Trailering a Grumman (gently) on the Gunnels: materials of choice?

Hi all,

I’m tailoring an older boat trailer for an older aluminum Grumman canoe. The canoe is in good shape, and I want to keep it that way. The gunnels will ride on two supports spaced approx. 11ft apart. I’m deciding between lumber and PVC pipe for the supports, wanting something plenty strong with the right amount of give/flex for a gentle ride. The horizontal supports will each mount to two vertical pieces approx. 40" apart. What schedule and diameter PVC pipe would you recommend? Or, if wood is a better choice, how wide should the board be? All thoughts/advice appreciated.

I wouldn’t know how to secure PVC to the trailer. Grummans are tough as nails; pine won’t hurt aluminum beyond maybe burnishing a shiny spot. I’d over-engineer it with 2x4s flatwise and maybe eyebolts sticking up on the sides to make it easy to secure.

You don’t want a “gentle” ride. You need it to be securely and solidly mounted to the trailer without movement. A small, thin rubber pad where the gunwales contact give you good slip resistance and as much give as you want.

I carry my canoes on Yakima Keel over brackets and a similar one from Malone. They give a positive stop which prevents side to side movement and good grip to prevent front to back sliding.

You could also use pieces of vinyl tubing placed on the gunwales at contact points.

Use 2x4’s flat with eye bolts on the end. Go to an Industrial supply house that sells conveyor belts. Get strips of rough top rubber conveyor belt and screw it to the boards. Tying the canoe down using the eye bolts and belt the canoe won’t move.

A round support like PVC provides little contact with the gunwales even in large diameters. I like lumber or flat steel stock. I use old fire hose to cover the racks with. I have used a trailer for years after acquiring a heavy 18 foot cedar and canvas Old Town. The suspension is important. My little trailer has leaf springs and wants to hop on dirt roads.

I don’t recommend PVC pipe for a transport rack. In very hot weather it will sag and in cold weather it will become brittle with a tendency to beak. I use a custom 1¼" black steel ladder rack on my truck with Yakima saddles. In my shop I use the same pipe with Kee clamps to build a wheeled two kayak rack padded with foam pipe insulation…

These are expensive options, though. I would just use 2x4s. To pad it I would suggest pre-split closed cell foam pipe insulation. It’s sold in 6’ lengths at most hardware stores and is very inexpensive. It can be tacked down with roofing nails or tie-wrapped in place. I use it on my truck rack to protect the kayak when loading and it lasts for years exposed to the weather. If you don’t see the size of pipe insulation you need at a hardware store, check a plumbing supply store.

Unistrut or superstrut is a good material for this. The holes serve as tie down points, they are easy to mount to various items and the edges are rounded over