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  1. #1
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    trailer and cargo-bike build (updated as I go along!)

    Hello everyone. I am building a single-wheeled trailer for use in my courier business. Eventually I hope to be capable of carrying much greater loads, but for now this will be a big step up.

    I'll update this as the trailer progresses, and you can see the problems I run into, where I change my mind or get new ideas, etc.

    Firstly, this will involve welding - I got a second-hand arc welder for 20, so I'll be welding things together rather than some kind of bolt-on arrangement.

    Some home-made trailers that are particularly inspiring:

    Trailer Construction Tips
    http://www.instructables.com/id/new_...eted_march_09/
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Sing..._Bike_Trailer/

    And a few othes that I'll post up when I find them again!

    I was going to make the main frame and basket of the trailer out of salvaged angle iron, but I since was very lucky and found some ideal material. I will reveal the source, incase anyone else wants to try their luck. There is a very large Royal Mail depot not too far away, and I noticed a skip on their site full of bikes (none that didn't need a lot of work), bike parts, and separate front baskets. Here are what the bikes are like:



    And the baskets I got:



    I will use two, cutting one end off each of them, then welding them together. I started doing this with two of the wrong type of baskets - note how they are asymetrical, and bent that way, whereas the type I just showed above will be mostly symetrical once I cut that extra bar off the long edge.



    So, today's job is to go back to the skip and see if I can get a partner for the "right" type of basket. There were three types I noticed, in all. I should note that I did in fact speak to the manager of the workshop on site and had his express permission to take what I wanted from the skip

    Today I was also cutting up bike frame bits:


    You ain't Raleigh any more...

    I plan to attach that part to the basket of the trailer kind of like this:



    With the forks cut off, turned 90 degrees (anti-clockwise in that picture), and welded back on. See the first link at the top for an example.

    I will then have to fashion some kind of custom hitch, which I'll worry about later.

    As for the back of the trailer:


    Something like that. I'll improvise how well it needs to be attached. I don't know what wheel I'll use yet, but it will come from a kid's bike when I find one, I guess.

    The piece in the above picture: this is what you call a frozen stem :/



    So that's it for now. I'll post again when I've done some more on it. Eventually it will all be painted green, to match my company colours. I hope it will look pretty cool - we'll see.

    Thanks for your interest.

    --Joe
    Last edited by rtciv; 07-06-09 at 03:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member poopisnotfood's Avatar
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    I am excited to see this thread progress, I love DIY projects. Great ideas.

  3. #3
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Hi Joe,
    Good to see you have made a start. Nice find with the post office bikes, I thought of using a shopping trolly basket for mine at first! this could still be an option? Just cut the wobbly wheels of and weld up the flappy bit.

    Make sure that the forks you have actually fit around your back wheel? - remember your back wheel is wider than a pair of front forks due to the cogs etc

    Youv'e probably already seen my cobbled together hitch - (wider than the back wheel)



    As yet still untested. I'll try and get a couple of pics done to show you it hooked up.

    Keep updating your progress mate, I'd like to see how your getting on

    Regards
    Tom

  4. #4
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BossCat View Post
    Keep updating your progress mate, I'd like to see how your getting on
    +1
    Tour Journals, Blog, ride pix

    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

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    Thanks for the interest.
    BossCat - yea, I did a bit of manual re-proportioning of the forks I'll use to connect the trailer to the bike. They fit just about right, now.
    I like your hitch a lot, it looks better than simply a set of front forks sticking out from the trailer. I do have some spare handlebars/stem that I suppose I could employ. Hmm. It does mean more welding, though, and I'm really not very good at it. I'll see how it looks when it's coming together.

    Yesterday I retrieved two more baskets, a very heavy-duty panier rack, and an entire frame of one of those post bikes (including a very useful lock... the kind that is fixed onto the back of the frame and inserts a bar through the rear wheel).

    I'm heading out to do some hacking and whacking now.

  6. #6
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    Hello again. I've been getting some advice from my technically-minded friend, and have come up with an alternative frame design. The pieces are now cut - though they do need to be trimmed a bit. I'll try to weld them tomorrow, if I manage it.

    Once it is welded as shown, I am going to cut out a ~10cm section from the middle of each of the short ends (and the cross braces), then shift the resulting two long halves back together, thus making the whole thing about 40-45cm wide. This is so that it will be no wider than my handlebars. I have drop handlebars on my bike, and they're fairly narrow. The frame as it is now is already narrower than handlebars on many hybrid/commuter bikes, but I want to be able to go exactly where I could go before, on my current bike (since I don't know when I'll be employing new bikes or anything).

