By Dave OsmolskiWe’re heading into the season where many of us begin to put away our boats for the winter. Those with trailerable boats disconnect the trailer from the car or truck and leave the trailered boat on the trailer jack and jack stands under the axle to take the weight off the tires.
My jack stands are as sturdy as ever, but the trailer jack, the thing in the front that lifts and lowers the trailer on the hitch, is getting a bit wobbly. It’s OK for lifting and lowering the trailer hitch, but I’m not confident that it provides adequate support when I get up in the boat to work or check on things.
When I brought my boat from our homemade tropical paradise on Pine Island, Florida, early in the summer, I had a lot of work to do. I wasn’t comfortable with the support the trailer jack provided, so I used my jack stands under the trailer frame. The jack stands provided adequate support, without the boat wavering back and forth as it did with the trailer jack. The problem was, the jack stands weren’t tall enough to slope the boat far enough toward the stern to drain out rainwater. For these reasons, I decided to make a hitch stand: a stand with a wide base and a trailer hitch ball on top. Although this isn’t a plan for a universal, one-size-fits-all hitch stand, you should be able to use the information here to figure out the measurements to build a stand that will work with your boat and trailer.
The load-carrying pillar on my stand is a 22-inch-long pressure-treated four-by-four post (2 in photo) reinforced with a ¾-inch black iron pipe (4) running 9 inches into it from the base. Nine inches is an arbitrary number, considering the pipe extends only two inches through the base frame.
The base frame consists of two 30-inch-long two-by-four strips (1), providing a 15-inch base diameter, which is more than enough to keep the frame from tipping. The braces are four pieces of one-by-four pine (3). I fastened the whole thing with waterproof glue and coated deck screws. I purchased a hitch ball (5) from our local trailer parts store and epoxied it into a hole drilled on top of the load-carrying pillar.
This trailer hitch stand project shares many similarities with a design by Paul Esterle, boating writer and editor and 35-year member of Delaware’s Wilmington Power Squadron. Visit captnpauley.com to buy his book “Capt’n Pauley’s Workshop,” which contains a detailed plan for a similar hitch stand as well as other practical boating tips and projects. Also visit thevirtualboatyard.com for more media and tips.
I primed and painted the whole thing with a good-quality outdoor paint. The hitch stand keeps the boat steady on the trailer and is tall enough to slope the boat to the stern to shed rainwater.
With this design in mind, you can build a hitch stand suited to your boat and trailer. I’m certain a four-by-four will be adequate for most boats up to 24 feet in length.
If you don’t have a large-diameter drill bit, you can use a piece of rebar in place of the black iron pipe. The rebar or pipe should extend up into the support pillar at least four inches and should be epoxied into the pillar and the base.
Lastly, when determining the height of the pillar, be sure it’s tall enough to slope your boat to the stern.
David H. Osmolski of Charlotte Power Squadron/27 has been repairing boats since high school when his first boat, a canvas-covered canoe with cedar ribs, leaked in gallons per minute and required constant repair.
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