Category Archives: Products

How to convert a child bike trailer into a cargo trailer: an illustrated guide

I’ve been trying to do more of my errands by bicycling, and one of my biggest holdups has been a lack of cargo room: it’s hard to lug home 80 pounds of cat litter in a backpack. So, a few months ago I started shopping on Craigslist for a bike trailer, only to find out that a good friend had one in her garage that I could have for free.

My Schwinn Spirit bike trailer before modifying it to had a wooden platform to carry cargo. (Marc C. Perkins)
My Schwinn Spirit bike trailer before modification.

That’s a Schwinn (Pacific Cycle) Spirit Bicycle Trailer, rated to hold up to two 50-lb kids (aka: 100 pounds of cargo!). I immediately fell in love with it, and even used it to lug home 80 pounds of cat litter from the pet store:

Two 42-pound bags of Fresh Step cat litter strapped in like kids into my bike trailer's child harness.  So cute! (Marc C. Perkins)
Two 42-pound bags of Fresh Step cat litter strapped in like kids into my bike trailer's child harness. So cute!

An unexpected bonus of the trailer is that whenever I have it attached to my bike, cars give me more maneuvering room. I bike on city streets in Orange County, CA, and am used to having only a few inches of space between my side mirror and the cars zipping past me. But when I’m using the trailer, most cars will actually change lanes before even attempting to pass me (or at least give me four or five feet of clearance), and I’ve had multiple people literally stop to let me go in front of them. Amazing.

But using the trailer for cargo has proved to be less than ideal, as the bottom of the trailer is just made of soft fabric: the kids’ weight is designed to be supported entirely by the harness (which is hung from a horizontal metal rod). So, unless I had cargo that was perfectly sized to fit into that harness (like the bags of cat litter), I was limited to low weight.

The Schwinn Spirit bike trailer has a lot of flat, open room in it once the child harness has been removed. (Marc C. Perkins)
The bottom of the Schwinn Spirit bike trailer (with the child harness removed) is just thin fabric: not good for cargo.

So, I wanted to modify the trailer to add a solid base to convert it to a cargo trailer, and while I found lots of DIY tutorials, they all involved removing the fabric. However, I wanted to keep the fabric on my trailer to protect my cargo from weather and prevent it from blowing around. Additionally, my guess is that the extra space I’m getting when I use the trailer is due to both the visual bulk of the trailer (it’s actually the same width as my handlebars, but makes my bike look much wider) and also because people think there are cute wittle children in the trailer and thus are panicked about the possibility of hitting them1.

So, what I ended up doing is removing the harness and adding a wooden shelf that fit inside the existing fabric, so my trailer now looks like this:

A view of my DIY bike trailer modification from the front looking in.  The shelf is high enough that it doesn't hit the fabric on the bottom of the trailer, but low enough to hold a large amount of stuff.  As a bonus, the shelf is hard to see, so drivers don't know there's not a kid inside :) (Marc Perkins)
My finished cargo trailer!

Read on for full instructions on how I built this!


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My cats eat grass

Cats are carnivores: their skull, jaws, and teeth all cry out “I’m a hunter. I eat things like you (but smaller) for breakfast.” Yet cats in both the wild and captivity consume grass voluntarily.

A good friend bought our cats some wheat grass as a welcome-home-from-the-shelter present when we adopted them, and both enjoyed nibbling on it. Unfortunately, though, we recently learned that one of our cats has a wheat allergy, and the vet wasn’t sure if the allergens being tested for were in the grain or the leaves. So, we stopped buying wheat grass for them.

But wheat isn’t the only grass out there. In fact, Wikipedia reports that oats are often called “cat grass”. So, we ordered some tack oats from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and planted it last week. Both Lucca and Kira have been eying it through the window as it grew, and today we brought the pot in for them to eat (it took about a week to go from seed to cat-ready size).

Within a few minutes both kitties were investigating:

Lucca sniffs a pot filled with newly germinated (and nibbled on) oat grass (tack oats; Avena sativa). (Marc C. Perkins)
Lucca sniffs a pot filled with newly germinated (and nibbled on) oat grass (tack oats; Avena sativa).

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Ordering from BWC Photo through Photoshelter

[Updated June 8, 2011; see comments at the bottom]

I recently switched my website hosting to Photoshelter, a hosting company targeted at photographers.  Photoshelter supports direct image sales on their hosted sites though a number of print vendors, and I’m now using BWC Photo Imaging to supply my prints. This means that when someone wants a print of mine (editor’s note: shouldn’t that be a very big “if”, not “when”?) they can peruse the options online, order what they want directly from my website, pay via PayPal or credit card, and have the print shipped directly to them from the printer1.

To test out the service I ordered a wide variety of prints, ranging in size from 4×6″ through 12×18″, along with a photo mug.  Ordering was easy (click “buy” on the image’s page, choose size, choose cropping, lather, rinse, repeat), though there was an unspecified problem with my order after I placed it that held it up for a few days.  I never found out what the problem was, but Photoshelter’s support looked into it quickly, and a week and a half after I placed the order it arrived on my doorstep.

Everything came in a large outer box, and while the padding in the box was reused paper envelopes, they were surdy enough to keep everything in place. The two inner boxes were shrinkwrapped together, helping hold them in place.

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