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  1. #1
    Mrs. Hop-along redeyedtreefr0g's Avatar
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    Arghhh! Trailer Floor?

    Well, I'm a bit annoyed at myself.

    I tried to put a floor into my child bicycle trailer in order to have a more sturdy surface to transport my dogs so they aren't constantly falling into each other. I failed.

    STORY (You can skip this part and go straight to the issue after the End of Story)

    I had a thin piece of plywood (3 layers, maybe 1/4 inch thick?). I built a cute little cushion for the rear rack of my bike, and the leftover looked like just enough to floor the trailer with- perfect! So I cut the 22x31 inch rectangle, and went outside with some tools.

    I had planned to simply lay the plywood inside the trailer, but I didn't like it. The cockpit hangs between the two side frame pieces, but two flap come over the front and rear frame pices- so the plywood was measured to simply lay over the front and rear frame. But, I didn't like the way the fabric floor sagged underneath, and there wasn't really anything to keep the plywood from shifting around in there. It would likely sag in the middle too.

    I flipped the trailer over and decided to screw it onto the bottom. There are three screws holding the fabric to the front and rear frame. The sides have one nut and bolt holding a strap which runs beneath the seating area, and there are also double straps looping the side frame bar also. So, I unscrewed the 6 screws in the front and back,a nd they are just long enough to go through the plywood and still catch into the frame tubes. YAY! But, without side support, I was worried the thin plywood would break pretty easily. So, I got some metal strip to reinforce it. That is a thin ribbon of metal with small and larger holes already in it. It was quite a major pain to install it, because the holes didn't quite line up right to simply put the screws through, and the ribbon couldn't be loose- the whole idea was for it to support the wood. So, after smashing my thumb pretty badly into the quick enough to cause no small amount of bleeding, I finally had metal ribbon going from side to side to the bolts, and from front to back at the middle screws.

    Triumphantly I turned over my trailer and inspected the inside. The floor is designed to sag a bit to provide feet room to children riding, but the flatness now still looked great. I was pretty sure my puppies would appreciate the improvement. I start wheeling the finished trailer over to its parking space under the stairs and go to fold it....

    Oh no.

    END OF STORY

    It won't fold anymore!
    The plywood blocks the arms of the side panels from swiveling to let it fold down. Highly irritated for my lack of planning, I simply took the wheels off, shoved it under the railing and then locked it up. I suppose I need to cut little notches in the corners to let the metal move in that area, but I figure that will weaken the entire thing, essentially making those corner screws useless.


    So- will cutting notches even solve the problem? Will the floor be weaker with them?

    Should I try a different material altogether? Maybe some sort of metal sheeting would work, but be stronger and lighter?

    Should I add more screws to secure the floor to the frame? This would mean drilling more holes into the frame tubing.

    Do you have any other ideas?

    Sierra Double Trailer front left.jpg
    The attachment is an online picture of the Instep Sierra- the same as my Journey but sold with the stroller kit already. You can see the front panel folds over the frame tube and is secured to the tubing underneath with screws while the panel itself has straps that cinch down to hold it along the sides. The floor sags behind the front frame tube, and you can see the two side straps. The straps that bolt to the side frame tubes are hidden by the wheels, but they are just in front of the axles.

    I'm still very annoyed, but after I cool off a bit I suppose I can go back down and get some actual photos of the situation.

  2. #2
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    Very hard to tell exactly what is going on without detailed pictures, but I think I have the basic idea. I can only guess, but I'd have to assume cutting notches to allow for folding would work, but would weaken the floor. Metal bracing bars would be an option, but it may require a lot of time hunting for the right salvage piece(s) or fabricating your own. Metal is relatively ductile, so it isn't very strong against bending forces. A piece of sheet metal would be basically useless without bracing too. Bracing bars are often bent into a U or V shape to increase their strength and you see this a lot in cheap shelving braces and other metal work. Maybe some corrugated metal would work for the same reason, but I don't have any experience with it. Shelving braces might be a good source for you. May be able to add them to what you have after you cut the notches and be good to go.
    1995? Giant Iguana

  3. #3
    Senior Member djyak's Avatar
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    A buddy of mine wanted to be able to fold his trailer, but still have some rigidity to it, so he used the same fabric straps like on lawn chairs. He found a bunch of it being thrown out. Worked well.

  4. #4
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    I also need pix to give a good answer. This is just to say I would try to decide if it is possible to use zipties around the metal instead of drilling holes in the frame and then drill holes in the plywood for the zipties. Three layers is thin som maybe some reinforcement is needed in the plywood if you drill a lot of holes. I use epoxy quite a lot, both for metal and wood so you could use that. Glue a strip of wood (plywood if you have) or maybe the metal strips w holes to the floor and drill holes in the plywood in some of the holes in the metal.

