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Interesting discovery on HF wood cart - it's changed!

Post in 'The Gear' started by Gooserider, Jan 24, 2010.

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  1. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I have in the past frequently said nice things about the Harbor Freight Firewood Cart which is what I use to bring firewood into our house for burning - carries a couple days worth, goes over rough terrain well, and can be pulled up stairs without to much effort (I have 9.5 steps from the woodshed to the stove area, so this is critical!)

    However like most HF products, it's built to a price, and not always the best of quality... The spoked bicycle wheels were kind of shoddily assembled, and while the tires were OK, the cheap Chinese tubes tended to go flat over time, and were not very sturdy... My advice since last summer when one of the wheels collapsed on me, and the other got really wobbly, (while using the cart to haul rounds out of the woods) was to take them to a pedal bike shop and have them trued and tightened, and replace the tubes...

    When the wheel collapsed on me I did some shopping on the net, and found that it was actually cheaper to purchase a whole new cart than it would be to buy just a wheel. In addition the HF cart had a 22mm axle, and the aftermarket wheels all had 3/4" or other inch size bearings... So I purchased a second cart, but because I was able to get the old wheels fixed (though they have LOTS of wobble) never put it together...

    The other day I had a friend that wanted me to help him move some wood, and since my old cart was full, I figured it was a good time to put the new one together.... Same deal with crappy tubes and tires - my friend managed to blow one of the tires while trying to inflate it, and the other had a bad bulge on it... Because we needed to move at least a small amount of wood that evening I decided to run on the flat with a half load of wood at a time...

    Much to my surprise, I couldn't get the new cart into the door, as it was to wide! :coolmad: The old cart went through our doors at home w/ room to spare, so I figured the other door was narrow - until today when I went to bring the cart inside in order to pull the wheels off and deal with the tires - it wouldn't go through OUR doors either!!! :-S The new cart was at least 2-3" wider than the old one!!!

    After I got out the tape measure to find the difference, I rapidly realized that HF had changed the wheels - and the new wheels were MUCH better. The old hubs were about 2-2.5" wide, and had very thin wire spokes. The new cart wheels had hubs that were about 3-3.5" wide, and MUCH heavier spokes. The problem was they had compensated for the wider hubs by extending the axles on each side, so the cart was actually 30.25" wide, instead of the 27.5" that is listed on the product description... Makes the cart BARELY to wide to go through a standard door.

    However it should be an easy enough fix - cut an inch or so off each axle, shorten the axle spacers to match, and drill a couple new holes for the cotter pins that hold the wheels on... This will make the maximum wood length a bit shorter, but the old cart would hold (barely) 22" wood between the wheels, so taking an inch off each side would still give me room for my 18" target length wood, and the stronger wheels will be worth it...

    I'm replacing the tubes and tires as well - for the tubes I'm using a couple of the "never go flat" foam rubber "tubes" - expensive, but should last the life of the cart and then some... The wheels are down at the cycle shop getting trued and tightened - they might not need it as much as the older wheels, but still...

    Gooserider

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  2. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    How about some pics Goose? Always enjoyed reading about your product testing and mods.
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Very often the spokes will be too long and poke through the rim tape. After truing a wheel, I grind off what pokes through. I owned a bicycle shop that I operated between Winter bush work and rebuilt many a wheel. I was active in the bicycle racing community and built custom wheels for both racing and touring. I also did a lot of motorcycle wheel work and horse sulky and wheelchair wheels.

    A "standard" entry door would be 36 inches. Interior doors could be smaller.
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I use 18" long splits and load my HF cart every few days. I really appreciate the extra wiggle room between wheels to load wood. As it is, I have the old cart, I frequently load a bit sloppily so that the spokes touch the wood and I need to fix it up before transport. It would take much longer to load if I had to be loading a perfect stack within an inch or two.

