Installing a Pipe Dock

Tips on How to Install a Pipe Dock

By Mark J. Donovan

Installing a pipe dock is hard and heavy work, particularly if you do not know what you are doing. If you have plans to install a pipe dock make sure you have at least one pair of strong extra hands to help. It is also wise to thoroughly plan out the pipe dock installation so you do not waste time and energy, and minimize the risk of injury.

It took me nearly a day the first time I installed my pipe dock. However, over the years I have become quite efficient in the installation of it. Today, I can install it in about 2 hours.

My pipe dock consists of 4 sections of dock and eight sections of pipe. Each dock section is 8’x4’ and the 1.5” pipes vary in length from 5’ to 7’. I use my pipe dock to tie up a 20’ ski boat, a 3 seat Jet Ski, and a 12’ aluminum hull boat.

At the end of the pipe dock, it sits in about 3.5 feet of water. After a decade of use, I have never had an incident where it has failed, even in the worst of thunder storm conditions and wave action, with all boats tied up to it.

Tools Required for Installing a Pipe Dock

To install a pipe dock you will need a few key tools. You will need a large sledge hammer (e.g. 10 lbs), a heavy duty metal pipe cap, a level, a 3-4’ length of 2×6, assorted wrenches, and a hammer. A wet suit is also helpful depending upon the temperature of the water.

Installing a Pipe Dock

To install a pipe dock I first install the large pipe support side brackets onto the side-end of the dock section that extends the furthest into the water.

I attach the side brackets so that half of it supports the underside of the first section of dock, and the other half extends outward to accept the next section of dock. I do this on both sides of the dock section, and for all 4 sections before getting into the water. The support side brackets are secured with bolts.

 Here is a pipe dock I built on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.

After preparing the pipe dock sections I place the first section of dock into the water so that the side with the brackets extends the furthest into the water.

Next, I prop up the near side of the pipe dock section onto the shore and make sure it is level side to side using my level.

I then lift up the far end of the dock section, and place temporarily a 3-4 foot length of 2×6 underneath the end of the dock section. This allows the section of dock to free stand at a fairly level position.

I then slide the two pipes into the end side brackets.

Next, I carefully stand on the section of dock, sticking close to the center of the dock.

I then use a sledge hammer, and pipe cap to protect the ends of the pipe, to drive the pipes into the lake bed approximately12-16”. This takes a great deal of effort, so plan on taking your time and switching off with your helper.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

Once the two pipes have been sufficiently driven into the lake bed, I then place my level on the dock section, and adjust the height of the dock section so that it is level (side to side, and back to front). Simultaneously I have my helper tighten the bolts on the side brackets to hold the dock section permanently in position. Finally, I remove the temporary 2×6 board from underneath the dock section.

After installing the first dock section, I then slide up into place the second dock section. I lift the near shore end up onto the exposed side brackets and slide a bolt into each side of it to the hold the end of the dock in place. I also put a washer and nut on the backside of each bolt, and lightly tighten them.

Next, I lift the far end of the dock section up, and put the 2×6 length of board underneath the center of it to temporarily hold it up. Again, I slide in the next pair of pipes and drive them into the lake bed.

I continue this process until all sections of the pipe dock are installed.

After installing the pipe dock, I then go back and use a wrench to tighten all of the bolts.

Lastly, I install my boat mooring whips and side bumpers and my pipe dock is ready for the season.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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