    Plus, a single-wheel trailer needs to be pretty narrow, I imagine, for stability.

    Seeing this lovely big trailer frame is tempting me to make a two-wheeler instead, though. The one-wheeler will be such trouble to get right!

    My idea at the moment is to paint the frame green, and then have a black fabric linining on the inside of the cage, so that the green tubing is visible from the outside. I reckon it would look pretty cool.






  7. #7
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Before you start welding. A little tip! Get a length of wooden dowel rod (cut it to size) and slip a couple of inches of it into the basket tubing - (you could glue it as well?) then slot it all together. This will reinforce your tubing at the weld points plus make your basket SOLID and easier to weld.

    Comming along nicley mate
    Tom

  8. #8
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Hi rtciv,

    Sorry for hijacking your thread, but as were working on the same kinda project I dont think you'll mind to much?

    Done a bit more work to my mono hitch today. Iv'e got some aluminium angled plate that you may have seen me use on other trailers? I drilled 4 holes in plate and used a couple of clamps! (think there used to bolt satilight dishes to walls?) to secure the angle plate to my hitch. Drilled another couple of holes in plate for trailer frame then bolted it all together. I haven't put my grey box back on yet as I cant just yet? - The bolts that clamp on the hitch stick out a little bit much to slip the box on. I may have to drill the box and clamp through it.

    Attached to bike - need to trim bolts down a bit.



    Hitch attached to frame - I can get a good 45 degree turn but I think with the box on it will be reduced due to the box hitting the hitch.



    Clamp Bolts - You can see from this picture how the bolts stick out into the frame area where the box will sit.



    Full Setup - Took a few pics but this was the only half decent one that turned out. Will get a few more taken.



    Still a bit of cleanup grinding to do and a fresh lick of paint. Yes (I KNOW) theres a BIG gap between hitch & tyre, its just the way it worked out. Also the hitch is not welded up completly square! but it'll have to do for now.
    I found an old ironing board, the legs are bent about right I may get my mate to redo the hitch - We'll see.

    Regards
    Tom

  9. #9
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Its me again

    Got some more done today. Grinded off a few knobbley welds and bits, was going to grind off where stem was attached to bike frame but mate came around for his grinder - (iv'e had it 4 weeks).

    As you can see mine was once a Raleigh - Don't know how badge got turned upside down? You can also see (maybe?) from this pic it aint straight - mate must have welded it squint!



    As my mate took his grinder back (I'll loan it back ) I thought i'd just do a wee quick paint job. I also bolted my grey box back on.

    Damn - forgot to take a pic of clamps/brackets bolted through box


    The turn is not great due to box being on. I could extend the angle bracket out further to give me a better turning circle but I have now drilled and bolted throught the box
    You can see the two bits where the old bike stem was welded - I still have to grind these off and do another paint job.


    This is how it looks all hooked up.





    I suppose I best go take it for a test run now that the box has been bolted back on.
    I'll report back how it handles/tracks and if there are any hicups!

    How's the welding coming along rtciv? You got you basket done yet?

    Regards
    Tom

    PS... The yellow spider bungee is just to holdthe lid on until I make some sort of hinge and lock.

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    Good stuff, BossCat! That's looking pretty well sorted out. I'll be interested to hear how it handles, especially as you add weight to it.

    I haven't done any productive welding yet, it's taking me a long time preparing the metal. I have 13 joints to weld for the basket, and so 26 areas that need paint removing. It's taking about 15-20 minutes for each 2-3" section so far. I'm not looking forward to stripping the rest of the basket! Realistically it's going to be another month at least before I get it sorted, if it works at all. If I had bought a trailer when I was going to, three weeks back, I'd be up and running by now. It's more fun and "credible" to build it, I feel, but it's certainly holding me back.
    Things do take everso long, don't they.

    I wonder, what are the dimensions of your trailer? The whole thing, from the hitch to the back wheel, and also then the cargo area.

    Thanks

  11. #11
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Hi rtciv,

    After a few test runs (empty) the trailer tracks ok, you hardly know its there. Today I done a bit of shopping. While buying my shopping I think I was unconsciously buying heavy stuff - 8 tins beans - Sugar - big bag of spuds etc.
    Having loaded up my shopping I headed off to my mates about 2 mile. The trailer handled ok, the bike a little wobbley but I think that happens with all trailers? I cant take SHARP turns due to the box but so far this hasn't been a problem.
    When I got home I weighed myself on the bathroom scales - A peanut off 12 Stone I then picked up all my shopping and stood on scales again - 14 Stone dead. So my trailer handled 2 Stone today

    Just mesured the trailer - Lenght 63in from hitch to rear of tyre. If you look at the picture you'll seen theres a bit of a gap between tyre & trailer, there is also abit of a gap between trailer frame & wheel. I done this as I planed to attach a dynamo to the rear of trailer frame, which would be driven by a chain from trailer wheel. You may just see a small bar in front of the trailer wheel? - this will hold the dynamo/cordless drill motor?


