Logo 1 #topThe Poor Man's Fix-it shop.[not for the proficient craftsman] . . . .Logo 2

TUMBLEWEED HANDYMAN CORNER

 
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...HANDICAPPER TRAILER
(click image for picture)


hitch

 

 

    In order to pull a trailer we first must have a trailer hitch. I don't have, nor do I particularly want, one of those hitches that attach to the rear stays. This is how I solved the problem of a hitch.

    What you're seeing is a 1x4 slab of spruce cut to the size of my bike rack, rounded at the end, and holes drilled to accommodate the screws that fasten the hitch to the rack, one screw toward the front and the other toward the back. My original intent, and I set it up as such, was to have the rack removable so it can go on other of my bikes merely by removing the screws. But that turned into more trouble than it's worth, so I just made a hitch for each of the bikes.

 

 


hitch

 

 
    The hitch from the front. Ignore the piece of wood on top, it's for another project.

 


detail

 


    I first made the hitch with one eye hook, expecting to attach the tongue of the trailer to the hitch with something like a ring. But that was far too sloppy, so I instead added to the existing extension below the hitch another piece of wood, and in it attached a matching eye hook. Now I simply place the eye hook of the trailer between these and run a bolt, or rather a hitch pin through the assembly. This works fine, except there was still too much play for my liking, so I inserted a plastic tube over the hitch pin the size that allows the pin to fit the eye hooks but prevents it from rattling. There was still too much play to suit me, so I wrapped the eye of the trailer with black tape until it fit tight, and the gap between the eye of the trailer and the two on the hitch I fill in with a wooden clothes pin.

 

 
Trailer hookup thm.jpg     A picture of the hitch setup.
Trailer kick stand thm.jpg    You might also be interested in this, a kick stand installed to the front. If you take a look at the frame toward the wheel, you'll see where I installed some small eye hooks that allow me to more conveniently attach a bungee cord. This is especially important when I carry bundles of lumber and the like.
   There's two more aspects about this trailer I think worth mentioning. First the tongue serves as a nice handle when transporting it and its contents from one place to another, and two, because of the location of the wheels the trailer can be set back on its bumper, as I did when taking pictures of the hitch (above).


neck

 


    I made one trailer before this one, but it was rather a flop, workable, but not very much so. This trailer I made from a walker I purchased for 3 dollars at a thrift store, which is why I call it a Handicapper. There are two aluminum legs on the walker, one I used in toto as a base, and the other as the goose neck trailer tongue. The walker also comes with fitted connectors, which I used  to attach the neck to the trailer. I made the neck and attachments universal so I can remove the neck at the trailer end and attach it to another trailer I plan on making, causing the neck itself to be universal.

 


bare

 

 

    The naked trailer as seen from the top.

    The goose neck tongue of the trailer needs something into which the eye hook will attach. For this I whittled down a piece of dowel until it fit the opening very tightly. I drilled a hole in the dowel and screwed in the eye hook. In the picture above you see another smaller eye hook under the tongue of the trailer. This serves to make sure the dowel remains in place, and as a place to hook a safety chain in case I decide to use one.

    Incidentally, make sure all the wood you use, such as on the hitch, is well protected with plenty of varnish or other protective coating.

 


bare

 

 
    The grills I used to cover the floor of the trailer were some pieces I had laying around. Where they came from, or why I bought them I don't know, probably thinking they would somehow make some weird musical instrument. Whatever the reason I had them, they fit the area I wanted covered exactly, and look rather nice it seems to me. I held them to the frame of the trailer with small framing hooks, but had they not worked I planned on fastening them to the frame, and to each other, with wire wrappings.

 


top

 


    The under side of the trailer.

    As you can see the frame of the trailer is one arm of the walker, and the tongue of the trailer is made from parts of the other arm. Everything but the hardware and the bumper of the trailer came with the walker, and all but the steel connectors of the walker were put to use.

    I was fortunate in that I had some pieces of a garden arbor made from steel laying around the place, which fit the trailer railing perfectly. The bumper serves to give strength to the back end of the trailer, and as something to attach the bike flags to as also the grills and the box I use for hauling groceries and the like. I again used wood dowels in the tubes into which to screw - attach the bumper to the frame. I expect to fasten some small "L" brackets to the bumper and the frame in this location to add strength to the bumper.

