Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Dunebarrow

Growing up, we were (Jake was) very spoiled, as least in terms of wheelbarrows.  We had one with fully steel construction, 25 gallon body at least 12 gauge thick, and one continuous piece of 1.5" diameter pipe that formed both handles and a rounded bumper in front of the wheel.  The tire is pneumatic, but we've never seen it flat, and the shock absorbance it provides allows one to roll over gopher holes and stray pieces of firewood without spilling so much as a single wood chip.  [Please picture Tim Allen grunting on Home Improvement here.]  The rounded bumper is key because it allows the operator to completely empty the wheelbarrow by tipping it vertical and rotating the whole thing left and right on the bumper, which provides an effective pivot point.  It was only after moving away and searching for a wheelbarrow of our own that we realized just how rare a specimen that old wheelbarrow was.  Fortunately, we were able to find something somewhat similar on Craigslist, but it needed a little work.  Here's how we modified it.

This is the pinnacle wheelbarrow technology, the model to which we strive in this exercise.  Photo credit: Mom.
Here's our starting point.  The bearings in the tire are completely shot and there's no real pivot point other than the tire itself.  It's very difficult to completely empty it, other than picking the whole thing up and shaking it like an angry caveman.
Our initial inclination was to replace the tire with one of those 'no-flat' all rubber wheelbarrow tires and a piece of all-thread rod from Home Depot since the parts were readily available, but then the handles were only knee-high, and we secretly knew that an all-thread axle wasn't really the right way to do it.  Besides, this isn't an episode of 'Pimp My Wheelbarrow.'
We got an actual 8" axle bolt and a golf cart tire.  Having a one-sided tire required that we get a spacer for the other side, which we got from the same place as the axle.  We should have gotten the nuts there, too, because it turns out 5/8" ID fine-thread nuts are somewhat hard to come by.  Home Depot and Lowe's don't carry them, and they're four times as expensive at Ace Hardware (as in like $1.40!) as they were online from OMB.  Also, the original axle was a 1/2" bolt, while we could only find tires to fit 5/8" axles, so we had to drill out the supports.  Apologies to any antique collectors who would have preferred us to keep it original.  Oh yeah, it also snowed while we were waiting for the parts to come.

We made the bumper from a piece of electrical conduit leftover from our row cover project.  The biggest challenge of the project was figuring out how to bend it since the standard 3/4" conduit bender tool has too large a radius of curvature.  We tried to approximate the tool by taking a log with a little larger radius than we needed and cutting a groove into it to bend the conduit around.  It kind of worked, but there's obviously still some kinking.  But, good enough!
The 5/8" axle would be hard to fit through a 3/4" section of tubing, so we attached it to the body of the wheelbarrow and the front support brackets.
The finished product, a.k.a., the Dunebarrow.
Now it dumps wood chips like a boss.  Just in time to clean out the chicken bedding!

How have you modified your wheelbarrow?  Do you know where to find wheelbarrows like the kind we had growing up?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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