#1
Old 08-07-2013, 01:44 PM
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Need some wheelbarrow advice

I'm in the midst of digging a koi pond by hand. In total, I've moved about 5 yards of dirt already, and have about 5 more to go. (I know there are more efficient ways to move this much dirt around, but it's good exercise.) The dirt is actually mostly clay and pretty heavy because the ground here never fully dries out

The problem I'm having is that my wheelbarrow isn't handling that kind of weight well. I have a model almost identical to this one. It's a pretty low-end 6 cu-ft model and is perfect for my usual needs (which is mostly just carrying bark around a couple of times a year).

Specifically, the metal rim of the wheel bends under the weight, which lets the wheel wobble side to side, which then breaks the nylon bearing. Before I buy a third wheel, I thought I'd re-evaluate my options.

Am I better off buying a heavier-duty wheelbarrow? Any recommendations on model or brands?

Or could I modify what I have now with a heavier-duty wheel?

I see a conversion kit if I wanted to go to a 2-wheeled mode, but I prefer the 1 wheel for maneuverability. (Plus, I'd spend $70 on the kit and new wheel, when I could get a whole new wheelbarrow for less.)

Or... should I just accept that I can't fill a wheelbarrow to capacity with heavy dirt? Are there listings of specific weight limits?
#2
Old 08-07-2013, 02:11 PM
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Don't fill it all the way. Heavy dirt, rocks, bricks, wheelbarrows are not always designed to take a full load of the heaviest stuff you can fit in it. Certainly not the budget models, maybe a contractor model that goes for twice the price.

Resign yourself to make a bunch of extra trips, but hey, that's more exercise!
#3
Old 08-07-2013, 02:55 PM
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Yeah... I guess I should restrain myself. I can deal with the extra trips, as long as they are trips hauling dirt and not trips to the hardware store for new wheels.

But if anyone has any other recommendations, I'm all for it. Even $200 for a new wheelbarrow might be worthwhile if it's one I'll have for the next 20 years.
#4
Old 08-07-2013, 03:00 PM
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also the more you put a heavy load in the harder it is to control and move. i think the most strain on your body in moving dirt is moving an overfilled wheelbarrow.

another device to move dirt, in certain situations, is a plastic sled. you need smooth grass to make the moving easy. you don't have to raise the shovel as high to load though you do have to shovel it twice to unload. if some ground is rutty then it can be easier than moving a wheelbarrow over it.
#5
Old 08-07-2013, 03:05 PM
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It's likely not a great quality wheelbarrow, so as the others say, don't fill it so high. If you get a new one, check around, maybe try a masonry supply to ask for a recommendation. The one's at the big box stores are light duty, not meant to last. A friend of mine just found an old mason's wheelbarrow probably decades old. The wheel fork has two heavy iron diagonal braces keeping it aligned and in place. I need a new wheel barrow, but I haven't picked anything up yet because I'm looking for something made to those old school standards.
#6
Old 08-07-2013, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Yeah... I guess I should restrain myself. I can deal with the extra trips, as long as they are trips hauling dirt and not trips to the hardware store for new wheels.

But if anyone has any other recommendations, I'm all for it. Even $200 for a new wheelbarrow might be worthwhile if it's one I'll have for the next 20 years.
Next time you are at the hardware store, check out the bigger, sturdier models. $200 should get you a top-notch one.
But still, don't overload it with heavy clay soil. If you feel like the load is too small, go ahead and run instead of walking.

