Introduction: Bicycle Trailer for Heavy Cargo

If you need to transport heavy cargo with your bike you can build a tough trailer like the one I helped to build in Piubici for the Bricheco girl. Unlike the first trailer I built, this one is bigger and heavier, but let you carry whatever you wish.

You only need a pair of small bicycle wheels and some steel profiles, and of course a basic welding know-how.

Step 1: Frame Material

To obtain cool and easy to weld steel bars I suggest you to look for a used old bed frame. Since in last years people love to sleep on wood staves, you probably will not have any difficulty to find those metal frames. And of course you will keep the springs for your next project (actually you need one for the hinge)!

Step 2: A Sketch of the Project

You can see that this trailer frame has been designed to match the wood box dimensions. Anyway you can go through the inverse process, build a frame you like, then make a box with the right dimensions.

Draw a fast sketch, and note all the measures you need. This is very important to avoid mistakes. Notice that I used the bed corners to become the trailer corners, that is very useful since you will need to only weld straight pieces.

Then ,using a grinding machine, cut the bed frame in the pieces you need. Try to make straight cuts and to keep the blade orthogonal to the bar, to do that help yourself with paper tape.. After cut a piece mark it with paper tape to recognize it. place crossed pieces of tape to mark remains.

Step 3: Refining

Having all the pieces cut, place them all together, referring to your project. All pieces have to touch one each-other almost perfectly. The more the lengths are precise the more will be easy to weld them. If you find out that a bar is too long change the blade of the grinder and with the thicker blade smooth and shorten the bars.

Now with the same grinder blade remove all the painting around the extremities of all the bars, and also on the surfaces corresponding to the welding points. You cannot weld on the paint.

Step 4: Welding

Place all the pieces on a flat surface, and safe to welding. Then measure all dimensions and also diagonals to be sure that the frame parts are exactly in the right position, as previously decided in the design.

Be careful since the first weld joints will pull the metal and change the angles. You can adjust the angles pulling and pushing the welded pieces, then continue the work with the edge pieces. Then you can wedge the other parts in, so to weld them very handy.

To make a perfect welding the best way is to have a good teacher ;-) anyway there are a few rules to follow.

    • Try to not use a thick electrode, usually these tubes have a very thin surface and it's very common make an hole while welding with 2 mm or bigger electrodes.
    • Another way to avoid holes is to interrupt the arc every about half second, wait the same time, and make contact again, in that way you can regulate the temperature of the fluid metal.
    • If an hole appears you can close it, but it's not easy and it takes a lot of time (and material) so be careful to avoid holes.
    • I found very difficult starting to weld with a new electrode, to avoid mistakes start a new electrode on a test surface.
    • If you have to weld thick metal pieces, like dropouts, increase the amperage, compared to welding two thin layers.
    • Avoid looking at the spark, always use good welding glasses or helmet, there are very handy Auto Darkening Solar Welding Helmets.
    • Wear appropriate dresses: non-flammable gloves and coverall.

    ALWAYS ASK TO SOMEONE EXPERT TO LEARN HOW TO WELDING, HIGH CURRENTS ARE VERY DANGEROUS!

    Step 5: Dropouts

    You can make the dropouts from a thick steel par. Follow the schematic to understand the process steps.

    At first cut four holes at the same distances (about 4 - 5 cm) then cut at half distance between them, and finally with the grinder cutting blade remove the metal pieces to open the little forks.

    After the cutting process, place all the dropouts together in a big vise, and refine them so that they all have the same shape.

    Step 6: Place the Dropouts

    The dropouts have to stay aligned together and with the frame orientation, while soldering. The best way to do that is to squeeze them between nuts along a threaded metal bar, possibly with the same diameter of the wheels bar.

    The distance between the dropouts depends on the wheels you wish to use. In my case is abut 9-9.5 cm. Use 10 cm if you want to use 26" wheels.

    Step 7: Weld Dropouts

    Also in this occasion the first welding joints will pull the metal, so be careful to keep the bar strongly connected to the frame. Weld the dropouts and complete all the welding process. Now you can remove the threaded bar and check that the wheels fit well.

    Don't follow my example about the dress, remember, non-flammable gloves and coverall!

    Step 8: Wood Box

    The wood box is not difficult to build. In this case we added metal profiles to protect the wood edges.

    Step 9: Mini-wheels

    Four mini-wheels will be very useful in two ways. They act as locker to keep the box steady on the metal frame, and they will let you moving the box when you take it off from the trailer.

    It's very important that you secure the wheels in the right position with strong screws. To determine the exact positions flip the box upside-down, flip the frame too, and place it on the box. As you can see in red in the drawing the four corners are very good places where to screw the mini-wheels.

    Step 10: The Hinge

    The hinge has to be very strong, to avoid to lose the cargo on the street. A good way is to use two chain rings, gripped in two pieces of metal pipe.

