One month into SUP Garbage Man I discovered that two milk crates wasn't enough.
I needed something bigger.
I built something bigger.
I built my “mega bin.”
I still remember the day when I decided to build the mega bin. I went out at sunrise on a Friday before heading into the office. Early in my session I found a heap of plastic bottles in the shoreline grass. I had only two milk crates with me and quickly filled them both up. One crate was on the front of the board and the other crate was on the back. Not wanting to leave without attempting to collect as many bottles as I could, I started stacking them up down the centerline of the board. By the time I had to leave for work I had a short 'wall' of plastic bottles to straddle that stretched between the milk crates. It was a bit of a challenge to get back to my truck without losing any bottles. Moreover, it was annoying to make the multiple trips back and forth from the truck with handfuls of bottles. At that point I knew I needed a bigger bin.
Once I realized I needed a bigger bin, I started brainstorming a few designs that I could make out of some PVC I had at home. I chose an option based on what I owned but still needed to buy a couple pipes and a few fittings. The next day, Saturday, I was one of the first folks at the home improvement store. I bought the additional PVC piping I needed and started building as soon as I got home. I was in a time crunch because I wanted to take the bin when I left on a trip Sunday morning... and the boss was eyeing my every move! :-)
I knew I wanted the mega bin to replace the rear milk crate so it would be out of the way of my paddling, especially when full. I started by measuring the full area of the board behind where I stand. I measured the width at the tail and near where I stood and then I measured the length between the two. I decided to make the bin shorter than the full rear area to allow me to step back on the board, if needed. I decided to make it narrower than the widest part of the board so that I wouldn't hit it with the paddle in the back half of my strokes. As for the mega bin's height, I wanted it to be about the height of a milk crate (12 inches), but not much more. I did this for two reasons. First, it would allow me to put longer items (pipes, boards, etc.) atop the mega bin and front milk crate without risking them sliding off in any direction. And second, if the mega bin were too high, and fully loaded, it would have a higher center of gravity. This would make balancing difficult due to the increased roll of the board. In the end, I chose to make the bin 35” L x 18” W x 15” H.
Measure twice, cut once...or just go with it and make modifications on the fly! Well, I chose a mix of both. I measured and cut all of the pipe pieces and then started assembly. I put it together a few ways before I settled on the design I have. I cannot confirm or deny needing to make a quick run up to the hardware store... Once I was confident in the shape I used a rubber mallet to gently join the pipes and fittings. Overall, I only used PVC cement on only a few key connections. Without the adhesive, the connections were snug enough to keep the frame together but were able to be detached for future modifications or redesign. This came in handy as I was still tweaking my GoPro mount design.
Rather make a full cage out of PVC, I knew I wanted to create some sort of light-weight enclosure. The full cage would have been sturdy and held more weight but it would have been heavier itself, used more plastic than necessary, and been difficult and time consuming to assemble. So I turned on the brainstorm in an effort to repurpose something instead of buying something new. My first thought was to use some old twine and weave my own netting. I barely got started and began to have difficulties securing the twine to the smooth PVC. Keeping enough tension on the twine was also proving difficult. I began to doubt anything I could come up with would hold any trash when I lifted the full crate. It was obvious future frustrations were inevitable. When I described the predicament to my wife, she suggested I use our old mesh laundry bags as netting.
BRILLIANT!! (Thank You @Mrs.SUP.Garbage.Man!!)
I did hate cutting into the bags but figured it was one hell of a way to repurpose something we hardly used anymore. I cut the bag down the seam on one side and across the bottom so that it would open into one big sheet. I then fit the sheet around the bottom of the PVC frame and secured it to the top of each side with zip ties. I didn't like using zip ties but I wanted the netting to stay put through all of the future trash collection missions. Again, I hated using more plastic to create the bin, but considering I already owned the zip ties I figured I was putting them to good use for a good cause.
(of course, I properly binned all of the snipped zip ties)
Recall that I chose not to cement the frame together when I assembled it. Well, that came in handy when I decided to add a couple removable areas where I could mount my GoPro. I wanted to add these mounts to give myself more camera angle options. I wanted to go vertical and horizontal with the new mounts. I used PVC to build each and ended up buying a couple more fittings. For the vertical mount, I settled on a multi-level design right off of the top of the bin with various angles to explore. The horizontal mount extends off of the rear of the bin. It has a place where I can attach a short section of PVC that extends off of the right side of the board when used. The final touch was adding a length of twine as a tether for the GoPro should the mount fall off the bin...this saved my camera on three separate occasions.
Having used the mega bin regularly for months, I got tired of carrying it to the truck full of filth… especially when who-knows-what was draining out of it. It needed wheels. My first attempt at adding wheels was to use some old bicycle wheels my neighbors put out for trash day. But the wheels were too big. Had I tried to use them during a SUP session they would have dipped into the water and created drag. I thought about making them removable but then I'd have to stow bike wheels on my board. I did not need extra drag or gear to stow considering the vast amounts of trash I collect. The wheels needed to be small and stay on the mega bin. The bike wheel idea was such a flop that I abandoned that plan and ended up donating them to our local scrap metal hauler.
Not deterred, I kept an eye out for some smaller wheels everywhere I went. I found a few in the river but they were broken in some way or another. Sure, I could have bought a new wheel kit but that would be counterproductive to the overall message of “buy less new stuff.” Eventually, I found a pair of used training wheels at a local thrift store. Since the training wheels were much smaller than the old bike wheels I knew I could leave them on the bin indefinitely. I bought them right away.
To attach the training wheels and still allow them to spin, I needed a bolt per wheel that fit through the small diameter of the hub. The bolts also needed to be long enough to extend through its respective wheel and the PVC frame. Luckily, I had a couple bolts in my tool shed that did the trick. I drilled a hole big enough for the bolt to slide through in the bottom of the frame. I did this on each side at the back of the bin. In addition to the bolts, I used a couple washers, a regular hex nut, and a locking nut for each wheel. The nut at the end of the bolt, outside of the wheel, is a lock nut so that the wheel remains on its axle.
And, last but not least, the rope handle. I made it last in case the wheels ended up not working out. If that happened, the handle would have been a waste of material and time. Although, it wouldn't have been a huge waste of time since it was fairly simple.
I used a piece of rope that I found in the river and folded it so that one side was about 6 times longer than the other (similar to the shape of the letter 'J'). I wrapped the folded end around the top of PVC frame at the front of the bin and then fed the two loose ends through the loop. I cinched that down and then zip tied the loose ends together so that the shorter rope was secure against the longer end. I then fed the longer loose end through a 4-5 inch piece of PVC I had left over, this is actual handle. I then and ran the rope back along itself. To secure it, I tied a basic square knot with both the up and down side together. Looking back, I could have avoided needing the knot by using less rope and using zip ties. But I figured the knot did the job and kept the full rope uncut in case I needed it again in the future.