Last edited by aNewLeaf; 08-07-2013 at 03:19 PM.
#7
Old 08-07-2013, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
also the more you put a heavy load in the harder it is to control and move. i think the most strain on your body in moving dirt is moving an overfilled wheelbarrow.

another device to move dirt, in certain situations, is a plastic sled. you need smooth grass to make the moving easy. you don't have to raise the shovel as high to load though you do have to shovel it twice to unload. if some ground is rutty then it can be easier than moving a wheelbarrow over it.
I've mostly been gauging the weight to put in the wheelbarrow by what's comfortable for me to control. Obviously, I can handle more dirt than it can. Maybe it's just my manly physique

The sled would be a cool idea, but definitely not workable in this setup. I have to cross a foot bridge and go between two trees before I get back to my dumping spot in the back.
#8
Old 08-07-2013, 03:43 PM
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What are you doing with the dirt once it's been heaped into the wheelbarrow in the first place? I'm thinking that the length of the "full" trip will make a big difference in the wear & tear on the wheel bearings etc.
#9
Old 08-07-2013, 04:05 PM
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I've been helping a friend remove dirt from below his house. He's been expanding his basement. A couple of times we have rented a dirt conveyor like this and set it up on an angle through an exterior hole in the wall. It runs up to the back of his pickup truck.
I about 6 hours with just two guys and two shovels we removed 6 pickup truck loads of dirt. It took longer to drive the dirst to the dumpsite than it did to fill it.

Last edited by Hampshire; 08-07-2013 at 04:05 PM.
#10
Old 08-07-2013, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
.....
Specifically, the metal rim of the wheel bends under the weight, which lets the wheel wobble side to side, which then breaks the nylon bearing. Before I buy a third wheel, I thought I'd re-evaluate my options.

Am I better off buying a heavier-duty wheelbarrow? Any recommendations on model or brands?

Or could I modify what I have now with a heavier-duty wheel?
Is the bucket body OK? Are the handles OK? The only problem you stated is that the rims are bent. Is it a steel/aluminum/plastic wheel?

Why are the rims bending? Are you allowing the tire pressure to get to low? Maybe you have a slow leak? Check the tire pressure daily.

Are the bearings of poor quality? Does it have bearings or does it use bushings? Have the bearings/bushings failed or out of round?

Buy a better wheel and maybe a tire. You should be fine.

p.s. And maybe a new axle and axle brackets if they're loose.
#11
Old 08-07-2013, 04:34 PM
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You might also consider getting a solid wheel/tire for it as well. I've got one just like yours with a solid tire and can load it up pretty good without the front end getting weird.

Also, coat or tape those handles up! I stretched old bike innertubes over mine to avoid splinters.

That's all I got.....
#12
Old 08-07-2013, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Yeah... I guess I should restrain myself. I can deal with the extra trips, as long as they are trips hauling dirt and not trips to the hardware store for new wheels.

But if anyone has any other recommendations, I'm all for it. Even $200 for a new wheelbarrow might be worthwhile if it's one I'll have for the next 20 years.
Wheelbarrows, trucks, and trains are built to handle only so much weight. 50 lbs of lead take up much less space that 50 lbs of dead leaves. A bucket is a bucket. An 8 cu ft bucket is better for moving leaves and hay. A 4 cu ft bucket gives you more control over a load of rocks or dirt. The weight on the wheel, bearings, axle, and your hands could be the same.

If you've bent the whieel, how did you bend the wheel?
#13
Old 08-07-2013, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
What are you doing with the dirt once it's been heaped into the wheelbarrow in the first place? I'm thinking that the length of the "full" trip will make a big difference in the wear & tear on the wheel bearings etc.
It's going into the back corner of the yard, which backs up to a green belt. In particular, I'm filling in an area that is very marshy most of the year, and which has been a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It's maybe fifty or sixty feet away from the hole I'm digging for the pond. The ground is not exactly flat, but it is covered by a lawn.
#14
Old 08-07-2013, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
Is the bucket body OK? Are the handles OK? The only problem you stated is that the rims are bent. Is it a steel/aluminum/plastic wheel?

Why are the rims bending? Are you allowing the tire pressure to get to low? Maybe you have a slow leak? Check the tire pressure daily.

Are the bearings of poor quality? Does it have bearings or does it use bushings? Have the bearings/bushings failed or out of round?

