A Tale of Two Trailers

It’s been a long day. Work was moderately physically demanding this afternoon (swinging a sledge hammer in the hot sun) followed by several hours volunteering at the local bike co-op.  Plus the daily 22km commute. I’d kind of like to go to sleep now. But tomorrow is World Car Free Day and  I do feel that I should celebrate the day by publishing an appropriate blog post.

Not having a car definitely limits one’s lifestyle in a number of ways. Living in a city a person can usually work around these issues but occasionally you are reminded of the usefulness of owning a car. In particular, cars are great for moving things around. While I can carry a lot on my bikes eventually there is always something just a bit too big. I have a nice bike trailer that I have used to haul my kids around in but it won’t fit large objects. The solution to this is a cargo trailer and early this summer I made that a project.  In particular, I wanted a flatbed trailer. Thinking that I should be able to convert a kid trailer for this purpose I watched the Kijiji classified ads closely waiting for a trailer at the right price.

This manifested itself as a Nakamura trailer for $10.00. The canvas was badly faded and it smelled like the previous owners had let their pets use it a s a latrine. A utility knife quickly removed the canvas and fixed that problem. My wife allowed me to use one of her old IVAR shelves for the platform. This was quite a concession, as she patrols Kijiji for that stuff the way I do for bikes. Thanks, Dear Spouse! I attached the platform with some metal brackets and electrical conduit clips and PRESTO: Instant Cargo Trailer! After the first couple of trips, I decided the hitch wasn’t very good so I upgraded it with  a home made contraption. At least, I THINK it’s an upgrade. So far it works. Time will tell, I suppose.

This project went well enough that I recently made a second trailer. This one I intended as a present for a friend .  I also found this second trailer on Kijiji and it was a much better trailer, a Burley (I had a crisis of conscience and I almost kept it for myself ).  I didn’t push my luck by asking for another IVAR shelf and instead made a platform out of scrap reclaimed hardwood flooring I had in the garage. These were pieces that were to warped or otherwise unsuitable to use. However, they made a very spiffy looking (and strong!) flatbed. The hitch on this trailer (a burley classic hitch) worked fine so I didn’t change it.

The following pictures show the trailers and some of the loads I hauled his summer. Unfortunately, I neglected to take any  pictures of the first trailer before the conversion. Oops! I am a poorly organized blogger. In any case, it’s been fun and productive.


This is the trailer being loaded for its first trial run.

It worked just fine!

You earn bonus TukamoreDew points if you can spot the box I almost lost in transit.

This was the longest load.

This load required the most creative use of bungee cords.

This load earned me the most strange looks from motorists.

This was the most potentially breakable load.

This was the original chainstay hitch that kept slipping.

To make my hitch I started with this hunk of metal I cut off a scrap bike.

Which became this.

Now installed.

The trailer end of the hitch looks like this.

The second trailer started like this.

And became this...

Spiffy looking!

My horrible carpentry skills are evident here.

The platform is attached with 4 of these.

Ready for delivery to its new owner.


Foggy Morning Commute

On my way to work this morning there were some great lighting effects as the early morning fog burned off in the sunrise. The angle of sunlight was just right to make for some interesting illuminating reflections off the downtown high rises. I really have to carry a better camera with me than the lousy one in my cell phone.

Strathcona Science Park

Last Sunday I took an early morning ride out to the semi-abandoned , post-apocalyptic looking Strathcona Science Park that sits at the Eastern edge of Edmonton.

I find this park to be a weird and wonderful trip back in time. It was created in 1979 to protect an archeological site from industrial encroachment. It enjoyed a brief life as public science center but this was soon ended (by provincial budget cuts,  I suspect) and it has remained frozen in time since then. My wife remembers a junior high school trip when her class went to the park to explore the varying science displays in each of the bunker-like subterranean pods.  On a bicycle related note, she recalls that it was the first time she saw a bike hooked up to produce electricity. The park is still maintained by the province in a minor way. The grass is cut and the garbage cans emptied. However, the interpretive buildings and the archeological lab and site have been abandoned and allowed to slowly crumble into a decrepit state.  The first time I cycled out to this park it seemed to me that it was the ideal site to shoot a low budget post-apocalypse SF film.

I have a fondness for public park architecture of this period , no doubt instilled during the numerous camping trips my family went on when I was a child. Ah, nostalgia. Though it is a sad waste of resources, it also seems ironically appropriate that a park established to protect an archeological site is itself crumbling into a historic relic.

As a tribute to a fine blogger ( Yes, I mean you Steve!) I have included a few pictures of signs with historical information about the park’s site.

This vintage sign is misleading. I do like the illustration, though.

This is the first sign that all may not be well. However, there are lots of mountain bike trails in the woods right along this stretch.

Beautiful sunny Sunday morning.

Well, this looks OK. The flags are a bit tattered, though...

Some historical plaque goodness!

...and more!

Hey, this seems pleasant!

Don't worry Mr. Park Official, I haven't used a pair of roller skates in decades.

Golly, I'm such a rebel!

These bunker buildings are pretty nifty looking. There are several of them on the grounds.

The two entrances are on the side of the big loading door in the middle. They are pretty overgrown too. Hey, what does that sign say?

Oh! Well, there's only one thing to do when you read a sign like that.....

....and that is to climb up onto the roof! Yep, looks pretty bad.

Here is some more of that earth berm / bunker vibe.

...and more of that.

Ummm....Mr. Park Official, Sir? This section of the cycling trail could use some attention

...and also this.

...and this also. On the other hand, the cattails are pretty.

The abandoned Archeology Lab! Do forgotten archeologists lurk within plotting their revenge?

A boardwalk and a dig site. Cool!

This looks OK....

....or maybe not. At least it didn't collapse while I was on it.

Lastly, a nice view over the river.