Thursday, October 10, 2013

Camp Chair - Bike Trailer Transformer

This blog post is more on the serious side, and it is actually about a certain thing instead of just a jumble of crap that fell out of my brain.

Sorry.  But on the plus side, you might learn something. 

Suddenly, wonderfully, and hopefully temporarily, I have found myself out of a job, free of school, and eager to drive less.  ...I'm actually not hoping the need to drive less is temporary, but who's trying to kid who?  If the next step lasts even a month, I will be impressed.  

In between the chaos that is mornings before school, and the slogging away the afternoon after school, I have 8, EIGHT hours of empty space in my day.  Ever since I decided to stay home to raise my kids, I've done things.  I've had part time jobs, volunteer jobs, classes toward future endeavors, classes for fun, and one or two children to care for on top of caring for my own.

This is the first time, thanks to my youngest in kindergarten, that I have found the empty.  I'm looking for a full time job, but in the mean time, I have freed myself.

And this is what I have done in my free time this week... I made a bike trailer out of a camp chair.  And you can too!  As long as you are super comfortable with dumpster diving, you can create anything for free!!  I even knicked all the information for the trailer from this site.  I changed some of the hitch bits to fit my fancy, but many thanks to Gene Williams for the tutorial.

I found a rotten camp chair that was left near the trash bins at the soccer fields.  

 Then I took the ripped fabric off and drilled out the rivets holding all of the conduit bars together.  I tried to pry them apart with a pocket knife while watching my daughter play soccer, but apparently, knives being pulled out during soccer games are not looked upon with favor.  So just wait until you get home.



After I figured out the shape I wanted, I drilled holes in the bars and screwed them together.

 I then butchered my sons old rust bucket of a bike.  The wheels are 12" tall and keeps the trailer's center of gravity low.  Unfortunately, I drilled holes and screwed the bars together before I measured the wheel axles.  Some smarty pants decided to make the rear axle just a smidge larger than the front.  So when you *accidentally* run over your kid's bike that has been left in the will undoubtedly have to pay more to replace that bent wheel, because it is either specifically the front or rear wheel.  


So just remember that before you drill.  What's the saying?  Measure twice, cut once.  My grandmother is rolling her eyes.... or not, because she's been dead for almost two decades and probably doesn't have eyes anymore.  But she would have if she was alive.  

 The wheels were attached 'go-cart style', with a cable hanger drilled with the axle bolt in the middle.  

I never knew there was such a thing as 'go-cart style' until my husband said it.  Now I want to learn more.  Perhaps I'll build one next, with a lawn mower engine, because that just sounds right.


I added the bar to attach to the bike.  I was limited on length, because a camp chair is only so big, but I think the distance between the rear wheel and the trailer will be fine.  A regular bin fit nicely between the wheels of the trailer.  I'm just going to lash it down with a bungee cord instead of attaching it permanently.  That way I can change the load as needed.  I've got dreams, you know!

So far the biggest mistake I have made is the lack of bend in the bit attached to the bike.  If I ride my bike straight, I'll be fine. Turning right, my tire runs up against the bar after about a 25 degree turn.  Don't mind me if I end up crashing into your porch, it's just that I couldn't turn.  Please feed me a sandwich, and call an ambulance.
 These next pictures are how the hitch attaches to the bar and the bike.  The metal is 1/8th" thick and 1" wide steel.  I bent it with a vise and a hammer.  Just wait until you want to toss the kids out of the second story window before you do this bit.  It sure helps with the anger.

There's not much more to say... I've yet to actually try it out.  The rain has been persnickety round here.

I am going to fix the mistake of the lack of a bend in the bar connecting to the bike with a conduit bender.  I might have to use a piece of new conduit if the chair bit ends up too short.  That remains to be seen.  I think I did well with the recycled bits though.

The total cost so far is only about $15 for hardware and the piece of metal for the hitch.  Getting a conduit bender is a bit pricey, but fortunately my husband needs one, so I'm defraying that cost onto him.  Any piece of conduit I'll need to use will be left over from his job, so that's magically and imaginatively free too!



Enjoy dumpster diving!

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