Well, after using the trailer a couple times, I became a little concerned that the surge from the old spring-based hitch might become a problem as the weight climbed (eg, 20-40lbs of rabbit litter). So I decided to try and build a hinged universal joint that would do the job. You can see what I can up with below:
I settled on shelf brackets (which are nice and rigid) mounted to a piece of electrical box cover for the hinge on the bike, and a pair of straightened brackets for the trailer arm hinge. The result seems to work fairly well, demonstrating noticably less surge than the previous design. You can read a bit more about it on the Bicycle Trailer page.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I still needed to build a box for my trailer. Well, how better to spend my holiday monday than to do just that? Below you can see the fruits of my labour:
And, of course, a close up:
As you can see, I built it from some exterior grade plywood and 2x2’s. And before you ask, yes, it’s heavy. Probably 20lbs, if I had to guess. But it seems pretty solid, and should do the job nicely. It’s also quite roomy (40x20x16 inches, give or take), which means I can haul around even more junk!
Interestingly, while the wood was fairly inexpensive ($13 for the sheet of plywood, plus about $6 for the 2x2s), it was the fasteners which ended up being surprisingly expensive. Heck, the wing nuts which are used to fasten the box to the trailer frame were a buck a piece! But, such is life, and at least my project is complete! Now, to find things to move…
Update: I’ve summarized the project in a separate page entitled Bicycle Trailer. Catchy, eh?
Man, it’s been a while since I’ve written, but I have a good excuse, I swear. You see, I’ve been busy. Very busy. With the weather being as fantastic as it has been, I’ve felt compelled to pull out my tools have some good DIY fun! So, what’s the latest? Well, see for yourself:
Oh yes, I built myself a bike trailer! Using the fantastic directions provided by the generous Mark Rehder, who got the design from “The Cart Book, with Plans and Projects” by William L. Sullivan, I combined some parts scavanged from my old bike with some EMT and other goodies from the local hardware store, and, over the span of three days, voila! a trailer was borne.
Now, the most difficult part of a bike trailer project is coming up with a hitch design. Many people use things like bungee cords, or even purchase one outright (there are some nice ball-and-socket hitches on the market). Me? I came up with my own, inspired by the hitch used in this design. It uses a spring I took from a storm door kit (that just happens to fit the 3/4” EMT precisely) to provide the necessary flexibility:
It seems to work fairly well. Of course, the attachment to the bike is a total hack, but it does the job. And while there’s a bit of surge, it’s not too bad. Though I still need to install a safety line (basically a cable running from the tow bar to the bike), just in case.
In the mean time, I also need a box. I’ll probably build something out of plywood with a base that sits below the main frame. This lowers the center of gravity and allows me to move heavy loads more safely. I also plan to make it easily removable (probably fastened with bolts and wing nuts), so I can easily convert it into a flatbed.
By now you’re probably be asking yourself, good lord why?! Well that seems obvious enough: I want to move stuff by bike! But what, you ask? Well, first and foremost, I had my telescope in mind. Being able to find a nice dark sky is difficult at the best of times. But for one such as myself who has stubbornly, some might say, cowardly… ly managed to avoid getting his driver’s license, this is especially true (unless you want to drag your unwilling, license-possessing wife along). A trailer makes it possible for me to transport my scope by bicycle. Combined with some camping gear, I may have finally found a way to burn some of those holidays I have stashed away.
Of course, I’m sure there are many other things I’ll find the need to move: groceries, construction materials, slave children. That sort of thing. In fact, I’ve already used it to recover some scrap 2x4’s and 2x6’s from local construction sites (it worked quite well, I’m happy to say). Heck, I’ll probably have fun just coming up with new reasons to tow stuff around.
So I thought yesterday was pretty interesting, as far as cycling goes, but I think today’s adventure is even better. As part of my ride to work, I take a bike path that extends from 111th ave to 104th, sandwiched between a commercial and residential area. Well, as I was pedaling along, approaching 107th ave, I noticed a dark something on the path, which slowly resolved into what appeared to be an abandoned bike. But, as I got closer, I realized, this bike wasn’t abandoned after all: it’s accompanied by it’s owner, who is unconscious, laying face down on the pavement beside it.
Now, my first thought was, this dude got into an accident and was knocked unconscious. So I checked to make sure he was breathing (just observed his back rising and falling), and called at him to see if he would respond. Nothing. Nudged him a bit. Nothing. Nudged a bit more. Still nothing. At this point, I figured he was probably just passed out, but if he passed out on his bike, he might have suffered a head injury, thus it was probably best to call an ambulance, so I pedaled down to The Brick, which was just 50 meters away or so, and they called 911, who dispatched emergency services to come check him out. Meanwhile, they asked me to wait around until the EMS folks showed up.
The EMS guys arrived just a couple minutes later (they were remarkably fast, IMHO), and proceeded to attempt to wake the guy up. Last I saw, he was slowly coming to, though he was only half conscious at best.
So that’s cycling day 2. What will be in store for day 3? It’s anyone’s guess!
Well, I finally got myself some new wheels! Yup, I dropped some bucks and replaced my five-year old mountain bike with a brand new hybrid from Red Bike. A Rocky Mountain Whistler 30, to be precise! It’s a hybrid commuter bike, meaning it has a mountain bike frame, for good upfront maneuverability and a low balance point, with narrow street-bike-style tires. Perfect for a guy like me to who uses his bike primarily for commuting, but likes to hit a trail on the odd occasion.
Anyway, on my very first day riding to work, I was presented with a painful reminder of how potentially dangerous cycle commuting can be. Now, first off, I’m fine, the bike’s fine, and nothing was injured except my pride and my groin… which only makes sense, given they are indelibly connected.
So, the scenario: I’m at the intersection of 124th street and the Yellowhead (a major throughfare, one of the biggest east-west roads in the city), waiting for the light so I can head south. The light changes. I stand on my pedals and start powering through, shifting up as I go… this is how I usually handle intersections. Anyway, not even half way through, the chain stutters on the rear sprocket, probably because the derailleur needs to be adjusted. Result: my feet slip off my pedals and I land… on the crossbar. But it gets better! I managed to keep upright, somehow, but was left in a rather interesting position: coasting across Yellowhead trail, sitting on my crossbar, and with no way to get my feet back on my pedals, aside from stopping my bike. Well, being in the middle of a major throughfare, I felt that was unsafe, so… I coasted through the rest of the intersection. Supported only by my groin on the crossbar. This hurt. A lot.
Now, before anyone worries, the boys are just fine. As one of my co-workers pointed out, the nice thing about these sorts of situations is that, usually, one is leaned slightly to one side or the other, and so the crossbar simply went past my package and straight into my hip/pubic bone. Had things not “worked out” so nicely, I likely would have fallen off my bike immediately, probably vomiting on the way down.
So, there you have it, Day 1! Good times.