Home Boats Jon Boat Dolly: DIY Boat Cart for launching lightweight boats

Jon Boat Dolly: DIY Boat Cart for launching lightweight boats

DIY Jon Boat Dolly launching a boat

DIY Jon Boat Dolly launching a boat

If you don’t have a trailer, getting your boat down to the water can be challenging – especially if you’re fishing solo. To make launching my new Tracker Jon boat a little easier, I built this easy DIY boat dolly. I use it for my 12 foot Jon boat, and can successfully launch the boat in areas where I would never be able to use a trailer.

There are tons of different boat dolly designs online, and there are even some that you can purchase –unfortunately, most of them cost about as much as a good used boat trailer. After looking at all the options, I decided to build my own out of some PVC, a couple of Harbor Freight wheels, and a threaded metal rod. Here is the design I went with.

Custom PVC Boat Cart & Jon Boat Launching Dolly

Jon Boat Dolly Parts List:

  • 3 – Sections of 1 1/2 inch PVC
  • 2 – 1 1/2 inch PVC Caps
  • 2 – 1 1/2 inch PVC threaded adapters
  • 6 – 1 1/2 inch PVC tees
  • 1 – 3ft long 5/8 Threaded Rod
  • 2 – Heavy Duty Harbor Freight Cart Wheels
  • 4 – 5/8 Washers
  • 2 –  5/8 Locking Nuts

Tools Needed to build the Boat Cart:

  • Hacksaw
  • 5/8 Drill Bit
  • Wrench

Step by Step instructions for building the Boat Dolly

The first thing I did was drill out a 5/8 inch hole in each of the caps. This is where the threaded axle rod will be placed to hold the wheels on your cart.

PVC Caps for the wheel axle rod

Next, I cut out my sections on PVC and started to add the PVC Tees. The width of your PVC sections will be determined by the size of your boats and the threaded rod and wheels that you go with.

Dolly Sections

dolly sections being assembled

Once your main axle section is assembled, you can slide your threaded rod through the end caps.

Threaded Axle Rod

Place a washer on each side of the wheels and tighten the nuts on to the threaded axle rod.

Wheel Bolted to Boat Dolly
Wheel Placed on Axle

Assemble the top PVC sections that will be used to hold the boat.

Boat Dolly Assembled

And now you’re ready to launch your boat with your new custom boat cart.

Jon Boat Dolly with a Tracker 12 Jon Boat



  1. Was wondering how much weight between your jon and gear you might have on this setup? Like this dolly that you came up with but trying to figure out how much weight it may hold. The place I need to walk it out to is about a 15 minute push/pull but a great fishing hole that nobody uses due to the walk. My buddy made one out of steel but it’s quite heavy when assembled so trying to lighten the load a bit.

  2. Do you have any problems with the wheels bending out, would like to make one for my sneak boat for duck hunting, carrying my 120 lb. boat plus another 20 to 50 lbs of gear. Would the pvc hold up to 250? Does it slip out when pulling it?

    • The PVC Bends a bit but so far it’s holding up, and it does slip a bit on rough terrain so I usually bring a couple of straps to make sure everything stays in place.

  3. Easy to build and works like a charm. Thanks for the write up. Holds my inflatable, 2.3 hp outboard, and accessories.

    • Do you by any chance have a photo of your inflatable on your dolly and pic of your dolly without it on it? I’m right in the middle of creating one for mine.

      Are the wheels under the transom area when you are operating the dolly? Thanks.

  4. I am in the midst of building a wooden Bayou Skiff and was wondering if this cart will carry it? My skiff is made of 3/8′ Plywood and is 12′ long.

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  6. What’s the point of the threaded caps and threaded male adaptors at the cross member…seems like just 2 slip caps would serve exactly the same purpose. The nuts at the axle ends should provide all the adjustment necessary.


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