How to Make a Trailer From Plastic Barrels

Written by matt allex
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Introduction
  • Introduction

    How to Make a Trailer From Plastic Barrels

    You have many options when choosing a trailer for your lawnmower, but it may never have occurred to you to build your own. Plastic barrels can be used to create simple, effective and fun trailers. Read on to learn how to make one.

    Trailers made from plastic barrels. (All photos by Matt Allex)

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    Paint your barrel at the beginning, when it is easiest. You can also paint it after your trailer is fully assembled if you want the entire frame and barrel to be the same colour. Most barrels come in white or blue, and either colour can be applied with a couple of coats of spray paint.

    Basic plastic barrel. ()

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    Once you are satisfied with the colour, turn the barrel on its side and cut the opening you want into the top. If you want an easily accessible open trailer, cut the barrel open along the entire length. If you want to make a trailer for riding and amusement, cut off only the top of the barrel and make an attractive seat.

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    Next, create the simple rectangular frame that your plastic barrel will rest upon. Cut and weld your square hollow-section steel rods to a rectangle approximately 35"x20," adding a rod extending at a right angle from the centre of one of the 20" sides. (This will become your trailer hitch.) Measurements will vary according to the size of your barrel, but you should end up with a frame that fits around your barrel from end to end when the barrel is lain on its side. Keep the frame small enough to allow the barrel to rest on it, but not big enough to pass through it.

    Frame and undercarriage. ()

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    Using your equal-angle steel rods, cut and weld two "V" shapes and attach them to the frame, on the end opposite the hitch, centring the point of the "V" approximately 10" from the back of the frame. Now weld your hollow circular rod into the crotch of the "V" shape; this will provide a housing for your axle. Finally, drill holes through the bars on the short sides and bottom of your frame and into the barrel, then insert nuts and bolts, securely fastening the barrel to the frame.

    Axle attachment. ()

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    You can now insert your steel dowel or wheel axle though the hollow circular steel rod, and attach your wagon or wheelbarrow wheels. Inflatable tires are preferable to hard plastic wheels for durability, and a smoother ride, if used as transportation.

    Profile view. ()

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    For most users, a flat steel tongue can be welded to the hitch and, by drilling a hole in the tongue, you can attach your new trailer to your lawnmower or ATV. Finally, you have the option of adding a seat to your trailer.

    Interior seat view. ()

  • Checklist

    Things you will need

    • 55-gallon plastic barrel (approximately 23"x35")
    • Square hollow-section steel rods
    • Equal-angle steel rods
    • Hollow circular steel rods
    • Cutting torch
    • Welding torch
    • Wagon/wheelbarrow wheels
    • Circular steel dowel or wheel axle
    • Paint (colour of your choice)
    • Flat steel tongue
    • Drill
    • Reciprocating or circular saw
    • Nuts and bolts
  • More information

    Tips and warnings

    Take stock of your needs before you purchase materials to avoid wasting time and money on options you will not need. Take your time. While trailers like these are relatively straightforward, careful work helps avoid frustrations.

    Always wear proper safety gear when cutting or welding. Never work alone. Make sure you understand how to use the tools needed.

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