A bicycle trailer for camping and sleeping on.

Discussion in 'Tandem and Other Bikes' started by delport, 10 Jan 2011.

  1. OP

    delport Guest

    As for weight, i won't be putting more than 4 panniers on it, difficult to carry all those panniers on a bike, i did that on my john o'groats trip, but not that heavy in mass weight for the trailer.The whole thing is geared around essentially being a bed.

    I reckon this trailer will end up weighing 50 lbs with nothing on it.

    And i do have the possibility of making the wheels quick release so that the entire trailer can lay at near ground level.If i don't do it that way i will make foldable legs to steady the trailer for sleeping,the wheel is just beyond the middle of the trailer if looked upon as a 6 1/2 ft base unit.[see photos].

    I can see advantages in day to day use of making it strong to carry around the odd heavy item locally.Shopping for instance.

    I have plans to cycle to Gibraltar, it is then i would need this type of trailer.As i'd be doing many days wild camping.With the trailer all i'd need is tree cover and push the trailer into that area to camp.No more messing around with finding the ideal type of ground to put a tent on.Sometimes i walk around for ages trying to find a good spot for camping, and it is often in total darkness at the end of a days cycling.

    There is a link above to photos i took today of the work in progress, i've got some bolt trimming to do on the ladder section, and you can see the notches i'm sawing out to fit the cycle frame into, they are not quite finished yet, you can also see just how far back the wheel wil be in the 4 ft plywood, with another section to be added to that end later.

    Both forks are almost finished, one fork is a bit bigger than the other, which i'll need to get round.And i'll remove the disk brake mechanism from the chunkier of the forks.
  2. trickletreat

    trickletreat Senior Member

    Have you seen these before? http://www.midgetcampers.com.au/bushtrekka.htm
  3. OP

    delport Guest

    Yes, i think i spotted that website recently.

    If i had a lot of spare cash may'be i would go for a ready built trailer.

    The way i am doing it is to just spend small amounts now and then.

    Here is a video i made of the other trailer in france, it's a 4 minute video.

    View: http://vimeo.com/18662029
  4. trickletreat

    trickletreat Senior Member

    homemade is more rewarding, just posted the link for design ideas smile.gif
  5. A central trailer arm will need to form a bridge over the back wheel of the bike. You might be able to find part of a bike frame that would do this, but you still have the problem of fixing it really securely to your plywood base. Tricky, unless you can weld or braze a flange on the end which you can bolt to the base.

    You just need something stiff, which you can fix securely to the base, and some bent and/or welded steel will be hard to beat. Got any mates who work in garages or metal workshops? Something ideal could be made out of scrap in five minutes flat with the right tools.

    Here's another idea. The U-shaped bit cut from the top of a stepladder in your pictures. You could remove it, and saw it in half to give you two bits with a right-angle curve in them. Turn one through 90 degrees and bolt them together again so you have a sort-of S shaped assembly. Put your hitch on one end, and bolt the other end to the trailer board (maybe flatten that end first).

    Depending on the dimensions of the ladder piece, that might work.
  6. OP

    delport Guest

    thanks phil,i will look into these suggestions and see what i can do.
    I also have more spare aluminium ladders i can cut.And there are parts of the bike frames left.
    I don't know anyone who works with metal, there are garages nearby here though.

    What do you think of my 2 bike frames under the base?This wasn't my idea but advice that i got.

    If i bind both these together in some way, [i may need to do more cutting of metal], and then bolt the bike frames into the plywood i reckon it will be extremely strong.
    The plywood is fine when i stand on top of it, so i thought with the frames it should be that much stronger.
  7. I am not a DIY person but I am interested in the concept of a camper trailer, can you get them ready made in the UK?
  8. OP

    delport Guest

    I'm not a diy person either, failed miserably at woodwork at school.Got a job after leaving school in a joinery place, making b and q type furniture, i got the sack there for being too slow.

    Also worked in an engineering place, but was taught nothing at all, it was a YTS scheme, people around in the 1980s will know what they were.

    I am just teaching myself, and trying not to make mistakes.

    I couldn't really see anything available in the UK similar to what i am building.
  9. Not a bad approach if there's no possibility of hot metal work. How are you going to stop the two forks rotating in their headsets?

    I would have thought that the ply base, with its aluminium side rails and timber side rails would be plenty stiff enough without so much of the bike frames present too. However, the bike frames need to transfer their load to the ply base, and the extra leverage from the length of the bike frames will help with that.

    I think this trailer's going to be quite heavy. For me, it would have to be palatially comfortable to be worth the extra weight, maintenance and hassle. But I agree that finding somewhere flat and dry enough to sleep on can be a bit of a headache when wild camping, so I see exactly where you're coming from. I just can't help thinking that it's be much lighter and more elegant to use scrap steel tube - and you could probably still do it within your budget if you just had the local knowledge to source the materials and skills. I'd do it for you, but we're not exactly neighbours!

    Have a look at CarryFreedom's website; you may find some ideas there. They also do a neat hitch you can buy separately.

