Ah, the trusty wheelbarrow. It was broken, and now it is not, all because I did not fall the into the consumer trap. Let me explain why I began repairing my wheelbarrow instead of buying a new one.
I have owned this steel wheelbarrow for over 14 years. It has been reliable until a year ago, when one of the wooden braces broke, and the tire got a puncture about a month ago. Oh, and it squeaked like crazy when you pushed it along. Annoying or what!
The steel tray is battered and bruised from many loads whilst landscaping my yard, but it is still solid and sound.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, I had been looking at new wheelbarrows at the hardware store. It was like wheelbarrow eye-candy. All those shiny wheelbarrows all in a row, just at eye level to entice you to buy them. Barrow porn.
Then I snapped out of it. Why would I buy a new wheelbarrow, when all I had to do was get a new inner-tube and replace the broken brace? So that is exactly what I did, and all it cost me was $16 and an hour of my time!
Firstly, I had to remove the broken parts. Pretty easy. Just loosen a few nuts and bolts and it all slipped apart.
So the first job was to source a new inner-tube. I needed a 4.8″ tube, which I found down at the same hardware warehouse that I was making gooey eyes at the new wheelbarrows. For a miserly sum of $16, a new tube was mine.
Removing the tyre and tube from the wheel hub is pretty easy. It took me back to all of those bicycle punctures that I used to repair as a kid. My Dad’s philosophy was that if we wanted to ride out bikes, we had to figure out how to fix them when they broke. I thank him for that very valuable lesson today.
Using a couple of flat screwdrivers, you lever the tyre around the rim until it pops off. Pulled out the old tube then all I did was fit the wheel on one side of the tyre, then squeeze in the tube, fitting the valve through the hole. With the screwdriver, I gently moved the tyre back into place.
The real test was when I inflated the tyre to make sure that I hadn’t kinked the tube inside the rim. It all good, so I inflated it all the way to 20 psi.
The next job was to replicate the broken brace. I think I smashed it against something a while back, and it had snapped in two, and rubbing on the tyre. It may have even caused the puncture.
I found some old skirting board, cut it to length with a mitre saw, and drilled two holes as per the broken brace.
I made quick work of putting it all back together again. On with the brace, nice and tight.
Then on with the wheel. All lined up, and bolted on tight. I even gave the axle a wipe over with a greasy rag to apply some well deserved lubricant. The persistent squeak has gone as well.
Looking good so far. I tightened up all the other nuts and bolts on the wheelbarrow, so that it will last another 14 years or so.
I took it for a road test around the yard, mainly to show off in front of Kim and Ben. Prancing like a pony with a new saddle, I was. The repair work was a roaring success, and felt like it was brand new. I have never appreciated my wheelbarrow more than I have today.
Now because I took the time to repair my wheelbarrow, which only to one hour out of my day, I saved a quite a few bucks.
To buy a new wheelbarrow would have cost me $25o for the same quality. To buy a full wheel assembly would have cost me $65. As the inner-tube only cost me $16, I reckon I am now up at least $49 I had bought the full wheel, and up $234 if I had succumbed to a new shiny new plastic wheelbarrow. Not to mention the disposal cost of the old wheelbarrow which would have cost $20 to dump it at the tip or the time to list it on freecycle.
I just love DIY savings and I am proud of the fact that I did it all myself and preserved my trusty old barrow.
So I reckon that the moral of the story is this;
“We live in a world of instant gratification, the world of the quick fix. It is not until we remove ourselves from the rat race and downshift, that we find that the slow fix is far more rewarding” – Gavin Webber
Well Done Gav. I bet i was at the same store this weekend looking at porn. I bought some staples for a staple gun and walked out. Too much temptation. I went home and did a DIY project using things i had on hand. That same store had vertical gardens for hundreds. Mine cost me nothing but a few staples and effort. Jeepers we are good!! Does your halo still fit you, mines getting a bit tight.
Gavin Webber says
Well done Lynda. It is tempting sometimes. My halo is just fine thanks 😉
well done gavin, next time just patch it as you would a flat bike tyre, cost you about 5 cents…
Excellent work Gav,
It certainly gives you a sense of immense satisfaction being able to repair things and breathe new life into them.
Gavin Webber says
Cheers Mick. It is very satisfying to fix or to clean up an old gardening tool. Gav
Good work! Old tools are built so much better, and worth saving (although I think everything is worth saving, but you know what I mean!). If you’d bought a shiny new one, even if it was meant to be the same quality, I bet it wouldn’t have lasted. Especially not a nasty plastic one >: ( Your current barrow is beautiful!
Gavin Webber says
Cheers Lindsay. I agree. With today’s mantra of designed obsolescence, it is better to keep and repair the old stuff. Far worthier a goal to keep the old stuff going.
We went through a similar situation a while back but our cheap plastic barrow was problematic to match an inner tube for. Designed for obsolescence. 🙁 We did end up buying another one AND fixing the old one but the new one is a cart instead and that gives us more carting possibilities and a great toy for the kids too (they ride this thing, with minimal steering and no brakes down the hill in our back garden. Gives me the horrors but no disasters… Yet!) We have several different barrows which works for us but I too love that we were able to repair the old one. It’s a great feeling giving something new life, not to mention much lighter on the old wallet too. 🙂
Allotment adventures with Jean says
Good on ya for spending a bit of quality time with your trusty wheelbarrow Gav.
I know those shiny painted new wheelbarrows are like the siren’s call – but they are just shallow, with too much time spent on their appearance – they would only disappoint!
Gavin Webber says
You make me laugh Jean! x