Long distance dog trailer
I am going on a long tour of a few thousand miles and I need to put together a trailer to bring my dog along in a trailer. He's about 50 lbs. I've definitely decided on a single wheel design because the highway shoulders squeeze pretty narrow in some areas and two wheels would mean riding in traffic or riding half in the gravel.
Here is a rough plan. I would appreciate any input from people who have done stuff like this before.
The trailer wheel will be a 20" or 16" from a kids bicycle probably. I might chop the rear stays that comes with the kids bike and use that to attach the trailer wheel to the bike. Or, I might just drill some axle holes into some aluminum square tube and run those along each side of the wheel. The body will probably be a shallow tupperware bucket bolted onto the chassis unless I come across anything better. The hitch is the tricky part. My bike has eyelets for mounting a rack just above the rear drop outs. I was thinking of connecting a rack to those and letting it hang down behind the rear wheel for pivoting up and down, then somehow connecting an old headset to that for the lateral pivot. Kind of like the BOB trailer. The other choice is to figure out some sort of seat post hitch.
I suspect you'll get some energetic feedback.
I don't want to be a misery-guts but 50lbs is a lot of dog, and combined with everything else will make for a heavy - and unstable - load. More than commercial one-wheelers are typically designed for. Is curb-hugging the only reason you've discounted a two-wheeled trailer? A two-wheeler seems much preferable on other grounds, like ease of build, stability with large loads, and probably comfort for the dog.
As for hitch, I've not made a one wheeled trailer but from what I've read the one-wheeler hitches have to be given extra consideration, not least because it will be under significant loads at all times. Hanging it from the rack is inadequate, from both a geometrical point of view and because racks are not designed for that much load with that distribution. Buying an axle-level hitch from Bob is probably not a bad way to go - and money well spent. However, I still recommended a two-wheeled trailer.
Is there any way you can take preventative measures and just avoid the roads with narrow shoulders?
16" wheels are a nice size. Use only the best containers, as some plastics get brittle and crack very quickly when exposed to the elements (I know).
I wouldn't put my 55 lb dog in a one wheeled trailer. It would probably work for a mile or even two but when the dog shifts all hell will break loose. Two wheels with the load suspended low as possible between them would seem best. I can even feel my dog shift on my old Trek kids trailer but since it has two wheels, it just FEELS like something bad is about to happen. When a road is that narrow, there is generally not enough width for two cars and a bicycle anyway. A trailer is a good way to 'take the lane'. Make it look like a kid is in it and most cars will be better behaved. Maybe a big reflective sign on the back that says, 'Sorry I am slow'.
Well I think I've set my heart on at least trying the one wheel. I've done a bit more reading and decided on a seat post hitch. I realize that it may not work. That is why I am going to try to get the single wheeled trailer banged out and tested as fast as possible in the next few days. If it doesn't balance I should still have time to build a double wheeled contraption.
Best bet is to get an older kids bike trailer off craigslist or something and modify it for your dog. You will need the two wheels because it will be a far smoother ride for your dog. Build what you like and then put a 50 lb bag of dog food in it and a pot of water and see if you can keep the water in the pot on your test rides, it is a good indication of how much jostling around your dog will experience.
Another big advantage of two wheels is that it doesn't want to fall over when you are stopped or moving very slowly and the dog shifts its weight.
The width of the double wheel trailer will allow the dog to stretch out more. Dogs don't do well with changing diets all the time so you are probably going to bring some of his food along and replenish it at major towns? You will need to take food and water, so figure on 75 pounds allocated for the dog at least.
Good Luck! sounds like fun. I wish I could have taken the time to do a longer trip with our dog before he reached his sunset years and got too tired to enjoy it.
When the shoulder gets narrow let your dog run along on your right side.
Bob sells a replacement hitch for their trailers, it is very cheap (I bought one for $20 back in 2003, but I don't know how much they are these days). This is definitely the way to go in my opinion, as it is easy to adapt this to many trailer designs, it's quite sturdy, and keeps the load right on your wheel, so doesn't add extra stress to the frame.
I've often thought how cool it would be to have a built in treadmill on your trailer, so your companion could help out when he was feeling frisky. You'd have to put the belt on an incline or put a harness on the dog, to keep him from simply running off the front. I think this would necessitate a two-wheeler.
Last edited by badmother; 06-10-09 at 01:38 AM.
Yeah, I can imagine the weight being kind of obscene. My thought is the treadmill would have a freewheel, so when the dog got tired, he could stop, and the harness straps would be long enough that he could move back a bit and be pretty free.
Also, it could have some gearing, so that your dog can run at his normal pace, on a nice rubber mat, instead of at whatever pace you're riding, in the gravel (with plenty of broken glass).
I suppose though, that the speed of a touring cyclist and a running dog are not that dissimilar, so maybe the gears are not necessary. I guess I just like gadgets