FOLDING BOAT TRAILERS

 

FOLDING BOAT TRAILERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITTE BULLDOG 2005 MODEL

 

We have had experience with four folding boat trailers so far. The first one was a second hand pre 2005 Little Bulldog folding boat trailer. It was built with Australian steel in the West Australian factory. It was a good tough trailer and we used it for several years with the only problem being the failure of a supporting arm joint that can be seen in the photos below.

 

It was a fairly heavy trailer but it stood up well to the corrugated gravel roads and beach launching that were a feature of boat launching up north.

 

Because it is designed to be road licensed it is vastly over engineered which makes it cumbersome and far too heavy. The idea of a folding trailer SHOULD be something you can easily put together and use to move your boat a few kilometres on dirt tracks to get to a river or the sea.

 

This trailer is not easy either to put together or to get apart again. There is a central bar that needs to slide inside the two main parts of the trailer and this is a huge pain because dirt and dust easily gets inside and is almost impossible to get out. On one occasion I had to attach one end of the trailer to the Coaster and the other end to the 4x4 and pull it apart with brute force. Even then it moved all 3 tons of Coaster about 3 feet before it came apart.

 

The standard trailer does not come with a jockey wheel and the one pictured below was purchased separately for about $90.

 

The trailers biggest failing (and this applies to the early model as the design flaw was finally recognised and corrected) is two bars that bring the wheels forward as the trailer is unfolded. The ends of these bars (shown in picture 6) break off due to corrosion and are a potential accident waiting to happen if it breaks while towing on the road at high speed. Repairing it requires buying two new bars at a cost of around $140. As it is a dangerous design flaw it should be fixed free of charge but isn't. (We have since seen other Bulldogs of the same model have exactly the same failing so ours was not an isolated case.)

 

On the positive side the trailer is quite adjustable and can accommodate boats between 11-12 feet with varying hull shapes. The trailer in most respects appears to be fairly rugged if you ignore the flaw mentioned above. Its main draw back is that it is far too heavy for most elderly people to move around and assemble on their own. The whole point of a folding trailer should be light weight and easy assembly, this has neither.

 

It attracts dirt like nothing else I have ever seen. In the pictures below you will note that the front end is reasonably clean, while the rear end is coated in red dust. When these pictures were taken I had been cleaning the trailer with a drill mounted wire brush for about 4 hours to get the front end clean. The red dust bonds to the trailer so well that it takes a lot of effort to get it off again.

 

Conclusion. This trailer is designed both as a road legal trailer and as a portable folding trailer and because of this it basically fails at both. Because it has small wheels the tyres wear out too quickly and because it is far too heavy, it is difficult to use as a folding trailer. It is both expensive and awkward to pack away due to its size and weight. Although we do make a lot of use of this trailer I am on the look out for a design that is much lighter and easier to assemble. In the end this trailer is a poor compromise between what it should be and what it is.

 

Despite the seemingly harsh review of the Bulldog, it took a long time to find anything that does a better job of moving a fully loaded boat over unsealed roads. Because of its rugged construction it can handle any road conditions with ease. This refers ONLY to the early versions of the trailer.

 

Assembling the old Little Bulldog

Assembling the old Little Bulldog

Assembling the old Little Bulldog

Assembling the old Little Bulldog

Assembling the old Little Bulldog

Failed knuckle joint Little Bulldog

 

LIGHTWEIGHT BOAT MOVER

 

One year we were up in the Pilbara and hadn't taken the Bulldog, opting instead to take a new 'experimental' light weight trailer. The new light weight trailer fell apart the first time we attempted to use it and we were left with the choice of a long season with no boat fishing or getting another trailer shipped up from Perth to Karratha.

 

The lightweight version was really only suitable as a boat mover, not as a trailer.

 

Lightweight boat mover

Lightweight boat mover

Lightweight boat mover

 

LITTLE BULLDOG II

 

We 'bit the bullet' coughed up about $2000 and got a new Little Bulldog shipped up when the boat mover fell to bits. We had been so impressed with the old trailer we didn't hesitate to go for the same brand again. This turned out to be a BIG mistake.

