Lowboy Dolly and Moped As ATV Towtruck




About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

Doomed motorcycles and other "tweaker poop" clog the shared spaces of many an artists' studio.
I was innocently cleaning out my share of such a place when my friend pointed at an ATV trike.
He uttered the trigger phrase "it's yours if you get it out of here".
This activated the "Hell yeah!" program in my mind.
In a flash I inflated the tires and dragged it out of the building. It didn't roll easily so I grabbed a curtain from a trashcan and tied the ends to the handlebars, making a sort of sled dog harness.

Then I trudged down the street dragging it behind me.
"Thus Conan grew to manhood" I thought.

After a block or two it got really hard to drag. I looked back and one of the tires was leaving a dark skidmark on the sidewalk. I left my burden by the side of the road and went to get the lowboy dolly.

My friend Ed West was there so labor-saving methods seemed desirable, no matter how much extra work it took. Ed took the towing action pix with his phone. Fungusamungus took the lashing photos.


Step 1: Sticks, Rope, Innertube Equals Anything

The vision: The lowboy trailer would become a trailer to transport this disabled ATV (all terrain vehicle)

To make the tongue we lashed sticks to the base using innertubes. The sticks are two 8 foot chunks of Corwin's broken carbon windsurfer mast.

The trailer hitch is a universal joint formed from another lashing of innertube. This connected the trailer to the back of Ryan's moped. There's some rope as well as innertube in that lashing because I was secretly scared of it falling off.
The tongue lifted the dolly's front wheels off the ground. This is good because if ever the back wheels lifted, the front casters would let the trailer swing out and smash into parked cars or whatnot.
If the hitch broke and the front wheels landed that would be bad also. The whole thing would take off for parts unknown and spear something with the tongue.

Lightsurf came out to take this picture while Ed and I were loading up.

On the way back it fell off once but it's made for that sort of thing and we put it back on.
We got back without other mishap and now I've got this giant piece of crap I have no use for.
I think it's going to be a set of beach wheels for a catamaran. Maybe Emily will take the motor to run it on wood gas or methane. It's perfect for that cuz it's got no carburetor in the way.

While I was good and embarassed I trailered back two wooden crates we'd passed on the first trip. Ahh. I feel really dumb. Can you believe some people take drugs to feel like this?

Step 2: Frame Lashings

When innertubes get scarce I start cutting them into strips like this.
These lashings don't look too secure, but they didn't come undone.
So I guess they were good enough.

Step 3: Hot Air Removes Decals and Tape

I didn't know why there was tape on the end of the tube so I thought I'd remove it. The tape was rotten so it didn't come off.
Out comes the hairdryer which softens the adhesive enough to pick off the tape. This magic implement is also good for removing bumperstickers and decals from cars. The last shreds of adhesive just rub and roll off by hand.

Step 4: Universal Joint / Trailerhitch Lashing

Tie a rope leash on also for safety in case the lashing fails.
Click on the photos below to see pictures of the steps.

The first turn goes over one end of the tube, trapping it.
Subsequent turns cross diagonally over the top of the tongue stick.
After it looks strong enough you lock the thing together by a number of turns around it.
Pull and wiggle the tongue while making this turns so they form a sort of ball under it.
The last turn is tucked under a previous winding.
Don't tie knots, cuz you'll be untying it again in an hour or so when you're done with it.



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    15 Discussions


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I can imagine it would be pushing pretty heavily on the rear of the moped.. I'm also noticing, in both photos, the rear tire is either under-inflated, or the load, even on the tongue of the trailer is unrealistically too heavy! (note in the 2nd photo, the tire is 1/2 flattened!) I connected a 'kiddie' trailer onto the back of a TOMOS, and using it to haul amateur radio equipment for a field-day set-up (3 car batteries in parallel, 2 radios, and 2 antenna assemblies).. Even that was a bit much for the clutch of the moped.. It's a nice idea, but as many have already said.. Pulling such a heavy load, You're begging for worse problems. (if not, breaking local safety laws.)


    Reply 12 years ago

    Unsafe. The answer to all questions about this instructable is UNSAFE. At low speeds it's no worse than a poory loaded wheelbarrow. UNSAFE times SPEED equals INJURY


    9 years ago on Step 4

    I use rubber bungees with hooks on the ends for such lashing. I can usually find something to hook to on the bike frame or trailer.

    Thanks for posting.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Safety violations: Shorts, Gloves, Jacket, Brakes on the trailer, Steering on the trailer... As for the moped, it looks like my old Camino PA50 a bit anyway, isn't the wheel and bearing set a great thing? A 50 pulling all of you and the stuff too, good old inventions making life easier. Nice idea. 8-)


    12 years ago

    I have yet to have a freind who just gave away an ATV trike but when I find one this will come in handy

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago

    I just checked on ebay. There are a couple of these that actually run for under $200. This one was dropped off at a dealer with the words "I just don't want it around anymore." The dealer of course was in business to sell new ones and make real money, so he turned around and gave it to the first person who would take it but wasn't also in the market, who then did the same, and so on, and so on.....


    12 years ago

    and to think, when I read your dolly instructable, I was wondering what kind of weight it could handle. Way to answer that question. Stop reading my mind now, please. (but if you are: no, it really is a fish.)


    12 years ago

    Good use of your sweet Lowboy dolly :)


    12 years ago

    "UNSAFE times SPEED equals INJURY" Hahahahaha! The great truths are always simple, aren't they?


    12 years ago

    Those would have been cool wheels for a scooter!