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  1. #1
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Rehabbed a kiddie trailer

    The trailer that this mod is based on was received free through our local Freecycle chapter. It had been sitting open outside for a couple years so naturally the fabric was thrashed. No matter. The thing that DID cause a minor snafu was the fact that the hitch's spring universal joint was broken and stretched.
    I contacted Bell (still no response) for a new part, but in the mean time I decided to give an idea I had a shot. I went to Lowes and bought a gate spring of approximate size and a length of chain. (not shown) I don't remember the chain's designation, but it fit and the rated working load was about twice what the trailer is rated for. The chain keeps the spring from stretching, while allowing it to bend.

    The chain was used to replace the black plastic piece shown in the above photo

    I've pulled the plastic piece out a bit in the picture to shown that it too was broken, possibly due to the trailer being overloaded by the a previous owner. The break actually occurred at the noticeably stretched portion of the spring. The bolts that hold the spring and clamp assembly in place also passed through the plastic "stick". The trick to the chain was finding one that would fit through the interior of the spring, and have a high enough working load rating (mines twice what the trailer's rated for). I ended up having to hold one link in a pair of pliers and smack the end with a hammer into a concrete block in order to reshape it slightly, just enough for a bolt to pass through. I then used a small zip tie to anchor the chain to the ends of the spring simply for the purpose of easing the assembly process.




    The trailer started life as a standard Bell Kiddie Trailer

    As I mentioned the fabric was thrashed so I replaced it with a couple of sections of ½" plywood that we had laying around in the garage using 2½" x ¼ hex head bolts, fender washers, and stop nuts I also cut holes in the plywood to allow the stock canopy support to remain in place as it provides a perfect mount for lights and other equipment.

    I used the stock bolt holes as much as possible, but I did end up drilling two additional holes on the rear of the trailer to provide additional anchoring points for the deck.

    I had intended to replace the "bolts" that secured the canopy supports to the frame with some longer ones that would allow me to mount the supports on top of the plywood and to use the mounts to help secure the plywood, however the "bolts" turned out to be welded studs, hence the need for the holes to be cut. As you can also see in the picture I chose to mount the Slow Moving Vehicle Triangle (SMVT) on a hinge with a rope keeping it from falling rearward, while the bin keeps it from falling forward.
    You'll also notice that the hinge has some spray paint on it on the deck side. That was a short cut to marking the hole positions for the mounting screws.

    This was done primarily so that the trailer could be collapsed as much possible. (Yeah I know it's way over-built, but I plan to use the same kind of hinge in another application and I wanted to fiddle with one first)




    Also keeping with the collapsible theme I made some holes in the deck so that the wheels could retain their quick release properties.


    The bin is a 35gal Rubbermaid™ Duratote we picked up at the local Big Lots for $10.

    It's held in place by four 1½" x ¼" screws fender washers and tee nuts. I had hoped to use the tee nuts and screws in sort of a "stud and wingnut" configuration until I discovered that the tee nuts would pop out the bottom of the plywood with a slight pressure. Instead I opted to secure the tee nuts to the plywood by sandwiching them between the deck and some plywood scrap and running the screws in through the top with a drill driver (faster than doing it by hand).
    edit: The bolts are now in the stud and wing nut configuration as explained further on in the thread I plan on utilizing the method to use alternate bins (for recycling etc) and for other ideas under development.




    We tried out our new trailer this past weekend, both of us first riding around the block unloaded and then with a 40lb bag of cat litter. After getting a feel for the trailer (slight corner surges which are apparently common with a spring joint hitch and we needed to lower the tire pressure) we set out on a minor mission. Jolt cola in glass bottles from the neighborhood Big Lots and a milk / OJ run to the grocery store. We used a soft sided cooler and some freezer bricks to keep everything cool. It was 90 something degrees out, and while the cooler bag and it's contents were unaffected by the heat we did notice that the dark bin retained heat To remedy this I used some Aluminum HVAC tape that we had on hand and covered the top to reflect some of the heat. This may be a temporary measure as we haven't tried it with the new surface and I'm not sure if it will reflect too much light in a dangerous way.

    Potentially it will be replaced with a layer of white duct tape until we can find a lighter color bin for food hauling use, at which time the current bin will be used for hauling recyclables and other cargo. One other thing we noticed is that this thing likes to fly if we hit a speed bump too fast. I'm planning on adding some cushioning materials to the bin at a later point.

    Also on the agenda:
    • Safety "dork" flag
    • Disassembly and painting of the frame and deck
    • Replacing the current CSPC reflectors with lights for night use
    • Adding reflective tape to the canopy supports
    • Adding eye bolts around the frame perimeter for better bungee cord use
    [/color]
    Last edited by Raiyn; 04-02-08 at 03:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Nice job, Raiyn! Both on the trailer and on the presentation here. Thanks!



