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  1. #1
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I finally acquired a used trailer, need some tips on converting

    After much hunting I finally got a Burley kid trailer on Craig's List for cheap! It was already gutted for cargo use, but I want to mod it further.

    Sellers pictures from CL:







    I stripped it further by removing the top structure and the bottom, the bottom was made of fabric:







    I'd like to install some kind of crate, basket, container, here are the inside dimensions:



    This is for light duty, I figure the heaviest I may carry is some groceries 30-40 lbs would be absolute max. So I don't need hardwood platform or anything like that. The frame is rated for much more I believe, 90lbs or so - two kids. I'll use it mainly for large but light things like a pack of paper towels,bag of laundry, set of wheels, a bike frame, etc. I have no need to carry concrete, pet food, soil, sand, etc.

    I like an idea of a large, flat crate that would be inserted inside the main square, lowered to keep the center of gravity low. It could be simply attached with several zip ties and I'd be able to use a bungee cargo net to keep things in place.

    The problem is I can't find anything this size. Any suggestions? Two crates would work too. I can also add aluminum cross-bars underneath if needed for support.

    Or I could just use a Rubbermaid storage container, they come close in size to what I need. Some of them are waterproof, that's an advantage, but they're too large for my liking. If they were the same width and length but half as tall, they'd be perfect.

    I'll go tomorrow to Target, Walmart and Home Depot, see what they have too.

    Thanks!

    Adam

  2. #2
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    That will be tough to find something that inserts perfectly, since most manufacturers don't list the outside dimensions 5" or so up from the bottom. If you find something close, but drops in a little too far, you could adjust with pipe insulation or pool noodles.

    I'd secure front and rear to the frame with bolts to keep it from popping out on bumps when light or empty.

    Unfortunately for carrying bike frames, the fabric sides were probably the best way to go, but with a few long bungees, you can strap one to the top of your box.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Olde Western Auto Cruiser.

  3. #3
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    What I've done is pretty much reversible. I still have the side bars and the top crossbar, they can be mounted back easily. I was thinking about making them shorter and install them for side support but I don't have a proper tool for bending.

    I gave an example of a bike frame, but I won't be carrying them THAT often, if I do I can reinstall the side bar in 5 minutes.

    Yeah, it doesn't have to fit perfectly, I could "pad". Here is a picture of what I'd like, I believe these are used in baking industry:



    Not sure how robust these are though.

    Speaking of sizes, yeah I wonder when Rubbermaid states the dimension, is that at the top or the bottom? Those containers narrow towards the bottom. I guess the best thing is to visit a few stores armed with a tape measure.

    I like the idea of pipe insulation! Thanks! That's prevent rattling and prevent the container from moving.

    Adam

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    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Speaking of sizes, yeah I wonder when Rubbermaid states the dimension, is that at the top or the bottom?
    That's a good question. I'd imagine at the top, cuz bigger sounds better!
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Olde Western Auto Cruiser.

  5. #5
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    That's a good question. I'd imagine at the top, cuz bigger sounds better!

    LOL, yeah, probably true I'll find out this weekend!

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    i like the rubbermaid idea for a few reasons:

    first, they are cheap
    second, they have lids that seal well, so you end up with a fairly waterproof cargo container which is handy if you ever use it in the rain
    third, you can nest and stack the tubs, so you could carry an extra tub or two without it taking up any extra space. that way if you have a lot of stuff to haul you can just fill the bottom tub, put the lid on it, set another on top, repeat. then just strap them down.

    my two cents :-)

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    How about weaving a basket of seat belt webbing? hand sew with high test Kevlar fishing line ..
    or use some POP rivets when you loop over the frame rails..

    then you can sling plastic bins or bags into the supported space..

    making short side-rails same sise tube as the original taller side rails
    will keep the load out of the wheels. and adding some tie down points
    will help you lash weird stuff down.
    conduit bender could be rented to do the bending of aluminum tubing..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-27-10 at 09:48 PM.

  8. #8
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    if you have some basic tool you could make a small box for it using 3/8 inch ply wood and you can get a sheet 4x8 foot for about $15.

