Introduction: DIY Wheeled Cooler / Ice Chest
Off-the-shelf wheeled coolers are costly, and many times sacrifice interior space with their wheel wells. So, I built this wheeled cooler using less than two dollars' worth of hardware and some wheels I scavenged from an old grill someone was throwing out.
I'm cheap, I love quick projects, and like to give landfill-destined material new life. This project was perfect for me.
Step 1: Supplies
• A cooler / ice chest
• Wheels and Axle
• Keep an eye out for an old grill or other wheeled item being thrown out and scavenge the wheels and axle
• In cases where the axle isn't long enough, often you can buy a piece of copper or steel pipe that might have a similar diameter
• I used the same type of screw that hold the lid hinges on. They're fat pan head type screws
• Use pipe holders for copper or PVC pipe that fit snugly around the axle
• Cotter pin or coat hanger
• Garden hose
• Fender washers (optional)
• PVC pipe for spacers (optional)
• Scrap 2 x 4 (optional)
• Drill with small drill bit (optional)
Step 2: Axle Brackets
Screw the pipe holders on one end of the cooler where the axle will go. Make sure they're aligned, and that the screws aren't too long.
You'll want to install the wheels on the side opposite the drain. The wheels will raise that side of the cooler and funnel water towards the other end for easy draining.
Step 3: Make a Spacer (optional)
Slide the axle in place. Attach one wheel and whatever nut or other retaining piece came with the wheels. Then, measure and cut a piece of PVC to fit as a spacer between the bracket and wheel. The spacer should be long enough to give enough space to keep the wheel from rubbing against the side of the cooler. It isn't required because as Dale said, "a little rubbin' never hurt anything", but it makes for a smoother ride.
It is hard to see in this picture, but the wheels and axle I used came with black PVC spacers that I was able to re-use.
Step 4: Cut Axle to Size
Fit the spacer, wheel, and fender washer on the other side.
Leave about 1/4" of axle beyond the fender washer, and mark. This is where you'll cut the axle.
Cut the axle using a hacksaw or appropriate power tool of your choice.
Step 5: Drill Hole, Or...
I couldn't use the retaining nut that came with this axle because I had to cut the axle shorter. So I drilled a small hole for a cotter pin.
You might be able to use the retaining nut or clip that came with the wheels. Or you can use an alternate method, explained next
Step 6: Pin Wheel
Use a cotter pin to keep everything in place. Or, rig a cotter pin from a piece of coat hanger as shown.
Alternatively, you can use a pipe clamp, a spring clamp, etc.
Step 7: Make a Handle
Rope + old hose = handle
Step 8: Optional: Wood Block
If you don't like the fact that the cooler will sit at an angle, cut a scrap of 2x4 to use as a leveling block. It's small enough to toss in the cooler or velcro to the side, etc.
You're done. Enjoy your project and let me know in the comments any improvements you'd do.