Making a Trailer for a Boda Boda

 Occasionally, we host a guest blog post about how to do something terribly interesting or useful with our bikes. This guest post is from Tim Schaeffer, a dog-lovin’ Boda Boda rider in Colorado,  teaches us how to repurpose a kid trailer for hauling cargo, and how to attached the trailer to a Boda Boda.

Although I have managed to haul a respectful amount of gear on my Yuba bicycle alone, I wanted to have the option to haul even more when necessary.

My goal was to complete the project with respect to the following:
·         a small budget
·         recycled materials (when possible)
·         make it strong, safe, and reliable
·         make no modifications to the bicycle
·         hopefully make it visually appealing.

I started by searching for a used trailer at yard sales and on Craig’s List, and found a stinky (it really was) old double child trailer.

The newer ones look nicer and have cooler wheels, but I went for an older, less expensive one with bad wheel bearings.

It also had worn out, flat tires and was missing the top.

trailer_instructable01I stripped the top frame and nylon parts off, cleaned the frame, and replaced the wheel bearings and bearing cones myself.

I also found a great deal on a pair of new “Big Apple” tires & bought 2 tubes on sale.

I used some citrus-based cleaner to remove some old decals and other crud that soap and water couldn’t.

A friend trued the wheels for me in exchange for some excellent, locally brewed craft beer.

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I considered several hitch options, but the Boda “Love Handles” present interference issues with most.

As I said earlier, I did not want to drill, tap, or otherwise permanently modify the bicycle frame, nor did I want to attach any clamps that could damage or mar the frame.

So I scrounged the internet for the best deal I could find on a Burley Forged Hitch & round-tube Flex Adapter kit.

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It is impossible to mount the trailer (as Burley intended) to the Boda with just these items, so I utilized some scrap 6061 aluminum flat bar I had in my garage workshop.

The shorter piece is 3/16” aluminum that I bored holes in using my old drill press.

The top hole is for the wheel axle, the bottom one is where I mounted the Burley Forged Hitch.

I used a very strong bolt to mount the hitch to the aluminum flat bar and torqued it very tightly using a vise and breaker bar.

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I finished the aluminum using a belt sander, a Scotch Brite pad and elbow grease.

The narrow bar is 1/8” aluminum, and is used as a “torque strut”, absorbing any twisting or forward moment from the hitch mount.

This keeps the hitch mount from pivoting forward (heavy breaking) or backward.

The torque arm has small bends in both ends to keep it flush with the mounting points.

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Once I mounted my homemade hitch brackets and the hitch mount to the bicycle and then hooked up the trailer, I noticed that the trailer was offset about 6” to the left of center.

Dang!   This I didn’t care for, but it wasn’t because of anything that I had done.

So I measured precisely and cut off part of the trailer tongue so the trailer would be centered behind the rear wheel. All this while knowing full well that it would reduce the distance between the rear wheel of the bicycle and the front edge of the trailer.  Below you can see how tight the clearance is (about 1”), but the trailer is centered precisely  behind the rear wheel!  When the trailer pivoted, the clearance would diminish slightly, but still did not contact the rear tire.

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I wanted a bigger safety margin and the ability to hang stuff off the front of the trailer a bit.  So the next step was to reuse that piece of tubing to extend the trailer arm, thereby increasing the wheel-to-trailer gap to a safer distance.

One quick cut, two nice welds and viola’, I have my extended trailer tongue.

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I forgot to take photos while I was building the bamboo deck for the trailer, sorry.

Suffice to say that I used a package of bamboo flooring that had been damaged slightly during shipping and was marked down in price.

It was tongue and groove style flooring, so I used my table saw and radial arm saw to cut the bamboo to size.

All of the mounting hardware is stainless steel from the local hardware store.

The paint is Testor’s model paint that I found at the local hobby shop.

Below is the mount & trailer connected to the bicycle.  Notice the larger gap between the rear tire and the front of the trailer.

These photos show the original 1/8” thick hitch mount, I later made a new one out of 3/16” aluminum to eliminate a minor wiggle.

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Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday!  I know that I will using my new rig to go to the picnic and concert in the park.