    I think you need to look wery closely into one thing: Are you SURE cutting notches in the floor is enough to allow you to fold the trailer flat?? If not you need a different solution all together.

    Did you put the floor on top of or under the metal frame in the trailer? On top would be the best since the plywood would be supported all the way around but I guess then you get the folding problem. Putting the plywood under the frame may be better for folding but then you loose the effect of the sheet resting on the frame and would need a lot of zipties to hold it there.

    Not sure what can be found in shops and scrap yards in your part of the world so I can only talk about what I would look for: Wire mesh, two types is easy and cheapish around here. one is made to use as reinforcement in concret floors and similar. Cut to size and ziptied UNDER the floor frame in the trailer. Loose plywood on top innside the trailer that you can remove when folding?
    Also there is a lighter mest available here, four sqares is used to put garden waste innside to become compost. I use that (plus zipties) for a lot of things.

    Also try looking at some of the homemade conversions that has been posted in the Utility Forum. Maybe you could stumble upon a good solution. Best wishes and keep us updated.

    Edit: http://www.instructables.com/pages/s...ed+biketrailer

    Edit2: http://www.instructables.com/id/Kidd...-all-grown-up/
    Last edited by badmother; 11-05-12 at 03:46 AM.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  5. #5
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    Sounds like a job for Coroplast. It's light, rigid, and easy to cut.

    Also, the notion above of using nylon straps as additional support sounds good.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  6. #6
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Sounds like a job for Coroplast. It's light, rigid, and easy to cut.

    Also, the notion above of using nylon straps as additional support sounds good.
    Ablutely! I was thinking of corroplast after writing this but was to lazy to add that. Ca`nt find the stuff around here so I tend to forget but with a election soon ending some of you are going to have plenty of it in a few days..
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

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    Quote Originally Posted by badmother View Post
    Ablutely! I was thinking of corroplast after writing this but was to lazy to add that. Ca`nt find the stuff around here so I tend to forget but with a election soon ending some of you are going to have plenty of it in a few days..
    Oh, yeah, right! They use it for all those political yard signs don't they?!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  8. #8
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Aparently. Newer seen it but plenty posts and threads in the forums about using old signs.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Oh, yeah, right! They use it for all those political yard signs don't they?!
    some of them, yeah. most of the ones I've looked at are plastic over a metal frame but there are coroplast ones.

  10. #10
    Mrs. Hop-along redeyedtreefr0g's Avatar
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    Ok first: pictures.
    IMG_0555.jpg
    Here is the rear left corner. The plywood in this corner lost a layer so it has the original square plastic washer helping to distribute the stress (hopefully?). You can see how the bracket for the side protrudes much lower than the rest of the frame.

    IMG_0556.jpg
    A picture of the left side, so you can see the double straps I referred to, and the bolt. This bolt is not through the wood, but has a metal strap going to it to try and help support the wood.

    IMG_0557.jpg
    The full bottom of the trailer. (Sorry for the angle, also didn't notice the picture was upside down.)

    My mom had a lawn chair with those plastic woven straps. They tended to fray rather easily. Are there better types out there? I could use those but leave the space by the side frame tubes free to let them fold, maybe. I could perhaps sew those on so no frame mutilation would have to occur. Although, I'm not great at hand sewing.

    How do you use corroplast? It sounds to me like a plastic version of cardboard, which should have a nice light weight, plus be waterproof! I even think there is an office downtown where I could ask about getting some, though I wonder if it would be large enough. Is it strong enough to support the weight of two dogs totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 lbs? Would I attach it similarly as I've done now? I don't want the edges to rip off of the screws.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ranko Kohime's Avatar
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    I have a similar trailer, and did similar to what you have, that is, put a sheet of thin plywood on top, which reaches from front to back, but can fall through side-to-side.My solution was steel S-brackets, custom-bent to size, which support a pair of transverse 2x2's. The plywood sits on top of the frame, with the brackets on top of the sides of the frame, going down and cradling the bottom of the 2x2 ends, and the 2x2's are directly underneath the plywood. I've stood on the deck, (I'm 140-150lbs), and it will not bend. The frame does bend a little under that weight, though.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ranko Kohime's Avatar
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    I can't seem to edit right now, but I wanted to add this: my trailer, with the modifications mentioned, does fold down, partially. The structure that holds up the upper portion will fold flat onto the deck, but mine was also designed to slide together, (such that the wheels would come closer together, narrowing the track width), and this latter portion will no longer slide.I'll take some pictures of my rig today, to show what I've done.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Sounds like a job for Coroplast. It's light, rigid, and easy to cut.
    and free in abundant quantities, as of tomorrow morning.. in yard signs
    Though, it may be soiled by printing of a politician's name and slogan.


