In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson Commissioned Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark to explore and map the newly acquired western half of the United States so they could find the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce. And if that was not enough the also had to establish an American presence in the territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.
To accomplish this they made use boats. Initially they use Pirogues, a type of small flat bottom boat. As the expedition went on they made dugout canoes to add to their expedition as well as to replace broken boats. Many times they would have to portage across land to get to a separate body of water or avoid a particularly treacherous stretch of water. One of the more famous being the Great Falls Portage, an 18 mile trek across harsh terrain to avoid 21 miles of rapids and waterfalls.
In the spirit of these men,some of the earliest western legends, I too needed a way to get my canoe to the next body of water I wanted to explore.
Time to make Bicycle Canoe Cart 2.0
Step 1: Parts Is Parts
Recently I noticed a neighbor disposing of a baby stroller that looked brand new. It turns out one of the internal latch was broken so you couldn't unlock the stroller from the folded position.
Using my right angle grinder I was able to cut off the wheels from the stroller body so they could be re-purposed since there was nothing wrong with them. If you don't have a right angle grinder don't worry, a hacksaw will do the job just as well.
A quick trip to my local big box store got me a 10 foot length of 1.5 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe as well as most of the other parts I would need.
4 end caps
4 T junctions
4 3/8 diameter bolts 2 inch long
4 locking nuts
combo pack of PVC primer and glue
A stop at the dollar store resulted in the pool noodle and zip ties I will need later in the build
The tools for this build were fairly simple
drill with assorted bits
a saw for cutting the PVC pipe to length
primer and paint
Step 2: Draw Plans, Wring Hands Together, Laugh Maniacally
after quickly sketching out my design ( yeah yeah .. I never claimed to be a fantastic artist) I figured out my cut measurements being sure to take into account the distance the pipe will sit inside the adapters.
1) these are the pipes that will join the cart to the wheels from the stroller 2 @ 4.5 inches
2) These pipes separate the lower and upper T adapters 2 @ 3.5 inches
3) This pipe will fit into the lower T adapters and brace the cart horizontally 1 @ 13 inches
4) These pipes will be the arms that the canoe rests on 4 @ 10.5 inches
The total pipe length used was 71 inches
Step 3: Planning Ahead Makes It Easy
Having to drill 2 low tolerance holes into 4 separate pieces and then be able to line them up for assembly means one thing.
I need a template.
The wheel assembly from the stroller has an individual lock on each wheel ( the red plastic pieces) that travels up and down to disengage/engage. I wanted to keep the ability to lock the wheels, so I had to figure out a way to incorporate them into the build.
The solution I came up with was to make a simple template that was easy to adjust.
I used a 3x5 inch index card folded so that the bottom of the card lined up with the red line at the top of the card.
from the red line to the top of the card is approximately 7/16th of an inch and I needed 3/8 of an inch of clearance for the lock to be able to move.
While the card was folded I used the hole punch to make a hole on the second complete line from the crease. That spaced the holes about 1 inch apart so there will be enough clearance for the washers that will help secure the bolts.
Then it was simply a matter of finding the center of the uprights (oval tubes) on the wheel assembly to be able to mark the drill holes.
Lining the template up so that the red line is near to the wheel lock assembly, my son was kind enough to want to help me so he got to mark where to drill on all the pieces.
Once the metal uprights were marked it was time to trim the template (cut along the red line) and mark the drill holes on the PVC pipes. By cutting the template before marking the pipe, that ensures that the pipes will be out of the way of the lock mechanisms when bolted to the uprights on the wheel assembly.
Step 4: Drilling
The metal is fairly thin so as long as you use a bit designed for metal you can make the holes without having to step your way up through sizes.
Once you are done drilling the metal, it is very important to treat any exposed metal with a rust preventative primer to protect it once the cart is assembled.
PVC is easy to drill as long as you don't try to do a large hole all at once. Start small and work your way up until you get to final size and all your holes will be round and right. Try to do it all at once and it is very likely you will end up with lopsided jagged holes if you don't crack the pipe outright.
Step 5: Test Fitting the Connection
I wanted to make sure that everything lined up between the metal and PVC before moving forward in the build.
Everything fit together great and there was just enough clearance for the lock mechanism to function properly.
Moving on ...
Step 6: Cutting the Rest of the Pieces
My little helper to the rescue again. He helped me cut all the remaining pieces of pipe to length.
I dry fitted the upright parts together to make sure they were the same size and would match up properly during final assembly.
Once I verified that the uprights were in good shape, I dry fitted the rest of the parts together.
Time to make it permanent ...
Step 7: Prime Time Fusion
Prime any places that will be fitting together. The nice thing about planning to paint the cart is that I don't have to worry if a little primer is showing after the parts are cemented together.
Just an FYI, The primer will remove any ink that the manufacturer put onto the PVC to identify it.
The PVC cement bonds the PVC together at the molecular level. It basically melts the PVC it touches chemically and as it dries the PVC fuses into one piece.
The cement works fast. Once the parts touch you will only have a few seconds to make any adjustments before the parts fuse and won't move anymore.
The method I like to use is that I add the cement only to the inside of the parts being assembled. so for the arms I put the cement into the end caps then press the pipe into the end cap. Once the end caps are in place I put cement into the T adapter one side at a time and press the arms into the adapter. After the arms were in place I cemented in the spacer pipe that goes between the upper and lower T adapters.
To space the uprights properly as I cemented the lower brace I dry fitted the lower T adapters onto the Wheel assembly upright mounts. I cemented the pipe into the adapters and then took the T adapters off of the wheels so I could use the table as a flat level surface to get the arms mounted as perpendicular to the lower brace as possible.
Once the rest of the cart was assembled, it was time to put the It onto the wheel mounts.
Step 8: Make It Pretty
Unbolt the PVC from the Wheel assembly and hang it up so you can get a fresh coat of paint sprayed onto it.
Touch up any spots you missed initially.
Pose with your finished product the matches your shiny new shirt (no it wasn't planned that way LOL)
Bolt the cart back onto the wheels.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
Time to add some padding to the cart. This will not only protect the cart and the canoe from each other, but it also helps to add traction so the canoe is not sliding all over the cart.
Cut the noodle to size to fit the arms (approx 8 inches) and split it down one side. Place the noodles over the arms and zip tie them in place.
Step 10: Final Adjustments
I felt the oak dowel that I used to make the mount for the first version of the Bicycle Canoe Cart was too long and flexed to much during transit so I wanted to cut it down.
Using the string I hung the cart up to paint and my knife I made an improvised plum bob to figure out where I wanted to cut the dowel.
a few moments and a coping saw later it was time to drill a new pilot hole and screw the eye bolt into the dowel.
All that was left was to hook the canoe up to the bike, grab the paddles and life vests and head off to a new adventure.