    "Think Outside the Cage"

  3. #3
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Nice job, Raiyn! Both on the trailer and on the presentation here. Thanks!

    No worries. I tried to be as descriptive as possible so that others can try it for themselves. This is my / our first trailer and we wanted to start out this way so that we could get a feel for what it is we wanted out of a trailer without laying out the cash for something that we won't use or is wrong for our needs. I fully expect that we might change to a pre-built cargo trailer later on, once we've established our usage.

    One thing our keen eyed observers may notice is that the support / stroller (yeah right) wheel is on the outside of the trailer arm. This was done as a reaction to the mount hitting the spokes while we were trying to turn the bike trailer combo dismounted. The wheel is only there as a support and is not used / mounted when the trailer is attached. We had hoped to use the trailer as a shopping cart, but the stroller handle was missing part of it's clamp, and the front wheel of this thing isn't well suited to the task.
    Last edited by Raiyn; 06-20-07 at 05:12 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    No worries. I tried to be as descriptive as possible so that others can try it for themselves. This is my / our first trailer and we wanted to start out this way so that we could get a feel for what it is we wanted out of a trailer without laying out the cash for something that we won't use or is wrong for our needs. I fully expect that we might change to a pre-built cargo trailer later on, once we've established our usage.

    One thing our keen eyed observers may notice is that the support / stroller (yeah right) wheel is on the outside of the trailer arm. This was done as a reaction to the mount hitting the spokes while we were trying to turn the bike trailer combo dismounted. The wheel is only there as a support and is not used / mounted when the trailer is attached. We had hoped to use the trailer as a shopping cart, but the stroller handle was missing part of it's clamp, and the front wheel of this thing isn't well suited to the task.
    I appreciate the descriptive detail and the great pics. I am on the lookout for a used kiddie trailer on the cheap to convert into a cargo trailer as an alternative to the home brew bamboo trailer I've been considering.
    In this age of mindless consumerism, of atomized populations living in boxes, working in boxes, and traveling in boxes, almost always alone, with only the electronic voices of their new feudal lords to guide them through life, the bicycle becomes an instrument of gentle revolution. --Richard Risemberg

  5. #5
    Conservative Hippie
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    Looks great, Raiyn. Good write up.

  6. #6
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vulpes
    I appreciate the descriptive detail and the great pics. I am on the lookout for a used kiddie trailer on the cheap to convert into a cargo trailer as an alternative to the home brew bamboo trailer I've been considering.
    The best part is that those aren't construction pics. I tore it down / put it back together in the space of about ten or fifteen minutes including the pictures. It took longer to edit / upload the photos than take them. As far as finding a kiddie trailer try craigslist and the freecycle link I gave above. I got lucky getting mine for free, but before that I had a line on a used Fisher Price trailer in good (clean) condition for $60 so deals do exist
    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun
    Looks great, Raiyn. Good write up.
    Thanks



    One thing I feel I should mention: I've found that Rubbermaid products perform as advertised where their competitors have an unacceptable failure rate. Sterilite containers just plain suck in an active / non traditional use role.
    Last edited by Raiyn; 04-02-08 at 03:11 PM.

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Yes, kiddie trailers are the kind of thing you're likely to find on freecycle. People buy them, beat the hell out of them, and 5 years later the kids are grown and the trailer's just cluttering up the garage. And they are so unbelievably popular right now that there should be a good supply of them for years to come.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  8. #8
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Raiyn, I like all your photos. Nice build! I just had one question about the hitch. On the original trailer, where did the Spring assembly fit? Was it on the hub or the chain/seat stay? From your photos, it looks somewhat like my current trailer and I suspect I'm missing a piece of something. Just wondering...

  9. #9
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv
    Raiyn, I like all your photos. Nice build! I just had one question about the hitch. On the original trailer, where did the Spring assembly fit? Was it on the hub or the chain/seat stay? From your photos, it looks somewhat like my current trailer and I suspect I'm missing a piece of something. Just wondering...
    It clamps to the chainstay on the left side. The spring I replaced went from the clamp to the towing arm. The chain allows the clamp and spring to rotate downwards which makes it look funny in the pictures

  10. #10
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    It clamps to the chainstay on the left side. The spring I replaced went from the clamp to the towing arm. The chain allows the clamp and spring to rotate downwards which makes it look funny in the pictures
    Hate to ask, but if you have your camera close to your bike sometime, could you send us a photo of the clamp on the chainstay?

  11. #11
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv
    Hate to ask, but if you have your camera close to your bike sometime, could you send us a photo of the clamp on the chainstay?
    <trudges out to garage> click click *



    I'm not quite 100% sure why you need the pictures, but there they are. On the bright side, I discovered that I forgot to lock the bikes in the garage.

