Introduction: Park and Beach Bicycle Trailer

Picture of Park and Beach Bicycle Trailer

Do you have an old "Burley" or similar child bicycle trailer? Have your kids moved on from being pulled behind your wheels to riding bikes of their own? Then maybe it's time to give your kid-toting trailer a new purpose in life - haul a cooler, picnic basket, folding chairs, guitar, blankets, beach towels, boogie boards... or anything else you might want for a trip to the park or beach near you.

*  NOTE:   About a month after posting this instructable, I updated it to include an additional step.  The end result is slightly different than pictured on the cover photo.

Step 1: Confirm You Are Not Having More Children

Picture of Confirm You Are Not Having More Children

We bought our trailer when our first son was just 6 months old. Now he is starting college. Like it or not, our kids grow up very fast. When you see that worn-out kid trailer gathering dust in the corner of your garage, before you do anything, check with your spouse and confirm you aren't going to have any more kids. A hug or a high-five may be in order.

Step 2: Collect Items & Tools

Picture of Collect Items & Tools

1. A Burley (or other brand) kid bicycle trailer.
2. 3/4" Plywood - 2' x 4' - I used a piece of scrap oak.
3. Sanding Sealer or Decoupage Glue (Mod Podge) if you want to add a logo.
4. Clear Varnish.
5. Outdoor Fabric - I bought 2 square yards of each.
6. 1 1/4" wide Nylon strap - I bought 2 yards in black.
7. Large 1/4" Metal fabric eyelets (you can get a kit with the tool to apply them at a fabric store).

1. Utility knife and scissors.
2. Screwdriver and wrenches.
3. Electric Jigsaw.
4. Sandpaper.
5. Computer and printer (for logo).
6. Drill and bits.
7. Varnish quality brush.

1. Sewing machine.
2.  Non-pregnant wife.

Step 3: Remove Cover

Picture of Remove Cover

Using a utility knife or scissors, carefully remove the outside cover from the trailer. Keep one of the side panels intact so you can use it as a pattern. In some areas, the cover is bolted and/or screwed to the frame. I saved the bolts and screws I took off and reused them in the new design. Remove the side panel frames - they will get in the way for the next step.

Step 4: Measure & Cut Plywood Base

Picture of Measure & Cut Plywood Base

Measure the width of your trailer and length. Trace a pattern lightly with a pencil onto the 3/4" thick plywood. To give it a surf-board, beachy look, add some curves and allow the board to hang off the back. I traced the curves shown at the top and bottom of the photo using lids from plastic totes. In your design, you will need to allow room in the corners for the folding-sides to attach (as pictured). Using an electric jigsaw, cut the board to size.

Step 5: Drill Holes for Bolts

Picture of Drill Holes for Bolts

My trailer frame had four holes already where bolts could slide through to attach the plywood. If yours does not have these, you can drill them yourself. I marked the location of the holes onto the plywood with a pencil, then at each location, drilled a tiny pilot hole through the plywood. Then, to counter-bore  for the head of the bolt, I used a 3/4" flat bottom bit next: it needed to be wide enough for a socket to turn the head of the bolt into place. Finally, of course, drill the holes to match the shank of the bolts.

Step 6: Sand, Decoupage and Varnish

Picture of Sand, Decoupage and Varnish

I really wanted to keep the natural light tone of the wood and also wanted to add a distressed, surf-board-like logo to the center. So I looked into the craft of "decoupage" - a way of gluing printed paper to wood. You'll need to sand the plywood thoroughly. I sanded to 180. Decoupage: I modified a design and printed the logo in color on 11" by 17" white paper. I used some left-over sanding sealer and coated the plywood, laid on the logo, then added several coats of sanding sealer. Another option would have been decoupage glue (Mod Podge) sold at craft stores. After several coats had dried, I sanded the logo thoroughly to get a distressed look. Finally, add at least two coats of varnish to all sides of the plywood.

