Convert a Child's Bike Trailer Into a Cargo Trailer.

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Introduction: Convert a Child's Bike Trailer Into a Cargo Trailer.


After 7 years of loyal service, our bicycle trailer was of no use anymore because our children cycle by themselves. However, as our type of cycling trips shifted to longer distances (multiple days), we required a luggage trailer instead.
Instead of investing in a cargo trailer or building one, I decided to convert the old one.

This instructable will show you how to convert a Burley Child's trailer (d'Lite) into a Cargo trailer, with a mininmum of new components and no welding.

The picture below shows the modified trailer on our 4-day trip along the Canal du Midi in Southern France. Because we were pretty sure the weather would be nice, an ordinary rucksack did the trick, but there are many water proof bags available.

Step 1: Stripping the Trailer


Although it doesn't look like this in the picture, the fabric of the trailer is severely worn after 7 years. We have used the trailer on many holidays, but for commuting and transporting our groceries as well. However, the frame is still in excellent shape.

The trailer is constructed with a minimum of welds, so disassembling is quite easy. Basically it is a flat frame with wheels in it with a hinged cover mounted on top. To convert the trailer to a cargo trailer you need to:

1 Reduce its height as luggage does not need to be stowed as high. This can be done by cutting the top frame at the right place (step 2 of this I'ble)

2 Reduce the wheel basis (width) to have a more agile trailer. This can be done by cutting the base frame in the front and rear end and installing a bolted peg (step 3 of this I'ble).

Disassembling is quite easy: remove the fabric first (by cutting the stiches). Now the construction becomes very clear. 

Step 2: Reducing the Height.


Cut the frame just above the horizontal bar that runs above the tyre. This is about the heigth of your luggage. Install rubber plugs on the 4 cuts.

Step 3: Reducing the Width.


Basically you need to remove a piece of tubing on the front and the end and reconnect it with a peg (and bolts). The peg is made of wood and fits exactly into the tubing of the frame.

In this step it is important to make sure that the "new" width still allows the trailer to be folded!

Step 4: The Connection to the Bike.


The bike connector is excellent, there is no need to mess about with it.
However, now that the trailer is slimmer, the current hinge forces the trailer to the left, giving it an ackward shift with respect to the bike.
This is solved by relocating the tube connector to the outside. It's just a matter of reversing (un bolting) the rig up.


Step 5: Base Plate


An Aluminium sheet is used as a base plate. Existing holes and bolts are used to attach the plate to the frame. First I made a plywood base plate to see if it would work and to figure out the exact dimensions as there are quite some cuts to be made in the base plate.


Note 1: Tie Rib = Tie Lock = Zip Tie


Note 2
The maiden voyage was 250 km over fairly rough terrain and it held good. Most of the damage was done by an angry French Train Guard who tried to force the thing into an already filled train. I would recommend to drill a few more holes (than suggested in this I'ble) through the frame and base plate so you can apply a bit more tie ribs (on one occasion one of the tie ribs snapped while hitting a bump).

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You can find inexpensive replacement hitches for these trailers at amazon, for $10 to 15. They also work on some cheaper trailers or home-made ones. I am using Amerityre foam tires (got mine from noflattires net). They roll very fast and make it great to never have to worry about flats on the trailer. I like your build. I think narrowing the trailer was really cool.

1 reply

"Amerityre" seems like an oxymoron to me

What ist the fork drop out of such standard kids trailer? Since I would use it with my heavily loaded electric cargo bike, I would love to ad a spare motor as well to the trailer, but the motor needs a bit over 100mm fork drop out. Would it be bendable, if too smal by default. What do you think? Thanks for the Help Florian

3 replies

I'm not sure if I understand your question correctly. The trailer as a special connector: https://burley.com/hitch-guide/

Look at the "classic" one. It does not interfere with any drop out as it is attached to the cycling frame. Just let me know.

I was meaning the drop out in the trailer, the space arround the axis of the two weels, since I like to ad an elctric motor in one of the weels of the trailer.
Thanks

Ok, I understand. The distance between the pads of the drop out is 9,9 cm. The pads themselves are approximately 4 mm thick.

Hope this helps.

What thickness of aluminum did you use and how much weight can it hold?

1 reply

I used 1,5mm thickness of Al sheet. The bag I transported was around 25kg as the weight was nicely distributed. If you would concentrate this weight, the sheet would certainly bend. Another tip: add some few extra Zip ties (read my Note 2 in step 5).

Finally, now I have laid a loose sheet of PE on top as Al gives nasty stains to the fabric of your bag.

Hey totally random but does anyone still have their fabric? My canopy is torn and my fabric near the top has a small tear. Would pay for shipping if anyone is willing to let it go or sell it.

1 reply

Sorry. I kept it for a few years for "you never know". Then I moved houses and cleaned up my garage...
Good luck!

i actually did the same thing 2 years ago, i couldn't afford to by plywood for the bed ,so i went to my friends house and we couldn't really think of something until he grabbed a roll of duct tape and it all came together. I can sit on it and not fall through. i mainly use it to return cans. every year i put a few more layers on to make it stronger. so far ive turned in over $200 in cans. Great Build :)

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3 replies

What a brilliant idea! I'm about to convert one and I'm going to buy some duct tape now!

Very nice!
Wasn't the plywood more expensive than the duct tape at the end?

we have only spent around $5 in the end, i believe we have around 7 layers of duct tape on both sides

I have the exact same trailer. I removed the side rails because I had a plastic bin that fit without them. instead of the sheet of aluminum, I found a lightweight steel crib bestial. I left it wide because it hauls so much. (it has been hit by a car, cause there is a dent in the curved rail and with wheels off it is slightly torqued) I tested the crib rail set up by towing 200lb landlord around the block. I didn't even need to shift into low gear. please look. at my instructible. luv Ya bye.

Does the aluminum sheet base make the trailer loud when towing it empty?

1 reply

If you mean a "wobbling" sound because the sheet resonates, the answer is no. The sheet is too thick (or the surface area is to small) to really resonate.
With thinner sheets you probably have a good point, but then the sheet has to be so thin that your luggage will fall trough it when loading the trailer.
Having said that, any empty trailer will make some noise (depending on the roughness of the road and your speed).

Fab trailer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 reply

I'm glad you like it!
Should you have any questions during your project, don't hesitate to drop me a line.

could you add some elastic cords to the front and back or mesh so your stuff wont fall out?