Author Topic: Fettle or skip this trailer?  (Read 3795 times)

Fettle or skip this trailer?
« on: June 14, 2020, 06:09:23 pm »
I picked up a trailer from Freecycle this week. Turns out to be a Trail-a-tot one in not very good condition. I'm wondering if it's worth trying to refurb it a bit or just throw it away. What does the panel think?

I'm on minimal budget and just what tools I've got handy. No real fabrication options, but I could probably sort a wooden platform.



It stank of cat wee, so I've removed all the fabric and the upper bit of the frame associated with it:



The wheels have seen better days:



How would they normally be held in place? Cotter pin?



This is the 'hinge' where the towing arm is fixed to the main frame:



And the connecting-to-the-bike end:



I could give it some time and effort with a wire brush and some rattle cans, but it's probably the wheels that concern me the most and I'm not sure I could ever get it up to a suitable state for loaning to others or using for an event, but I'm open to ideas. What say thee?

Gattopardo

  • Lord of the sith
  • Overseaing the building of the death star
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2020, 06:31:30 pm »
What size wheels are they?  Could you swap out the axle to another set of wheels.

I would rough the metal and paint with cold galvanising spray.

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2020, 06:33:19 pm »
I'd start with the wheel rims and see if I could clean them up sufficient to paint.
Wire brush and emery cloth, a rust inhibitor and then paint them. They don't need to be shiny do they?
I'd try a bolt to fit the axle hole with a nylon nut and a washer between bolt and frame.

If that works the frame needs similar treatment to the rims.
Never knowingly under caffeinated

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2020, 06:38:26 pm »
Trailer tyres run at very low pressure to absorb bumps. The rims could just about be Swiss cheese and still work.

Split pins would work adequately to secure the wheels but a spring clip might be preferable.

I am too lazy to put a lot of work into a trailer like that but you might enjoy it.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2020, 07:25:09 pm »
overall it looks like it ought to be a 'goer' once it has a lick of paint on it. Trailer wheels don't have to be super if you are not planning on carrying precious/heavy cargo.

The wheels would normally be secured using some kind of detent pin; this sort is traditional



 in which case the loop is spring loaded so flips down and stops the pin from coming out. There are also centre push types if you want to go spendy.  A nut and bolt would do if you don't want to spend money or take the wheels off on a regular basis.   FWIW if you make a trailer with a flat platform on it, it can be hung up flat to a wall with the wheels off, in which case it can be stored under cover and  further corrosion is less likely.  A similar pin can be used to make the trailer QD from the coupling. You can buy spare couplings of that sort (for buttons, on ebay) so the trailer can be used with multiple different bikes if you want too.

One thing I would definitely do is to make sure the trailer can't come off if the spring in the coupling breaks; these springs sometimes break anyway and once they are rusty this is even more likely to happen. To this end a short woven strap with eyelets in it is commonly bolted across  the coupling. However some care is needed with its placement; if it is poorly thought out, spring breakage involves the trailer getting tangled in the back wheel, which you might well deem worse than the trailer becoming completely detached.

cheers

Cudzoziemiec

  • Eating all the pies and drinking all the tea.
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2020, 08:21:07 pm »
How thick is that rust on the rims? If you take off the tyres, what do they look like inside? Also, what state are the hubs in?
This ain't really your life, ain't nothing but a movie
Ain't nothing but a badly written novel

Gattopardo

  • Lord of the sith
  • Overseaing the building of the death star
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2020, 08:37:15 pm »
R clips are your friend

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2020, 08:38:44 pm »
Make it into a soapbox car. Then ride it down a hill and crash it.

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2020, 08:40:10 pm »
I need to have a proper look at the wheels, don't I. TBH I was still a bit reluctant to touch them as I suspect the cat may have got them too!

I'm not sure of the size: 16" at a guess. In which case replacements seem like they might be £50 a pop.

The previous owner said they'd consistently had problems keeping the one inflated, so that needs a proper examination. The other's flat too. Apparently they've just been using them like that (for getting the shopping in).

Last time I was in Japan and browsing the bike departments there, I picked up a tube of something claiming to be rust remover. This may be its chance to prove itself! I've not encountered galvanising spray before, so thanks for that tip!



I can confirm the bolts are made of cheese. I'd be looking to replace the ones that are still on there, I think.
Will have a look for detent pins and coupling stuff. Wheel removal & flat storage would definitely be a bonus if it gets to that stage.


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2020, 10:33:03 pm »
The problem with something like that, is that you start thinking you could molish a decent new one for a similar amount of effort...

That said, if the hubs are okay, it has a decent advantage over the usual structure-outboard-so-it-can-use-standard-front-hubs design.

If the hitch is knackered, you could probably retrofit a Carry Freedom spare without too much drama.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2020, 10:04:31 am »
yes you could make a trailer from scratch but it would need lots of tools and so forth, so in this case a refurb is a much better idea. if the spring ever breaks, using a 'carry freedom'  "lollypop" instead makes for an excellent tow hitch, much better than the spring type.

FWIW I have a few other thoughts

1) the way the axle brackets mount to the frame looks like it may easily allow the wheels to be moved forwards slightly. You may find this is desirable depending on what loads you intend to carry.

