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Cargo trailers - Purpose built or hacked together

Old 06-12-19, 03:26 PM
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Cargo trailers - Purpose built or hacked together

Hi all

I'm looking for ideas.

I currently use a single seat kids trailer for taking my two year old around town and to childcare. I've found that even without her in the seat that space is still very limited when I go and do a big weekly shop at the supermarket. As a result I've been going through second hand ads for a cargo trailer. These are super rare in my area, however there are always many many kids trailers, both single and double seat options, so I'm now contemplating modifying one into a cargo specific trailer and I am looking for ideas.

Has anyone got some hints tips or personal experience with going down this route, or even reasons why it might be better to hold out for a proper cargo specific trailer instead?
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Old 06-12-19, 03:55 PM
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I like the kid's trailers for a cargo trailers.

One issue is that they do tend to hang low in front where the feet go.

I usually discard the top fabric, and drop the seat back down. But, keep either one top bar, or rear stroller bar (for support, and it is handy to tie stuff to). The sides are also handy.

I feel the trailers with wrap-around frames and quick-release wheels are a bit sturdier than the ones with single side mount wheels.

I like some of the old Burley trailers, but so far, one of the nicest trailers I've encountered is sold under I believe either Schwinn or Instep. Maybe 10 years or so old. Welded steel or Aluminum frame. Wrap around (quick release) frame/wheels.

https://corvallis.craigslist.org/for...870891047.html

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Old 06-12-19, 04:35 PM
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I went with a cargo-specific trailer. It was spec'd for a bit more weight (125lbs. vs. the usual 80-100 for kids), and without a cover, I can hold quite a bit of stuff in bins (or stacked on top of bins). This is the Wike cargo trailer, hauling a bunch of household stuff in the photo below.

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Old 06-13-19, 12:49 PM
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Burly Flat bed Co Op era, 2x 20" wheels on common front hubs..

Private company using brand, is a 16" wheel single sided, not made in a worker owned cooperative,

made offshore and imported..
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Old 06-13-19, 08:20 PM
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Those both look great. The child trailer I have at the moment doesn't have a collapsible seat, it sort of forms part of the structure of the trailer so I hadn't considered that option before. A double kid trailer seems like it would be a great load carrier size, I'll just have to make sure it's of a type where that can happen. How do you find the cargo on the floor? Does it sag down too much or is the canvas tight enough that this hasn't been a concern? I guess an option there would be to reinforce the base with some plywood cut to size, increasing the weight though.

The purpose built one also looks fantastic, it's something I need to consider as an investment for a new one as it's likely that I'll be getting a lot of use out of in the next few years. It appears to have pretty low sides, do you find that bungee cords are enough to keep the load stable and in place? I've got a lot of access to MUPs in my area, however they are all getting quite old and bumpy with tree roots growing under the path having significantly deformed the path surface in many areas with a resulting very bouncy ride.
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Old 06-14-19, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Hasselhof View Post
It appears to have pretty low sides, do you find that bungee cords are enough to keep the load stable and in place?
I've had no problems, though the bins are squished in pretty tight. I've found bungee cords keep them in place well enough even when riding unloaded. I've also done a few hauls without the bins (random small furniture, room AC unit, lumber, etc.)

FWIW, I live in western Wisconsin, and my travel routes are full of nasty potholes and the occasional attempt to fill in potholes with gravel. So, it's a bit bumpy.
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Old 06-15-19, 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Hasselhof View Post
Those both look great. The child trailer I have at the moment doesn't have a collapsible seat, it sort of forms part of the structure of the trailer so I hadn't considered that option before. A double kid trailer seems like it would be a great load carrier size, I'll just have to make sure it's of a type where that can happen. How do you find the cargo on the floor? Does it sag down too much or is the canvas tight enough that this hasn't been a concern? I guess an option there would be to reinforce the base with some plywood cut to size, increasing the weight though.

The purpose built one also looks fantastic, it's something I need to consider as an investment for a new one as it's likely that I'll be getting a lot of use out of in the next few years. It appears to have pretty low sides, do you find that bungee cords are enough to keep the load stable and in place? I've got a lot of access to MUPs in my area, however they are all getting quite old and bumpy with tree roots growing under the path having significantly deformed the path surface in many areas with a resulting very bouncy ride.
I've had problems with the foot well for the kid's trailers being too low. And, am not quite sure... perhaps I'll try to modify one to decrease the foot well, but that may also require some sewing.