    I still love the cart. It holds more than a wheelbarrow and climbs stairs with ease.
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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  6. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Note that I also don't know if HF might change the cart again, so I wouldn't rely on this to order... It could be something to check for if purchasing at a store, obviously there isn't a way to do so if ordering from the catalog or website...

    SA - Will try to do some pix, though this isn't one where the difference is really obvious.

    LL - I agree on the need to grind down the surplus spokes and such, I know the theory on truing wheels, but I haven't practiced it enough to be any good at it. Given that it's pretty much of a "one-shot" job, I figured I was better off letting a shop take care of the truing and tightening - I'll be double checking the spoke ends before taping up the rim (I use friction tape rather than the commercial rim strips - seems to hold up a lot better) Of course the foam "tubes" I have to put in the tires now shouldn't care about spokes and such... The plastic disks aren't a bad idea either, though if you are hitting disks or spokes you still need to adjust the load...

    The doors that I have to go through are both 32" wide, only our front door is 36", all the other doors in the house are 32"... On top of that you lose about 2" of effective width if, like most of our doors you can only open it about 90°... It is really close, on the new cart the hubs themselves clear, what catches is the axle stubs where the wheel retaining cotter pins go, so it is only about 1/2" or less to big to get through the door...

    HB - I also appreciate the "wiggle room, and know exactly what you mean about needing to center the wood carefully when loading the cart, as I also use 18" splits - still its nice to have the sturdier wheels, and if I have to be a bit fussier when loading in order to get through the doors, so be it... While in theory one could get some of that distance lost to the wider hubs back by "dishing" the wheels, this costs strength, so IMHO it isn't worth it...

    I also agree on loving the cart - it really does a great job at what it is designed for - I don't see an easier way to transport a larger amount of wood at a time and get it up the stairs I have to climb unless one went to some kind of power equipment... (The GF was suggesting trying to adapt the tech from one of those new stair climbing capable electric wheelchairs...)

    Gooserider
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    They make special offset hinges to retrofit homes for wheelchair accessibility. Something to look into if you have tight spots to navigate.

    http://www.adaptiveaccess.com/pictures/schinge.jpg
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I wish the carts came with quick release wheels like some wheelchairs do so that one could switch wheels when transitioning from outdoors to indoors. The outdoor wheels could have a wider stance and an aggressive tread and the indoor wheels a narrower stance with non-scuff baloney skins.
  9. YZF1R

    YZF1R New Member

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    Good report. I was hoping to wheel mine right into the stove room, but it would not fit through the door. I use it to take a weeks worth (2 or 3 full loads) into the garage. Then I use a method that was mentioned here to get it inside a stove load at a time as needed. A plastic tub. Sure keeps the mess off of the floor. I noticed the spokes, although in the correct position, are laced over one another so each has a very noticable bow. I think they should be the other way around. Oh well, I tightened them up anyway after I put it together. I like the cart very much. The wheels do look like they are drunk at times when you look at them while rolling.

    Steve
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    That's known as interference lacing. As one spoke is unweighted, the spoke that crosses it takes up some of the slack maintaining tension. As long as the spoke are tensioned enough, it will not fatigue them but loose spokes will fatigue quickly, breaking at the hub. Touring bicycle wheels designed to carry a lot of weight, are usually interference laced.
  11. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    We bought the Landmann version Spring of this year on clearance for around $17 at Home Depot. Tires are smaller, no spokes to worry about. Carry rack is above the wheels so there are no clearnace issues. We have one step (about 4") to get wood into the house. Travels well on grass and has lots of clearance coming through the door. Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Landmann-82427-Caddy-Cover-Black/dp/B0017K651A


    Shari
  12. YZF1R

    YZF1R New Member

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    OK! Thank you. I never knew that. It's amazing how much I learn on here.

    Steve
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Interesting, hadn't seen that style hinge before... Probably won't go in that direction as I think shortening the axles is a better approach, but if we ever have the need..

    Gooserider
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