looking for a dock roller

Happy summer,

I’m looking for a roller I can bolt to my wood dock on our lake to help my 78 year-old mother get her canoe in and out of the water. This is to replace a rotting one and some vigourous internet searching did not find any for sale. Any ideas are much appreciated.


Mark in Cambridge, MA

Boat-Trailer Parts!
Talk to anyone who sells boat trailers, which means anyone who sells powerboats. You can get rollers for boat trailers in all sorts of sizes and shapes. My little boat trailer has two cylindrical rollers at the rear, and a few shaped like a notched wheel on the centerline. I think the cylindrical style will be easier to work with.

The nice thing about boat-trailer rollers is that their mounting carriage is already designed to accomodate various mounting positions. You may need to do a little customizing to your dock, such as bolting down a piece of lumber to which you can attach the roller hardware, but it should be very easy.

like this one?

Oh, that reminds me!

– Last Updated: Jul-14-09 2:02 PM EST –

All you really nead is a pair of carpet-covered wood rails slanting down into the water. Build it like a ladder, but with the rails on the "upper" side of the rungs to provide clearance for the lower part of the hull in-between the rails, and you are good to go. One or two diagonal braces on the lower side would be good too, to keep the two sides of the frame from shifting from a rectangle into a parallelogram. You PROBABLY will need a winch to pull the canoe up these rails, but you can get one for about 10 bucks from Northern Tool, and pulling the boat up will be easier this way than by hand, even if you paid good money for the best rollers. Anyway, if it were me, I'd do most of the building myself instead of buying something ready-made. This isn't rocket science.

Just one more idea to bounce around, that's all.

My Simple Cheap Solution Was To
mount a 33" piece of 1" plastic pipe over a 36" piece of 1/2" galvanized pipe, and mounted the pipe to the top water edge of my bulkhead with two 90 degree galvanized fittings, base plates and some galvanized lag bolts. Lets my wife slide her Blackhawk off a low dolly, onto the plastic pipe roller, and into the water pretty easy, and recover it easy in reverse. No need to worry about lining it up on costly narrow trailer-like rollers. Just a thought. Rick

Boaters World and West Marine
sell various types of rollers and hardware for them.



Suppose this isn’t what you mean

I have an idea …

– Last Updated: Jul-16-09 2:00 AM EST –

..... it involves a light $30. boat winch , a vertical pipe w/L outlook that goes inside another short pipe (so it can be rotated 360 degrees), some minor rigging , and the whole loaded canoe can be lifted up out of the water and swing 180 degrees and set down on the dock / and vise versa . This is a side of dock idea , not the end .

The canoe would need four attach points (simple strap loops would do the job) ... four hanging rope or strap spreaders w/clips at end (the harness) would be attached to the winch rope/strap at it's end in a single point connection (the 4 spreaders/harness stay on the winch line) .

Once the canoe is raised enough to clear the dock , the vertical pipe/w L outlook is rotated 180 degrees , and the canoe is now over the dock a lowered to rest . Rotating the vertical pipe could be made near effortless with simple design .

When the canoe rest in the water , the winch line is lowered just a slight bit more for some slack ... when the paddler returns to dock the winch line is already there waiting at the proper length to re-hook up again . The paddler exits the canoe , leaves gear in canoe and unloads it on the dock afterwards , and vise versa .

This outrigger idea assumes half the width of canoe plus say a few inches min. (if dock is wide enough , a foot or more over half canoe width) to the center point of the line and 4 point harness droping down ... the vertical pipe is attached to the side of the dock ... the winch is attached to the vertical pipe at a convenient heigth ... cranking the winch would be near effortless for such a light weight load , lowering the canoe would require maintaining back pressure on the winch crank handle (probably not much at all) .

This is just a quick thought concept idea , but after giving it a second thought ... it is extremely simple to build , and would work highly effeciently . The short pipe that the main vertical goes into must be firmly attached to the side of the dock (a pile or other) and be about a foot long w/a cap on bottom so the vertical doesn't fall through (drill a hole in the cap so rain water can drain out)... the vertical pipe should fit into the short support pipe with a minimal of clearance (outside diameter of vertical to almost match inside diameter of short pipe , just enough not to bind .

Regular already treaded steel pipe (think gas line pipe , elbows and caps in sizes 1-1/4" and 1-1/2") can be purchased at many local stores in multitudes of lengths from 1' and longer lengths ... could probably be done with 3"-4" PVC waste pipe also but I think the iron pipe would do better .

Not exacly a dock roller , but your Mom should have it as easy and effortless as possible I think ...