  12. #12
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Raiyne, would a piece of garden hose over the spring make the trailer a bit less surgie? Just a thought!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  13. #13
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
    Raiyn, would a piece of garden hose over the spring make the trailer a bit less surgie? Just a thought!
    I'm not certain on that one. One would think that it would be a matter of spring stretch causing the surges, however, the chain in the spring keeps it from extending. As far as the garden hose I don't want to make the joint too stiff. The surging really is a minor issue, we just noticed because we're new to the whole trailering thing.

    I did find this useful:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon_Brown
    Trailers and Tricycles

    Trikes and two-wheel trailers are very different from bikes, because they don't lean in corners. Most tire wear comes from cornering forces. On a bike, these forces act on different parts of the tread, according to how far one leans into various corners at various speeds.

    With a trailer or trike, all of the wear is concentrated on the middle of the tread. If you overinflate the tires, you'll be riding on only the very center of the tread, and it will wear rapidly.

    In addition, wheel alignmnent is never going to be perfect. As a result, the paired tires will always "scrub" a bit. If the tires are rock hard, this will cause rapid wear. If the tires are softer, they can flex slightly sideways to accommodate the scrub, without wearing the tread off.

    With trailers, severe overinflation can also lead to flipping the trailer over, due to the tires bouncing on road irregularities.
    So it could just be that the surging around the corner is a reaction to tire scrub going around corners and that the spring is compensating for it. I don't know. When it comes to trailers I'm no expert.


    R-a-i-y-n
    Last edited by Raiyn; 06-21-07 at 02:19 PM.

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    <trudges out to garage> click click *


    I'm not quite 100% sure why you need the pictures, but there they are. On the bright side, I discovered that I forgot to lock the bikes in the garage.
    Raiyn, thanks. The hitch is exactly the same as I have on my older Instep trailer. My problem is that the large screw is missing, so I've had to DYI another screw. Problem w/ this design is that if the screw is very tight, the hitch can start to slide on your chainstay. Mine did a weird thing as I rounded a corner with unpleasant results for my wheel. However, you may get enough torque on the screw so that it would never come loose... hope so....

  15. #15
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv
    Raiyn, thanks. The hitch is exactly the same as I have on my older Instep trailer. My problem is that the large screw is missing, so I've had to DYI another screw. Problem w/ this design is that if the screw is very tight, the hitch can start to slide on your chainstay. Mine did a weird thing as I rounded a corner with unpleasant results for my wheel. However, you may get enough torque on the screw so that it would never come loose... hope so....
    ???

    If the screw is tight why would it move? Also if you'll note how I have the safety strap routed there isn't much slack

  16. #16
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    UPDATE






    Well It's painted....
    Frame:
    I used Rustoleum Fluorescent Green spray paint on the upper / outer surfaces (I'm not happy with the matte finish) which I topped with Rustoleum Reflective spray paint (again I'm not happy with the reflectivity of the product, but I had it on hand and it didn't cost me anything).
    I also added some blue reflective tape leftover from outfitting my girlfriend's bike.

    Deck: Primed with Shellac based primer (bug squeezings) and painted with someone's leftover latex house paint acquired from our local hazardous recycling center (free). Added a safety flag by mounting it to the hinged SMVT.

    What's left:
    • Replacing the current CSPC reflectors with lights for night use
    • Adding eye bolts around the frame perimeter for better bungee cord use
    • Additional ideas I'm working on


    We haven't used the trailer at night yet, so for now the blinkies are on the back burner. I haven't determined the best locations for the eyebolts yet, but then again we haven't needed to haul anything yet that couldn't go in the bin. As for the other ideas....they're in development.

    So far the trailer has been a learning experience.
    • If the paint/ frame condition had been better (no minor surface rust) I probably wouldn't have painted it.
    • I suck at spray painting
    • The SMVT / safety flag assembly will be a carryover
    • I work better with metal than I do with wood (could just be a tool issue)
    • For groceries the bin really should be a light color (in addition to being cooler internally this also potentially adds to the visibility of the trailer).
    • Towing a trailer is a different experience that really adds to the utility of a bike

  17. #17
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vulpes
    I am on the lookout for a used kiddie trailer on the cheap to convert into a cargo trailer as an alternative to the home brew bamboo trailer I've been considering.
    I wasn't even looking for one and found this two child trailer for $10 at a garage sale last Saturday. Only fix required was pumping up the tires. Didn't really need it but I thought it would be useful for taking empty deposit bottles and cans to the recycle station, as well as for hauling yard waste to a nearby dump.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #18
    Golden Member JR97's Avatar
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    I recently did a mini-tour pulling a kiddie trailer. My internal frame backpack fit nicely with just a enough room to stick in a folding chair. As much as I'd love a Burley Nomad, I think I'll save the money and just keep using the kiddie trailer and use the Nomad money for an Xtracycle.

