I needed someway to trailer a Viking Dragonfly 600 miles
from Canton OH to Huntsville AL.
After looking at all the options, I decided a modified
pontoon boat trailer was the optimum solution.
After extensive searching for used and new pontoon boat trailers and
checking with local trailer builders, I had a 24 ft. pontoon boat
trailer built for $1,699.
But it needed some modifications.
I put 20 ft., 2x8 pressure treated board between the angled, carpet
covered boards. This involved adding 4 ft. extensions to 16 ft. boards
and shims to keep the boards from flying off:
I also added aluminum ramps, carried as separate pieces,
but they were only used when turning the trailer around on the lawn.
We had three potential tow vehicles:
- 1993 GMC G30 Coachman V8 - bought as a birthday present for my wife, it runs but burns at least 8 MPG. Top heavy and bearing the wear of 18 years, I try
not to use it unless absolutely necessary. It is licensed and insured but it
has not left the driveway in two years.
- 2003 1.5L Prius - our first Prius, testing revealed it could handle the
empty, 1,000 lb. trailer but it was obviously straining the engine.
In this model Prius, high power operations enrich the mixture to avoid
burning out the catalytic converter. However, my instrumentation revealed
there was no problem with overheading of the transmission. This was expected
but needed to be verified. The reason is the Prius transmission is not
'mechanical' in the traditional sense but uses a Power-Split architecture
that is all but immune to overload stress.
- 2010 1.8L Prius - this vehicle easily handled the 1,000 lb trailer from
the builder to Huntsville, a +100 mile trip.
This Prius uses cooled exhaust to moderate exhaust temperature which
preserves MPG at higher power without risking the exhaust valves or
Furthermore, this car has traction control, ideal when running at or slightly
over the rated load.
Done in one day, the Prius got 38 MPG at 62-63 mph towing the empty trailer.
Clear and dry, there was no problem:
This took two days through a cold, 45F, windy, rainy, wet pavement drive
getting 28 MPG at 53-54 mph.
Handling worked just fine and I only saw the traction control light flash once.
Also, when slowly passing an accident site, I was motioned to stop and the ABS
brakes worked perfectly.
We wrapped the plane in food plastic but the wind and rain pretty well
ripped it off. Still, we didn't have to affix the duct tape to
the plane but the plastic wrap and it held there:
The cross pieces and places under the wing and canard were padded with
pink insulation foam, 1/4", held by duct tape. The firewall and canard opening
also had pink foam sheets, broken to fit and held by duct tape.
This seemed to be an ideal, padding solution as it is cheap, easily folded and
torn to make custom sheet shapes as needed.
We kept the plane on a trailer for a week before two friends helped unload
it into the rented, 10' x 10' x 30' storage shed. We did drain over a gallon
of water from the fuselage and the rest was picked up using towels:
Our 2003 Prius can also tote it around town:
There was some road rash on the wing end, on the outside carpeted boards.
The canard showed some evidence of a rock/pebble impact 'splattering' two
places in the paint.
There was no other evidence of trip wear.