 
 


detail

 
    Attaching the axle to the frame was the tricky part, and what I have here is only a temporary measure. It's the weak link in the chain, not much more than an experiment. It works, but just barely. I bought some brackets from the hardware store that are intended to be used to hold a rafter so the frame of the house. The shape was fairly compatible with my need. I screwed the bracket to the top of the frame, allowing the longer part of the bracket to hang below the frame.  I then used a hacksaw and cut a notch in each of the brackets just wide and deep enough to hold the axle of the bike wheels I used for the project. The wheels were from a small child's bike I bought from a thrift store for another purpose, the wheels being not part of that project. So far this I've described represent the weakness of my construction. The screws being at the top of the frame rather than the bottom causes all the weight to push the wheel support away from the frame rather than into it as it would if the bracket had been attached under the frame as it should be. Also the metal of the bracket is too thin and flimsy and, though it works, it's not as strong as it ought to be. Perhaps doubling of the brackets would work, but I really think the entire design needs to be redone. There's lots of ideas as to how to make this connection on the web. I was just trying to make use of what I already had on hand, which wasn't the best idea. I'll make another trailer later, after I finish with the dozen or so projects I'm now working on.
    Now comes the tricky part, connecting the axle to the frame brackets. If the frame and bracket were strong enough, then bolting the axle of the wheel to the bracket would be all that's required, although I don't think such an arrangement would really be all that safe, though others have done so and seem perfectly happy with their finished product. I wanted something more secure. I ran the axles of the wheels as far in one direction as they would go, being limited by the fact that the axles were not threaded all the way across the length as some are. I still had too much axle sticking past the wheel, on the outside, that I cut off with a hacksaw, leaving only about 3/4's of an inch, which I covered with crutch tips purchased from a hardware store. To fill in the gap between the two axles I bought a threaded rod that was about the same size in diameter, but of course a different thread. I would like to have been able to just attach the rod to the axles with a coupler, but that was essentially impossible. I did the next best thing, I first threaded some nuts on the rod, then cut the rod so it fit fairly tightly between the two axles. Then I removed the connectors and drilled out more than half of one end of the connectors so they fit over the axles tightly, but freely, since the threads would be gone from the connectors and essentially of no use. However I hoped that the tightness of the axle in the connectors would prevent the wheels from bending outward, and the rod itself would keep the wheels from bending inward. Once I reassembled the axle I found things to fit as tightly as I hoped, other than one side, as in the picture, being a little loose. I rectified this with some electrical wrapped some tape over the threads under the connector (the wheel axle side), and that did the trick. The axles were then nearly one unit as far as utility is concerned. I then adjusted the wheels so they set straight, and locked the nuts tightly against the connectors so they didn't loosen.
    There's one other thing you can do to help rectify the first of the shortcomings I mentioned, and that is to jam a piece of wood, or some other substance, between the axle and the frame, overcoming the fact that the screws are bearing the weight of the trailer from the top of the axle bracket instead of the bottom. I just thought of this while looking at the picture to the left.


 


back

 

    The finished trailer from the rear.
    The box I'm using was one laying around the place doing nothing, and since it fit the trailer so well I thought to put it to work. The lid of the box I hold in place with a bungee cord that I tied in knots in the middle because it was a bit to long, and it hooks over the lip of the box. Bungee cords also hold the box to the frame.
    The reflectors are some I found laying on the ground, one having been broken. I took the pop rivet out of the reflectors and put them to use here.
    The flags are also road finds, other than the U.S. flag which I purchased and hung on a fiberglass rod I found along the road. I drilled holes in the bumper just big enough for these rods, then jammed the rods into short pieces of tubing about 4 inches from the end. The rods fit the hole, but the tubing keeps them from going too far into the hole. This makes for easy removal of the flags.  


 
Trailer    The trailer put to use hauling mail to the post office.
    What I've shown you here is just something to get your creative juices flowing. It's all a work in progress. I like the trailer I made, and it draws a lot of attention, but it's far from all it should be. For one thing the trailer has a way of tipping over when the load is not balanced or when one wheel runs up on a curb and not the other wheel. A lot of this comes from the wheels being so close together, it not being wide track like most other trailers. I like the fact that the trailer is only as wide as my handlebars and my saddle bags and the wheels are not as inclined to fall off the edge of the road as might wider trailers. But to gain one advantage, others have to be forfeited. I'm sure there are ways to have more of both worlds, but my not being a serious rider any longer, this trailer serves my purpose, until I make my next one.

 

 


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