About: Inventing (and breaking stuff to see how it works) since before the turn of the century...

Now that you have built your version of the world's greenest water pump, from the plans in my last instructable,


you will have so much extra water you will need to build a water wagon to transport it around your farm for spot watering those plants and trees that are too far from your water delivery site.

You want a "Green" water wagon, so let's build one out of scrap bits we have on hand and make use of the 3 r's... Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Let's make it strong enough to tow behind your garden tractor and simple enough to make it a nice weekend project.

Enjoy this instructable and don't forget to rate it and let me know if I can make it better.

Step 1: What You Need

The picture below shows the parts you need and serves as an assembly guide.

This project requires some welding and metal cutting, so if you are not up for that, you can just take the picture and measurements to a welding shop and they will have it slapped out for you in no time.

The most difficult parts to acquire are the wheels. They have to be strong because you will be towing around over 600lbs including a full water barrel so bicycle wheels and hand cart wheels etc. are too flimsy for this one. I would not even opt for wheel barrow wheels due to the heavy weights the bearings will see when you bounce the rig over a few potholes.

I scored some scrap motorcycle wheels and they are perfect as we shall see later, except that they have odd size bearings, but if you are handy and have a metal lathe you can make your own axles or just go to the local steel shop to buy what you need.

The water tank is an old plastic barrel with a screw in bung, surplus barrels are available for 5 bucks in my area.

The only new item I bought for this project is the trailer ball coupler. I could have used a draw pin hole on the trailer tongue, but it's much easier to hook up a full water barrel using a commercial trailer ball coupler and my garden tractor has a ball on it so that is the way to go if you can.

One word of caution. This rig is heavy when loaded, so build it strong and make sure your garden tractor is up to the task because you can easily die, or at least have a very bad day, when a 600 lb. wagon runs over you or your family or your pets or neighbours' Lamborghini...

This design has worked well for me for quite a while, but I accept no liability or responsibility for any damage if your version fails on you somehow. Remember water is heavy, so chock your wheels and drive carefully, never exceed Mach 3.2 on your garden tractor...

Step 2: Build the Frame

The frame is made from some 1" id and 1" od square tubing I had on hand. This tube is fairly heavy walled which you need as the rig gets heavy when loaded.

Cut the pieces to form a roughly square frame about 35-40" . Every surplus barrel is a little different shape and size, so you will have to adapt to best fit the ones you obtained and your wheels..

Make the frame wide enough so that your wheels clear the barrel when it sits in the cradle.

The cradle is made from some lighter (not too light) 1" round tubing that I bent in a vice to form a pocket for the barrel to ride in.

The tongue is larger tubing about 70" long welded underneath the frame.

Weld up everything solid, but it's best to drill all the holes you need before welding as this rig gets heavy very quickly.

Step 3: Wheels On

In the center of your side frames drill 2 x 1/2" holes on 2 " minimum centres and set the frame on top of the wheels.

It's best to mount the axles under the frame so the whole load rides on the axles and not the axle hold down straps.

Make the hold down straps from some flat bar about 3" or longer and drill 2 x 1/2 " holes on the same centers as your frame holes. Next put through some 1/2" bolts or threaded rod and crank it down until it bends the flat bar into a hold down strap. The axle will not move when you apply enough torque to bend the flat bar and will be locked in solid. Go ahead, reef it down good, you know you want to...

Now you need to make a front and rear barrel holder. Make them adjustable because you will want to fine tune the fully loaded center of gravity so that the barrel has a few pounds of down force resting on the tongue. That will save unexpected backward tip ups and maybe some squashed toes.

I just welded on a section of larger tube that I drilled a 1/2" hole into over which I welded a nut. Make the adjuster out of a couple of 8-10" pieces of smaller tube and when you slide one inside the other, you can use a bolt through the nut you welded on to lock it in the position you desire.

Install a 1/2" min water valve, 3/4" is better if you have it, and screw in a garden hose connector.
When you tow the water around, wind your garden hose around the back end of the barrel and it comes along easily as well. Don't forget to put the bung back in the barrel or you splash a lot of water out as you drive. You can fill the barrel right on the wagon, no need to lift any full barrels, which is the whole point of this exercise;)

A drip hose on the end of your garden hose works well and gravity will slowly empty your barrel over a couple of hours. Just park the wagon and leave it to drip on the flowers. Don't park the wagon on the flowers, "she who must be obeyed" wont like it, nope, not at all, not even a little bit...
(One of these days I am going to have to build a bigger dog house considering how much time I spend in there)

Step 4: Tongue Detail

I always wanted to write about tongue details...

Best to make yours about 60-70" long. Any shorter and it gets hard to hook up the wagon and hard to turn and back up. Longer is better if you have the material. Heavier is better too for safety sake.