    The load area is - Length 20 1/2in X Width 12 1/2 in. just fine for my shopping trips Should I need to haul anything bigger i'll use my bought (2 wheel) trailer. I also have another long/large haul trailer im still working on...




    I wont be able to continue with my BIG trailer (above) until a scource out more materials

    Regards
    Tom
    Last edited by BossCat; 07-01-09 at 10:43 PM.

  12. #12
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Wow, how about this mono trailer I just found.



    Guys blog.
    http://lacemine29.blogspot.com/2008/...-timeline.html

    Regards
    Tom

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    Hello again. Well, true to my intention of updating as I go along, I'd like to express my current thinking on the whole project.

    You'll be dissappointed to hear that now actually I'm thinking more of making a longtail, plus a two-wheel trailer. It would be better for my intended purpose, I think. I could make a really nice-looking and solid xtra-cycle style rack with the red steel tubing I have from the baskets, and also I could weld the bike itself together, instead of bolting.

    I'll keep thinking.

  14. #14
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    What about building something like this....



    http://www.cyclofiend.com/working/20...hamon0208.html

    There are pictures of it carrying two big bucket type panniers?
    Regards
    Tom

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    That doesn't look good enough, BossCat. It's all about the image.

    Tonight I did the first welds of this project, and now the trailer basket is in two pieces instead of three! I'll put pictures up tomorrow.

  16. #16
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Question

    Glad to hear the weldings coming along.

    TRY sticking to the one thing - Mono Wheel - Longtail/Xtracycle - 2 Wheeled Trailer? Dont jump from project to project because of the odd hicup. Everything takes time mate.

    Code:
    That doesn't look good enough, BossCat. It's all about the image.

    I think that would be eye catching for your courrier business? (cant spell courrier )

    Regards
    Tom

  17. #17
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    Aye, I am very indecisive. I think? I'm not sure, actually.


    The plan was originally to make a one-wheel trailer and also a two-wheel trailer. But I think it would make more sense to make a longtail plus a two-wheel trailer (to be used when needed). I reckon a longtail would be more striking and generally look better and more capable than having a trailer permanently attached.
    At this stage in the trailer side of the project, it's just about basic welding of the basket, which I'd have to do anyway. So I'm getting that done, regardless.

  18. #18
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BossCat View Post
    That hitch design doesn't allow much vertical movement of the trailer relative to the bike. Why don't you orientate the rod ends the other way, like this....

    These plates have a nut welded onto the insides, you can just make out the thread...


    The rod ends are attacjed to the swingarm by threadind them onto high tensile bolts welded directly to the swingarm. This allows you to 'tune' the length of each leg of the swigarm.


    I welded wingnuts to the bolt heads that attacj the trailer to the bike. Makes it quick & easy to hitch the trailer to the bike.



    The swingarm is a steel fork with the legs cut off and welded at 90 degrees.
    The finished product...
    Last edited by Cyclaholic; 07-05-09 at 06:25 PM.

  19. #19
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    My welding:

    The two pieces held together by a length of old inner-tube:


    The first weld, done where the parts were held tightly onto each other:



    The second weld, on the other side of the basket. Here there was a ~1.5mm gap which was really hard to fill without blowing holes in the end of the tubes. I eventually got it joined, though:


    They are possibly the least attractive welds ever laid down, but I don't mind about that. It's been raining all day today so I haven't done any more yet. Now that those two welds are on it should be much easier to reinforce them, and do the other welds as well.

  20. #20
    Trailer Nut BossCat's Avatar
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    Damn!!! This lads not paying any attention I'll have to cycle down with ma BIG Whip.

    Didn't you see my tip about wooden dowle?

    Regards
    TC

  21. #21
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    Yea, I did, and last night while desperately trying to align the tubes, I wished I had some. But I didn't, so I just did it anyway. It wouldn't have made my welds any neater anyway, to be honest. That inner-tube tie held it all as tight as it would get, there was a slight gap at one join but the other three were flush.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Gareth's Avatar
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    Hmmm !


