Thursday, November 23, 2006

trailer failure!

(try saying that title five times quickly!)

So after seven years of 4-season cycling I had the trailer fall apart!

I was on my way to my regular dance class accompaniment gig, which meant the trailer had about $500 worth of gear in it. I was crossing an intersection, heard a noise, and looked back to see the trailer skidding across the road! Looking down I saw that the hitch arm was still attached to the bike, and had snapped off right where it bolts to the other frame tube. I was very lucky, in that no cars were approaching, and the trailer just slid to a halt against the sidewalk. If a car had smashed into it there would have been a real mess, financially and otherwise...

So there I was with a problem!

I still had to get to that class, and had to figure how to get the trailer hooked back up again. I pulled it as close to the bike as I could, and pulled the hitch arm over the end stubs of the frame and wrapped it up with bungee cords. It took four separate tries to get the bungees tight enough to keep that connection from moving, because if it did move then the trailer would pull sideways into the side of the rear wheel. Not fun... But I did finally get it together, and was able to get to the gig, 20 minutes late. Pedaling too quickly or going downhill meant the trailer started to wobble, which was no fun at all, so a steady pace was needed.

Once back home I had to make a proper repair, and this was done by sleeving a section of 1" conduit over the broken 3/4" pieces, and drilling and bolting through. Not pretty, but the only other option was replacing that entire side tube, and that would've also meant having to drill and remount the axle plates, as well as the rear mount for the inner wheel housing tube. No thanks! ;)

One thing I did do was rectify an oversight in the original build. The other tube that parallels the hitch arm crushed a bit when it was first bolted, because its end was open with nothing inside to keep it round. In the larger cargo trailer I built I used a piece of dowel, but having none this time I used a sawed-off piece of drumstick! Not a perfect fit, but it'll keep the pipe from getting worse. And I'll also cover the sleeve openings with electrical tape to help keep moisture out. The trailer now runs as smoothly as it did before.


Adrian Cho said...

Nice job Mark! Glad there were no cars around otherwise it might have been spectacularly disastrous.

Mark said...

Indeed! Considering how often I use the trailer in salty / slushy winter conditions, I should've been more vigilant in inspecting the frame and hardware for possible fatigue.