Friday, July 5, 2019

Our New Cargo Trailer

I spent the better part of this past Sunday working on a project I've had bouncing around in my head for years.  I built a cargo trailer for my bicycle.  I have wanted one to use for grocery shopping and running errands for eons.  Now that my youngest has a new bicycle and we are riding again it seemed like it was time to finally get one.

A new bike trailer was not in my budget so I knew if I wanted one I'd pretty much have to buy one used or build one myself.  I started out by scouring Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace but there wasn't much to choose from.  This is the time of year when people use their trailers rather than sell them.  However, late Saturday night I found something I thought might work.

This one was a wee bit gross and a little stinky too

A listing for a really used kid's trailer came up on Craigslist for only $20 so on Sunday morning I contacted the seller and the young one and I went over to take a look at it.  She told us it had been given to her by a friend and she had never used it.  Instead it had sat in her carport for a good long time exposed to the weather.  It was full of leaves and cobwebs and absolutely filthy.

But it had good bones.  The aluminum frame was still in great shape, solid and sturdy and upon further inspection I saw that the tires were actually pretty new.  She even had the coupler to put on the bike so I knew I had all the parts and pieces I needed for much less than I could buy online.  I gave her the $20 and loaded her into my truck.

The frame is all stripped down with the wheels removed and scrubbed clean

When we got home I stripped it down to the frame, took apart the flat tires that refused to take any air and gave everything a good bath with a lot of soap and water.  I tossed the orange cover right into the trash.  It was rotten and ripped with holes in several places.  Sadly, none of it was salvageable.

I used the original screw holes and attached the slats with some slightly
longer screws I already had in my can of miscellaneous screws and stuff

That is entirely okay because I didn't need any of it.  My plan was to add some wood strips to the frame to make a flatbed trailer out of it and that is exactly what I did.  I used wood from the garage that I'd picked up last year from the FREE WOOD bin.  After cutting them down to size I used my drill to make holes and a bigger bit to cut in for the screw heads to be recessed.  I used the original screw holes on the bottom of the frame to attach the slats.

More dirt and grossness

I couldn't get any air into the tubes and the wheels and tires were filthy

The wheels needed some work.  I used my metallic paint to give the wheels a couple of coats so they now have that alloy look to them.  Swanky!

The one on the left with a couple coats of paint

I used WD-40 on the valve stems to loosen up the slime that had dried and plugged them up.  Once I was able to get them cleaned up and unplugged I was finally able to put air in the tubes.  They held air too!  No need to buy new ones, which was great since at that moment I didn't have any more money in the budget for this build.

Nice!  And they hold air!

I washed the gunk off the tires and put everything back together.  Then I mounted the wheels back onto the trailer.

I gave the coupler a good scrubbing too and then a couple coats of black paint to spruce it up as well.

Now we're talking!  

Lastly I applied two good coats of exterior varathane to all of the wood surfaces to make it more weather resistant.

My daughter let me use her tote from the back of her car to test for sizes and I think this size tote will be perfect for hauling my groceries.  I'll pick one up along with a ratchet strap or a few bungi cords and I'll be pretty well set.

This reflector got repurposed too

I'm not completely done with this project as I have several ideas for items to make to add onto the trailer and make it more functional.  I'll share those as they happen.


After - saved me the $6 cost of a replacement

And with all of this I ended up with a little mini bonus project too.  I had an extra reflector I had removed from the back of the trailer that was a perfect replacement for the one missing on the back of my vintage bike.  I had actually placed one in my Amazon basket to get for my bicycle and this one ended up saving me the $6 for the replacement.

I think this tote is the perfect size for what I plan to do with this trailer

We added that reflector onto my bicycle fender and I was ready to call it a day.  But not until we hooked the "new" trailer all up and gave it a quick test drive through our neighborhood.  It works perfectly and is super lightweight as I had hoped it would be.  Can't even tell I'm pulling anything.  Now once it has groceries on it that may be a whole other story.

Coupler added to my bicycle

I'm super thrilled with how everything turned out.  I think my $20 trailer was a really good investment and if you subtract the reflector I no longer need to buy then it is actually a $14 trailer now! Ha!  All of the paint and supplies I already had in my garage so no extra $$ out of pocket was spent on this rebuild.  Now to accessorize and then put it to work!

What do you think?


  1. Amazing job! So creative and thrifty!

    1. Thank you Brooke. I'm looking forward to using it a lot.

  2. I am impressed with your industrious adventure. Good on you for seeing the potential in that nasty trailer! Enjoy that next trip to Winco! PS: where is this free wood bin? (we live in SE Boise).

    1. Thanks Elle. Trimco on Commerce Ave. There are loads of them throughout Boise. Check out the new construction areas. Holy moly the things they throw away!

  3. I think you are a genius and I think that is the cutest trailer ever!! You are the last word in resourcefulness!

  4. I've said it before and I'll say it again, your creativity and ability to bring your ideas to life is amazing. Most people (me included) would have sent that cart to the garbage. Not you, instead you've made something out of almost nothing.
    Well done!

  5. You ARE creative! Great job.

  6. Amazing!!! Have fun!! Janie


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