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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Outfitting An Enclosed Cargo Trailer For E-bikes

We made it through the Celebration of Life for Steve's Dad, our beloved patriarch of the Pfundtner clan. 

He was our last living parent, now laid to rest. Family is healing and sharing the love and support from many friends and neighbors. 

We have been keeping ourselves "busy" and finding things to occupy our creative selves.

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Since we bought the two Lectric E-bikes (read my last blog- Our Lectric XP 3.0 E-bikes Have Arrived ) we have been tossing around some ideas on transporting them.

Most people transport E-bikes on a rack hanging off the back of their RV. But then they are subjected to the harsh elements and possibly theft.

Some people fold the bikes up and carry them in large heavy totes inside of their RV. But the bikes are 65 lb or so. The bikes would always be in the way as we try to walk up and down the aisle in our motorhome. 


Soooooo ----- you know that Steveio! He started perusing the Facebook Marketplace and ran across a super duper bargain!!! 

(doesn't he always?)


He found a really nice, lightweight, well-built enclosed cargo trailer. It's only 4 ft wide by 6 ft long, and has an extra long tongue to the front hitch. More on that later. 

A young doctor had used it to move here from Colorado and it was parked nice and neat and clean in his nice and neat and clean garage. Just what we were looking for... 


We checked it all out and made a deal. Then we went back the next morning after we robbed the bank for some cash. Lol! Actually, it's because we can only take out so much from an ATM in a 24-hour period. 

Now, this is why we needed a long tongue. Most cargo trailers have an aerodynamic pointed front end called a "V-nose". They are great for added storage area and I am sure they pull much better behind things like pickup trucks to help cut the wind.

That's not so important behind the big rectangular box of our motorhome though. 

We needed the type that's called a "bullnose" with a flatter front, with a longer tongue. We had checked with a few places about special ordering one, and it was going to be a little bit too pricey for our tastes. Steve found this used one that suited the unique need that we have. 

See that back slide out? Inside is the top pillow area half of our queen size bed. The slide extends out the back, and the middle of the bed folds down or opens up like a taco. 



If we had bikes on a rack, we would have to have the type of rack that would swing away or swing down just to be able to put out the bed at night to park and sleep somewhere. Or we would have to completely unload the bikes?? By having an enclosed trailer with a long tongue we could still safely extend the bed and still have the trailer securely locked on the hitch. This is especially handy when we are traveling through and just stopping for the night in a parking lot at a Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or a truck stop. 

So we got the trailer home and it was time to get to work on it.

Steve put on new tires, lubed the hubs and repaired a bad ground on the lights. 

If you want to watch this YouTube, I took time filming section by section of what we did and how we did it:



Another benefit, besides hauling our E-bikes, is to haul some of our additional camping gear. Our Winnebago View has a very tight margin of what is called CCC (cargo carrying capacity). We could transfer some of our heaviest items now into the trailer with the bikes. Added to that, we can haul along some extra things that we have been doing without since downsizing from the larger motorhome.

This was going to be a win-win! The Winnebago is able to tow up to 5,000 lb. This trailer is pretty lightweight, about the 800 lb range. So we will be easily able to load up some things and still maneuver it around by hand on a campsite. Or manually move it around in a parking lot if we do decide to unhook it during our travels.

It was very easy to unhook from the back of our Saturn and roll right into our garage. 

The inside was nice and clean, but it was just plain old plywood. There were some rub marks on the walls but the wood was in really good shape. Before we built any type of hanging racks or shelves or anything, I felt it was a good idea to give it a couple coats of some thick heavy porch and floor enamel paint. 



If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you would recall that Steve does NOT like painting. This is my project!  

I chose some nice light gray paint, the same color as our steps. That way I can use the leftover to touch up our front porch next spring. It kind of looks blue in this picture but it really is gray.

It is November, and it was a little cool in the garage, so Steve set up the Mr. Buddy heater to help keep me warm. I gave it two really good coats and let it dry thoroughly in between each one. 



Once that was done, Steve started working on hanging some sturdy angle iron with pre-drilled little holes already running the length of every piece. We did a lot of measuring and double checking before we did any cutting or screwing into the frame. 


We did some measuring and figuring and decided to install some of these large utility hooks. We covered them with tubes of foam pipe insulation to pad them and keep them from rattling around or ruining the finish on our new lawn chairs.  Then we added D rings and bungees to the walls underneath the chairs to keep them secure. 


If you watch on the video, you will see that we did a little boo boo on the hanging length and then decided to go back to the drawing board and shorten up the hooks. Then we reinstalled them and it was a much better fit for the bikes standing up underneath the chairs. 