  9. #9
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the comments and ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by xargaun View Post
    i like the rubbermaid idea for a few reasons:

    first, they are cheap
    second, they have lids that seal well, so you end up with a fairly waterproof cargo container which is handy if you ever use it in the rain
    third, you can nest and stack the tubs, so you could carry an extra tub or two without it taking up any extra space. that way if you have a lot of stuff to haul you can just fill the bottom tub, put the lid on it, set another on top, repeat. then just strap them down.

    my two cents :-)
    Very good points! I will use this for shopping so this will expand my options. I commute in all weather so I may want to do my shopping in all weather too. I'll check out the Rubbermaid stuff today. I'll have a look around. I'm still waiting for a hitch, the one it came with is not compatible with my bike. I was going to make one, but it was around $20 on Amazon so I ordered one. So I have probably another week to decide what I want to do with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    How about weaving a basket of seat belt webbing? hand sew with high test Kevlar fishing line ..
    or use some POP rivets when you loop over the frame rails..

    then you can sling plastic bins or bags into the supported space..

    making short side-rails same size tube as the original taller side rails
    will keep the load out of the wheels. and adding some tie down points
    will help you lash weird stuff down.
    conduit bender could be rented to do the bending of aluminum tubing..
    I thought about that too. That would be the lightest solution and it'd look neat! It wouldn't even have to be seat belt grade webbing but the kind of used for bag straps would suffice, or even solid material - I could even reuse what came with the trailer, but the problem is with the side rails and keeping load away from the wheels. I don't like the original rails, too tall, but I have no idea how to properly bend aluminum tubing. And I'm not aware of any place I can rent tools like that. I'll inquire at Home Depot, I know they rent some stuff. I'd like it to look as clean as possible without too many pieces bolted together and sharp, cutoff edges. It would be definitely nice to have side rails no matter what kind of container I go with.

    Quote Originally Posted by crazzywolfie View Post
    if you have some basic tool you could make a small box for it using 3/8 inch ply wood and you can get a sheet 4x8 foot for about $15.
    That would end up rather heavy, but on the positive side I could make one exactly the size it needed to be with nice attachment points, etc. But this would probably be my last choice due to the weight.

    And finally, the cost is the factor. Ultimately I want the lightest and the cheapest solution.

    Oh, stupid question:

    Can aluminum tubing be "un-bent", straighten out with a proper tool? Because if it can't be done I won't be able to reuse the existing tubes I have, and it may be hard to find the exact size - it needs to fit inside the plastic "connector" pieces. They could be bolted directly together with some washers instead but these connectors hold them aligned and in place and prevent rattling, I guess.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 08-28-10 at 06:52 AM.

  10. #10
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    To add a "floor"/supports for boxes fairly economically, you could purchase a length of metal rod from Home Depot sufficient to add 3 horizontal supports that would run from one side of the trailer to the other. Drill holes through the existing aluminum frame and secure with friction washers. 3/8" rods should provide 50-90lbs of support if the load is spread across all 3 rods. Additional weight capacity/support could be obtained by purchasing a plastic tarp from Wally World and gluing/sewing it around the existing frame members. I happened to get one on sale/clearance this morning for $5 @ 6' x 8' size due to the package being damaged (someone had poked a hole in it to feel the plastic tarp material).
    -----------
    You could make rails from 1/8" metal rods obtainable from Home Depot. Bending these is easily accomplished using a vise and pliers or even just pliers if you're careful/strong. These can be made to your desired height by measuring and cutting to length with a hacksaw/metal cutting blade on your skillsaw. Remember to measure from the bottom of one aluminum frame tube up to the desired height, across horizontally as far as desired, and then down and through to the bottom of the aluminum frame tube plus one inch (for slop/fine-tuning adjustment later. Cost should be under $25 I would think. The advantage is it's fairly strong and you can make multiple height rail sets for different uses - or even just front and rear rails while using bungee cords for side rails. The disadvantage is the rods will be heavier than aluminum tubing, but not exorbitantly so.

    To mount the rails, you have a choice of 2 methods.
    First method: Make wooden plugs for the existing holes. Drill a hole down the center of the plugs which is the diameter of the aluminum rods. To prevent the plugs from dropping through the hole entirely, shape it like a presta-to-schaeder tube valve adapter - smaller diameter section goes into the existing hole in the aluminum frame tubing.
    Second method: Drill holes in the frame itself then use 2 friction washers on the rods themselves placed above and below the holes to stop any vertical movement of the rods. To add structure to the rails, you could bungee, cable tie, or even use electrical tape to join adjacent rods near their tops to maintain near 90 degree angles.

