In many lakes in the US and Canada there are springs that are installed in the spring and removed in the fall. Stationary piers that rest on the bottom of the lake on poles are generally separated into spans that are quite light and can be done by hand. Sometimes the large plastic wheels are permanently attached to the bottom of the dock posts. Often times the fixed dock is light and rigid enough that a 30 ‘long section can be pulled out of the lake and stored on the beach for the winter.
Floating docks typically use polyethylene plastic floats and are made entirely of polyethylene or have a wooden, aluminum, or composite deck that sits on top of the plastic floats. Floating springs weigh significantly more per foot than fixed springs. This added weight makes it difficult to create a long, stiff frame that is light enough to be carried out by hand. Often times the longest sections of the floating dock are limited to about 10 feet. For long docks, the 10-foot sections are connected with flexible connectors. These springs are generally eliminated by separating the sections and manually pulling them out of the water, one 10-foot section at a time. If you have a quiet beach, you may be able to haul the fully assembled dock onto the beach with an ATV or SUV. Sometimes people use PVC pipes as rollers under the pier so that the pier does not have to crawl on the sand.
Manufacturers are now making floating docks that can have a single rigid section up to 32 feet long. These docks are made of structural aluminum bolted to form a 24 “high truss that runs both the length and width of the dock. The polyethylene floats are caged within the truss system and the most common dock materials are can be used as a platform. These truss-like structures are light and strong enough to allow the wheels to be mounted under the dock. If the dock is intended to be rolled up on the beach, the polyethylene wheels can be mounted in a similar way to those used on stationary docks. If the shoreline is too steep or it is not convenient to store the dock along the shore, a road-rated axle, wheels and tires can be installed. The axle is galvanized and bearings are generally protected with a military technology that is designed to maintain positive air pressure in the bearing cavity for one year at a time. continuous rsion. A square or rectangular aluminum tube can be mounted under one end of the spring. This tube acts as a receiver for a 6 ‘long tow bar that inserts around 2’ and then snaps into place. There is a trailer coupler on the extended end of the tongue that is designed to connect to a trailer hitch with a standard 2 “ball.
The dock can be towed along the water to a standard boat launch ramp where the tongue inserts into the receiver turning the dock into a floating trailer. A light truck or SUV backs up the launch ramp until the coupler can float on the trailer ball. The coupler is locked and the truck pulls the dock off the launch ramp like a boat on a trailer. The dock can be towed on the highway for two miles or 200 miles. Temporary trailer lights may need to be installed depending on distance and terrain traveled.
This new “rolling floating dock” technology has dramatically reduced the hassle of installing and removing floating docks. Especially benefiting are oceanfront sites that are very steep and have little or no beaches. Floating docks are available that are up to 17 ‘wide, but can be folded into the launch ramp parking lot to just 8.5’ wide, so no special highway permits are needed. Some docks may also include a second large deck. Large docks that are easy to install and remove can make up for the beach that many lakefront homeowners wish they had.
Some manufacturers may even license the dock as a boat that allows it to be driven around the lake with an outboard motor and a rudder. These docks make for a fun, safe and mobile platform for swimming and fishing. While technology runs all around us, it is good to see that some of that technology provides us with safe places to relax on our favorite lake with a clear mind knowing that the task of closing the winter will be quick and simple.