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How can I manufacture a bike trailer coupler to replicate this one?


We recently bought a secondhand InStep brand bike trailer to haul the kids around in.  It came with one coupler.  I'd like another one that I can attach to a second bike so we can easily move the trailer from one to the other.

The couplers are available online for around $10, but for various reasons I prefer not to buy that way.  I'd rather try to make something that will work, buying materials locally.  I've looked at several trailer coupler Instructables, but none of them seem like they'd work with this trailer"s tongue, and I don't want to modify it, since it works just fine with the existing coupler.

Any suggestions for a way to make a good, strong, secure coupler?

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Re-design6 years ago
If you're going to be pulling your kids around in a trailer with this coupling device, don't they deserve the safety this $10 unit will probably provide where a home built device may not?
dwhole6 years ago
I agree with "Re-Design" on this one. I have this same type of trailer for my son, and I would have trouble trusting a homemade device. Since these are made from a single piece of metal, replicating even by welding a washer/pipe monstrosity - you'd better make good, strong welds. If you could make a strong enough coupler, the time and money invested would be way more than buying one (currently $9.65 with shipping on Amazon - I currently about two clicks away from buying one myself). I'm all for making things yourself, but in this case I'd say, "If I were being pulled 20mph in a little trailer, would I trust my coupler to withstand those stresses?" Fork over the dough, take a victory on your next project.
yoyology (author) 6 years ago
It's not plastic. It's coated metal. I see what you mean, though, about return on investment.
Yeah, you caught me ;-) That was the illustrative point of my post. I've been there myself, and while sometimes it's a matter of necessity, in which you do with what you have to fashion a replacement piece, I've found it far more effective, efficient, and affordable (time and money) to consider purchasing certain replacement parts right up front, rather than regretting it down the road. 

I'm guessing you either have a secondary purpose for the coupler or see it as a weakest link. In both cases, I'd advise you to strike while the iron is hot, ie, while you can still purchase the replacement. Waiting can result in the part being on a stop mfg order and then you're SOL.

Dial the mfg and ask for the parts department. You can probably pay thru check-in-mail, if you're uncomfortable with online card transactions. Granted, if it's a Chinese firm, you're prolly screwed on the "dial" method, so you *may have to succumb to the modern online way.. Many ARE using paypal transactions,. due to the confort level people have with the service, so all may not be lost on *partially anonymizing your purchase to the fund source.

Best wishes.
Burf6 years ago
It looks to me as though you could grind a cutout in a heavy duty washer and weld it to a short piece of steel pipe of the appropriate diameter without much trouble or expense.
yoyology (author)  Burf6 years ago
I'm afraid I don't have access to welding equipment.
seandogue6 years ago
You can disassemble it and recast the plastic piece by making a silicone mold and appropriate casting materials.

The metal parts can be fabricated from metal stock, (looks like 1/4" steel rod and 1/4" or 3/8" by 1/16" bar stock) then plated appropriately for corrosion resistance and machined per the original parts.

My guess is that for the minimal dollar investment, you could have bought at least a half dozen extras. And all the time costs too. My guess is that it would actually cost more.

Not trying to discourage you, but sometimes an OEM part purchase just makes more sense.