The fabric is generally fine for carrying a load around the seat area. And, I've had some pretty massive loads in my Burley (although I think the fabric has been torn some, perhaps also due to the age). Once I drop the seat out, I leave the fabric in place (to double up the fabric in the seat area).

I'll strap down some loads, but I leave the sides on my trailers, and a foot or so front and back, and quite a few things I just drop in and let gravity hold it in place. Groceries and etc usually don't get tied down, although if it is particularly small (might fall through a hole, or perhaps light), it might go into another bag.

I usually use "Cam Straps" for kayaking/rafting to tie down with (loop, no hooks). I might use bungees on a rack, but rarely with the trailer.

I did find a utility box that fits well into the trailer, but unfortunately it isn't very waterproof See last photo.





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Old 06-19-19, 04:51 PM
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A purpos3 built cargo trailer excites me. I never had that luxury. But I have used many converted insteps from Walmart...the best actually with net woven very tight on the frame. I have a kidarooz now for the kids. But with the third on the way... I think a car is inevitable.
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Old 06-20-19, 12:11 AM
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Thanks for the ideas, they're great. I appreciate the photos too. I've been away from home for a few days but found a nice surprise when I got home. Apparently my next door neighbour had put his two seat kids trailer out for anyone to take, and my wife saw it and pounced. It's a two seat, more basic version of the single seat trailer we already have, same brand and uses the same hitch attachment system (Croozer). It's in pretty rough condition, I believe he's had it sitting outside in the weather for a while, but a quick look over and it looks like it will be very useful after I give it a good clean out. At the very least as a two seat trailer, now that I have a second child, but at a minimum the extra space will be great for grocery shopping. I also have a similar large plastic utility box to the one you've shown CliffordK which should help spread the load nicely over the floor panels.

I think I'll keep an eye out on for a dedicated cargo trailer like the one you've got wipekitty, long term it's looks to be a great solution and I like the flexibility of having at least one dedicated trailer for the kids, and one for cargo.
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Old 06-20-19, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Hasselhof View Post
Apparently my next door neighbour had put his two seat kids trailer out for anyone to take, and my wife saw it and pounced.
Congrats - a free trailer is a good score! We will of course want to see pictures of the trailer once you have it set up
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Old 06-20-19, 08:16 PM
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Hacking is always more fun (well, especially with Jack O'Lanterns)!
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Old 06-21-19, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
Congrats - a free trailer is a good score! We will of course want to see pictures of the trailer once you have it set up
Will do
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Old 06-27-19, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
Congrats - a free trailer is a good score! We will of course want to see pictures of the trailer once you have it set up
And here we go

This is the trailer after I've spent a bit of time inspecting it and cleaning it up. There is still a lot of cleaning and a bit of maintenance on the wheels but it should be very usable by the end of the weekend. I've removed all of the interior webbing seats, harnesses and pockets, cleaned out the drain holes and removed part of the roof. I'd have liked to keep the roof section to provide some weatherproofing, however rain won't be a common problem where I live, and the hook and loop that held it closed was very very worn and needed replacement. I also had to use my angle grinder to cut off an old bike lock that was wrapped around in some awkward places.





The connection arm is in surprisingly good condition and attached to the hitch I already had on the bike which is great. Unfortunately the safety strap isn't long enough to reach around the chainstay, but the overall condition of the trailer was such that I wouldn't have been putting the kids in it anyway, and if it were to come off a couple of broken eggs and bruised fruit is an acceptable loss.



I also had a spare plastic utility box which fits into the trailer really well. Inside it I'll just keep some rope for tie-downs, a tarpaulin and the jockey wheel that goes on the front of the trailer. I figure at a shopping mall or market I could disconnect the trailer, add the jockey wheel and wheel the trailer around while I do my shopping, loading it directly into the trailer. That way I only need to reattach it to the bike in order to get home rather than do lots of double loading. I'm also still considering cutting down a a sheet of thin plywood to insert as a base to disperse the floor loading around the entire base of the trailer.





A little more cleaning out to do, however I'm pretty happy with it all I must admit
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Old 06-28-19, 09:04 AM
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Thats almost identical to my kidarooz...mine is heavy...esp. considering the kids, cooler etc. But it pulls wonderfully. Perhaps today I will get a picture up of my tractor trailer lol
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Old 06-28-19, 11:55 AM
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That looks great!

