Reader Garrett has a DIY project he is working on, and he has asked for input from the BikeHacks audience. Readers with ideas, experience, thoughts please feel free to comment.
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I have a dilemma, and I need some input for a DIY trailer. I've hacked myself up and assembled all the necessary parts and have a "rolling chassis" if you will, for a bob style tandem bike trailer. My problem: what to do to be able to carry cargo?
I'd like to get the cargo bay as close to the ground as practical. In the pictures, it's not at an accurate distance it would be from the ground, it sits lower when it's bike mounted, so the bottom of the frame sits about 5 to 6 inches from the ground.
My other criteria is weight, obviously, the lighter the better. I have thought of a few ideas, but I am welcome to any new ones, any changes and/or additions to mine.
Keep in mind, I don't have the resources to weld aluminum, I'd like to keep a $25 cap on the project, and I am interested in the idea of using recycled materials to make the cargo bay. I can also add, I have had the chassis on a bike, and jostled my weight around on it to see how much everything flexes. I would feel safe with loads up to 100 pounds, as long as the cargo bed is beefy enough to handle it, i know the frame would.
My first idea is to rivet a "fancy box" out of old aluminum siding (the Florida room is no longer porchy feeling anymore ;P) this would work well, because I already have the material for it on hand, and I could extend the back end of the trailer past the tire easily by boxing in a wheel shroud. Doing that, I could center loads on the trailer tire, much like a trailer for a vehicle would be, and that would put less weight on the bike's back wheel, which I like.
The downside: sheet aluminum is tweaky. It's really hard to keep in the shape you want. Even with bending over edges to create a sturdier ridge, it bends. A lot. And I doubt I could keep the cargo bay in one shape for any amount of time without more underframe.
Idea number two: Wood. I am good with wood. (HEY! no chuckles from the peanut gallery!) I would have no problem knowledge wise using packaging crate wood to upcycle myself a cargo bay frame, a flat bed, or something in combination like having removable sides. The downsides: wood is heavy, wood is bulky, and that makes it a bit of a novelty for this application, because who wants to try to do a 100+ mile daytrip with a bulky, heavy trailer?
Idea three: wood and aluminum? Sure, since wood would have superior rigidity, it is feasible to make a combination of a wood frame, sheathed with the aluminum siding. So far, less downsides than anything else. But what more ideas can I come up with that would work entirely better?
Idea four: Paper mache. Go ahead, laugh again. You're think "paper mache? this kid's a fruit." I've made ovation style guitars with paper mache, and have a lot of experience working with it. I could make the cargo space any shape I want, I could easily give it some kind of aerodynamic edge, make the whole thing one sealed piece that would simply just fit like a glove on the frame, and make the whole thing rigid with a layer of wire too. Downside: time. It would take FOREVER. not that I'm not patient but, who wants to spend a month or two making an "aero trailer" unless it was really worth it to you? I don't usually see track racers, or velomobiles hauling stuff around, so it'd be a bit silly. But be SO COOL.
Idea five: The storage container. Okay, yes, this would be an easy, cheap, and quick to make. Just go get one, and slap it on there, but dang, it'd look a wee bit tacky. And not to mention, unless I cut out holes for the wheel and siliconed in another perfectly shaped container for a wheel shroud, most likely i'd be stuck with a really small cargo space. Who wants a trailer when they could have a TRAILER? I don't want to cave and do this, but it's still an idea, and all ideas are worth considering, maybe mentioning this could inspire an actually good idea!
So there's my ideas, feel free to shoot them down, tell me to stop being so picky and do one of them already, bring better ones to the table or ignore it and leave it for someone else to take time over. Comment with which idea you like best, or better ways you invision it to be carried out, whole new ideas, or don't... either way, any and all feedback will be greatly appreciated!
Thank you again! namaste.