BWCA Flip Down Babbitt Portage Wheels – Help with custom build Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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distinguished member (159)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/20/2022 05:05AM  
From researching these wheels, I understand that they were previously made by Warren Marolt out of Virginia, Minnesota but that he no longer offers these for sale.

Several folks in related threads recommended Trembath welding out of Ely as a potential source to build a custom set, but I spoke with the owner and he was not available to help unless I could have my boat at his shop for a few weeks to make sure the fit is correct and he has time for the job. As I live in Ohio this is not practical for me.

I found a local Ohio welder that agreed to fabricate a set for me based up some pictures of different portage wheels that I have seen.

What I could use some help with is specifying the correct material sizes for the key parts such that I don’t end-up with something too lightweight that buckles the first time across the portage.

I can make estimates based upon the pictures, but it would really be helpful if I could tell the weld shop the basic dimensions of the designs that have been working well for years up in Ely, Minnesota.

Any chance someone one here can provide dimensions from an old Marolt design?

Any guidance is appreciated!

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04/21/2022 10:49PM  
The information you have referred to is correct.

I have built these portage wheels. I'll send you what you need to get going in the right direction.

Any welder can make these - those folks are a legit craftsman/craftswomen.

The hardest part is finding the right wheels for a decent price. Dirt bikes usually have two different sized wheels front and back. A 17", 19" or 21" matched pair of dirt bike tires have strong enough axle hubs and spokes to carry the weight of a 14'-16' v hull. I built one for a Grumman sportboat and used 17" wheels. I have since sold it.

For those that are curious, this is a much more complicated project than you'd think. It involves joining round tubing with flat tubing, laying out an equilateral triangle, understanding the integrity of steel thickness and setting it up to balance a boat on two wheels. Then, you need to be a competent welder so your welds don't fail and crush your leg on a muddy portage. Any really good garage tinkerer who understands welding, math and the rule of a triangle can figure it out. But it's not a beginners project.

Take care,

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