    Bending aluminum tubing is not difficult in and of itself, but if done incorrectly, can result in collapsed tubing. AFAIK, aluminum tubing cannot be unbent absolutely straight without heat/weakening it.
    -------------------
    Another alternative would be using pvc tubing rather than aluminum tubing. 90 degree joints can be purchased rather than fashioned by bending. The total cost might render this the most expensive solution, however. Weight wise, this should be less than the metal rods but more than the aluminum tubing.
    Last edited by drmweaver2; 08-28-10 at 07:37 AM.

  11. #11
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Thanks, that's a lot of good advice. I was afraid that un-bending aluminum won't work. It looks like I could use the existing plastic pieces with smaller diameter tubing or metal rods as well.

  12. #12
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    If it was me, I'd put it back together, and fold the fabric to be just above the wheels. It would help contain anything, and you can flop the fabric over the top like a tarp for moisture resistance. Plus, the higher frame will help carry oversized items safely.

    Then, fashion a subfloor out of a sheet of thin aluminum, or galvanized steel sheet metal, for underneath the fabric floor. It can be pop rivetted in place, or held with sheet metal screws every 6-12 inches. If really needed, a couple rods underneath the sheets (thru the frame) would provide MUCH more support with the existing sheet floor. Try a local machine shop, sheet metal fabricator, or junk yard for the sheet. Maybe even a big box store - they do make sheet stainless for behind ranges, sink backsplashes, etc - it doesn't have to be real heavy stuff if you reinforce the bottom.

    You can even cut up an old aluminum chair for the tubing, and pop rivet it to the sheet goods, underneath, for support. Let the periphery supports hold it in position, and make the sheet goods less compliant with the tubing underneath it. Four pieces laterally underneath it would give it amazing stiffness, one on each end, and two spaced 10" apart.

    If you get the sheet from a sheet metal shop, they can bend the edges over, and make it to the exact size you desire. This alone, will help give it some stiffness around the edges.
    Last edited by Wanderer; 08-28-10 at 08:53 AM.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    If it was me, I'd put it back together, and fold the fabric to be just above the wheels. It would help contain anything, and you can flop the fabric over the top like a tarp for moisture resistance. Plus, the higher frame will help carry oversized items safely.
    I have a similar unit. Decided to leave all the fabric in place as it provides containment and support. Added a wooden dowel across the front with fabric to contain items on the front, and moved one of the cross supports on the back to provide a level surface for larger items. Placed a lid from a large Sterilite container in the bottom - it fit perfectly side to side. Cost me $0 in mods and can haul 75+lbs of groceries, lawn chairs, ice & wood at the campground, etc.

    These things were built to haul squirmy kids, so they are solid out of the box, and able to haul more weight than rated for (their lawyers need that).
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  14. #14
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    OK, done. I went with the plastic container because it was the cheapest, fastest, relatively light and easy solution. I found a nice box at Home Depot. It is much sturdier than the Rubbermaid containers I saw at the Target and it was only $15. With some extra bolts, fasteners, aluminum strip it came up to under $50.

    So, I've added a support in the middle using the existing bolts. It's a 1" wide aluminum strip. Since bending it at straight angle resulted in cracking it a bit I reinforced it with steel L-brackets that I riveted to the aluminum strip. The support in the front already existed, that's where the foot rest was placed originally. I may add one more, just to be sure. But, again, I don't plan on hauling anything that heavy.





    The box was bolted to the support bar with three M6 bolts:



    With oversized washers inside:



    In the front the box is fastened to the frame with U-clamps (it's upside down here):





    With pieces of aluminum as washers on the inside:

    Last edited by AdamDZ; 08-28-10 at 03:41 PM.

  15. #15
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Here it is semi-finished, it's dusty, I should have wiped it off for the pictures:







    The cover is kind of neat, it's recessed and stiff and has loops that can be used with bungee cords to strap some extra stuff on the top:



    I've also added six small loops, U-bolts, inside to be used with cargo net(s), I may add six more higher on the walls:







    The side bars can be added, if needed, although I doubt I'll ever need them:



    Since the box is smaller than the frame and the support bar is flexible there is some movement sided to side. I plan to mount strips of hard rubber between the box and the frame.

    I'll also place some reflective tape around the whole box and add safety triangle on the back and I may get Magic Shine tail lights if it all works out and this becomes a part of my normal routines.

  16. #16
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Looking good!

    That box looks familiar!
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Olde Western Auto Cruiser.

  17. #17
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm excited! I hope the hitch arrives soon! I already promised my mom's dog a ride Ha! Yeah, looks exactly the same! I guess it's sturdy enough to attach wheels and hitch directly to it. Although, no way it's that heavy! 14lbs? Maybe they use a frame underneath. I have to weigh my trailer.