Buy a better wheel and maybe a tire. You should be fine.

p.s. And maybe a new axle and axle brackets if they're loose.
The bucket and the handles are in great shape - no cracks, dents, splinters or obvious weathering. After the first wheel went out, I even double-checked all of the nuts to be sure that every component of the frame was fully tightened.

The wheel I'm talking about is this model: http://amestruetemper.com/produc...d=32&LineId=31

It's a little hard to see how components connect in the picture there, but at the very center of the wheel (with the little holes running around the hole for axle) you can see what the manufacturer calls a "nylon bearing." The bearing is surrounded by the black metal of the rest of the wheel. The part of the metal that bends is there, directly around the center nylon bearing. The metal basically flares outward so that it's no longer fully in contact with the bearing... at that point, the wheel starts to wobble and eventually the nylon bearing breaks completely free from the rest of the wheel and I'm totally out of luck at that point.

The part that bends is not the rims, and I had been checking the tire pressure. (The old tire would always need topping off if it'd been a few weeks since I last used it, so I'm used to checking on that.)

I do think a better wheel should help, but I'm not sure about the best replacement.
#15
Old 08-07-2013, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
.....It's a little hard to see how components connect in the picture there, but at the very center of the wheel (with the little holes running around the hole for axle) you can see what the manufacturer calls a "nylon bearing." The bearing is surrounded by the black metal of the rest of the wheel. The part of the metal that bends is there, directly around the center nylon bearing. The metal basically flares outward so that it's no longer fully in contact with the bearing... at that point, the wheel starts to wobble and eventually the nylon bearing breaks completely free from the rest of the wheel and I'm totally out of luck at that point.

The part that bends is not the rims,

I do think a better wheel should help, but I'm not sure about the best replacement.
OK, the "nylon bearing" is your weak point. Get a wheel with ball bearings. Some are "rebuildable" (a simple proceedure) and some are "life time", whatever that means. Metal bushings beat nylon bushings every time and ball bearings beat bushings.

Ace Hardware, or any "real" hardware store, should have contractor grade wheels.

This model has ball bearings.

http://acehardware.com/product/i...598682.1260442

The tread pattern on the tire might help. Ribbed tires are mounted on wheels that are designed for lighter-duty work. Knobby tires are mounted on rims that are usually designed for heavier-duty work.
#16
Old 08-07-2013, 06:13 PM
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yeah a nylon bearing is good for a weed/grass/leaves hauling wheelbarrow.

if you want to haul anything heavy you need metal ball bearings.
#17
Old 08-07-2013, 06:27 PM
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I move a lot of dirt and clay and rocks and other detritus around here at my little part of heaven and I strongly recommend that anyone who wishes to actually do this on a regular basis choose a wheelbarrow with two solid rubber wheels. One of the hidden stresses that occurs when a human lifts weight with a single pivot point is the amount of lateral stress it puts on the human's back. Two wheels allow the body to more easily carry large weights with less stress. Solid wheels are more expensive but they pay off in the long run.

http://lowes.com/Lawn-Care-Lands.../N-1z11p6l/pl#!
#18
Old 08-07-2013, 10:19 PM
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A good contractor's barrow will cost you less than $100 if you buy it used from a rental yard .