Step 7: Cut and Sew Side Panels

Picture of Cut and Sew Side Panels

Sewing instructions: You can use the old side panel as a simple pattern to get the correct size and shape for the new panels. The side panels are sewn inside out, and open at one end, like a pillow case would be made. From the first photo, you can see that at this stage it can be slipped over the top of the folding side frames. Also from the photo, notice that just like a new pair of slacks, leave extra length at the bottom until you know how they fit. Next, mark the length needed with the panels in place and mark the desired location for the black straps. I wanted the bottom edge of the fabric to stop at the top of the plywood and for the black straps to be evenly spaced. In the second photo, you can see the final length and the location of the three straps.

Step 8: Cut Straps and Add Eyelets

Picture of Cut Straps and Add Eyelets

Straps are needed to secure the panels to the bottom of the trailer (Shown in place on photo). To make these, I cut six 10" strips of the 1 1/4" wide black strap and folded each in half, with the crease at the bottom. This will prevent unraveling. You can use an eyelet tool and the Large (1/4") metal eyelets (sold at craft stores) to reinforce the strap where a screw will attach to the trailer frame.

Step 9: Finish Bottom of Panels

Picture of Finish Bottom of Panels

Sewing instructions: The bottom is ready to be trimmed to length, hemmed and sewn shut with the nylon straps at their marked locations, as shown in the first photo. Of course, openings must be left in the bottom corners for the frame to slip through, as shown in the second and third photos.

Step 10: Add Screws

Picture of Add Screws

Slip the panels over the frames, then reinstall the frames back onto the trailer. In prefer the look and utility of the side panel frames when they are installed backwards. Pull the fabric tight, mark the location where the straps will attach to the bottom frame, drill small pilot holes for the screws, then screw in place. I used the short, sheet-metal screws that came off of the trailer when I took off the old cover.

Step 11: Enjoy

Picture of Enjoy

Bicycles make our lives better. Next time, skip the car and load your gear in your Park and Beach Bicycle Trailer.

Step 12: MODIFICATION: Add Dowels

Picture of MODIFICATION:   Add Dowels

I discovered that if the weight shifts in the trailer, you can get a tire mark on the fabric panel as shown in the first photo. After washing the panels, to avoid this in the future, I added dowels and placed them in the same position they were in the kid trailer.

In keeping with a beach theme, I went to the fabric store and bought 5 feet of decorative 1.5 inch burlap-like ribbon.   In addition, I found two 3/4 inch dowels.    

Sew the ribbon along the edges to side panels, going through both sides of the panels. This will leave a channel for the dowels to slide in snugly. Now, regardless of the pressure applied from the inside of the trailer, the fabric stays, tight, straight and out of the wheels.


campbejo (author)2014-09-18

very well done!

Nettiemac (author)2013-07-23

This is a fabulous makeover, and I really must get more into using a bike around town rather than a car. Thanks for the 'ible. Now to look for the needed items.

jhawkins14 (author)Nettiemac2013-07-30

If you do decide to make one, there's another step I'll be adding that will prevent the fabric from rubbing the wheels if the load shifts. I need to finish that modification and I'll edit the instructable to include this additional step.

jhawkins14 (author)jhawkins142013-08-20

Hi Nettiemac. I've now updated the instructable to include the additional step I was mentioning.

Nice instructable. I've been a fan of the creative reuse/repurposing of bike trailers and jogging type strollers that have outlived their child carrying life. One observation, I've been using Velcro attachments for the floorboards and fabric portions. Then again I've been trying to make a fishing cart out of a jogging stroller, so it has thinner tubes and I'd like it easily washable.
If you change your mind about a top/front,bungie attachment rings and Velcro might be the way to go for maximum flexibility. So you could pack more oversized or odd shaped items.

I have a kid trailer cargo conversion with a wire mesh bottom, that works good for fishing gear. Just hose off when you're done for the day .

I found some inexpensive wire shelving at the local Lowe's and it should work great like your wire mesh. Looking at cans of spray on pickup truck bedliner instead of paint also. Yep just keeping it simple and being able to hose it off when your done are great qualities for many projects.

