This instructable will detail how to make a small airplane bicycle trailer. I make these for sale, but am glad if other people try their hand at it. I make a plane, train, tank, taxi and tractor version of these. My son loves this particular trailer (it was my first) and I bet your child will love it as well. It is real simple - just knowing how someone else did it may make your day easier.
For some reason, when I edit this, it will not let me embed video - so here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BdvfXduUso to my son riding down the driveway in tow.
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Step 1: Find Materials (aka the Three Lives of Pine Boards)
Your first step in this process is to procure what you will need for the plane. My main materials came from a bookshelf that I took down in one of our rooms. I began this project to submit it for the instructable contest where something is used for another purpose - and as you can see I didn't make that deadline.
Below is a list of what I used to make the little plane:
1. 1x12 pine boards (I used a handful of 30 inch long ones and two 10 feet long ones)
2. 2 wheels from Northern Tool
3. small brads (1 inch)
4. small screws (3/4 inch)
5. one L bracket (4 inch)
6. two 5 gallon buckets with lids (you really only need two lids - I just used this project to justify buying two more buckets).
7. one length of 2 inch conduit
8. assorted switches and an old alarm clock.
9. a one foot diameter concrete tube (or a compass...)
In regard to number 1 - the bookcase I had to take down had shelves thirty inches wide across and twelve inches deep - these dimensions influenced the dimensions of the plane because I didn't want to purchase any other materials.
Step 2: Getting a Grip on the Idea
When I first had this idea, I wanted to make it with a round fuselage. That would look more realistic, so I went on the hunt for something round - I then settled on concrete tubes or pvc pipe.
When I went shopping for them, I quickly decided that was not a great idea. The pvc is pricey and they would only sell 20ft lengths of the cardboard concrete tubes which also made it a little pricey.
So I went to Home Depot and they had 12in diameter concrete tubes for less than 12 bucks - I was determined to make this work. Yet, despite my determination, it didn't work.
Step 3: Make the Fuselage
I soon discovered that 1ft diameter was too small - my son (or anyone else's) would easily fall out or lean over too much - At that I decided I would cut it once, and spread it out on a wood base - this again ended up too small. So the round tubing was scrapped.
On a side note - I am not that great at cutting straight lines if I 'eyeball' something, so I drew a line straight down the concrete tube and cut it - I made sure my line was straight and even by putting it next to my door jamb. I also used a dry-erase marker thinking that I could erase any markings it left on the door jamb. I also found out that dry-erase markers do not erase from door jambs...
The first part of making the fuselage was determining how long I wanted it. I settled for 48.5 inches long. This made it long enough for the parts not to be crowded together, but remained easy to tow and easy to turn.
I first laid one board on the ground and then built the riser for the seat. The seat is 18 inches long. At the 32 inch mark (measuring from the front), I affixed a 3.5 inch tall by 12 inch wide board and then I affixed another of the same dimensions at the 15.5 inch mark (once again measuring from the front). I then placed the board on top of it to make sure it was all flush and then affixed the sides.
The sides were 30 inch long and 12 inch wide boards. To maximize width, I didn't place these on top of the bottom board - rather beside. This kept the inside 12 inches, but reduced the height to around 11 inches (the boards are 3/4 inch thick and the 12 inch boards are actually about 11 5/8).
On the front of the fuselage and the back of the seating compartment, I cut two boards to fit on the ends. The front and the end measure 12 3/4 inches wide and the front is the full width of the 12 inch boards and the back is actually 13.5 inches.
Next, I drilled a hole in the front with a 1/2 inch drill bit - I measured it to drill the hole dead center. This will be where your propellor is attached.
Step 4: Make the Wings
The measurement of my wings are from the 10 feet long boards that served as the ends of the bookcases. They were 1x12 boards and I cut them to 50 inches wide. I did so based solely on the width of our bike lanes in my hometown. When the bike lanes cross a street, they have three large metal poles to block motorized traffic from coming on the tracks. I made sure my wings could go through them without too much trouble.
Then ends are rounded - this is where I actually got to use my concrete tube that I bought and could not use as a fuselage.
Step 5: Make Tail Wing
The tail wing is made from two boards - the horizontal wing is 30" long. The diagonal piece is 24" high. Once I had completed the fuselage, I laid the fuselage on its side then laid the diagonal piece on top of it. Once I had tilted it to a satisfactory angle, I drew a pen line along the edge of the fuselage - that is where I cut the board. The diagonal piece is held in place with four L brackets that are 1.5 inches in length.
The end is rounded off just like the wings - I used the concrete tube to set an outline to trace. Then I cut it with a jigsaw.
Step 6: Make Tow Arm
The tow arm is quite simple - it is a length of 1.5" diameter conduit. It is attached to the frame by way of two u-shaped brackets that hold it onto the frame. I toyed with the idea of just using two bolts and drilling holes in the pipe - that would make it more stable and would allow it to swivel. However, I liked the idea of it swivelling for two reasons - first, not all bikes are the same dimensions and this allows me a little room to adjust the tongue of the trailer. Second, sometimes I use the trailer like a wagon - I just turn the tow arm and the bend goes up instead of to the left. This allows me to walk with it and not be hunched over.
To bend the conduit, first measure the length you need - I cut a length of 53 inches. The bend is at the 20" mark. I laid the pipe on the ground and then drove my car on top of the pipe. Then I went to the end of the pipe and lifted. I bent it about 20 degrees. By bending it at the 20" mark, this gives almost ten inches of straight pipe in front of the plane before it starts to bend. This allows you to make sharp turns without having your bike wheel hit the trailer.
To attach the tow arm to the bike, I just threaded an eye hook through the small hole in my bike where you normally attach a rear rack. I then drilled a hole through the end of the conduit and put a bolt through it. The bolt slips into the eye of the eyehook - then I attach a nut and start riding.
Step 7: Make Dash
The dash is just a bucket lid cut in half. This became problematic because my son is two and likes to push on the buttons really hard - so I reinforced the plastic by cutting a piece of luan wood to fit in behind the plastic.
Once you cut out a half-circle shape piece of anything, paint it black and layout your buttons. I guess if you are a good artist, you could draw on the dials - I just used some toggle switches I had laying around and an old alarm clock. I wired it to hook up to a piezo buzzer, door chime and flashing lights, but there was no need. My son just likes to mash all of the buttons.
Step 8: Make a Propellor
At first I wanted to get fancy and use actual props from a hobby shop - these though had sharp edges and made me think twice. I then went the opposite direction and cut a thick piece of wood to serve as my prop. I grabbed a mug out of the kitchen and traced two circles on the ends. I then took a juice glass and traced it at the center. Then I used a ruler to connect the outsides of the circles to the middle. After I cut out the general shape, I drilled a hole in the middle with a 3/4 inch drill bit. Then I took a three inch bolt with a fender washer and inserted it into the front of the plane from the inside. Then I placed a nut on it to hold it to the frame. Then I slid on another bucket lid with a 3/4 inch hole drilled into the center (I painted this black). After that, I put on another nut, the propellor and then another nut - I started to run out of room on the bolt, so I plan to replace the 3 inch bolt with a four inch later.
Step 9: And Paint It - I Chose Red.
My son likes red and blue. I chose red. Have fun choosing a color.
Step 10: The Wheels.
The wheels I used are garden cart wheels from Northern tool. They work great - the bearings are real smooth and makes towing it a pleasure. I used two 3.5 - 4 inch sections of angle iron to make a place to mount the wheels. I mounted the angle iron flush with where the back of the seat is.