There are a lot of super-strong wheelbarrows available on the market right now and for the most part, they will do their job effectively and without issue.
However, there may be times when your wheelbarrow requires a little extra support and the good news is that this can be easily done at home.
In this article, we will be answering the question of ‘how do you reinforce a wheelbarrow’ and looking at why you might need to do this.
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Why Do I Need To Reinforce My Wheelbarrow?
First things first, it is important to remember that reinforcing your wheelbarrow may give it additional strength but this doesn’t mean that you will now be able to double or triple the load capacity.
Whilst you may be able to load it with slightly heavier weights, at the end of the day, overloading will only end up with one result – the wheelbarrow will break and you will have to fork out for a new one.
So with that in mind, why would you need to reinforce your wheelbarrow?
Over time, and with multiple uses, your wheelbarrow is bound to weaken, no matter how strong it was when you first brought it home, it’s only natural that it won’t last forever.
Some of the most durable wheelbarrows have tubs that seemingly last an eternity but there are other components that simply don’t stand the test of time and that is where wheelbarrow reinforcement can be a handy skill to have under your belt.
There are many instances of people throwing out a perfectly good wheelbarrow because of one minor bit of damage and if you like continually replacing your wheelbarrow, then sure, why not?
However, with a bit of maintenance and TLC, it is perfectly possible to address these issues and end up with an even stronger wheelbarrow than you had in the first place.
Finally, when you purchase a new wheelbarrow, it’s highly likely that you aren’t going to want it to buckle or break within the first few uses and unless you’ve brought a toy wheelbarrow this is unlikely to happen.
That being said, there is no harm in beefing up your brand new wheelbarrow to give it even more of a chance at managing those heavy loads with ease. This is especially important if you will be testing its limits with bricks, rubble and other hefty goods.
How Do You Reinforce A Wheelbarrow?
Now that we understand why reinforcing your wheelbarrow is so important, it’s time to explore some of the many ways in which you can achieve this, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own shed to do so.
One of the first things to frequently break on a wheelbarrow is the handles, with many wheelbarrows being fitted with substandard handles that simply aren’t strong enough to bear the weight of a fully-loaded tub. However, reinforcing them isn’t too difficult a job and is something that you could potentially do on a rainy afternoon.
If you have found your perfect new wheelbarrow but the handles are so flimsy, you fear that expecting them to withstand something as light as a tub of weeds is going to cause them to buckle, you could reinforce them with a simple piece of angled iron.
You can pick up a strip of angled iron for as little as a tenner so this isn’t a reinforcement that will break the bank.
The idea is that the iron will act to stiffen and strengthen the handles but it is important to remember that this trick will only work on wheelbarrows that have wooden handles.
So, how do we do it?
Additionally, there is the option to purchase new handles for your wheelbarrow that are made from a more durable material or stronger type of wood.
It is also worth noting that many wheelbarrows will benefit from a ‘wedge’ that sits between the handles and the tub and offers extra support and strength. In some cases, these wedges can become damaged but replacing them is as simple as cutting two new pieces of wood and slotting them in place.
If the handles themselves are pretty strong but you feel that you could have a better grip on them, you might decide that fitting new handle grips solves your problems. For many people, a comfortable handle grip can be the difference between easy operation of the wheelbarrow and total disaster.
If there is one thing that will significantly shorten the life of your wheelbarrow, it’s rust. If left outside, the metal frame or tub will react to heat, cold and most importantly, moisture and will rust quicker than you can say ‘ wheelbarrow repair.’
Whilst many modern wheelbarrows are made from galvanised steel which helps to prevent rust, some are not and even those that are, can become damaged or scratched and let in moisture.
If you’ve allowed your wheelbarrow to become rusty, this will have a very serious impact on how strong it is and ultimately, it could give way under any load. So reinforcing it and bringing back strength is a sure-fire way to avoid this problem.
Removing rust from the wheelbarrow may seem like a daunting task, but it really isn’t as frightening as you might first think. But, we will be honest, it can be a time-consuming process.
You can take the wheelbarrow apart and soak the smaller components in some industrial cleaner before spraying them with rust release and then giving them a good sanding down.
The tub can also be sanded and the level of rust that is present will depend on what you use to do this – angle grinders, sandpaper and a wire brush attached to a drill are all perfectly viable options.
Once you have effectively removed the rust, you will then need to repaint the metal using a rust-resistant paint.
One of the most important aspects of your wheelbarrow is the tyre – whether you have a traditional one-wheeled model or something with a few more tyres, the same can be said for all of them.
The tyre bears a great deal of the weight of the load and if they are not properly inflated or are weakened in any way, they can give way. Not only will this be annoying at best when the load spills all over your garden, but it could also pose a risk of injury, especially if the tyre gives way unexpectedly.
There are two main things that can be done to reinforce the tyres – repair or replace. Most wheelbarrows come with a pneumatic tyre – this simply means one which is filled with air, but due to repeated exposure to heavy loads, these can deflate quite quickly.
Even when left static for long periods of time, these tyres can let out air and become weak. Regular maintenance of your wheelbarrow should certainly include inflating the tyre. However, if you are having difficulty or the tyre just keeps on going down, you may need to replace the inner tube. This can often be enough to bring new life back into a tired old tyre!
However, there are some wheelbarrows that come with substandard plastic wheels and these simply aren’t good enough. Even if you have a frame and tray that are extra strong, a flimsy wheel will ruin the entire experience of using the wheelbarrow. So a replacement wheel may be the answer.
There is now an amazing range of puncture-proof wheelbarrow tyres that are made from foam and do not have a puff of air in sight. Using one of these wheels is an excellent way to reinforce and strengthen your existing wheelbarrow without having to go out and replace the entire thing.
Support The Supports
On the underside of your wheelbarrow, you will notice a thin strip of metal, on either side that serves to connect the tub to the frame. Oftentimes, these little strips of plastic are remarkably weak and you’d wonder how they would ever take the strain of a full load.
And you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking this because quite frequently, they will bend and warp and over time can become so weak that they will give way altogether.
But there is a way to reinforce these and give that added strength that will see your wheelbarrow lasting much longer. This can all be done with a simple piece of metal pipe.
Essentially this piece of pipe will act as a support for the supports and attaching it is very easy.
It is important to choose a piece of pipe that is just a little smaller than the support itself, you don’t want to have it as an exact match as you will require a bit of slack. The idea is to stop the support from bending to the point of no return and once the pipe is in place, it will not be able to bend any further than the diameter of the pipe.
Common sense would, therefore, dictate, that the thinner the pipe, the less the support will be able to bend. You should also select a piece of pipe that is made from a stronger and thicker metal than that of the support strip.
Video: How To Make A Much Stronger Wheelbarrow
Out With The Old And In With The New
Of course, no wheelbarrow is going to last forever even after you have made some reinforcing alterations and sadly, in some cases, you may have to abandon hope and scrap that old wheelbarrow.
But, there is a silver lining – there are so many sturdy and reliable wheelbarrows on the market that shopping for a new one can be just as much fun as reinforcing and repairing an old one.
Ultimately, you need to work out whether it will be more cost-effective to work with the one you have or trade it in for a newer model.
There are many reasons why your trusty old wheelbarrow may give way and not be as strong as it once was – rust, overloading and flimsy parts being common issues as well as age.
However, even brand new wheelbarrows sometimes need a little reinforcement to ensure that they work to the best of their ability and there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to giving extra strength to this common garden tool.
The tyres, handles and supports are all components of wheelbarrows that can either wear over time or simply not be strong enough from the get-go. Repairing and replacing these can breathe new life into an old wheelbarrow and give it a much-needed boost of strength.