cause them to bounce violently. Watch your trailer when you travel on dirt.

Thanks for the response! What size wheels would you recommend? Also, I don’t think this was originally a canoe trailer, but I moved the bunks closer together to fit my Tripper or my Osprey.

I am changing my tires right now on a trailex trailer. Going from a 4.8-8 to a 4.8-12. This requires a new rim. I just purchased the complete wheels assembled with m speed rating. For around $70 ea at tractor supply. The width of the tires are very close but the dia is about 4.5" larger. I was quoted a pricevof about 140 ea with rim at a tire shop.

4.8 is the width ratio. Another common at this size is 5.3, this width may have problems with the tire hitting the frame. Also most of the rims in this size are either 4 bolt or 5 bolt with a standard bolt circle for easy replacement. has alotof info on this size.

I will have to raise the fenders.
Before changing size you should check to see if the fenders will need modification. I have seen recomendations of 2-4" of space.

One comment on your trailer. You said it is a double axel. This will make it have a very stiff suspension due to it being desinged for heavy boats. With each tire rated to carry 590 to 750 lbs depending on the load rating

Depends on what will fit under the fenders. I would want at least 175/80 13’s. It’s a good balance of height, width and weight.

I have bought several wheel and tire combos from etrailer as well as a seller on ebay.

Thanks! Because its a dual axle I’ll need to make sure I’ve got space on the fenders and between the wheels. Is this the wrong trailer for the job? Should I try to change the springs so its not as stiff? Should I try to convert it to a multiple canoe trailer because it can handle more weight?

It’s probably sprung quite heavily for even a couple canoes, but springs are relatively cheap.

Canoe trailers are tough because they need to be long, but light.

Since this has basically the cheapest DOT legal tire size, I am guessing it isn’t designed for something heavy

In my experience with a leaf sprung trailer, it was designed and custom built for two 17’ fiberglass touring kayaks which together would have been close to 150 pounds. But my boats are way lighter and when I haul the two I carry most often their combined weight is under 60 pounds. Without the compression of the springs the thing jumps around and makes a huge racket with the safety chains clattering. I need to make some kind of rubber or fabric sheaths for the chains to quiet them, but it’s clear that the light load affects the trailer’s behavior.

BUT I helped a friend move a 350 pound refrigerator strapped to the trailer with a raft of two by fours we cobbled together beneath it, so probably a total load of 400 pounds. The thing hauled much better with that extra “ballast”, just like some higher volume canoes and kayaks are less squirrelly with more weight in them.

I went a slightly different direction when I converted a small sailboat trailer into my kayak trailer. I have never been impressed by most trailer tires, but ESPECIALLY the 8" and 12" variants. To get the max. load rating you have to inflate them to at/near the max psi, which makes them ride pretty rough. They also wear out very quickly and are generally pretty crummy. And they’re speed ratings are pretty low.

I went with GT MaxTour Radial tires in 145/80R12. They are rated at 875 lbs. @35 psi. Even at 35 they have a fair amount of flex which provides additional cushion to the leaf springs. The trailer rides noticeably better than when it had trailer tires and I never worry about speed. They probably only have a couple thousand miles on them but they’ve been fantastic.

I urge you to do your research and make the right decision for you.

edit : It looks like those tires aren’t available any more, so one may need to look at other makes/models/sizes for the right fit.

I, too, converted a power boat trailer to a canoe hauler. Mine, however, was not double axled and yet is sprung too heavily for the loads I carry. Yours will probably be worse in that regard. Its almost like not having springs at all - vibration was initially a problem until I added some bracing and made a couple fairly heavy boxes in which I now keep camping /paddling stuff. The weight helped smooth things out a bit. That might be something that could help you, too.
Though I can carry four canoes, under most circumstances I carry two at a combined weight of about 130 lbs. Though I haven’t weighed them, the loaded boxes probably come in at about 250 lbs. Its workable now and I’m not in a big hurry, but I hope to change the springs out to something designed to carry a lighter load in the future.

In your shoes I think I’d worry more about the springs than the tires. Heck, in my shoes I do myself.

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Thanks so much for all your replies. Wondering if I bought the wrong trailer for the job…

Should I consider selling and getting something else? Didn’t have a ton to spend, got this for $200… I thought the dual axle would make it better.

