A bicycle trailer for camping and sleeping on.

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

  1. OP

    delport Guest

    Yes i felt that was what you were suggesting.
    By the way i am 13 stone in weight, and 6ft 4" in height.That seems to be even more than 70kg, i'm still using lbs these days rather than kilos.

    Your point is a valid one that i wouldn't expect to be carrying above 13 stones in weight.

    I have spent so much time sanding these frames and headsets, trying to give them a clear silver natural finish that i am reluctant to give up on them, i weighed one of those bike frames last night and it was only 3lbs.The other one was 4lbs i think.

    The plywood base by itself weighs 12 lbs.
    and the extra chunky wood sidings weigh 2 lbs each.

    The reason at first for using the cycle frames was to make sure the wheels were robust and wouldn't struggle with any terrain or object, at a variety of speeds, the fact that they also added strength to the underside of the trailer was a bonus, rather than the initial intention.
    I was at first, last week, going to go the same route you are suggesting, until the idea of the frames came along.I was concerned that just a fork connected to a bit of wood was risky, even if strengthened with a section of aluminium and bolted on using u bolts.The frame idea then gave me much more confidence in the overall stability of the trailer.I thought to myself, there is no chance of this design falling apart.

    But i admit, it is really over doing it.

    "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"

    And yes i can try this suggestion of yours.

    I've uploaded a few more photos of slight changes made.
    http://s270.photobucket.com/albums/jj86/port_soft/my trailer photos/
    Both sections are cut now for the cycle frames to go through.And both forks are in line with each other, and the same height.I've shortened the bigger of the 2 forks by simply taking the spring out of the suspension.

    I still have more sanding to do of the bike frames, this cheap tesco sander i had been using is fairly useless , and barely removed any paint, so i'm sanding by hand, removing all paintwork from the frames.After that i'll weather protect them.I also used a good name brand paint remover solvent, but it was struggling with the chunkier of the cycle frames, and was barely making a dent in the paintwork.

    I think i will leave this thread for a week and see how far on i get, i don't need this trailer for immediate use, so am just taking my time, but the concept remains the same it will be as planned, a bed trailer.
    To an outsider i think the cycle frames probably just look shabby and untidy, but i will cut these back more if need be, and may'be get them looking a bit less ugly.

    Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this thread so far, you may inspire others with your ideas.Simply talking about it has shown the pitfalls, what to do, what not to do, where to start, what materials to buy.. etc.
  2. RedBike

    RedBike New Member

    Beside the road
    While on tour some time ago I thought about doing exactly the same. "Wouldn't it be great if I had a sort of tent / caravan behind".

    However, after lugging the trailer for 2/300 miles I soon realised there were a few serious flaws with the idea.

    The trailer was a pain in the backside to get through styles / anti motor bike barriers as it was. If the trailer was any wider or longer I would soon start having serious problems getting along most cyclepaths.

    The main advantage of the trailer (over panniers) was I could take loads of junk and a big tent. If the trailer was the tent then the tent wouldn't be that big and I'd either have to limit the amount of 'junk' I was carrying or i'd have to load / unload the trailer every night, in which case I might as well put the tent up.

    Most trailers are limited to 15/30kg carry capacity. This doesn't sound a lot of weight but belive me, lugging this weight up a mountain pass is no joke. By the time you've got a foldable tent/caravan and your luggage you're going to be hauling some load.

    I still think this is one seriously brilliant idea and i'm looking forward to reading about how you get on; but if I ever get back touring again then I think I will be leaving the tent on the ground and just raising the bed off it.

  3. Amheirchion

    Amheirchion Active Member

  4. OP

    delport Guest

    Thanks, there are some impressive designs on there.

    Progress is slow on the trailer now, my neighbours are fed up with the drilling and sanding and asked me to do the work outside, so i do everything outside now, and it's cold at the moment, i do occasional days, rather than messing around with the trailer every day.

    Also i've just began voluntary work teaching computer skills.

    Yesterday i was drilling holes through the headsets to put a bolt through, this will stop the fork rotating.After i do that i'll bind both cycle frames together with long bolts and attach these frames to the plywood with more bolts.