Quote:
You might also consider getting a solid wheel/tire for it as well
Yes to this, or foam filled tires.
#19
Old 08-08-2013, 07:53 AM
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My dad had a huge old barrow with a solid iron wheel. No idea how old that puppy was, but it could handle anything you threw at it. We left it under the porch when we sold his old place 15 yrs ago - wouldn't be surprised if it were still there!
#20
Old 08-08-2013, 08:09 AM
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I use a wheelbarrow quite frequently for very short distances, anyway, but have wised up some for the longer distances I had to go with it. Nowadays, I use my riding lawn mower that has the el-cheapo trailer that rides behind it. I only paid $20.00 for it used. I can put the same amount of load in it as the wheelbarrow, and take it where it needs to go, which is often hundreds of feet away. Trailer not nearly as strong of steel construction as some wheelbarrows, but it does the job just fine.
#21
Old 08-08-2013, 08:14 AM
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No to solid tires.
I worked construction when I was first out of high school. We would often have to move wheelbarrows fully of wet cement or other such items.
Once while attempting to patch a tire I asked why not solid. The answer is that with a heavy load the inflated tire acts like a shock absorber and has much lower rolling resistance over rough ground with a full load. The guys on the job site told me that solid tires are a mistake that only gets made once. You learn quickly.
In any event the tire is not the point of failure the nylon bearing is.
I would bet if you checked Grainger.Com you find a wheel to fit you needs.
I have never seen ball bearings on a wheelbarrow. I suspect what you will find is a bronze sleeve which will work just fine.
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#22
Old 08-08-2013, 08:31 AM
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This one looks like the best one for the money, IMHO.

And I think I should know, I've pushed many a wheelbarrow full of concrete and dirt in my day.
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#23
Old 08-08-2013, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
No to solid tires.
I worked construction when I was first out of high school. We would often have to move wheelbarrows fully of wet cement or other such items.
Once while attempting to patch a tire I asked why not solid. The answer is that with a heavy load the inflated tire acts like a shock absorber and has much lower rolling resistance over rough ground with a full load. The guys on the job site told me that solid tires are a mistake that only gets made once. You learn quickly.
In any event the tire is not the point of failure the nylon bearing is.
I would bet if you checked Grainger.Com you find a wheel to fit you needs.
I have never seen ball bearings on a wheelbarrow. I suspect what you will find is a bronze sleeve which will work just fine.
(bolding mine)

I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this point. A properly inflated wheelbarrow tire does offer some (read, very little) 'shock absorbtion', but not much.
The primary advantage of a pnuematic tire is that on softer ground, (when properly inflated) they will offer decreased rolling resistance.
The trouble with pnuematic tires is that they seem to always be underinflated, which leads to higher rolling resistance.
(And it seems to never fail that when the time comes to get out the wheelbarrow to use it, the damn thing has a flat tire and needs patching. )
I speak from many years of experience moving dirt and barrows full of wet concrete.
I've been a general contractor for 20+ years and all of my wheelbarrow tires (I have 5 wheelbarrows.) get filled with foam the first time that they go flat.
The loss of 'shock absorbtion' does not outweigh the increase in rolling resistance over soft ground, and for that matter, you actually get decreased rolling resistance with a solid tire over hard/solid ground. (Think of a railroad wheel on a steel rail.) YMMV
#24
Old 08-08-2013, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DummyGladHands View Post
A good contractor's barrow will cost you less than $100 if you buy it used from a rental yard .
Yes to this, or foam filled tires.
(bolding mine)

Check out the link in my previous post (#22).
#25
Old 08-08-2013, 11:42 AM
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I like my Gorilla Cart. The handle turns around to become a trailer hitch to tow behind the mower. I've hauled it full of bricks and broken up chunks of concrete. And it tips up to dump.
#26
Old 08-08-2013, 12:21 PM
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Thanks for the advice, everyone.

In doing a little more looking around, I think I'm going to with this Marathon contractor grade wheel. I'm not heading down to the store until tomorrow, though, so there's time to change my mind.

The wheel on the Kobalt model suggested by JBDivmstr also looks like it might be good, but I didn't see any mention of ball bearings. I think it just uses a steel sleeve around the axle. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I also can't find any cite that gives me a weight capacity to compare it to the Marathon wheel suggested previously (500 lbs) or the Marathon wheel I just linked to (600 lbs).

Of course, I have to take the weight with a grain of salt. The wheels I've been using appear to be rated at 300 lbs. I suppose there can be that much pressure when in action, but I'm obviously not filling it anywhere near that full.