The buggy type setup with the extra wheel for the front looks quite convenient. One downside of the purpose-built cargo trailer is that it lacks any good way to detach it for wheeling around in shops, so I end up using it more like a vehicle trunk/boot and unloading everything from the shopping cart back onto the bike. There are shopper type cargo trailers available, but they generally look awkward and do not have a very high weight rating.

The stroller bar may create some other interesting possibilities for securing bulky or fragile items as well.
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Old 06-28-19, 12:04 PM
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probably plans online to make one out of bamboo ..
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Old 06-28-19, 07:08 PM
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So I spent a bit of time fixing it up last night and took it to my local farmers market for a trial run this morning. It's about a 6km round trip on roads and dirt paths so it was a nice easy trial. It worked wonderfully. It's a bit wider than the trailer I am used to but that's fine, a bit weighty however I ride an e-bike so that's of no concern really. It turns out that riding it around loosened up a lot of dirt that had worked its way into various nooks and crannies which actually made it easier to clean out than I expected. I only bought a small amount of shopping but I was amazed at just how much extra space was available.

I didn't bother with the jockey wheel today, just because it's quite a busy market and it would just make life more difficult there than necessary, but I'm looking forward to using on other trips. It's actually the wheel from my kids trailer, but it fits perfectly into this on too. Probably just because it's the same brand. That rear stroller bar is easily removable too, I agree, it is a hand option to have available and the extra weight of it is pretty insignificant when you consider the utility it will provide.

My only concern is the tyres which I think will need replacing, it must have spent a long time with the tyres deflated because they are seriously cracked and probably won't last too long. New tubes, new tyres will be the total cost because of the free trailer.... winning
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Old 07-04-19, 10:04 AM
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I was able to get a single-kid trailer nearly free because the fabric was all moldy. I unfortunately don't have pics of what it looked like to start, but it was one of the ones where the frame was collapsible. I stripped the fabric off and rearranged the tubing to get a low rail around it (see pics). Note that the foot-well bar is reversed so it's a low front rail rather than sticking below. I think there was one pair of tubes that I had to drill new holes in, but otherwise I just used the existing tubes and hardware in a different configuration. The main mod was putting crossbars in to make the base into a platform. I used PVC T-junctions and some old aluminum tent poles as tubing, then topped it with a double layer of coroplast for a light weight platform. I also have a plywood deck I can swap in for heavy stuff, but this works well to carry a couple of rectangular rubber tubs (bungee cord across top to hold them in place). Good enough for a large grocery run.

Here are some not-very-good pics:

Top frame (attachment arm is folded underneath - white box under front is just to support it for photo, not part of trailer)


Underside with view of added cross rails. Wheels have been removed for better view. Black is tape to keep PVC junctions from sliding.

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Old 07-04-19, 10:57 AM
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I love my Burley Travoy! The easy ability to detach and roll like a cart is a great feature.

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Old 07-12-19, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by AeroGut View Post
I was able to get a single-kid trailer nearly free because the fabric was all moldy. I unfortunately don't have pics of what it looked like to start, but it was one of the ones where the frame was collapsible. I stripped the fabric off and rearranged the tubing to get a low rail around it (see pics). Note that the foot-well bar is reversed so it's a low front rail rather than sticking below. I think there was one pair of tubes that I had to drill new holes in, but otherwise I just used the existing tubes and hardware in a different configuration. The main mod was putting crossbars in to make the base into a platform. I used PVC T-junctions and some old aluminum tent poles as tubing, then topped it with a double layer of coroplast for a light weight platform. I also have a plywood deck I can swap in for heavy stuff, but this works well to carry a couple of rectangular rubber tubs (bungee cord across top to hold them in place). Good enough for a large grocery run.

Here are some not-very-good pics:

Top frame (attachment arm is folded underneath - white box under front is just to support it for photo, not part of trailer)

Underside with view of added cross rails. Wheels have been removed for better view. Black is tape to keep PVC junctions from sliding.
That looks awesome! The platform reinforcement that you've made is what I'm thinking. I've been just too busy at work to do much to mod mine since I initially stripped it out other than replace the tyres and tubes, but something like that floor is what I'm thinking.