    Each new step i'm updating with photos on photobucket.

    Also thanks to Redbike for the comments, i can completely relate to everything you said.

    If i've messed up on the weight issue i will know fairly soon after i start using the trailer.
    The final part of the trailer [the 2 1/2 ft section will be lightweight].
  5. carlgorse

    carlgorse New Member

    I like that idea with the Radios HF all the way :rolleyes:
  6. peelywally

    peelywally Active Member

    few years back me and a mate discussed this very idea (a trailer to haul and sleep in ) ,

    we decided that the basic chasis would be a lightweight camp bed with hinged sections attatched to a single bmx wheel ,

    for stability when used as a bed it would be un hitched and the legs extended as normal , tent poles at either end would allow a flysheet to be draped over it , at this point your probably thinking sounds like too much bother and thats what we thought so endeth the tale .

    im sure to this day it wouldve worked .
  7. bottlemsher

    bottlemsher Senior Member


    Aussie made cycle camping trailer
    tent and bed on top
    storage underneath
  8. OP

    delport Guest

    My idea has now completely changed course and is something like what you are describing there, i listened to everyone, and have given up on the idea of the heavy weight trailer and gone for something with very little weight.

    Back to the idea of the ladder material, and making the trailer nearly all from metal, i found a lightweight bed frame in a skip.I also have a camp bed which i used on my last camping expedition, so my trailer is basically a camp bed with support and metal sidings for the wheels,it will measure just 3 feet across in total, and i've ideas on how to shrink it to a 2 foot wide trailer for day time use, and getting past those cycle lane bollards.

    The camp bed has legs which i can either use or not use.

    I will use the metal sidings to place the wheel in, and also i want a shelving area to place my panniers at night to the side of the bed.Also i can cook in that area too.So a flat metal surface would be great for placing the gas stove on.[Something i've always found a problem when using a tent on the ground].I've dropped burning liquid a couple of times due to uneven ground in the tent.

    The bed is 2 foot wide, and the sideings measure 6" each wide, giving me the total of 3 feet.

    I've already lay down on all 4 lengths of metal, i spread them across my dvd cases, and all of them supported my weight without breaking, i tried 2 at a time with a gap between each bit of metal, they flexed slightly, but nothing more.

    Here is a rough idea picture of what it may look like.

    The thin bits of metal across the bed were just a small idea, but nothing definete, [it's that section i want to make the shelving in],they were to go between the sidings, for added strength, not travel onto the bed at all.

    I found that i originally was getting too carried away with what the trailer could carry, and really overdoing it way beyond it's purpose of simply being a bed.I don't expect to be carrying items around the weight of a cooker etc.. so building a trailer to carry 30 stone or whatever was overdoing it.
    What originally stopped me in my tracks was drilling 4 holes through the top of the forks to stop the fork from moving, i just couldn't do this part perfectly, so had a rethink about the entire trailer, and all the time that i had been spending on it.And came to the conclusion that i had to change what i was doing.
    I expect to be going down French cyclepaths, with bollards [blocking moped riders and cars] frequently popping up, and i'll have some hills in Spain to go over on the way to Gibraltar with the trailer.
  9. irw

    irw Quadricyclist

    Liverpool, UK
    When I was building my quadricycle, the most useful tool I bought was one of these bench-mounted pillar drills, it made life so much easier and precise in the drilling department than if I'd tried to do it all with a electric hand-drill!

  10. OP

    delport Guest

    I have added a few more photos of the new design,
    i am quite surprised that even this "ultra lightweight" idea is still weighing 10 lbs per side with the wheels attached.

    Apart from the iron brackets, which are fairly small, the other metal sections weigh nothing really.

    The camp bed has still to be added.And i will fit more metal support brackets between each 5 ft long metal.

    I am mainly copying the idea of the person who built the yellow bike trailer which can be seen in my other photos in that folder.