    My mom had a lawn chair with those plastic woven straps.
    They tended to fray rather easily. Are there better types out there?
    seat belts.. collect the material from the Auto salvage, Aka junk yards
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-06-12 at 12:26 PM.

  14. #14
    Mrs. Hop-along redeyedtreefr0g's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    seat belts.. collect the material from the Auto salvage, Aka junk yards
    Freaking brilliant! I haven't been to a junkyard in ages, I can't believe I didn't think of that! I could weave those just like was mentioned, they won't stretch or distort, and I can simply sew them around buckles or something to snap around the frame tubes. (Or sew them on, but that sounds like a special kind of torture for thimble-less fingers.)

    I'm also going to see if I can't find someone to ask to get some signs. Tomorrow is late start for schools so I use the shortened time between routes to visit the library or wherever else I feel like in downtown. I think I saw an office somewhere over there, and I'd rather have a big sign than bunches of small ones.

  15. #15
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I see rather Low grade Plywood.

    for much Better, You can Order Baltic Birch Plywood , [builder's supply]
    it comes from Scandanavia.
    the Veneers are much thinner , so 1/4" is 5 ply .. all Birch
    and no knot holes on the surface ply

    [For Cabinets, some others are still Fir, but just birch on the exterior Ply.]

    Do Varnish for weather protection..

  16. #16
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    I see rather Low grade Plywood.

    for much Better, You can Order Baltic Birch Plywood , [builder's supply]
    it comes from Scandanavia.
    the Veneers are much thinner , so 1/4" is 5 ply .. all Birch
    and no knot holes on the surface ply

    [For Cabinets, some others are still Fir, but just birch on the exterior Ply.]

    Do Varnish for weather protection..
    Balticum is not scandinavia but I am sure the plywood you mention is fine. Birch is generally good. I think part of the DIY thing is "take what you have and make what you need". Buying a sheet of plywood when car light/free and then trying to find space to store the 80% of the sheet you do not need may be less than ideal. Use what you have, especially if you use seatbelts under for strenght! If you see the dog or rain and snow is tearing it apart then look for something better.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  17. #17
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    I would go for some thick and strong nylon type fabric. It would be plenty strong and fold too. You could maybe put a ribbon (seat belt strap) under the center running fore and back so the dogs don't end up in a center hole together. I used a foam pillow on top of the fabric and it would keep the center from becoming a pit.

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    metric panels are not 4x8 foot.. builders supply will cut panels down for you.

    At least the Non Home Depot .. locally owned and operated ones.


    truck tarp a PVC impregnated heavy nylon
    is what Burly has used for their Flatbed trailer.

    It is sewn so as to slip over the frame tubes during Assembly,
    then bolts for other assembly steps, keep it in place.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-08-12 at 12:51 PM.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Have you considered just using a large pet carrier, and mounting it
    to a stripped down trailer frame?

    they are ready made rigid bottomed. door latches to keep them from jumping out.

  20. #20
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Just found this item while looking for something else. Could it fit your trailer (especially if you decide to strip it and use a kennel box on top when hauling dogs)?

    http://www.biketrailershop.com/wande...ed-p-1569.html
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  21. #21
    Mrs. Hop-along redeyedtreefr0g's Avatar
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    Interesting options.

    The trailer is nearly new, so I really don't want to strip it down to a bare frame when it's currently in such good shape. I've managed to get it parked out of the way even unfolded by taking the wheels off to get it in place, then reattaching them (the trailer is under stairs and had to go under a railing to get there).

    At some point my husband will probably have to return to a junkyard to get parts to fix a car, so I plan to liberate some seat belts then. I haven't heard anything from the bus mechanics if they have any seat belts that frayed and had to be removed. Or, I may find something suitable during a sale at the fabric store, but that option has to line up with extra funds, and I just gave up my monitoring position to go back to substitute driving while I wait for a route to open up. It's better for my sanity.

  22. #22
    Mrs. Hop-along redeyedtreefr0g's Avatar
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    Ooookaay.

    A trip to the junkyard turned out to be a pause-and-grab sort of scenario without the chance for me to get any seat belts.
    BUT, A local brewery here has put up a craigslist ad letting people know they have free mylar grain bags to get rid of. In addition to thinking these would be awesome stuffing for a duct tape dress form being made of Friday, I bet these would make excellent weather-resistant straps that I can weave together into a floor just like the seat belts. We'll have to see how well the "fabric" does under a sewing machine.

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