2) If the wheels are shot then I would suggest that a set of 36h BMX wheels (406 size) would not be difficult to find (used) and  could be refangled easily onto those hubs. They would also give an immensely strong and reasonably lightweight wheel; even a cheap aluminium rim in this size is normally very strong.  Also, this would arguably be an ideal introduction to the arcane business of building wheels; the wheel wouldn't have to be perfectly straight or perfectly tensioned to be good enough for trailer use.

3) if the 'fold flat for storage' scheme is appealing, it wouldn't be difficult to drill vertical holes through the frame, so as to allow the wheels to be attached flat to the frame for storage.

This is all very do-able and would make for a really practical load-lugger, all at a fraction of the cost of a new trailer (that is worth having) leave alone a carrier bike that will accommodate similar loads.

cheers

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2020, 12:09:13 pm »
yes you could make a trailer from scratch but it would need lots of tools and so forth

Yeahbut this is nikki.


Quote
If the wheels are shot then I would suggest that a set of 36h BMX wheels (406 size) would not be difficult to find (used) and  could be refangled easily onto those hubs. They would also give an immensely strong and reasonably lightweight wheel; even a cheap aluminium rim in this size is normally very strong.  Also, this would arguably be an ideal introduction to the arcane business of building wheels; the wheel wouldn't have to be perfectly straight or perfectly tensioned to be good enough for trailer use.

My thoughts exactly (see above).
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2020, 02:35:40 pm »
this is the carry freedom lollypop



cheers

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2020, 02:55:05 pm »
How does that give degrees of flexibility, or do you still need the spring?

I have been using releasable ball joints for years on my trailers. I will need to get some new ones soon, but the company I used last time were expensive on delivery and they took a month to arrive.  >:( >:(
If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2020, 06:30:52 pm »
it is a polyurethane elastomer; that is all you need. Just bolts into the towing arm of the trailer.

FWIW ball joints work OK but there is no shock absorbing element unless one is added separately.

cheers

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2020, 07:03:07 pm »
Put it on eBay as a classic with "patina"  ;D
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2020, 09:25:32 pm »
How does that give degrees of flexibility, or do you still need the spring?

The elastomer lollipop is surprisingly flexible-but-tough.  The bike can lie on its side without trouble.

I believe Tigerbiten OTP managed to break one, so beefed the hitch up with a second.  That's on a trike, so it doesn't have as much flexing to do.  It's the sort of thing you could reasonably carry a spare of while touring.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2020, 03:58:20 pm »
yes you could make a trailer from scratch but it would need lots of tools and so forth

Yeahbut this is nikki.

Yeahbut can't get to my studio or the workshops.



Having looked a bit more closely at the wheels, I find I have zero enthusiasm for trying to de-rust them (the tyres are knacked, too). Wheelbuilding stuff I'm up for, depending on costs.

Can you clue me up on the hub and axle situation please? I've given the wheels a spin and one of them is significantly graunchy and would benefit from a service, but how do you get into it?

I can't spot any flats for getting spanners on to





Is this just an end cap I prise off?




If I were to start from scratch, are the hubs just normal front hubs, or are they something specific to trailers?
Is it possible to buy the axles separately?

I've had a search around but I'm not finding much - possibly 'cos I'm searching for the wrong terms...



Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2020, 05:39:31 pm »
Hubs of this type tend to be found on trailers, the front of tadpole trikes and wheelchairs.

I'd expect the axle to be able to slide out somehow (not quite sure what that is that's retaining it), and the hub to be little more than a shell for a couple of sealed bearings.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2020, 07:38:39 pm »
The hubs will have sealled bearings - most front bike hubs still tend to use cup & cone and have thinner axles designed to be supported both sides.
If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2020, 07:56:18 pm »
It does indeed look like an endcap that needs either prising or tapping off.  Hopefully all will then be revealed.

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2020, 09:17:31 pm »
If the hubs are smooth you don't need to tinker with them just now; you could 'travel in hope' and cross that bridge when you come to it. But the usual arrangement is that the dustcap is a push fit and beneath that there is a nut that secures the axle through the hub.  I wouldn't set my hopes on obtaining wheels/hubs which fit those exact stub axles; I'd build new rims onto those hubs.

As I mentioned before a pair of cheap 36h BMX wheels would be a good donor, possibly spokes and all.

cheers

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2020, 11:28:58 pm »
I'll have a poke around that cap tomorrow.

It would be full commit, but it seems I have a certain amount of enthusiasm for destructive liberation of the hubs from the spokes and rims!  :demon:

SJS have these rims: https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/rims-tape/budget-20-x-175-inch-alloy-rim-silver-36-hole/

What happens with lacing patterns at that size? Is it still 3-cross?

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2020, 11:38:45 pm »
I tend to do 20" wheels 2-cross.  My trailer's factory wheels are laced radially.

I suspect it's a case of anything goes, since it's never under acceleration or braking torque.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Fettle or skip this trailer?
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2020, 11:48:30 pm »
the old wheels are built x3 so you may as well rebuild that way too.

cheers