Need Recommendations for cheap frame materials

I have a scheme to build a kid carrier that is sort of a combination of a rickshaw, a stroller and a bike trailer. I'm thinking about using PVC for the frame, but wanted other ideas from you clever, creative people. Here are the requirements:
- cost effective: titanium molded rebar may be nice, but I don't have that kind of money.
- fairly strong: I'm hoping to fit 4 kids in this thing, and as such I need something that will be strong enough to hold them.
- light weight: I'll be pulling this by hand, possibly over uneven terrain, so it can't weigh a ton.
- easy: I have no skills or equipment for welding, so I need something that will be fairly easy to cut and assemble.
- available: It needs to be something that can be procured fairly easily from a hardware store, online store, junkyard, etc.

So far, the best ideas I've come up with are:
- pvc - fits all the above criteria, with the possible exception of structural integrity. Anyone ever used this for framing stuff?
- angle iron - could get a little heavy if I'm not careful, and I'd have to cover it to prevent injuries.
- bamboo - strong and light-weight, and reasonably easy to work with, but not very readily available.

Any other recommendations?

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110100101108 years ago
aluminium rails from window frames pvc - with 2 stretched plastic wires that form X in frames if needed I-section plastic roof sheets (as complete sheets and not frame) c profiles from thin metal like those used as frame inside lightweight walls (made of very thin steel. quite strong as long as the sides are not damaged)
Llama Nerds (author)  110100101108 years ago
I'm definitely thinking along the lines of aluminum for a 'finished' product, but I'm not sure I'd want to use it for a 'prototype', due to the expense. Of course, who knows if I'd ever get past the prototype phase...
westfw8 years ago
  • pvc - fits all the above criteria, with the possible exception of structural integrity. Anyone ever used this for framing stuff?
There are numerous plans you can find for how to build outdoor furniture from PVC pipe (usually larger diamter stuff.) It's not as light as you might think, though. I'm not sure I'd trust it so much in something that had to move much...

  • bamboo - strong and light-weight, and reasonably easy to work with, but not very readily available.
Are you sure it's as hard to find as you think? There's recent interest as in bamboo as a sustainable building material (you'd understand if you had ever tried to get rid of a bamboo clump in your garden!) A google search for "bamboo construction" shows LOTS.
Kiteman westfw8 years ago
Certainly in the UK, bamboo poles of a wide range of diameters are often available in garden centres.
Llama Nerds (author)  Kiteman8 years ago
I wonder if I can find decently priced rattan poles in my area. Now there's a building material! Of course, if I wanted to bend them I'd have to find/buy/jerry rig a steamer/heater/whatever they use on rattan, which is an instructable in itself.
Llama Nerds (author)  westfw8 years ago
Yeah, I wasn't sure about the structural integrity of pvc, but I did see gurneys at our local hospital made out of PVC. Of coures, they looked like they were massively overbuilt, since they only had to roll around smooth hallways.
Kiteman8 years ago
Have you thought of making a monocock structure, maybe from fibreglass, but maybe even from laminations of paper or card, waterproofed with varnish? You could start out with a chicken-wire shape, and add layer upon layer until it is strong enough for your purposes.
Llama Nerds (author)  Kiteman8 years ago
My dad has done some 'prototypes' that he carved out of foam blocks and fiberglassed over. He even made himself a raft for floating down a river in Nebraska. I've thought of this, but don't have any experience fiberglassing. But I like the idea of a sort of "Supeir mache"
LinuxH4x0r8 years ago
Metal conduit. 20-40 cents per foot
. EMT and/or IMT should work well. Rigid is probably too heavy.
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