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Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Trailer From Baby Stroller

Today I was out with a friend and we stopped at a few thrift stores. I don't like buying things new for this project, but buying used stuff isn't really out of the scope of the recycling ethic as applied to the project, even though I'd rather be using stuff other people would just throw away (or already *have* thrown away).

I found two very useful items, the first of which is this baby stroller for joggers, with an additional plus that it was made in the U.S.A. :-) It's from Racing Strollers Inc. (The Baby Jogger Company), and a quick search finds it was rated for about 75 pounds (more than I expected, less than I need).

It's fairly sturdy, and very light, as it's mostly aluminum, with basically bike wheels and a bike style caliper brake. They still sell a similar model: which is capable of holding up to 100 pounds, and is designed to fold up, with quick-release wheels.

The cloth baby seat snaps on and off.

The top frame/handle has two pins that undo it from the forward bottom end joint with the bottom frame, and those pins are similar to the wheelchair quick-release wheel pins--they have little inset spring-loaded ball bearings on the sides that keep them from just sliding out, but can be pulled out with a good tug.

This lets the frame swing up at the front end, though there is no similar quick release on the back, nor does it seem to pivot far enough in any direction to make it easy to fold up. Makes me wonder why they used the QR pins at all.

However, since they came with it, I now have them, and I'm probably going to use them as locking pins to hold the trailer hitch to the bike/trike/etc. I haven't designed the hitch yet, but there are number of simple ones on the web, including several at that look sturdy.

Another nice feature on this stroller is it's bike-style brake handle, with an extra feature.

It is also a parking brake, which can lock to the engaged position by pressing the little button you see above at the juncture of the silver handle and the black mounting frame, while squeezing the handle to the engaged position.

Simply squeezing the lever a bit after it's engaged will disengage the locking button with a click.

I'm going to remove it from the stroller and put it on the bike as my main brake lever, so I can have the parking brake on the bike's front wheel. (currently the only parking brake lever I have is on the old scooter's brake/turn-signal control, which is on the left handlebar and thus for the rear wheel, which on my current bike doesn't have a use as there are no rear brakes yet).

So it will go on the right side, for my front wheel. I'll need to make a different kind of brake light switch, as it doesn't have one built in to this lever, but it should be easily possible with a reed switch and a magnet, which would even be weatherproof, unlike the existing switch.

The button would also then be on the "bottom" of the lever, which puts it on the inside of the downturned bars I'm using now, which would be helpful as I can then push it with my thumb while squeezing, only needing one hand to engage the parking brake.

The bike-style caliper brakes are identical to many I have from old scrapped bikes.

Mounted underneath the stroller, bolted thru two aluminum plates riveted to the frame, they seem sturdy enough. I will probably run the activating cable from them up thru the trailer lighting wiring harness to the bike's brakes. I'll need to fit a splitter or other mechanism that will let me pull this cable at the same time as my bike's brakes.

The wheel mounting is similar to the wheelchair's:

It's not a quick-release, but it does use sealed bearings (which feel very nice, not worn, and still very low-friction).

The design of the hub mounting point is not as strong as it could be, but that can be fixed.

Most likley, since I will be taking the top frame off entirely, and moving the back wheel brace (the sideways L-bracket in the picture, which actually goes all the way across as a short-riser U) to the rear of the aluminum ex-computer-faceplate that will be the trailer bed, I will have the wheel bracket flipped across the bed so that the bed's facing will be opposing the axle-bolt's pull tension while the then-upside-down bracket opposes it's push tension. Then it should be stronger against a load pushing down between the wheels. It still won't hold as much as a wheelchair-based trailer might, but I think I need those parts more on the trike.

The second good find was this pair of shocks and springs:

They're not the best shape, but they still work, and even if I don't use the worn shocks, the springs themselves are separate, and may work for part of the suspension on a heavy power-assisted bike or trike.

I am still looking for info about them, but the only part markings are "MX 14C1 Made in Mexico". I expect the MX is for MotorCross, but I haven't found the company that made them yet.

I'd guesstimate each weighs about 5 or 6 pounds, but I haven't actually used a scale on them yet.
All I have is ideas at the moment, and no absolute plan for them, but the price I couldn't pass up (nothing on the parts car is small and relatively light like these, and I haven't found springs and shocks just laying around, or on Freecycle, etc.).

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