I haven't ever had a flat-free wheelbarrow tire, but I think I want to try one. I'll see what I think of it after using it. From the reviews I've read online, it looks like Rick and JBDivmstr represent the two most common opinions - everyone seems skewed one way or the other.

Going back to the issue of ball bearings... some reviews online have talked about needing to oil and otherwise maintain the bearings. I have to admit I'm ignorant on that subject. Any tips on what I need to do to keep everything in good working order?
#27
Old 08-08-2013, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
.....Going back to the issue of ball bearings... some reviews online have talked about needing to oil and otherwise maintain the bearings. I have to admit I'm ignorant on that subject. Any tips on what I need to do to keep everything in good working order?
Here's a pic of how ball bearings operate and a little info on how to to maintain skateboard bearings. The principles are the same.

http://entertainment.howstuffworks.c...skateboard.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_be...ing_conditions

The quality of the steel used to make ball bearings and bushings/sleeves makes a difference. Cheap steel is no better than the nylon bushing you had.

For a wheel operating in a dirty environment it's best to have "sealed" bearings. The wheel should turn smoothly. Lift the wheel off the ground and give it a spin. (You could mark the tire to make it easier to see how many revolutions it makes for future reference but a bearing that goes bad will be obvious. The wheel will turn much slower and/or make grinding noises.)

Ask the store if you're buying sealed bearings and how to properly maintain/lube them. Hopefully they'll know. Some bearings are "press-fit" meaning they're pressed into place under pressure (a C-clamp, jack, or hammer). Some are held in place by a washer and nut. If they're pressed into place you'll need to pull or pound them out to maintain/replace them.

Sometimes there are water tight zirk fittings to add grease (but that's kinda olde skool) and you'll need a grease gun to force grease into the fitting to grease the bearing. And you'll need the proper grease.

http://saeproducts.com/zerk.html

There are also dry-lubricant bearings that might not need any maintainence. When they go bad, you replace them.

If the tire/wheel reviews mention bearing failure, I would probably not buy that particular wheel.
#28
Old 08-08-2013, 02:13 PM
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Get a red one. So much depends on it.
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#29
Old 08-08-2013, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Get a red one. So much depends on it.
Everyone knows red ones are faster.
#30
Old 08-08-2013, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Get a red one. So much depends on it.
Damn! Mine is orange, so maybe I've been wasting my time thinking about wheels.
#31
Old 08-08-2013, 02:33 PM
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It's a Yard King! That is a quality barrow.
#32
Old 08-08-2013, 05:04 PM
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I don't think pneumatic tires on a wheelbarrow are a good idea. They end up underinflated, or flat, and they decrease stability. In my lifetime I've only seen pneumatic tires used in cheap wheelbarrows, because the wheels cost less than solid ones. My experiences are limited though, that may be just coincidence.
#33
Old 08-08-2013, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Damn! Mine is orange, so maybe I've been wasting my time thinking about wheels.
Just be sure not to leave it out in the rain near the white chickens.
#34
Old 08-08-2013, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
Everyone knows red ones are faster.
Yeah but they get more speeding tickets.
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#35
Old 08-11-2013, 12:15 AM
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I just wanted to thank everyone for all the advice again. I went ahead and bought the contractor-grade wheel I linked to (which apparently Marathon only makes for Lowe's).

20 loads of dirt later, and it's still working. I am keeping the loads a little smaller just to be on the safe side.

The included spacers were too short, but I had the spacers from the previous wheel and trimmed off a little from those to make them a perfect fit for the new wheel. The new wheel is also bigger (at 15.5" instead of 13.5") and so I have to keep on eye on the metal bracket at the front of the wheelbarrow. If it gets tweaked out of position when I dump the dirt out, I have to tweak it back or it rubs against the tire. I think I can do a little modification to remove that annoyance, but it's a minor issue.
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