Converting my Wheeled Trailer to a Sled

The other day we had a slight accident in the yurts. While rushing to answer the cellphone, one of us knocked over a five gallon pail of water. Sigh. While mopping up the water and hanging the sopping mats, we were amused to notice that behind one of the beds the metal fittings on the inside of the northwest wall were showing that cold spots still existed indoors.


The last time my trailer lost a wheel, I opted for the most direct solution – I purchased a generic, solid rubber wheelbarrow wheel from Canadian Tire and installed it on the axle with some spacer bushings to prevent it from wobbling too much.

The side effect of this was that the new tire was about half as wide as the one on the other side, which actually was oversized from the first tire blow-out. First it was a blow out, then next the bearing disintegrated.

Now that I am moving through snow, the narrow tire was a bit of a liability, sinking in really deep, and making it hard for me to haul firewood. The last trip I actually had to unload some of my firewood in order to climb the incline out of the gulley in the back of our property, in spite of putting the tractor into four wheel drive. I did manage to get two loads back though, and they are already split and keeping us warm (even if they don’t get crazy hot enough to make cooking any easier). I wonder what my sensei thinks of my form for my tanren uchi practise.

So yesterday, as I was puttering in the dojo tent, Grandpa dropped by and suggested I build some skis for the trailer, and replace the wheels with them. Together, we got right on it!

I had two surplus poplar logs on the skidway, that were earmarked for random projects, so I fueled up the mill, checked the oil, and started pulling the starter cord. I expected it to take a number of pulls before starting up, and so it was a bit sheepishly that on the 24th pull, I realized that I hadn’t yet turned the switch to the “on” position. It started perfectly on the 25th pull.

We slowly cut up the poplar into two 5″ by 5″ logs. I was surprised at how hard it was to clamp and cut. I think frozen logs must be significantly tougher than in summer, so I will ask my sawmill expert about perhaps purchasing one of his special winter blades. In any case, with patience, I was able to cut them up.

I used the chainsaw to cut a 45 degree angle on the front of each ski, and Grandpa beveled the edges with my hatchet.

Pressing the chainsaw into service again, I slowly and carefully cut slots into the top of each ski. After some fine chiseling, I inserted short lengths of 2″ by 6″ boards into these slots. I screwed them in place, added another 2″ by 6″ plate to the sides of the first ones, screwed these together, and then drilled some 1″ holes through the doubled up layers.

I manhandled the skis up to the trailer, and with Kenny pounding away on the uprights, we were able to insert the axles into the 1″ holes on the ski uprights.

To help tie it all together, I cut up another board I had milled just for so, and used two pieces of it in two places on the skis to ensure they were locked together. One on the uprights, and one laying flat on the skis themselves (hopefully laying flat, it won’t collect too much snow).

I flipped the trailer back upright, and I must say it looks rather smart on its new feet. Not having any more firewood cut up, I haven’t had a chance to test it, and I knew if I hooked it up and just drove around, it would be hard to claim anything other than just joyriding. It’s already bad enough with my grader blade being considered a “toy”.

This actually proved a good time to hook up my “toy” grader blade, and as I headed off to clear a trail down to the well I came across my beautiful wife trying to get the smell of diesel out of my clothes. That’s true love for you!

Last trip to town, I pumped my own diesel for the tractor, and unfortunately, forgot to tighten the vent cap on the can as I hefted it into the back of the truck. Sigh. Diesel gushed onto my coat, and I stank for the rest of the day. Donna could smell it on everything I wore that day, so all of it was relegated to staying outdoors. Yesterday she was kind enough to hit it all up with snow, baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar. Right now it is still airing out on our outdoor clothes line. No telling when it will be allowed back in the yurts.

After finishing with my clothes, Kenny and Donna headed over to Mummu’s to get a bit more drinking water. Talk about riding in style!

I finished the day up by skidding some logs from around the well back to the sawmill. I think there are two or three more out there under the snow, and perhaps today I will go off to seek them out.


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