I, like you I believe, went with converting a boat trailer because it was more affordable to me. I also paid about $200 for the trailer, but it was hard to find just the trailer. It seems like most power boat owners buy and sell the boat & trailer as a unit. I doubt you’ll find a better deal. Finding exactly the “right trailer for the job” might well lead to an endless goose-chase.
The new purpose-built canoe trailers are really pricey, at least by my standards, and used canoe trailers are near impossible to find. Assuming the tires are in good shape, I think in your shoes I’d just replace the springs (maybe take the rig to a scale, as at a dump or agricultural store/grain elevator to determine just what axle weight the springs should be carrying) and add some cargo-carrying capacity, even just a floor of 3/4" marine plywood with attachment points for tie-downs. It could then double as a light-duty utility trailer. Larger diameter wheels if you can fit them are nice, especially if you might be using rough roads to landings and need a little increased ground clearance, but not a necessity and would probably cost quite a bit for the additional benefit you might gain. (BTW, Take it slow on rough - like Arkansas - access roads. It can be tricky maneuvering over rough terrain and sharp turns or tilting roads with a long trailer. Turn-arounds can be hard to find and the tongue might scrape on larger rocks in the road.)
Just my thoughts… there are probably several here who might have better ideas. All grist for the mill.

IMO, a double axle trailer is overkill for your intended use (though I generally prefer them for safety). I think you may have difficulty getting a decent ride out of it as it’s probably rated for a ~3500 lb. boat. As crazy as the market is, I would think a trailer like that would bring a good price and be easy to sell. Might put enough in your pocket to buy a different trailer.

I think this might be my path eventually, but I’ll at least try it out this summer on a couple of trips. If its too much I’m sure I could get more than $200 for it, but depending on cost and interest level I think I might like the idea of adding a floor with tie downs and then racks for multiple boats, I don’t know, but probably the right/best thing for my needs is a single axle with bigger wheels/tires…

Anyways thanks everyone!

Converting a power boat trailer is a fine idea. They are plenty strong and heavy enough not to bounce as much as a canoe trailer. Find someone that can weld. It should be easy to rig it up to haul at least 4 boats. Add a deck to lash equipment and a lockable storage box. Then you can haul everything for a trip with one trailer.

We borrowed a commercial canoe trailer once for a long trip. It was set up to haul 6 canoes. Very handy on a long trip. I secured my trusty OT Guide from 1953, and said goodbye until the put in several days later. Having one trailer for a large group is a great thing to have.

Here’s a picture of your trailer. It was made from old van parts by my farmer father-in-law.

We rarely use the upper level. BUT I often hit my head on the upper rod. A shorter rod, less projection, up top would be a good thing.

I’d go that way too. I haven’t been on the Golden Road, but I imagine it can get a little rough and potholed in places. The bigger wheels would help with that, and might also handle ruts better than two axles spaced close together as on a trailer.

Lessons learned:
-If you do make a “tree” to haul multiple boats, as Ppine suggests, use 2" or 2.5" square for the uprights (or a narrow triangle of 1.5" stock) and 1.5" square stock (rather than angle iron) for the cross bars. Had I done that I’d have had less vibration on the initial trial runs.
-Cross bracing is necessary as there will be some flex between the tongue and the main part of the trailer and you don’t want that carried to the boat gunwales where it will rub your finish off.
-I would have been better off making the bottom cross bars a little higher over the top of the boxes to make it possible to have some limited access to the boxes with a canoe in place on the lower rack. Don’t forget to allow for the curvature of the gunwales to clear the box. (I was trying to keep the center of gravity low, but I went a little too far in that effort.)
-Using a routed out 2X4 carriage bolted to the cross bars is easier on wood gunwales than steel with rubber (available through Bell/Northstar canoes) that I’m using. 2X4 can also be “pegged” with dowels as load stoppers fit to the gunwale width of your boats to prevent side slippage.
-Setting it up so the canoe bow(s) is closer to the road in front might cut down on wind resistance and improve fuel economy a little.
-A “stop” of some sort on the extreme outside of the cross bars is a good preventative for a strap slipping off the end of the cross bars.

Find some old fire hose to use to pad your canoe gunwales on the horizontal racks.

How many canoes?

A two axle trailers is good for a boat around 4,000 pounds. You will beat your one canoe up.

You could likely remove one axle.