    PS. My trailer is 21lbs, the box itself is about 6-8lbs.

    PS2. What I also like about this box is the industrial, rugged looks. The Rubbermaid stuff doesn't look as good. I'll have to find some neat reflective tape to compliment the looks.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 08-28-10 at 04:06 PM.

  18. #18
    Velocommuter Commando Sirrus Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    After much hunting I finally got a Burley kid trailer on Craig's List for cheap! It was already gutted for cargo use, but I want to mod it further.

    Sellers pictures from CL:


    I stripped it further by removing the top structure and the bottom, the bottom was made of fabric:







    I'd like to install some kind of crate, basket, container, here are the inside dimensions:



    This is for light duty, I figure the heaviest I may carry is some groceries 30-40 lbs would be absolute max. So I don't need hardwood platform or anything like that. The frame is rated for much more I believe, 90lbs or so - two kids. I'll use it mainly for large but light things like a pack of paper towels,bag of laundry, set of wheels, a bike frame, etc. I have no need to carry concrete, pet food, soil, sand, etc.

    I like an idea of a large, flat crate that would be inserted inside the main square, lowered to keep the center of gravity low. It could be simply attached with several zip ties and I'd be able to use a bungee cargo net to keep things in place.

    The problem is I can't find anything this size. Any suggestions? Two crates would work too. I can also add aluminum cross-bars underneath if needed for support.

    Or I could just use a Rubbermaid storage container, they come close in size to what I need. Some of them are waterproof, that's an advantage, but they're too large for my liking. If they were the same width and length but half as tall, they'd be perfect.

    I'll go tomorrow to Target, Walmart and Home Depot, see what they have too.

    Thanks!

    Adam
    I've got the exact same model; however, I've opted to keep it stock.. Why? Nothing beats the scowl of all those soccer moms thinking I'm such a "Bad Daddy" taking my kids out in traffic. I just collapsed the joke of a seat on it and some of the straps are just the thing for anchoring a cooler inside.
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  19. #19
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    LOL! That's mean

    I just didn't really like the stock looks of a kid carrier. I know many people keep those pretty much stock, like the person I bought it from, and just remove the seat. But I really wanted to make something different

    It'll probably end up costing me a bit more: I've just ordered some cargo nets, safety triangle symbol, black/yellow reflective tape and some cheap rear lights on eBay. Gotta pimp up that trailer I'll attach a large cargo net semi-permanently to the cover for quick stuff stashing and cool looks I'll hang two smaller cargo nets inside to make pockets on the sides.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 08-28-10 at 07:19 PM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Gotta pimp up that trailer
    Fenders!
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  21. #21
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Fenders!
    Yup, but how? So far, I've got no clue. I have to do some research.

    PS. Hmmm... these might work, but I'd need two sets.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 08-29-10 at 09:30 AM.

  22. #22
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    Was the old hitch the Burley Classic Hitch? Does it not work on your bike?



    That's the one I use...got any plans for it?

  23. #23
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Yes, that's the one it came with. It's not compatible with disc brakes, I need the small steel one that mounts to the QR skewer.

    A.

  24. #24
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I got the hitch yesterday and took the trailer for a test spin today. It tracks the bike perfectly although the bike isn't in the middle of the trailer, i.e. the bike's and the trailer's center lines don't align, but I guess that normal: to offset for one sided hookup mechanism. It was empty so I barely felt anything. No final pictures yet as I'm still waiting for the reflective tape and lights.

    I've finished with the hooks and the cargo nets system, works out pretty well, again more detailed pictures some time next week.

    I'm glad the hitch doesn't conflict with anything like my rear mounted kickstand, although the pin barely clears the bottom of the rack mount so I have to wiggle it a bit to insert, nothing too bad though.

    My first real errand will be on Saturday to bring a set of wheels to NYC Bikes shop in Brooklyn to have them rebuild. But that's going to be a light load. Maybe I'll ride from there to work in Manhattan to pickup some discarded photo equipment and computer hardware.

    It felt good to ride a bike with a trailer. Something different

  25. #25
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gna View Post
    Was the old hitch the Burley Classic Hitch? Does it not work on your bike?

    ...got any plans for it?
    I'm sorry, I missed your last question. No plans whatsoever. It's a little used up. I'll take a picture so you can see. If you want it you can have it just for the cost of shipping which should be a few bucks via Parcel Post.

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