Firstly, I'm new here, so I'll be looking over the rules (when I find them, the FAQ link in the header seems broken) and getting to find where things are, I literally just stumbled on this place. I'll apologise in advance for the long-winded post too.
Essentially I'm thinking about the prospect of doing a few "extended-distance" (i.e. >80km multi-day) trips around the country. I don't have a car, and so generally ride everywhere. The last couple of long distance trips (done with other people, and the bike gets left at home) I've found sitting in a car just does me no good whatsoever, and I think the scenery passes by too quickly at 100km/hr. There isn't the same sense of achievement either.
One such trip I'm thinking of would take me from Brisbane south through central New South Wales to Jindabyne then down the Barry Way following the Snowy River out to the Great Ocean Road. That's about 3000km, then I got to get back home! Other (more local) trips would be Brisbane to Imbil: I do volunteer emergency communications work for the Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network, who often have exercises in the Imbil state forest (e.g. horse endurance rides and the International Rally of Queensland). Imbil's a good 160km from here.
I've done some "long-distance" trips before. Mainly in the greater Brisbane area. From my home which is about 10km outside the Brisbane CBD through to Logan Central or Rochedale south of Brisbane, this is about a 40km run each way and takes me about 3 hours (the first hour is from my home at The Gap to the Brisbane CBD). So I know under "normal" circumstances, I can do 80km in 6 hours, with an average speed of around 12km/hr.
I do my own weekly shopping with a Croozer box trailer. This has a 30kg capacity, and fairly lightweight, for shopping it is good as it doubles as a trolley: I take it in with me when I do my shopping. With a trailer full of shopping (so ~8L of milk and a sizeable amount of fruit) I do about 8~10km/hr, or ~6km/hr up hills.
It's also useful when I put one of my bikes in for service: fold the folding bike up, place in trailer, hitch to bike to be serviced, ride to bike shop, un-hitch, drop-off, then get the fold-up out, unfold it and hitch the empty trailer to it and ride home. I'll be doing this tomorrow in fact.
I could use this on trips, but I'm concerned about two things:
- robustness: I've had some of the frame pieces pop apart on me on a few occasions. So I'll have to do some maintenance.
- wheel size: It uses a somewhat odd size (~16" I think?). In the event of needing new tubes (almost a certainty with >1000km trips) or tyres I fear they'll be difficult to source replacements in a small town.
So I'm looking at my options, one being I build my own trailer. I've been fiddling with OpenSCAD modelling a prospective trailer. I haven't got to doing the hitch yet: the Croozer trailer uses a small mount that the rear axle skewer passes through. I could build something to work with that but I'm not sure about strength and what's feasable to tow with it.
The bike I'd be pulling with it is a Giant Talon 29ER 0.
VK4MSL/BM Mk3 » Blogospheric Refraction shows the bike and the radio station on-board. There's a pannier rack with a motorcycle top box on the back where I can stow some clothing, my radio, and some tools. I keep a 10Ah battery in one pannier bag with some room to spare, so I could keep a couple of litres of water on the bike, some food, stove and cooking gear, etc. Presently the other pannier just carries spare tubes and a small first aid kit.
For the trailer, I'd be carrying the bulk of my water (10-20L), food, remaining clothing, tent chair, and, spare 10Ah battery and a solar panel.
I've had my fair share of popped spokes in my time. In fact I wound up buying a whole new wheelset for the bike after a spate of spoke breaks, all on the rear wheel. So add to this, the original wheelset with tyres fitted: I figure I have to be VERY unlucky to bust both sets of wheels.
Therefore I'm looking to build the trailer to use the same 29" wheels that my bike uses. It takes a 15mm thru-axle on the front, which a M8 nut fits neatly through, so I figure I can improvise some axles using a series of M8 spacers and some threadded stock. Using the same wheels as what my bike uses, the tyres, tubes and (front) wheels are interchangeable. I should be able to swap them around to get myself out of and to the nearest town.
What brought me to this this thread: Home built hitch and rack
On researching the load capacities regarding the skewers (something that I don't seem to be able to find), then looking at alternate hitching methods, I saw that post mentioning the whole DIY rack with the integrated hitch. Presently I use Topeak Explorer 29ER racks (disc version): they seem to work okay for about 1500-2000km, then the rack eventually gives way, breaking down near the front and rear support tubes weld to the centre tube, usually on the side where I have the battery (which weighs about 2kg; the rack is rated for 25kg).
I've been considering a Tubus rack which apparently can do 40kg, but a DIY option means I should be able to pick up bits from some regional hardware store. I have a socket set on-board and most people in regional areas would have the necessary tools to turn raw aluminium tubes into useful parts.
I don't know how to weld. I'm "okay-ish" with working with aluminium, wouldn't say metalwork is my strong point but so far I've been able to improvise quite a bit. Cutting, drilling and bolting aluminium tubes is well within my capabilities, even on the road. (I can carry a hacksaw and spare nuts/bolts, maybe a small drill and drill bits, can't carry a welder.)
So a few queries:
- What approaches have people found work best for joining metal sections when building trailers, etc? I need the rack to do a minimum of 30kg (clearly 25kg isn't quite enough) and the trailer is looking like I'll need about 40kg minimum capacity.
- For Charlie_R: I'm greatly inspired by your rack design. You mention the attachment to the bike frame being a weak point, did you find a way to overcome this? Any other gotchas regarding this design?