Last fall, our down-the-street neighbors moved and put their house on the market – and left their old child bicycle carrier in the alley behind our houses. The nylon was rotted, so it was no good for its original purpose. All winter I have been eyeing it and trying to figure out how it could be used. A replacement for the fabric parts? Nobody seems to sell that. (Someone really ought to.) The other night I was admiring the photos on the Madsen website, and it came to me: how about attaching a big box and using it for cargo?
Of course my first instinct was to browse through a hundred links. (Ask Angel if you don’t believe me, she was the recipient of many links.) However, there’s a fantastic roundup of the DIY cargo trailer links available at Planet Green. The best link that article missed is one made from an old backpack’s external frame – but my favorite design is the bamboo trailer. How can you not love a designer who says this:
The value is not in the trailer itself, but in the knowledge of how to make a trailer. In a sense you will always have a bicycle trailer in your head if you ever need one. This knowledge makes you a richer person, and the world a richer place.
Anyway, let me show you some photos of the process. Our starting point: the trashed kid-carrier.
Not only were there leaves and mud in the bottom, there were sowbugs busily turning the leaves into soil.
The sun-bleaching is especially obvious on the rain cover.
You can also kind of see the surface rust on the wheel rims -
nothing a little lemon juice and aluminum foil couldn’t cure.
The attachment mechanism is a little rusty but still sound.
For now, I’ve decided to use the nylon-and-strap bottom and sides of the cover, since they turned out to be in reasonably good shape. Once it’s no longer useable – or I get tired of the lack of prettiness, which is far more likely, let’s face it – I’ll replace the bottom with a bolted-on tray, and attach the carrier box to that. The roller bars can also be removed if desired, but I left them for now, since I may find that they may make handy lash-on points for larger items or to clip on extra bags using carabiners.
I did toss the brittle, rotted-out rain cover and remove the child seat (this involved using a strong pair of scissors to cut the straps at the bottom, and temporarily removing the overhead bar so I could slip it out of the nylon sleeve):
For now, I went with quick, low-cost and functional: this $11 lidded plastic bin from Canadian Tire. Slip it into place in the nylon cover (or bolt it to whatever I have to replace the nylon with eventually), and I’m done. Cheap and cheerful and waterproof! (Absolutely no danger of it being stolen while I’m inside the grocery store!) This will allow me to use it right away and see how it works for me.
Sometime in the not-too-distant future (after I’ve tried it out like this), I’ll upgrade the cargo trailer and make it much prettier
, first by removing all the nylon and putting in a plywood or bamboo tray for the bottom. Then I could either build a wooden box to size (in the case of this trailer, 20 inches by 31.5 inches), or use an existing wicker box. I like the idea of hacking Ikea’s Byholma lidded wicker chest and turning it into a cargo trailer… so much lovelier.