December 5, 2005

I'm Dreaming Of A [Sweet Homemade Toy Stroller] Christmas

OK, this was going to be a surprise, and then I thought, what the hell? If it's a surprise for the kid, fine, but why am I keeping it a secret from you?

Because she's still obsessed with them, I'm making the kid a toy stroller for Christmas. Why make, not buy, you ask? Simple. Because they're all umbrella strollers. I want to make a toy stroller that looks like her stroller: a Bugaboo.

[Note: While I'm stoked to discuss the case for making a Bug-lookin' toy stroller all day and night--it seems bitchin', obvious, good, and right for a whole host of reasons--what I'd really like at the moment is actual advice/help on execution, not justification. So if you've got some good suggestions, bring it on. If, after that, you want to tell me what you think about the idea, by all means, let'er rip.]

Here's what I've got so far:

Start with one of those Reisenthel baskets [$30 at The Container Store].


Take out the four plastic ribs that support the basket, and reverse one end of the basket. With the handle up, the basket already looks remarkably like a Frog with the seat facing the driver.

Mark the creases where you'll need to sew or hot glue the extra fabric to itself to fix the basket into a permanent seat shape. [I haven't done this yet myself, but I can see how it'd work. The hard basket bottom can be broken to make a bend if necessary, but I don't think it is.]

"All" that's left is the undercarriage and wheels. I think the base needs to be an aluminum finish, inverted right-angled "V" or "Y" that attaches to/over/under the black plastic basket hinge. If the 4 wheels are the same size or not doesn't matter so much. But the large(r) tires would probably be 5-6" in diameter.

I've been thinking of training wheels, but they might bend outward too much. Maybe they're from from an old-lady laundry/shopping cart? tricycle wheels are probably too heavy, [or not?]

If the wheels aren't attached by directly--or directly via brackets--to the frame, I'm thinking of laying/fixing two steel/aluminum 1/2" tubes side-by-side, so that they approximate the 1" width of the handle, but then branch off at 45-degrees out about 6" below the seat.

How do you suggest I do the wheels? What wheels should I use, Scavenged/repurposed/ new/whatever? [I've wandered around both Ikea and Home Depot and saw absolutely nothing I could use, btw.]
Should there be an axle [I think there should be, if only for structural strength, but I'm open]?
Should/could it fold somehow? [the handle folds flat against the frame. If the wheels did likewise, it'd sure be convenient.]

I'd love to figure this out soon-ish, if only so I can post the results in time for other MacGyver-y dads out there to make one, too. [If I don't get it done in time, it'll end up as a Channukah present, although that would also require explaining why we've been calling our 7' tall Channukah Bush a Christmas Tree all this time.]

[update: Other Greg gets credit for the name: I shall call it "Mini-boo."]


Several fold-up bikes have smaller diameter wheels, but perhaps still too big for this application. What about the back two wheels of a used trike?

Hit the IKEA as-is department, you'll find something that resembles the aluminum frame.

How about scavenging the wheels off the Maclaren three wheel toy stroller? In fact, maybe you can somehow reuse the whole frame. I do think you're crazy BTW. ;)

Here's a better pic of the toy maclaren jogging stroller

to my eye it looks like you need a cheap lightweight golf trolley to cannibalise... or maybe just use whole

I would look in a used home medical equipment store for a frame as most everything there is an aluminum tube frame. Lots of Vs and Ys in lots of sizes. You might even be able to use one of those new Rollators for wheels.

[aha. excellent. or maybe a quick snatch-n-grab on the street. Without his walker, there's no WAY he can catch me... -ed.]

This is awesome! If you figure out how to manufacture this, I really want the plans for a homemade stokke kinderzeat if anyone knows how to make one!


It sounds like they're too small - but what about in-line skate wheels?

Check out Army surplus or liquidation houses - there's one in our town and they have all sorts of wheels, ball bearings, etc.

Do you have access to a milling machine? The base frame ideally should be oval aluminum tubing, but oval isn't a standard shape, so you'd need to do a custom extrusion. Easier would be to use solid aluminum bar stock and cut (here comes the milling machine part) a radius onto the corners. Online Metals is a good source for the metal.

Wheels are easy- industrial casters. McMaster-Carr and MSC will have what you need. Ditch the caster mount and just use the wheels.

Emachineshop is a good way to get stuff custom machined reasonably easily and cheaply for people who aren't engineers.

What about Home Depot or similar - replacement wheels for a grill or wheelbarrow or dolly. No open spokes, but you could get that off road tire look....

I know you said you didn't see anything at the store, but a quick search on 'wheel' at turned up something that might work.

Forgive the multiple posts - I'm having way too much fun with this -
Grill, lawnmover and gokart parts.

I think we have a winner: walker wheels

Nice find. I'll have to print that out and give it to all the old folks with tennis balls on their walkers.

Years ago when I first saw a Bugaboo stroller, I thought, "That looks like a Reisenthel basket." I knew I couldn't have been the only one. Good luck with your project.

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