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November is a lousy month to become a member of a ‘pro-staff’ fishing team. It’s cold, so’s the water, and opportunities to get out and get your new Coosa wet are few and far between. As an example…I picked up the Coosa back in Nov in Tennessee and floated with the rest of the team on a smallish flow near Sparta. The next time it got wet was a mild day (low 40s) at the very tail-end of December in the Shenandoah near home. Don’t get me wrong, any day I spend on the water, especially when I had the river to myself is a GOOD day. But the poor gal has been high and dry since then due to snow, cold temperatures and an ice-locked river. The only time I’ve had the boat off her rack is in the back of my truck at a couple of shows and meetings and just taking her with me when I knew that Kayak fishermen were going to be present. Believe me, the Coosa gets a lot of attention where ever I go.

But carrying it around, and getting on and off the truck pointed out an issue for us “men of a certain age”…we ‘ve kinda used up a big part of our ‘umph’ over the years, and my boats tend to stay on the truck once I get it there as a result.  Not a big deal really, with a cable lock thru the scupper hole and locked to the truck, the Coosa rides there just fine. But it does limit the usefulness of my truck for other purposes (like trash hauling and ‘snow storage’)  So that points up the need for a kayak cart. I built one a few years back for my other yaks and it served me well.  My other boats were lighter, and sit ins, so they were also easy to carry up on the shoulder as well. But I needed the cart for one particular float I do with a buddy down on a mid VA flow. The take out is a hike, nearly a half-mile thru the woods, uphill following a heavily rutted fire-road. But I knew I was going to need something specific for the Coosa. First, she’s a sit on top and doesn’t go up on your shoulder. The Coosa is also much wider than my old yaks, not to mention heavier. But it occurred to me, the big advantage is; the Coosa has that enormous storage hatch up front…I knew a ‘knock-down’ cart would be just the ticket. I needed something I could disassemble in a few minutes, toss inside the hatch, then break out at the end of that float, put together and then walk out to the truck.  Not to mention…I could KEEP it there in the boat and it would always be handy to use whenever I needed it.

And so the research started. The Internet is a wonderful thing…just so you know.  I never even considered buying one. I’ve seen more home-made carts than you can shake a stick at and the Internet pretty much can show you ALL of them.  And after a few days of research, I knew I could build one for about half of what I would have to spend if I bought one that would suit my needs. So this is what I came up with down in my “little shop of Horrors” …

I originally thought I would make a parts list and a full ‘how-to’ write-up, but not everyone is going to have the exact same dimensions on their milk crate…if they have a milk crate at all. Besides, we’re all smart folks here, I think you can figure out what you need just from the photos., or use them as a jumping off point for your own unique design. It never ceases to amaze me what people can come up with. What I will give you is a few specs, tips, and insider info…

The tracking channels on the bottom of the Coosa are 15” apart (give or take) center to center. You’ll need to get this measurement between your rails close so you don’t flex the PVC tubes too much.

When cutting the 1 ¼” PVC pipe…cut it long, so you can trim back as you need to. Fitting PVC tubing is NOT an exact fit. They fit together anywhere from ½ to ¾ of an inch, depending on the fitting and the manufacturer.  Use a Miter box or a guide to keep the ends square. It’s not critical you do this. You can cut PVC pipe with a hand saw, hacksaw, jigsaw, just about anything but you’ll get consistent depth on your fit-ups and you’ll be able to cut multiple pieces at once if you have your ends nice and square.

 I use the one part (yellow in color) PVC adhesive.’s fumes are ‘stiffer ‘ than the purple stuff  and  you need to get your fittings lined up right and straight, plumb and level before you bond them. The one part adhesive sets VERY fast. You only get one shot at it. Dry fit EVERY fitting.

The threaded rod I use as the axle is 1/2” thread. I have it run thru a piece of ¾ ID PVC.

I had to trim open the ‘mesh’ of the crate to get the 1 ¼” x ¾” T-fitting to go thru. I used a sharp knife instead of my Dermal Tool. The Dermal cuts too quickly and I was afraid it would cut right thru before I could stop it.

My wheels are 14 inch diameter and are off an old Craftsman lawnmower. They each have 2 sets of bearings so the cart will roll VERY smoothly and easily. Tractor Supply stores have the best selection of wheels and tires I’ve ever seen personally speaking. If you need to buy wheels, start there. My wife tried to get me to throw my old wheels away numerous times..but I knew…”one day” I would use them for something…and this week was the ‘one day’  and a Coosa cart was the “something”. Sometimes…it’s good to be a packrat.

The frame parts on the sides of the crate will be held on with zip ties, the Coosa will held to the top rails and the crate/cart with 6-ft cam-buckle straps.  But for photo purposes, I’m using just one 6 foot NRS strap just to give you the general idea. I also need to pick up a couple of ends caps as well to finish off the cart. I considered doing a design where I had 2 posts come up thru the scupper holes just as locating feature. But a good friend whose opinion I respect pointed out the scuppers are a weak point on any boat and if you stress those things, you may cause a crack or hole. So decided against them. Besides that would be one more critical dimension I would have to get dead on. The easier the better.

I may, or may not paint the whole think, haven’t decided yet.  And one other design feature; when I have the cart taken apart and the crate in the back tank well, I have 4 longer pieces of PVC pipe I’ll stick in the 90 degree elbows as extra rod and tool holders.

So get out there and get busy. No sense in having a basement workshop or garage full of nice power tools if ya never get them dirty…get out there and throw some chips! It’s a good way to beat cabin fever and you’ll come out on the other end with a nice piece of gear you can proud of and will help you enjoy your paddling more.

Herschel “The DoahRat” Finch