Constant innovation and brainstorming
This has been on my mind for some time
Had a trailer previously (another page??)
Was worried about wheels on "Mega Bin"... knew I'd need an upgrade
Found new spots to paddle with SUP wheels (SUP wheels good for empty SUP...but not at the level of trash I haul)
In August 2021, I decided to try two new launch spots. However, there was a problem. Each spot required me to walk (and lug my gear) 0.25 miles (0.4 km) to the river from where I parked. Carrying an empty board, trash bin, and my paddle would be no problem. The problem wasn't with the unladen walk TO the river, it was with the fully-loaded walk back.
There was no way I was going to carry everything back in one trip. I needed a way to roll my gear and the trash I collected. So, I dusted off the SUP wheels I already owned and finally gave it a try. At first, every thing was groovy. The two new launch points soon became my favorites. I could now access more areas of the river and make a bigger impact. I made the long walks to and from my truck with ease...well, somewhat with ease. I soon realized I needed something better.
It wasn't long before catastrophe struck! I was exhausted from a long paddling cleanup session and lugging all of my gear and trash back to the truck. Suddenly, I felt the board start twisting in my hand. Before I knew it i heard a large crash. My load was sideways on the ground with garbage everywhere. "It serves me right," I thought, "I should have just made two trips." But two trips would add at least 30 minutes to my already long morning for extra walking and securing unattended gear.
So what happened? Well, one of the tires hit a root in the path and stopped that tire...the tire on the other side rolled freely and eventually turned the wheel assembly sideways. My board tipped over and my recently-collected trash was everywhere. It was embarrassing and time consuming to pick everything back up.
At this point, I knew two trips was out of the question and I had to be careful about where I steered my eye-catching load of trash. Unfortunately, that "just be careful" solution didn't pan out either. Between September 2021 and January 2022 I had the full board (and trash) fall over 3-4 more times. Each time it happened, I modified the way I pulled the board or how I loaded the trash. But no matter what, the board would topple. My new favorite launch spots soon became my least favorite and I found myself avoiding them.
I had to come up with a better solution.
My first thoughts were to modify my existing trash bin. All I needed to do was give it a sturdier wheel base. It had to be something that could withstand the weight of the full load and not topple on bumpy terrain. I toiled and struggled to think of a good solution that I could craft out of repurposed materials I had at my house.
And then one day something clicked! I decided to modify the trailer I previously built to pull behind my bike (pictured here, in action!). The modifications included building a large trash collection bin and upgrading the tow bar to something more sturdy!
Once I had a good idea of what I was going to build, I started scrounging up the materials I needed. As I mentioned previously, I wanted to reuse and repurpose as much as possible. I didn't want to buy anything new unless absolutely necessary. Through a bit of ingenuity, creativity, and luck, I gathered up the following materials:
Items discarded by neighbors:
-bike trailer for hauling kids (I previously converted this to carry my SUP)
Items I found in the river:
-busted trash can
Items I repurposed:
-PVC pipe from our garden greenhouse
-other components from my bike SUP trailer build
-top rail from chain link fence (also used for last Halloween display)
-new PVC fittings
I started by laying everything out next to my board and existing bin in order to size up the new bin. I wanted the new bin to be taller and longer than the big bin I already had. However, having a bigger bin means it would take longer to fill and thus make my clean up sessions take more time. This didn't bother me since I knew I'd primarily be using the new bin on days I'd have off from work or on weekends.
Once I had all of my materials laid out, I began by assembling the new frame. Luckily, the piping we had for our green house frame was just enough for the size I wanted. I measured out the frame for the top and bottom of the bin first and then for the upright supports. As I was cutting the pipe and assembling the bin, I saved every piece of PVC that was more than a couple inches long. I didn't want to make more trash and knew that I might need them as I made design adjustments.
Unlike my previous bin, I decided to glue this one together at each fitting. Of course, PVC isn't designed to be load-bearing, but gluing the components together created more stability when it came to preventing the frame from shifting or coming apart. This was important to me since I knew I'd have this thing loaded up and rolling over bumpy roads. Imagine what would happen to an unstable frame as it vibrated along a pathway... that's right, structural failure and trash everywhere yet again. Gulp!
In the end, I chose to make the bin 40” L x 19” W x 19” H... this lets it hold about 3 cubic feet more trash than my first bin.
I used old laundry bags to make the sides of my first bin. The holes were small enough to keep small pieces of trash from escaping back to the water. For this beast of a trailer, I wanted something that would do the same thing...but didn't want to go buy netting or laundry bags.
I struggled with finding a suitable side material for a while...then one day, on my way home from the river, a neighbor of mine had a hamster cage out for trash pick up. With zero shame, I stopped and picked it up! Voila, sides for my trailer!
Again, with a bunch of luck, the hamster cage was big enough to NEARLY cover every open side. There was still an 8-inch strip of open space on each side of the bin and a 3-inch strip on the front...each gap needed covering. To fill those spaces, I cut strips out of an old trash can I recently found in the river and punched holes in them so that I could zip tie them to the crate. I chose to punch the holes with nails instead of drilling the holes to avoid creating plastic trimmings from the drill bit.
TIP: masonry nails make a rectangle shaped hole that a zip tie fits through perfectly!
Rather than use the board as the "tongue" of the trailer (like I was doing with the small wheel set up), I decided to use the piece of metal pipe I had used for my bike trailer. It is a top rail from chain link fence. On one hand, I already had it as part of the SUP trailer and on the other hand, I didn't want to add extra stress to the board's existing handles. I'm sure glad I went with this option. It makes pulling the fully-loaded trailer super easy versus a struggle like the last set up. With the way I built this, nearly all of the weight is over the trailer wheels and I'm not struggling with a heavy load on my arms and shoulders.
However, with a metal pipe comes an obvious problem...the potential that the pipe would fall in the water and sink. Not only would this be littering...I'd have a huge struggle on my hands trying to get the gear and trash back to the truck. So, I used a piece of pipe insulation (black in picture) and a piece of old pool noodle (orange in picture). I secured the foam tubes with zip ties and was on my way.
After a quick float test, all was good to go!
And lastly, let's talk about the handle. Now, for all of the luck I experienced in acquiring materials for this trailer, this is perhaps my most luckiest. The white, curved PVC handle is actually a piece of the first SUP trailer I built in 2014! It was actually the piece that cupped the end of the board and prevented it from sliding off the back. In this case, the angle curve worked perfect for a handle that allowed me to grip the trailer naturally and pull it forward without straining my joints.