    Right, Welds; I'm going to have my two-penn'th .... .... ... So I hope no one takes offence.

    Here is my bike trailer, it is fully welded using a MIG welder; a decent industrial set and with the correct gas mix, but more importantly the tubing is mainly 2 mm wall thickness, and I am qualified and very experienced welder, so all of the joints have been properly prepped; even so, some of the welds were far from perfect, and required rework and rectiyfing.

    [img][/img]

    A 1.5mm gap is sometimes more benifical, allowing a full penetration, full fusion weld, rather than a weak on the surface "blob" that often occurs with butted up joints, especially when working with thin walled tubing.

    At the moment I do not have access to any welding gear, either MIG, "Stick" or Oxy/Acet gas. However, I am building a steel single wheel bike trailer for myself. The tubing that I am using is 10 mm |(outside) diametre X 1.5 mm wall thickness hydraulic pipe: All of the joints will be brazed, using a reasonably cheap propane gas torch, flux coated brass rods, an extra tub of flux, and a propane cyclinder.

    This I can do at home; I live in a ground floor flat, without any workshop facilities, and I am doing the "Hot work" outside on the communal lawn (the tube bending, cutting, etc. is all being done in my kitchen).

    Brazing on steel, or brass welding as it is correctly known is a very forgiving method and is extremely suitable for bicycle related work. After all, up until the widespread use of tig welding only a few years ago, virtually every joint on a steel bike was brazed.

    This is the torch that I am using: http://www.machinemart.co.uk/shop/pr...h-with-nozzles As you can see, it is a realively inexpensive torch set, and it does supply more than sufficent heat to complete the brazing work when using 3 mm flux coated rods.

    Propane is a "dirty" burning gas, producing a lot of carbon soot if the flame is not set high enough, that is why I am using extra flux in conjuction with the flux coated rods. Joint preperation is also very important; all of the joints I am making are cleaned throughly with a piece of emery until shiny. I am then using a piece of coarser emery cloth to literally score the joints surace before coating with the made up flux paste. This will allow a better flow of the molten brass into the joints.

    Brazing (or brass welding) is also very tough, and will allow a better flexing through the the completed joints. Welding, and especially poor welding can actually weaken a joint resulting in catastrophic failure due to stress cracking. A little flexing is not a bad thing, especially if you take into account the current state of the majority of Britain's roads


    OK;

    Most tool supply shops, etc. will either stock, or be able to source the propane torch. If you live in a larger town or City, a smaller independent garage or engineering works will often sell you Brazing rods and some flux (ask to see the foreman, charge hand, etc. and offer cash ).

    If you live in a more Rural area, go to the local Agricultral or horticultral machine dealer (tractors, mowers, etc.) almost all of these will retail a single Brazing rod and a small tube of flux.

    A supplier of Hydraulic pipe can be found in most towns; a full 6 metre length of (uncoated bare steel) 10 mm pipe recently cost me 8+VAT (Stauff UK, Wymondham, Norfolk). If the company also does hydraulic installations, you may be able to purchase a few lengths of off-cuts or scrap tubing for a small donation to the "Tea fund."

    Failing all that, if you live in the UK and are still struggling, send me an email or a personal message, and I will see if I can help you further.

    Regards

    Gareth.
    Last edited by Gareth; 07-07-09 at 06:44 AM.

  23. #23
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    That's a very good looking trailer, Gareth! I will come back later to ask you about "painting" it and such.

    Thank you for all the advice about welding and brazing. I reckon I'm going to stick to my stick, though, and continue arc welding it. I've got a lot better already and my later joints seem much improved. I'll get some pics up soon.
    I just need to get something built ASAP, really.

    In general: I have almost finished the basket of the trailer. All last week it kept raining five or six times a day, so I never got my welding gear set up to finish it off. Hopefully I will do that today.

    Then I need some wheels, which I think I can source quite easily. I may also need some more tubing, since I need to construct the "wrap" around the outside of the wheels, to hold the outer drop-out. I think I'll use dropouts cut from actual bike forks, to save fabricating those from plate metal.

    Oh, and regarding the longtail bike - the mountainbike frame I was going to use is actually aluminium, so I will need to find another one (I want to weld it). There don't seem to be many suitable bikes for sale around here at the moment.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Gareth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rtciv View Post
    That's a very good looking trailer, Gareth! I will come back later to ask you about "painting" it and such.

    I may also need some more tubing, since I need to construct the "wrap" around the outside of the wheels, to hold the outer drop-out. I think I'll use dropouts cut from actual bike forks, to save fabricating those from plate metal..
    Have you considered using the front forks and headset tube from something like a cheap kiddies BMX?