  19. #19
    Lost in Los Angeles Bizurke's Avatar
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    I just got an old kiddie trailer a few weeks ago that someone left outside by the garbage for free. The material is very weathered and the wood base is starting to come apart. I was planing to do something very similar to what you have done so seeing it done first is a big help. Now I just need to get a new wood deck for it and tear all the cloth off of it. Thanks for sharing all the pics and details.

  20. #20
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bizurke
    I just got an old kiddie trailer a few weeks ago that someone left outside by the garbage for free. The material is very weathered and the wood base is starting to come apart. I was planing to do something very similar to what you have done so seeing it done first is a big help. Now I just need to get a new wood deck for it and tear all the cloth off of it. Thanks for sharing all the pics and details.
    Just glad to be of service

  21. #21
    The good looking one Bikehead's Avatar
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    what about fenders

    Hello All

    Just got a Schwinn kiddie trailer, this week.
    Took off the rotted outer cover,and are going
    to build, a trailer. What about fenders for the
    trailer, has anyone ever put them(fenders) on
    one. Incase you have to ride in rain? Does the
    spray from the tires, reach the bike rider?
    Just a few questions, that came to mind (pea
    size). Of course if your wearing a rain suit, guess
    rain, doesn't matter. Oh one more thing, has
    anyone one ridden with a trailer, in winter, in the
    snow. We have a lot sometimes, there in Ohio.
    Well thanks for any info you might have.
    Bikehead
    1993 Schwinn Paramount series 3
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  22. #22
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikehead
    What about fenders for the
    trailer, has anyone ever put them(fenders) on
    one.
    No, but I've considered it. I was going to use a reclaimed Rubbermaid garbage can lid cut in half and fitted to some kind of bracket (probably a pair of small shelf brackets each). That or break down and buy a set of 20" trike fenders and rig up mounting points on the frame I might still do it, but my girlfriend keeps giving me this squiggle-eyed look whenever I mention it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikehead
    In case you have to ride in rain? Does the
    spray from the tires, reach the bike rider?
    I doubt it. The center of the wheel on my trailer is about 4' back from the hitch, and since most of the rooster tail is going to be flung upwards I don't think it's going to reach you unless you're flat out FLYING (which with a loaded trailer isn't that likely) To be honest with a bin on it I really don't need the added weight as my cargo will stay dry as is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikehead
    Oh one more thing, has
    anyone one ridden with a trailer, in winter, in the
    snow. We have a lot sometimes, there in Ohio.
    Well thanks for any info you might have.
    That one I couldn't tell you.

  23. #23
    Year-round cyclist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikehead
    1. What about fenders for the
    trailer, has anyone ever put them(fenders) on
    one. Incase you have to ride in rain? Does the
    spray from the tires, reach the bike rider?
    I have thought about it. both for the former 2-children trailer and the current Nomad trailer, but I haven't done anything yet. It will likely procrastinate for a few years. Adam K., though, has done it and he shows how here (towards the end)

    Basically, rain (light or heavy) tends to splash behind the trailer, and therefore not on me. If I also have my rear panniers, they often receive a few droplets, nothing more. I suspect it would be a problem if I were to ride in the rain in fancy clothes, but with my typical clothing – city compatible, usually in neutral colours – these drops would not be noticed. And if I have the rear panniers, nothing flies back on me. Snow and slush are different: because they are heavier, they stick more and the trailer wheels throw some definite chunks either on me or my rear panniers.

    The main "problem" with rain is that it makes the trailer dirty. And riding in winter makes it filthy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bikehead
    2. Has anyone one ridden with a trailer, in winter, in the
    snow. We have a lot sometimes, there in Ohio.
    I do. Typical Winter conditions (ice, hard-packed snow, etc.) are not a problem. If you climb a steep hill, you might notice that you don't have enough weight on your own rear wheel for traction on ice. That's when you learn to spin smoothly!
    Fresh snow is a bit more problematic in that you dig your trail. If you find that digging a single trail in 10-15 cm of wet snow is a problem, think of the workout you'll get when you dig three such trails!

    Typically, when the kids were young, I used the trailer regardless of the weather. Now that I use the trailer for cargo, I try to avoid using it when it's messy. Considering our weather patters, that typically doesn't require too much planning.


    And finally, one aspect to consider. If you use a child trailer, the plastic "window" becomes brittle at around -15 C. On my former trailer, I had a lot of tape on that window.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  24. #24
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    UPDATE



    Well It's painted....
    [/list]
    I like the way the finished trailer looks so far. Very nice.


    You wanted to use the bright green from that green car I like so much didn't you?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  25. #25
    Grumbly Goat Bushman's Avatar
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    great write-up an pics, thank you!

    i just realized i missed out on a free trailer today...oh well... lots to be found.

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