    Some years ago, Nick Lobnitz put out a very clever design for a trailer that could be made from discarded bike wheels and frames and pretty much any other linear material - bamboo, dexion, broom handles, random tree branches. This design, like yours, used the forks of the bike to support the wheels. It was available to download from the CarryFreedom website for a while. If it's not there now, I bet they'd send it to you if you asked nicely.
  10. OP

    delport Guest

    The aluminium side rails were an idea at first, i done those 2 photos about a week ago, and that idea never took off.I can still use the aluminium to shore up the wood skirting that i already have in place if need be.It may be strong enough without using it though.
    My first intention was to build the whole thing out of aluminium by just cutting up aluminium ladders, this idea was inspired by the space trailer, which you can see on this website
    but then after cutting up one 7ft ladder, i thought, i'm going to need a lot more metal to actually build this thing, then i began pricing metal, and per long strip it was more than i wanted to pay, so i then resorted to buying the plywood.

    Yes, the more i do to the trailer the more i realise how heavy it is going to be, my priority is always that it will be rock solid, i don't want any accidents with it.
    Drivers at times can travel very close to even just a bike frame, let alone a trailer.I've had a couple of drivers just in the last fortnight almost clipping my handlebar as they were travelling past me.

    "How are you going to stop the two forks rotating in their headsets?"

    I'd thought of that,bolting them into place to stop any rotation might work.I also had an idea that a very small amount of rotation might actualy be a good thing, but i never thought of how to limit rotation to just a centimetre or two.

    May'be in the future i'll sell this trailer and then start on another one more lightweight, this trailer is just a learning process for me.
  11. mark barker

    mark barker New Member

    Swindon, Wilts
    From my experience of riding with a trailer motorists give far more space than without...

    Oooo.... I don't think you'll want the wheels moving at all. The weight of the trailer shifting because the wheels are free to move will make the handling awful and potentially dangerous.

    Have you got any drawings of what you want the trailer to look like when you've finished? At the moment it sounds like you're chopping stuff up and hoping it'll work, but not actually planning ahead (sorry if this sounds out of order, its just something I've seen time and time again as a D&T teacher). Time spent working out how it'll all go together will clear up many of the uncertainties and speed up the build time.
  12. OP

    delport Guest

    Yes i think you are right, i am just coming up with ideas and adding as i go along.
    I don't have any drawings, i'm just doing it step by step.

    It looks like the first part [ the base and wheels] will be successfull, if a bit heavy.

    The second part will be the trailer arm, and then extending the trailer from it's original 4 ft to 6 1/2 ft, extending it shouldn't be too difficult.
    I'll then add bits to make the trailer wider for camping use, that tuck back into the trailer for day time use.

    I've also got ideas for lighting, a window,probably a tent style window, not a glass one.
    Also making the base comfortable to sleep on, rather than just plywood.

    I'll be varnishing the plywood , a thick camping mat will make things softer.
  13. Yes, aluminium is expensive. Steel is much less so, and if you know where to ask or look, can often be got for nothing. It can seem heavy, but thin-walled steel tubing can be quite light and strong.

    I'm with Mark on this - you don't want any rotation, particularly as the headsets (if I've understood your idea right) will be horizontal, so any movement will cause the wheels to wobble in and out at their tops and bottoms. A certain amount of inward camber might improve stability (look at sports wheelchairs) - but wheels free to alter their camber is probably not going to help at all. Much better to fix them. Once you have each wheel set up vertically (or at whatever angle you choose), I should think you could simpy drill right through the head tube and steerer tube together and put in a "Frankenstein" bolt to hold it all rigid. (I think that's clear? The bolt will have to be a good fit in the hole you drill or you will end up with some movement - and it'll likely get to be more and more movement as the hole frets wider under movement).

    Alternatively, what about removing the forks from their head tubes and headsets and fixing the steerer tube directly to your trailer frame, perhaps with U-bolts around the steerer tube and bolted through the aluminium/timber rail? That would eliminate quite a bit of weight.

    There's no teacher like experience. Go for it. I would add, though, that thinking and doodling about how it's going to work may save you lots of time. Drawings can be helpful to get it worked out in your mind: you don't have to go in for full-blown CAd or even scaled technical drawings (I never do). But sketches on the back of envelopes (or, better, so you can find them again) an old exercise book or something may cut out a lot of wasted time and materials.
  14. OP

    delport Guest

    Thanks again for all the advice, i 'm trying to understand this bit i've selected above

    Are you saying that i should forget about strengthening the trailer underneath using bike frames, and simply go back to just having 2 forks, bolted into the wood frame with a rod of aluminium as a strengthener behind the wood,something like the 2 photos i took last week?Except with the aluminium on the other side of the wood, not the way i photographed it?

    Or, keep the headsets and the forks, and forget the bike frames on the underneath?
  15. I'm suggesting (and only suggesting, mind) that the ply base with its timber or aluminium rails is probably quite stiff enough. (You did say that you could stand on it without it flexing much - so that's a 70kg+ point load. That's far more than you'd probably ever carry on the trailer, and if you did carry a heavy load, it would be distributed evenly over the trailer, not standing all in one spot).

    Adding the bike frames seems unnecessary. So, yes, maybe try bolting the forks (without other bits of frame) into the wood frame.

    You could try assembling the trailer both ways, with and without the bike frames. Then road-test it. Then you'll know whether retaining them is worthwhile.
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