Weld a handle on the top near the hitch coupler. Just needs to be large enough to get your hand underneath. Make it sturdy as you will want to pull on it to align your hitch on your garden tractor.

Weld on a skid plate or foot about 3 or 4" high to the bottom of the tongue near the front end. this keeps your tongue up out of the dirt and reduces rusting of important parts.

Slap a coat of paint on it if you are vain about your work. I used some left over paint I found in the shed, there is always some left over paint in your shed, just go have a look.

Bolt on your hitch coupler (purchased on sale for under $10.00 at a hardware sale) and you are ready to race.

Step 5: Safety Notes

All kidding aside, a barrel of water weighs about 500lbs and the rig weighs another hundred easily, so keep that in mind when you are using this thing. Make sure your tractor or atv brakes can handle that kind of load or you may get a nasty surprize.

We have a very long steep hill, so I always chock the wheels when filling, hitching and parking. 15 or 20 g's of acceleration would give you a major momentum thrill if this thing ever got loose and rolled all the way down.

Be careful with the balance point as well. Too far forward is better than too far back as you don't want to be surprized by the wagon tongue popping up and unexpectedly contacting your nether regions. This will cause you to bend way over... trust me on that one....

Now have fun watering things, and try to keep both wheels on the ground going around corners...



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    16 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Very nice! Beats the 3 cubic yard trailer I use now - and most of the water sloshes out.... watering everything in between the water source and the flowers -- ;)


    10 years ago on Introduction


    Green water wagon? It looks blue to me!

    Sorry, sorry, I know...

    2 replies

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Could you explain in a little more detail about the wheels? Are they both front wheels? How did the axle work out?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The wheels are either front or rear in any combination. Just remove the sprocket from the rear wheel and you are good to go. You can see in step 2 that the wheels on this wagon are both a front and a rear and are from different motorcycles as well, it really doesn't matter at all. I even have one wagon that has a 26 inch wheel on one side and a 24 on the other, I just mounted the larger wheel axle on top of the frame to compensate and it works fine. The axles I made to fit the existing bearings by turning down a piece of 1" steel bar on my lathe. They are pretty short and supported on both sides and are therefore quite strong. No tendency to bend at all. I have had no mechanical problems with any part of these rigs yet. Everything works as advertised and I have just put them back into service this week for another season. I am building another one exactly the same because I have enough parts and the need for more capacity.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I LIKE your style & ingenuity! keep up the good work. and also, there's three more R's you could add to the basic RRR... restore, refurbish & re-purpose. I like them all. best regards, ...jm.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    There's no suspension on this - how fast / slow do you recommend moving it?

    As PKM it's a shame about the brakes - do I understand that the hubs came without the brakes (not too easy to see)


    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, no brakes came with these wheels. My wife usually drives it around and she generally runs gas full on or brakes full on with our garden tractor ;p No problems running at best speed with my equipment, BUT, your garden tractor may not be as strong as mine which is a 14hp Ford diesel with hydrostatic drive so the brakes are hydraulic and very very effective. I.e. when you step on the brakes, the back wheels stop dead. I also have real, if small, tractor tires on mine so they have very much more traction than standard garden tractor smooth turf tires that come as standard equipment. Start slow, and test out the limits and skid characteristics on flat ground! Be careful, you don't want 600lbs of water to push you into the ditch or down a steep hill. And try not to tow it across any slopes, only up or down as it may roll you over if your tractor is too light. Also, if you are worried, you don't have to fill the barrel to the top, make 2 trips. I actually have 3 of these wagons built now and we cycle them all over the ranch and park them as needed. This also permits filling one while another empties.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't mean to worry you, all these wagons work very well for me. If the wheels are about 36" or better apart, they are very stable and show no undesireable roll tendencies, but please be careful until you know the limits of your own rig.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I tried to use a barrel like that one, to make a waterproof(ish) box as a trailer container but couldn't figure out how to attach it without bolting through it. well done!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm i suppose with one of these if you live in the city You could Cut the Barrels top off 3/4s of the way up add two hinges and a Padlock and make a bicycle trailer


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Could you cannibalise a car handbrake lever or similar and hitch it up to the bike brake drums? Seems a shame to not use them if you are using complete motorbike wheels... but then I guess it's a lot more mechanical complexity and you don't want to be relying on that much of a bodge. Wheel chocks probably the way forward then.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It certainly would be possible. Sadly, my wheels did not come with any brake shoes or actuators so I was not about to reconstruct something there as the alternative is pretty cehap and simple. Fortunately, my garden tractor is heavy enough to stop the rig with no trouble and a couple of short 4x4 blocks keep this wagon firmly in place when parked. Good thought though.