 

We decided to get the FAT PACK version with wider tyres to make beach launching easier and we got a caravan rack so the trailer could be more easily packed.

 

Initially it looked as though we had made the right choice.

 

The trailer had several design improvements over the older model BUT what we didn't know was that the company had switched from using good quality Australian steel to inferior 'cheap' Chinese steel. Even during the first year the mudguards fell off when the steel broke and in following years a number of structural failures occurred and we had to get repairs done.

 

We still continued to use the second Bulldog as we had (stupidly as it turned out) sold the older model before we really found out how bad the new one was.

 

Little Bulldog II

 

LITTLE BULLDOG CARAVAN RACK

 

This is an optional extra (costing around $105) that allows you to carry the complete trailer on the rear bumper of your caravan. We have added two lugs to the back of the caravan so that a ratchet strap (seen above) can tension the Bulldog trailer once it is mounted. This isn't something mentioned by the manufacturer but we feel it adds a degree of security.

 

Disassembling the Bulldog trailer and putting it up on the carry rack isn't as easy as you might think. It is a two person job and still requires some heavy lifting to get the main body of the trailer on and then align the front section with the correct lynch pin hole. The one thing we really find annoying is the three different sizes of nuts and bolts on the trailer. Some bolts have a different size head to the nut (a good idea for those with only one set of spanners) but this idea isn't carried through to every bolt and it can be very frustrating switching between three different spanners all the time. One set of bolts with differing size for bolt and nut would be a much better idea. The first time we put the trailer on the rack was time consuming and quite frustrating. It got better as we became more used to it but we would never say that it will be easy.

 

Little Bulldog II on caravan rack

 

MANGROVE JACK MARINE TRAILER

 

Eventually we just got fed up with the weight, difficulty and continual break-downs of the Bulldog II trailer and decided to look for something better.

 

After looking around for a LONG time finally decided to get a trailer from Mangrove Jack Marine. This is an aluminium and stainless steel trailer that takes about 5 minutes (yes I have tested this myself) to put together.

 

The price is very similar to the Bulldog but the MJM trailer is only 38kg total weight and the largest single piece is only 8kg!

 

Although the trailer comes with instructions, it is so simple to assemble that I did not need to refer to them at all. The design is very clever and there is no need for a spanner to put everything in place. Sections are attached to each other with stainless steel locking pins and YES it can be road licensed. It is rated for use at 100 kph but suggested trip length is no more than 100 km in one go.

 

We have finally been away with the trailer for a short trip and then a 2 month extended trip found it was excellent. Because the locking pins are so easy to remove, we decided to keep them locked in place when the trailer was assembled by putting a small padlock through the flat end of each clip. There are already holes drilled in each one so it was just a matter of getting a few keyed-alike padlocks and putting the locks in place once the trailer had been put together.

 

The trailer was easy to transport and we had plenty of room to spare. The only mistake we made was forgetting to take a 50mm tow ball with us as the caravan, which is a Tregg hitch, meant we had the wrong sort of hitch for the boat on the car. We only managed to remember this when we arrived at our destination. Fortunately a quick trip to the local hardware store sorted this out.

 

The little trailer worked perfectly. One thing we did notice was that there is no safety chain in place. This is something we must rectify before we use it again. At least on the first trip we only had to tow the boat from our campsite to the caravan park boat ramp.

 

The slide supports for the boat don't quite come into contact with the bottom of the hull but checking with the manufacturer, it is apparently ok to have a gap of up to 20mm. Since the boat is properly strapped to the trailer it didn't pose a problem.

 

So far we are very happy with the new trailer. It has now been tested on some rough gravel roads and it handled them without any problems.

 

Mangrove Jack folding boat trailer

Mangrove Jack folding boat trailer

Mangrove Jack folding boat trailer

 

 

 

 

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