Introduction: 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.