The bed liner stuff is expensive here. The paint is cheap as I have it leftover from other things, but it has stayed on well. The fence panel doesn't rust easily, either. I used one of these, spraypainted with Krylon to match the grass, as a traction device for my truck in one place that tended to rut. It prevented stuck cars, ruts, and the paint stayed on it over a year.

Thank you. Recycling strollers.... that gives me some ideas. Thanks for your comment. Velcro is awesome.

Hope to see them soon. It being summer it'll probably be easier to find some in the fall. Really like the look of your trailer and look forward to see what you'll do with a stroller.

Jenniar (author)2013-08-01

I am sure that you are a person who love life.

Honus (author)2013-07-19

Just got rid of our old trailer a few weeks ago! It did go to a good home though...

thebeatonpath (author)Honus2013-07-31

Same here. Kicking myself.

Jenniar (author)2013-07-23

Wow,it is so cool.

jhawkins14 (author)Jenniar2013-07-30

Hey thanks. It was a fun project.

Gelfling6 (author)2013-07-24

I did similar with a Garrity trailer (very similar to the Burley), but used it to haul amateur radio equipment to a remote site for a field day experiment. (all went fine, til the power supply for the laptop bounced out enroute, and, unbeknown, dragged several miles. (end was not pretty!)) these trailers are very sturdy, and well-lubricated wheels make for smooth movement. Very nicely done!

jhawkins14 (author)Gelfling62013-07-30

Thank you very much. My 14 year old son uses the trailer, without the sides attached, to haul our lawn mower around to his jobs. It worked great, but he learned the hard way that you have to bungee it down and double-check it. These trailers are fantastic, and it is interesting to see all of the different things people use them for.

spange (author)2013-07-26

the best part of this instructable: "Step 1: Confirm You Are Not Having More Children"

That made my day.

jhawkins14 (author)spange2013-07-30

Thanks! It made my day when I found out my wife wasn't pregnant, again. Haha. Kidding aside, although children are great, I feel like I'm done with having more.

Asamati98 (author)2013-07-24

AMAZING!!!!! How do you come up with these things, this better win, SO COOL!

clazman (author)2013-07-23

You counter bored holes not countersunk. There is a difference..C'bored holes have a flat bottom whereas a countersunk hole is a cone shaped surface for flathead screws.

jhawkins14 (author)clazman2013-07-23

Thanks clazman, I changed the word on that step.

RingoWild (author)2013-07-23

Bee-you-tiful! Those dern kids do grow up fast, don't they? I like your suggestion of the high-five... hahahaha.

Lost Moai (author)2013-07-23

I really like how you switched the side panels around. It makes it look more like a traditional teardrop style trailer.

jhawkins14 (author)Lost Moai2013-07-23

You noticed! I thought the same thing.

With a grey fabric on the outside, you could really have a throw-back to the teardrop style trailer. And with a pattern fabric on the inside, I think that would look awesome.

Eh Lie Us! (author)2013-07-23

Great work. I'm a big fan of reusing.
Your lawn is really green! You must not be in the Southwest. :)

ladybgood (author)2013-07-23

I would add a waterproof top, in case it rains.
great 'bile! and great up cycling!

jhawkins14 (author)ladybgood2013-07-23

I really appreciate your comment ladybgood! In my case, I knew that I would be carrying over-sized items and using it on clear days, so I left it topless. My larger gear can hang off of the back the trailer.

Wazzupdoc (author)2013-07-23

Bet you could attach a surfboard or kayak carrier to the side or top, or surf rod holders. I'm keeping my eye out for one of these! Great Job!

Marcus j cooper (author)2013-07-21


l8nite (author)2013-07-20

I really like that you used different fabrics, it gives the trailer a unique and fun look

jhawkins14 (author)l8nite2013-07-20

Thank you very much! I remember standing in front of the 50+ different patterns of outdoor fabric at the store, hoping to find stripes and a "Hawaiian shirt"-type pattern.

About This Instructable




Bio: At home, you can find me with my wife and three boys, maybe practicing violin, guitar or piano, in the garage doing some woodworking, bicycling ... More »
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