    If the complete head set tub was cut away from the rest of the frame, it could be used in conjuction with a couple of quick realese type pins, so that wheels and forks rotate through 90 degrees for storage.

    This is not my idea, but one gleaned from another single wheel bike trailer project that I found posted on the internet:



    The painting of my 2 wheel bike trailer was a relatively simple and straight forward affair, as I brush painted it with three coats of paint; Hammerite red-oxide primer/undercoat, Hammerite smooth dark blue topcoat, and finally a coat of hammerite hammered dark blue. Here is a copy and paste from my bike trailer blog on; www.overthegate.com

    "I'll bet that you lot had thought that I had forgotten about my Bike trailer, and it had become an abandoned project.

    Well, you were not far off the mark; working hard on the Ocean Observer, meeting Lois and forming a new relationship, and my new virgin plot allotment have consumed a lot of time recently. But last week I had the opportunity to finish the rubbing down to bare metal and repainting my two wheel bike trailer at long last; it's only taken me 9 months to get around to it.

    Anyway last week I got the paint on, and over the weekend I actually managed to reasemble the trailer. As it was me, one incident, and one technical problem arose.

    The incident;

    I spent all of Thursday painting: One coat of Hammerite Primer undercoat, one coat of Hammerite Smooth dark blue top coat, and one coat of Hammerite Dark blue hammered finish paint. Because I live in a smallish ground floor flat without a garden, I chose to undertake the work in my internal hallway. Suspending the bike trailer from a piece of timber resting on the toilet, and bedroom door frames. All well and good in theroy, but damn well dangerous in practice.

    I had opened all of the five windows and internal doors in my flat to allow ventilation, but there was no wind, and therefore no draught. At approx. 5 pm, Lois found me passed out on the sofa. I had stopped for a cuppa after finishing the third and final coat of paint, but had not realised that the paint fumes had built up. I was awoken abruptly by Lois, and dragged outside into the fresh air, and it took a good few minutes and a little "mouth to mouth" for me to return to my senses. So if it says use in a well ventilated area on the tin, follow that advice, and if possible do the painting outside.

    The problem that has arisen;

    Originally, 10 years ago this Bicycle trailer was designed and built to be towed behind a fixed frame mountain bike on 26 inch diameter wheels. My Falcon Explorer has 700c diameter wheels fitted, and therefore the the trailer's drawbar is not long enough to fit to the seat post; my chosen towing point. I now have to make a new bracket to fit onto the rack of my current bicycle, and it may be another couple of weeks before I am tearing about Norwich with trailer loaded with shopping, etc. following behind me.

    The bike trailer hanging from the door frames and the first coat of red-oxide primer on;

    [img][/img]

    This will give you some idea how small my place is; Who else do you know who keeps their bicycle and bike trailer in their living room? ROFL .

    [img][/img]

    [img][/img]

    The smooth finish dark blue topcoat on;

    [img][/img]

    The hammered Blue topcoat on.

    [img][/img]

    The bicycle trailer frame paintwork completed.

    [img][/img]


    The bicycle trailer refurbishment is now finished,

    From this;

    [/img]

    To this:

    Note; I have fitted my two drinks bottles for the photo.

    [img][/img]

    [img][/img]
    Last edited by Gareth; 07-14-09 at 03:00 AM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth View Post
    Have you considered using the front forks and headset tube from something like a cheap kiddies BMX?

    If the complete head set tub was cut away from the rest of the frame, it could be used in conjuction with a couple of quick realese type pins, so that wheels and forks rotate through 90 degrees for storage.

    This is not my idea, but one gleaned from another single wheel bike trailer project that I found posted on the internet:

    Ah, yes that's how I was going to do it for a single-wheeled trailer, but lost somewhere in this thread I mentioned that I've changed plans. I was going to make a single-wheeled trailer, plus a two-wheeled one. But I since thought it might be better to make a two-wheeled trailer plus a longtail bike. As such, I need wheels on each side, which is somewhat more complicated and will need good precision in construction.

    If I made a single-wheeled trailer I really couldn't carry a great deal on it at all, so I reckon a longtail bike would be better anyway, and then this two-wheeled trailer for really heavy stuff.


    Thanks for the info about painting. I'll certainly be doing mine outside!

    Do you use your trailer around Norwich still? I am in Norwich a fair bit, and I'll definately notice it if I see it. I've seen two people with bakfiets, two or three other trailers (all shop-bought ones), and someone has an 8-freight as well.

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