I've been thinking I want to make a folding bike trailer. My goal was for a tent to pop up when unfolded. Instant affordable housing.
The first thing I needed was a bike trailer, so I took 2 flat-tired, dusty Gary Fisher bicycles to The Recyclery, a local used bike shop, and traded them for a Bell bike trailer. What a deal for me. What a deal for The Recyclery.
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Step 1: Teardown
Tearing the Bell trailer down to the bare bones was exhilarating.
Step 2: Frame (foldable)
My vision was to build 2 simple wood frames and attach them with a piano hinge, with the back frame sort of hanging off the end of the aluminum frame. Of course, I will need to devise some legs for that back piece at some point.
The existing Bell aluminum frame was about 1" wide, so I took some scrap 2" X 4" pieces and cut them into 1" strips and screwed them together. I then cut a piece of plywood and placed it inside the frames, with more 1" strips for strength.
Step 3: Sleeping Bivy & Pad
This is an Outdoor Research bivy I purchased a long time ago from REI. Purchased new, it's $179, but I used my REI dividend and got it for less than $20.
From the REI website: The Outdoor Research Helium bivy is a true minimalist built for fast-and-light solo expeditions.
It weighs just under a pound. It's basically 3-season shelter, and perfect for my foldable trailer. And when there's rain in the forecast, I would recommend a tarp to stay dry.
It comes with a collapsible tent pole that is intended to be weaved through an opening in the front to create the door.
For the sleeping pad, I got an ECOTEK Outdoors Hybern8 Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Pad. It took only 8 exhales to blow it up, and I only got a little dizzy. It was $40.
Step 4: Folded Frame and Legs
Once the completed frame was folded, I screwed in some 3/8" metal flanges on each corner. Then I screwed in a 3/8" pipe, 10" long, and another flange on each corner, and those are the legs to support the bed. Brilliant! The pipes and flanges are stored in the bivy bag and bungeed to the frame when not in use.
Once the legs are screwed in, the frame can be unfolded and the tent is already inside, with some tent loops attached to some cup hooks to keep it in place. It is exactly 6' in length, plenty long for most humans. Grab a sleeping pad, get in, and go to sleep.