Originally Posted by linberl View Post
I love my Burley Travoy! The easy ability to detach and roll like a cart is a great feature.
I like that style too. I saw a German made pull along shopping caddy/trolley/I'm not sure what they are actually called that had attachments to be pulled behind a bike, but getting them to me in Australia was going to be prohibitively expensive for something with its level of utility. Having it more like a hand cart like yours is a much better idea given that you can just use straps to keep whatever you want onto it.
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Old 07-30-19, 08:41 AM
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Many baby trailers now have springs at the joint instead of swivels. That gets destroyed if you have frequent heavy loads. My first trailer has a swivel and hard plastic shell. It is still in fine condition while my canvas trailer with a spring is beaten and shredded. The disadvantage of a hard shell or platform is the cargo takes more impact.
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Old 08-11-19, 10:51 PM
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I use our old child trailer as a cargo trailer. originally we were going to sell it, but it wasnt in great condition anymore, and i didnt want to use the fancy new one for cargo, so i kept the old one for that.

different attachment type, but i use a padlock to quickly attach/detach the hitch for the old (cargo) one to my rear rack.
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Old 09-07-19, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I like the kid's trailers for a cargo trailers.

One issue is that they do tend to hang low in front where the feet go.

I usually discard the top fabric, and drop the seat back down. But, keep either one top bar, or rear stroller bar (for support, and it is handy to tie stuff to). The sides are also handy.

I feel the trailers with wrap-around frames and quick-release wheels are a bit sturdier than the ones with single side mount wheels.

I like some of the old Burley trailers, but so far, one of the nicest trailers I've encountered is sold under I believe either Schwinn or Instep. Maybe 10 years or so old. Welded steel or Aluminum frame. Wrap around (quick release) frame/wheels.

https://corvallis.craigslist.org/for...870891047.html

That is the exact pull trailer I bought from a seller on CL. Unfortunately she stiffed me on providing the attachment between the trailer and bike. Replacement cost was way beyond the 20 bucks I spent on it.

Really need to get back on the hunt for one!
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Old 09-14-19, 06:46 PM
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My plan for this was to make a 3ft x 6ft cardboard box out of two pallet boxes, then paint it in fibreglass resin. Literally a box so big you could sleep in it. But i haven't done that yet. The corners would need hinges so i could fold it flat, too.

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Old 11-23-19, 10:28 PM
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I've built several trailers and have 3 more in the works but by far the most useful has been what is nick named the "Lincoln Highway" trailer. Built on the chassis of an Instep (Schwinn), box made of Harbor Freight shipping pallet boards and painted in bright colors. I live just off the Lincoln Highway and our nearby grocery store is on the old Lincoln Highway route. 7 years of use and still going strong. Able to carry 50 pound bags of sunflower seeds, cat liter, etc. Lawn chairs and cooler for the summer concerts. More groceries than we'd like to pay for in 1 shot.

Instep is the maker of Schwinn and Instep trailers sold at box marts. They made dozens of versions with plastic or wire spoke wheels, various folding options and jogger stroller add-ons. they sold millions of them so they are plentiful. Leaving them out doors and neglect will ruin the nylon enclosure but the frame and wheels are much more durable. Once stripped down to the rolling chassis, they are surprisingly light. I used Harbor Freight pallets. Due to the nature of Harbor Freight products, the pallets are light weight. The slats are around 3/8" thick +/-. Why should their pallets be made better than their products? They are free at any HF store. "Real" shipping pallets are far too heavy. The wood, once painted has proven to be more durable than plywood or chip board. I left slight gaps between the boards. My original plan was to stain and varnish the wood for that vintage "Woody" car look but I decided that road visibility was more important that a classic. Red White and Blue are the Lincoln Highway sign colors. I also added a reflective slow moving tractor sign and blinky tail lights that keep getting knocked or shaken off. The Instep hitch requires a small receiver bracket to be attached to the pulling bike. Small and cheap and simple to use and will fit most bikes with bolt-on or qr axles regardless of fenders, racks, baby seats, suspension designs, etc.

Original stock photo


Stripped to the rolling chassis.


rough draft
At this point I want to say it didn't take alot for tools. Chop saw to cut the slats to length (could use nearly any saw for that), drill, small table saw to rip the corner boards to 1x1". Glue and deck screws at the corners.


floor boards painted.
I also point out the bare chassis is rather square and uses square tubing so it's easy to build on.




some of the fleet:
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