    The long bar soldered at the pipe extremity will keep the hinge firm when attached to the bike axle.

    To avoid that chain makes a bothersome clacking with the bike movement you can add a spring (one from the bed frame) which keeps the two rings in contact.

    Step 11: Load It Up!

    Now place the wood box on the frame and load it to test the strength and stability. As you can see in the cover picture you can also carry a person if you wish! Enjoy!

    Step 12: UPDATES

    I still have a few updates to do. As you can see I drilled some holes in the wood panels, so to use them as handles.

    Then I glued and screwed a red wood profile all around the edge, the wood container now is more nice-looking in my opinion.

    Add also a bicycle tube around the bar soldered to the hinge to avoid ruin the bicycle frame paint.

    The metal frame has been covered with a special paint to protect it from rust, and we have to paint it with a red colour. Next thing to make is also a good fastening handy to lock and unlock, for the wood box, and rubber foot to avoid clanking against the trailer. So... stay tuned!

    Step 13: Trunk Clasp

    To avoid that the trunk beats the frame clanking and making bothersome noise, you have to add at least two clasps. You can choose to add four of them, maybe one for each side, anyway for now I tried to add one on the front and one on the rear edge.

    Make some experiment referring the distance between clasp and hook, so that when closed the clasp remains very tight. If it's very tight you probably don't need rubber foot between wood box and metal frame.

    Remember to add two red reflectors on the frame sides, since the trail has to be well-visible in the night.

    Comments

    author
    h3rmit (author)2017-05-03

    great work thanks for sharing

    author
    Databanks (author)2016-09-20

    Great idea using the chain links for the hitch. Very simple yet perfect for the job.

    That bed frame would make an ideal basis for a little caravan that can be towed behind your bike. Wish I could pick one up around here as it would have saved me a lot of fudging with used fence posts to make my frame.
    If you look for Paul Elkin's coroplast camper you'll see where I got the concept from - thought they'd make a good project to build and offer through homeless assistance centres. Made from junk. If you have ideas, I'm listening!

    14409555_10153890622238663_4385475883251991197_o.jpg
    author
    Juan CarlosA (author)2015-07-23

    Me encanto gracias todo bien!!

    author
    jimrknapp (author)2015-03-17

    Made this for my brother who does a lot of recycling works great

    author
    Azzurro (author)2014-08-09

    Is that Wil Wheaton? :D I like the instructable btw, i will probably make one for surfs.

    author
    andrea biffi (author)Azzurro2014-11-05

    LOL!!

    He's Rocco of http://roccosaldailmondo.blogspot.it/, a great inventor, but I can see that he's also a Wil Wheaton sosia! :-)

    author
    ASCAS (author)2014-08-06

    Brilliant as always!

    Next stop - R/C electric trailer! LOLjk :))

    author
    andrea biffi (author)ASCAS2014-11-05

    cool, I will think about it! thanks my friend!

    author
    andrea biffi (author)alfkurst2014-11-05

    I'd love to!

    author
    nicolas3141 (author)2014-08-10

    great ible, but would also be a good idea to warn about the dangers of welding tubing, every section must have at least one hole drilled so it can breath while being welded

    author
    andrea biffi (author)nicolas31412014-11-05

    ouch that's important!

    author
    bu22s4w (author)2014-08-05

    A good project but I am struck by the complete lack of mention of brakes. As any person who has ever hauled heavy items knows being able to stop the load especially when going downhill is of utmost importance. This is a serious and dangerous omission, .I regret to say.

    author
    psycholist (author)bu22s4w2014-08-05

    Buzzsaw, While it may be true that adding brakes to the trailer would be beneficial, even the lion share of commercial bike trailers do not offer this feature. Based on your profile photo I can understand your concern with hills. However there are plenty of places, such as my own, where the largest hill within a days ride is barely 30 feet.

    Ease up tiger.

    Thanks for the tutorial Andrea. Very similar to one I made from wood and conduit which served me quite well.

    author
    andrea biffi (author)bu22s4w2014-08-05

    you are right, but we have no hills in Milan, so the bicycle brakes are enough to stop if you go slow

    author
    Mr Chutney (author)2014-08-05

    Another awesome bicycle instructable!

    author
    andrea biffi (author)Mr Chutney2014-08-05

    thanks I love bicycles!

    author
    Bujholm (author)2014-08-03

    great job, this trailer. When I saw your first (the one out of bike parts) I wondered what exactly can be towed on it since the platform seemed to be quite small. But that one is great - platform big enough and well balanced, and with a removable box! Good idea - it can be replaced with a flat platform for example to tow someting long. Or with a more elaborate box with cutouts for the wheels and sticking out in all directions :)

    One thing that makes me think when I consider building one of these is how to find the balance between the weight of the thing itself and the carrying capacity - you know, a lighter structure will fold under 100 kg, and a sturdier one weighs 100 kg on its own, all to be hauled by yourself.. Time to learn to weld aluminum, maybe.

