There are now a good number of options on the market to assist with the installation and removal of a freestanding boat lift. By far, the most familiar and popular are wheel kits, so we have provided some information below about kits that we have used.  All of these kits have proven effective in getting boat lifts into and out of the water regardless of the state of the lake bottom.

Smarte Jack Retractable Wheel Kit

The Smarte Jack™ boat lift wheel system is one of the newest systems on the market.  This system combines heavy duty construction with easy installation and operation to give the boat lift owner a very useful tool that will make owning and using your boat lift a far more enjoyable experience.  The Smarte Jack boat lift wheel kit has an 18” travel adjustment and a 700lb per side lift capacity that will fit on most boat lift models out there.  The attachment brackets are adjustable and made to attach to the bottom spreader frame of your lift.

This system is designed to remain in place throughout the season; the wheels can be raised to allow the boat lift foot pads to rest on the lake bottom, which eliminates the need to remove the wheels as in other installation kits. The system can be easily operated with a cordless power drill, wrench, or socket and will raise and lower your boat lift with speed and safety.  This system is designed to allow a single person to install a boat lift in a short amount of time.  With the one-time installation of the wheel system, your install time will be significantly reduced.

Some things to consider with this system are your water depth and possible build up on the moving components if the system is left in the water for extended periods of time.  The 18” travel distance of the Smarte Jack™ installation kit is useful and effective but if you are installing in water depths of three feet or more the top portion of the unit will be underwater, making operation of the mechanism with a drill impossible without an extension. Another thing to be mindful of is that in deep water, the adjustment of the legs of the lift is difficult without the weight being taken on by some sort of support; either a boat lift jack or wheel kit, so you need to consider the water depth and how you will operate the Smarte Jack™ system in these conditions.

The system is set up to be manually adjusted with a socket or wrench but due to the newness of this system we haven’t had enough feedback at this time to state one way or the other the effectiveness of this system in deeper water conditions.  Some customers have reported that the bolts that hold the attachment plates in place on the lower frame needed to be reversed to prevent interference with the lift cradle, and others have remarked the cost was prohibitive but overall the system has been very popular.


Universal Poly-Tire Wheel Kits:

The universal wheel kit from ShoreMaster™ is a very nice system that is designed to move smoothly over most terrain and make installation and removal of your boat lift much easier.  Made from heavy duty aluminum, with an adjustable attachment system, this kit works well with various extrusion sizes.  The kit comes with two 24”, heavy duty plastic wheels and two axles.  The brackets are made to be left on the framework throughout the season, allowing the wheels to be installed and removed with ease. This particular type of install kit is probably the one you are most familiar with, given the ease of attachment and use it has proven to be very popular among boat lift owners.

This system is economically priced when compared to some of the more “high end” systems on the market and has proved very popular. A very similar system has been designed by Craftlander.  Craftlander’s™ Poly wheel kit that is designed to fit many boat lifts on the market and like the ShoreMaster™, is designed to make using your boat lift in seasonal conditions much easier.  The 24” heavy duty wheels will roll over almost anything and the heavy duty aluminum construction will ensure that this system lasts for years to come.


Axle and Hub Assemblies:

This system from Craftlander is rated at 1000lbs per unit and designed to get your boat lift over any terrain and into and out of the water using standard 5-bolt automotive tires.  The system uses a similar attachment setup to the Craftlander™ poly wheel kit but has the added axle and hub assembly allowing any 5-bolt auto tire and rim to be used on the lift.

The brackets are adjustable to accommodate 3”, 4”, and 5” extrusion heights and 2” widths. This axle and hub assembly is very effective, however the use of automotive tires does add some weight and unless you have some spares on hand you may have to acquire some from your local used auto parts warehouse or junkyard.  The other thing to consider with automotive tires is that they are prone to going flat unlike the poly tires used on the other systems.


Shore Station Spindle and Hub Kit

ShoreStationmakes a very similar product to Craftlander in that the Spindle and Hub assembly from ShoreStationis designed to use 5 bolt automotive tires but has the added feature of bearings in the hub assembly.  This system is also rated at 1000lbs per unit and the addition of the wheel bearings makes for a smoother movement of the tire.  The Shore Station Installation kit allows for the use of larger tires than the poly tire kits, which may help some people navigate the rough or uneven terrain that they have around their lake.

This system is good for getting your boat lift in and out of the water but is designed mainly for open road transport of your lift.  There have been instances, when in use, of the grease caps coming off and grease oozing out of the fittings, a situation that can be quite messy, but which doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of the system as a whole. If you have to transport you lift any significant distance seasonally, then this installation kit from ShoreStationcan be combined with a tow hitch attachment to get the job done, a design feature missing from other installation kits on the market.


In the end you want to get on the water and getting your boat lift in place for the season doesn’t have to be a huge deal.  There are several options and we hope that this article has helped in outlining them for you.  The rolling wheel systems available are all easy to install and tested by other lift owners like you and the many professional installing boat lifts all over the country.  In a forthcoming article we will discuss the Boat Lift Jack; another very useful tool that you may want to consider.

© 2013