    And i now have 2 quick release mountain bike wheels, found one lying around in the grass nearby that someone had discarded.
  11. Those iron brackets are going to be pretty heavy, and probably unnecessarily chunky. Something thinner, like steel Dexion, would probably be fine, and a fair bit lighter. I think those iron bits could be shorter, too, since the side rails are presumably stiff enough on their own - the angle iron bits are just there to act as dropouts, right?

    Your wheels and tyres may be the other area where weight could be saved: you don't really need those big chunky tyres. Narrower ones would be lighter, and since you don't need grip or traction in a trailer tyre, slick tyres (or at least slick-er) would roll more easily and quietly.

    Cheap mountain bike tyres are to be avoided like the plague: they can feel like you're riding through treacle.
  12. OP

    delport Guest

    The iron brackets weigh, 3/4 of a lb each.
    I made them long as a felt it would distribute the pressure.It also meant i could use 4 bolts to secure them.
    And yes the iron is just for the dropouts,it provides a solid connection for the wheel.
    The yellow trailer in my photos weighs 22 lbs, but he has used slightly stronger metal than i used.
    You can see i am just copying what he did, he uses the exact same style brackets as i have, see here
    and the length is similar.

    Thanks for the advice but i will continue with what i have, it would be nice to finish this one day, if i backtrack again with my design it will just slow me down.
    I can't afford new wheels or tyres for the trailer, that would set me back another £60 to £80

    update:blush:'ve had second thoughts about what i said earlier about changing the wheels, i have 2 bikes both with 700x35c wheels, so i could infact experiment with other wheels at no cost.
    Last night i weighed 2 fully inflated mountain bike wheels, each one weighed 5 lbs.
    I then weighed a 700x35c wheel, with no tube and no tyre on it, it weighed 2 1/2 lbs, with a tyre and tube inflated that 2 1/2 lbs will move upwards.

    But what you said about cheap mountain bike wheels compared to smooth town bike tyres does make sense.
    I've got to buy 2 new tyres for my other bike soon, it is at the point i can experiment further.
    The saving in weight may only be 3lbs overall, but the type of tyre can make a difference i suppose.
  13. glb37

    glb37 Active Member

    I found this video interesting and inspiring: http://www.vimeo.com...videos/20428707
    if only I could afford a solar panel that size, and a trailer. Although, your home adapted trailer has saved you some money, and looks great.
    But looking at the profile of the solar panel in the video, it looks like they have one of the thicker types. On the market there are the very thin, broad ones too, which are flexible (and waterproof - can be strapped on a sailing boat too). It's just the cost factor, and, the power to size electricity obtained - if used to charge a bicycle's electric motor frame big battery. But for music and wifi internet and emergency mobile use, and lights I have bought a few months ago a small solar panel (freeloader globetrotter) that gives a trickle 5v, even in cloud. After about 6 hours a full mobile phone charge can be had + 4 aaa batteries almost charged. So very useful indeed. I have it lightly stapped onto my map reader (which isn't a map reader - just holds solar panel and mobile, and maybe a bit of paper (or small map temporarily).
  14. glb37

    glb37 Active Member

  15. OP

    delport Guest

    I am now on to mark 3 design of the trailer, the trailer is now 6ft 6" in total size.

    I used the metal hinge idea i came up with ages ago, and slimmed the already varnished plywood section that i was using back in January, right down to the very minimum, i cut bits off the side and length of the plywood, i got an old solid bed headboard and also cut it down to 3ft 3" which gives me 6ft 6" when not folded.

    It is heavy this design, but does what i was looking for [folds out to a proper bed size] and is now a very small looking trailer at only 3ft long.And less than 2 ft wide before attaching the wheels.

    My constant fear is that i make a trailer so wide that i endanger my life, it would only need one clip from a car to put me in serious danger, so i've always been focussed on the width for getting past obstacles and wary of motorists behind.
    The trailer now won't even be 3 ft wide with wheels attached, so i'm heading in the right direction.

    I really want to finish this trailer one day, not a lot needs to be done after all the experimenting i've been doing, i know now that i can use iron for my wheels supports, and i'll cut them smaller this time round.
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