    author
    andrea biffi (author)Bujholm2014-08-04

    thanks! the other trailer has been built exactly to carry that toolbox, this one is to carry heavy cargo.

    you always have to design a structure appropriate for the use, plus some margin for safe (e.g. a kid climbing on the trailer)

    author
    hunter999 (author)2014-08-04

    Heavy cargo indeed :D Great job done here, clear instructions too! :-)

    author
    andrea biffi (author)hunter9992014-08-04

    thanks Hunter!

    author
    effgee (author)2014-08-03

    always a good idea to weak thick leather gloves and long (non-flammible) pants when welding - I imagine you ended up with some nice burns on your exposed skin from this session

    author
    Bujholm (author)effgee2014-08-03

    seems like everybody who has ever welded feels inclined to comment on these photos :) Mine is further..

    author
    andrea biffi (author)effgee2014-08-03

    No burns this time, I didn't weld the entire frame, but you are undoubtedly right, I will organize better next time.

    author
    eatteyah (author)2014-08-03

    WOOOOOW Very Good , Need Some paints and finishings

    author
    andrea biffi (author)eatteyah2014-08-03

    Yes, still to be painted, almost certainly with a red colour. We are working on it :)

    author
    lindarose92 (author)2014-08-03

    That looks like a lot of work, great job!

    author
    andrea biffi (author)lindarose922014-08-03

    grazie! :)

    author
    Bujholm (author)2014-08-03

    Gosh, I don't know how you can weld in shorts like this, and wearing your mask in a bare hand. The first time a tiny ball of molten metal burned through my skin I have learned to wear full cotton overalls in the hottest of weathers, even though it sucks in times of summer like right now. I am not even talking about UV exposure which is not to be sneezed at either. Or are you using some welding tools that neither spit metal nor emit hard UV?

    author
    srilyk (author)Bujholm2014-08-03

    I've heard of people who've gotten flash burns, but I (not the OP) have never had any. I wonder if you're less likely to get UV flashes when welding thinner metals - mine is a simple Harbor Freight 80 Amp buzz box.

    author
    andrea biffi (author)srilyk2014-08-03

    I don't know about UV but undoubtedly with thin electrodes and low amperage the sparks are not terrible. Anyway an appropriate dress is really suggested, I should add it in the tutorial.

    author
    blissful2015 (author)2014-08-03

    this looks like so much fun and you have a really nice workshop andrea! i would love to be the 'heavy cargo'!

    author

    The workshop is the Piubici laboratory!

    Yeah a lot of fun, can't wait to make a new trailer/bike frame!

    author

    The workshop is the Piubici laboratory!

    Yeah a lot of fun, can't wait to make a new trailer/bike frame!

    author
    fred1968 (author)2014-08-03

    For a quick disconnect, you could have use this rapid link instead of the chain ring.

    Nice work !

    search.jpg
    author
    noahl (author)2014-08-03

    Great job, with very clear instructions! I built a similar trailer, and have one point to add: consider offsetting the wheels towards the back of the trailer. If the load is centered behind the trailer wheels, bumpy streets will apply upwards force on the rear wheel of the bike, making for very strange bike handling. If the load is between the rear bike wheel and the trailer wheels, it is much more comfortable.

    author
    andrea biffi (author)noahl2014-08-03

    thanks, I'll take it into account for next trailer (more will come!)

    author
    Snidely70448 (author)2014-08-03

    Hardcore! Welding in that outfit, you must really be into pain!

    author

    LOL! We are lucky since this july has been rainy and fresh in north Italy, but it's very humid, so it's a pleasure stay with no t-shirt. I didn't have accidents with incendescent sparks (not yet) ;-)

    author
    KEUrban (author)2014-08-02

    Andrea, nice technique for ensuring the dropouts are all correctly aligned. Ingenious.

    author
    andrea biffi (author)KEUrban2014-08-02

    it's Rocco's idea! look at his blog!

    author
    jmwells (author)2014-08-01

    Nice. I would consider adding handles to the box. Easier to load/unload to/from the frame. Easier to control when using the casters. A box top would give you more cargo space, tho more of a chance of overloading.

    author
    andrea biffi (author)jmwells2014-08-02

    Yes! We are improving the box, so I will update the insructable very soon, stay tuned! ;-)

    author
    LynxSys (author)andrea biffi2014-08-02

    For simplicity and strength, you could add some cutouts to act as handles using a router.

    About This Instructable

    60,662views

    572favorites

    License:

    Bio: I'm an Italian freelance structural engineer, graphic designer and photographer. I'm also investigating electronics, robotics and science in general. I enjoy hacking and ... More »
    More by andrea biffi:Lasercut Little Wood BoxesSafe Clasps for Bike Pannier Bagsrevived CD rack as vintage box
    Add instructable to: