The hobo, Americas last great nomad. Whether its jumping onto boxcars or strutting around city streets hobos have always been true wanderers, and what stereotypical image of a hobo would be complete without a shopping cart.
The average grocery store shopping cart is the perfect accessory for todays hobo on the go. It contains just the right amount of space for all of their possessions. The shopping cart has ample room for bottles/cans, dirty blankets (for those extra nippy nights on the streets), random treasures found while scavenging, and even enough room for relics from a broken former life; however, there comes a time in every hobos life, when they will ask, if this amazing creation called a shopping cart, is capable of more than just storage?"
Today, ladies and gentleman, I finally have an answer for them...
... allow me to present to you, the perfect modification for the perfect hobo accessory ...
Forged from scavenged parts, in true hobo style, the Hobobeque provides a great alternative to those unfashionable 40 gallon drum fires. You'll be the most popular hobo on the street, strutting around with your new Hobobeque. You can use it to cook, provide warmth (replace those dirty old blankets, with FIRE!), or for self defense (teach that other hobo trying to move into your alley a lesson by rolling a flaming shopping cart at him, I'm sure he wont be back), yes the Hobobeque does it all!
So ladies, gentlemen, bums, tramps, and (most importantly) hobos, allow me to take you on a journey through the process of building this amazing device. Many of us will laugh a little, some of us may cry a little, and some others may even die little (does that count as a disclaimer?).
Step 1: Acquiring a Shopping Cart (and Other Supplies)
So the first challenge we are faced with is deciding where to find a shopping cart. Many of you will initially be tempted to steal it from a chain store like Stop and Shop or Walgreens because you think "Hey, they're a big faceless corporation, they can afford it". Well smartass, not only is stealing from a large company wrong, its also illegal.
Stealing from a large company like that is wrong because the shopping cart will contain none of the hobo freshness. Thats right, for my Hobobeques I use nothing but the freshest shopping carts plucked from actual homeless people, and construct them within 48 hours, to seal in that authentic hobo flavor.
Grill surface & sheet metal:
The actual cooking surface is not made from the shopping cart, and you will be required to hunt for a grill elsewhere. You're looking for a metal grill that roughly fits the shape and size of the top of your particular shopping cart. In authentic scavenger style I was able to find a perfect sized grill near an old 40 gallon drum barbecue, discarded on the side of the road.
A piece of sheet metal is also needed to prevent the coals from falling through the grills when they burn. I was lucky enough to find some behind a shipping container, but sheet metal shouldn't be too hard to come by. If you must, you can probably find some large metal object being disposed of that you could scrap.
Welder & other tools:
A welder (MIG, TIG, or Oxyacetylene it doesn't really matter) is required to attach the grill and sheet metal to the cart. If you don't own or have access to a welder this project shouldn't be too hard to complete using a less cool method of joining metal.
Various other metal working tools are also required like snips strong enough to cut through the shopping cart metal, or wrenches and pliers to bend the metal, etc.
Step 2: Prepping the Shopping Cart
Now it is time to prepare the shopping cart for surgery. Do this by removing all plastic pieces, and anything else that may burn, from the cart.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- Belt with plastic clips for the kiddie seat
- Plastic bumpers on front of the cart
- Plastic kiddie seat
- Plastic grip for the handle
Step 3: Creating the Coal Bed
Since this is a coal grill (hobos have limited access to propane) we are going to need a bed for the coals. The coal bed is made by repositioning the hinged back of the shopping cart lower down, and welding the sheet metal underneath to prevent the coals from falling.
To reposition the back:
1. Using a strong pair of pliers unbend the metal hooks acting as the hinge for the back .
2. With the two hooks unbent, it should now be possible to easily remove the entire back of the cart. The back should be composed of three sections, and act somewhat like a collapsible "V", with the kiddie seat holding the two legs of the V in place.
3. Using the pliers remove the metal part used for the kiddie seat, and set aside for later.
4. Bend the hooks on the back outward, and then reattach to the cart a few inches below its original position (As shown in picture 3).
5. Attach one side of the kiddie seat metal to the bottom of the back, and then hold horizontally and attach the other side to the cart.
1. Using snips cut the upper front of the cart and bend downwards (As show in picture 6).
2. Because of the shape of the shopping cart the back should be pretty firmly held in its horizontal position, but just in case weld any parts where it looks like it could use some extra support. To determine if there are weak spots, take the shopping cart for a very bumpy ride and pay attention to where it rattles or shakes, and weld that spot.
3. Cut a piece of sheet metal to the right size for your cart, and weld underneath the horizontal metal grating.
Step 4: Cleaning ... With FIRE!
Before the grilling surface is attached, the Hobobeque needs to pass its first trial by fire.
The purpose of this step is to not only burn off any impurities that may be on the bars or sheet metal, but also to test the Hobobeque's spirit and make sure it has the will of a barbecue.
1. Spread a bag of charcoals evenly out over the coal bed, and ignite.
2. Stir the coals occasionally, making sure they come in contact with most of the coal bed.
3. Repeat, depending on the cleanliness of the smell of the fire.
Step 5: Attaching the Grilling Surface
Attaching the grill is another step that is completely possible without welding (just not nearly as fun); however, if you were able to find a grill that fits snug enough you might not even need to do anything at all.
To attach the grilling surface:
1. Place the grill on top of the shopping cart. The ideal grill would have just the right amount of overhang to support itself on top of the cart. I was lucky enough to find the perfect size grill for my shopping cart sitting on the side of the road. As you can see in photo 2, the grill I had probably didn't need to be welded because most of it rested over the top of the cart, and the rest was pinched by the bars going to the handle.
2. Cut off the overhang, and weld the grill to the cart.
Your Hobobeque is now complete. Just give it another cleaning, and it will be ready to go for a test run.
Step 6: Cleaning ... With FIRE! ... AGAIN!
Just like the original cleaning, only now with 25% more fire.
Step 7: Go Shopping
Now that your Hobobeque is complete it is time to take it for a test run. Find the most hobo infested food store in your neighborhood (for us it was Albertsons), and take the Hobobeque shopping.
Some things you might want to pick up are:
- Coals (Duh)
- Produce: A few ears of corn, some tomatoes, and lettuce (Provide for good burger toppings, and bright colorful photos).
- Meat: Burgers, hot dogs, sausages, etc.
- A can of beans. Use a swiss army knife to open the beans, and cook in the can for true hobo authenticity
- Brown bags and 40s.
Step 8: The Moment of Truth
So now that you've collected all your supplies it is time for the Hobobeque's commissioning. It is important that the Hobobeque is in a familiar environment the first time it is used, or else it might become confused and frightened. Since shopping carts feel most at home in parking lots, we decided to have the barbecue right outside of Albertsons.
1. Remove all the bags from the shopping cart, and set aside for later.
2. Secure the wheels of the shopping cart with whatever is available at the time. For us that was pine cones and twigs (Picture 4). Thats right folks, this flaming mobile deathtrap is secured by nothing more then some scattered debris.
3. Spread the coals evenly over the coal bed.
4. Apply lighter fluid (Don't use too much, or the Hobobeque might attract the unwanted attention of supermarket employees)
5.Light it up.
6. Place food on the grill and start cooking. (Make sure any melting plastic on the cart falls away from the food)
Congratulations you are now slumming it in style with your brand new Hobobeque.
Step 9: Don't Get Busted
Of course the most important thing to remember when attempting a Hobobeque cookout (or any of my other projects), is to avoid getting caught. If you can resist the urge to draw attention to yourself and your awesome Hobobeque glory, you are less likely to be noticed by a store employee.
Unfortunately, I did not follow my own advice, and, like my usual pyrotechnic self, sprayed just a little too much lighter fluid on the Hobobeque (I do luvs my fire). The resulting inferno was enough to gain the attention of several Albertson's employees, and a few random concerned pedestrians. One of the employees ended up calling the fire department, and shortly after we heard sirens in the distance.
Quite frankly, written text cant do the ensuing carnage justice. The pictures are there for those with the stomach to view them.