Now it was time for some shelves. I had come up with a little idea of how to secure the fronts of the bikes in a gentle non-scratching way, but yet keep them from flopping around or tipping over.

So first we used a cardboard template to make the exact shape of the interior nose of the trailer. I love templates! Steve doesn't. 
LOL! 
It worked very well. 



Yup, that worked good... Now to implement my idea!



Again, using my cardboard template, I used a hunk of this foam pipe insulation and made a U-shaped cut into my cardboard. Then I snugged it up tight around the front stem of the bike, just above the fork for the front tire. Steve had to move our headlight brackets up to a better position and this way the bikes can snug right into their little u-shaped holding "stall", just like a horse. No scratching of the paint. 



So we transferred the U-shapes onto the lower wooden shelf. Steve cut them out with the jigsaw and now it was time for me to paint again. I gave both shelves double coats and we were just about done for the day. We would let them dry overnight and get back to it the next day. 



And here it is, the final edge of the lower shelf. The shelf has a large piece of angle iron running the entire width across the trailer, bolted just ahead of where the u-shaped "stalls" are.  The shelves can carry a lot of weight, and also let the bikes nudge right into their spaces. The foam pipe insulation is glued into place with construction adhesive. 



We got both shelves bolted up into place securely on the walls and into the steel framework of the trailer. Steve used a lot of self-tapper screws to anchor everything into place. Now it was time to move some of the heavy items out of the motorhome storage compartments and put them into the trailer.

The top shelf has my Instapot pressure cooker and air fryer unit, our Blackstone flat top griddle, and Steve's electric chainsaw and charger.

The middle shelf has our Camp Chef oven, which weighs about 35 lb. Also Steve's Fire Genie pellet fire pit, and some totes full of our bicycle gear and accessories. 



We bought a heavy secure cargo net that's used for the back of a pickup truck or an SUV from O'Reilly's. We securely hooked that up to the brackets. After this picture was taken Steve decided to reverse that piece of angle iron and make it aim upwards as an extra lip edge to the shelf.



Now, on the back side of the swinging door of the cargo trailer we added some taller deep hooks. These carry our helmets, our extra bungee cords, and the blue panier bags that go on the sides of my bike.



We rearranged things a couple times and got it all organized the way that we wanted it. Then it was time to wheel the bikes up and put them right in. They snugged perfectly into place at the front stem. Then the rear tires are securely double bungee'd down to D rings that are mounted into the floor.

On the bottom level underneath the shelves we have room maybe for some potential additional batteries and maybe add solar panels to the roof of the trailer. We are not sure yet. Then we can charge the bikes and have extra lights right inside of the trailer. 

We also tossed in our extra quiet Champion dual fuel generator. It runs on either gasoline or propane. This one is quieter than the built-in propane Onan on the motorhome itself. We added a tote with some more bicycle gear and some small 1 lb cylinder propane tanks. It feels nice to not have them on board inside of the motorhome basement compartments.

Steve measured and bought the right drop hitch so the trailer travels level and tracks correctly. 

All set! 

The next thing we did after everything was tied down, was to set my GoPro camera mounted onto one of the hooks of the inside back door. We turned on the interior light and took it for a ride over some of the bumpiest roads in town. We went over three sets of railroad tracks, took a couple sharp corners, and hauled it back into the yard. 

NOTHING MOVED AT ALL! 



After we finished this all up, we looked at the calendar. It was November 12th, almost halfway through the month. Usually in Wisconsin we could be knee-deep in snow this time of year. But instead, we looked at what the weatherman was saying. He said we were going to have some warm days up into the 60° range! And some cold nights down in the '30s or '20s. But we could handle that. The motorhome was already winterized. Steve de-winterized quick as a wink and I tossed in a bunch of stuff. We were going to go up to a campground that we know is open until the end of November.

It was a great time to try out our trailer, and get to ride our E-bikes around to get more used to them. 


My next blog will be about a campground review 

and 

our week of unusually warm November camping in Wisconsin. 

5 comments:

  1. Perfect in every way! I love watching your projects unfold.

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  2. Karen you and Steve are a great team working together on your projects. The cargo trailer is perfect for your bikes and extra's to pull behind your View. Good your weather allowed for another camping trip.
    Sue

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  3. Great addition to the camper. You and Stevio are awesome

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  4. looks great! and helps alot. Will you have room for the canoe?

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  5. Echoing all above comments & solar/ batteries would be the finishing touch- perhaps linked with the RV when desired.Instead of the canoe ,maybe an inflatable would fit in the trailer- although really neat now.All the best.

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