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Wheelbarrow vs 2-wheeled cart

 
Posts: 91
Location: Winters, California
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Which do you find more useful and easy to use on a small homestead? I need to buy something to transport small amounts of compost, used straw bedding, feed, etc. If it makes a difference, I am 5’4” and have decent upper body strength for a woman but not compared to a man.
 
pollinator
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We have both. I prefer the 2 wheeled cart for most jobs, and if I had to own only 1 it would be the cart.

You won’t mix concrete or mortar in a cart, but for most other jobs I prefer it. A well made cart is designed to carry weight over a well-placed axle. You can easily lift and move this weight with no strain. They are stable for loading also.

A wheelbarrow will tip over if you don’t keep it well-balanced as you move the material, and that gets challenging if you have any uneven ground. To avoid that tip over, there is greater strain on the body.
 
gardener
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These plywood garden carts with 2 bicycle type wheels are the best from a balancing and terrain standpoint. They are awesome,  but the plywood can rot out.

The front panel slides out to dump the load
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pollinator
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Cart is easier, wheel barrow more versatile, especially in getting around tight corners.

Wheel barrows carry the load higher - sometimes that matters. There is a deep larger type of barrow and a smaller, shallower, "flatter" type of barrow. Both are useful. The small one is easier to work with and more appropriate to carry stacks of stuff and work out of.

Load the wheel barrow to balance - ie. don't put all the weight forward of the wheel or you're in for a surprise! Also, don't put all the weight at the handles or you'll be lifting a lot more than you need to. When wheeling, keep your arms STRAIGHT.  Make adjustments with your shoulders, not your elbows and never with your wrists. If buying a wheel barrow, get one with a good wheel and look at the loop brace that's usually found across the front of the wheel - the closer to the wheel and the higher the brace is, the easier the barrow will be to turn and dump.

Regards,
Rufus
 
pollinator
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Full discolusure:  I've got a common wheelbarrow and a common garden cart.  I haven't tried one of these, but it seems quite interesting.  Though I have no way to recommend this, but I would say have a look at one in person, if there's a business near you that sells them. I have to admit I'm intrigued by what I've seen about it online.

The pic shows the thing.  The link shows it in action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=75&v=mZCioJFpnqk

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gardener
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I've used this cart,  it's pretty damned good.
The one my cousin had,  it was great for moving concrete blocks and moving soil, bags of sand and gravel,  etc.
I would choose it over a wheel barrow, except for the mixing/dumping of concrete.
The furniture moving slide under lip thing works great for moving garbage cans of tools.

It might even be able to move a IBC tote full of leaves,straw or something else that wasn't too dense.

 
wayne fajkus
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I saw that worx cart video and was impressed. When i saw it in person it seemed very small. Like for hay as the OP stated. It would have to be bales, not loose.
 
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We have 14 wheelbarrows, we use them all. Sometimes at the same time. We have one cart, we use it occasionally. The barrows are much better, and last much longer, for carrying heavier loads. The carts are for light duty stuff. If you have enough money, get both. If money is limited, the barrow is a better longer lasting investment. Also the tires on the carts are thinner, so if you have thorns or puncturing stuff, you'll have more flats with the cart.  ~~Another option that is nice for "weaker" people is a two wheel wheelbarrow. More expensive, but more stabile.
 
gardener
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I have a Gorilla Cart and have really enjoyed it.

I had a similar issue as the reviewer did in the YouTube video below when I moved an extremely heavy load, but I was able to fix it myself though with a minor adjustment.

I got one a few years ago, and most of the people who have used mine bought themselves one.

They are super easy to maneuver with light loads, can be pulled with one hand, and can also be towed.

 
pollinator
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We have a four wheel one like the one pictured above and several wheelbarrows, the wheelbarrows win hands down. the cart takes up to 200kg but 100kg in the cart is almost impossible to pull, even 50kg and it becomes very hard especially on grass, 4 wheels is a lot of drag to overcome,whereas I can move the wheelbarrow much easier even full of earth.  I also find you cannot turn it tightly as it will tip, and you can't go in one way load it and then come out the other way without turning it round, and it HATES rough ground.
The two wheeler might be lighter to pull than the 4 but it's still going to be harder to maneuver than a wheelbarrow, so I think it will depend on how much space you have for turning.
 
pollinator
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Personally I prefer 2-4 wheel carts over wheel barrows.

I just don't like the tipsiness of single wheel barrows.

I do have the Worx Aero cart as well as several garden carts and indeed a wheel barrow too.

The Worx cart is smaller but it is designed to be able to fit through doorways. It is a multi tool, and like any jack of trades it tends to not excel at any one task, but makes up for versatility.

I do want to get something like the Gorilla Cart. I have been looking at a few different types like it and hope to pick one this spring. I have seen there are issues with the Gorilla version.
 
wayne fajkus
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I like 2 wheels over 4 wheels. Mainly for pushing it backwards, which is inevitable. 4 wheels makes it very difficult. 4 wheel wagons like to go only forward.
 
pollinator
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With flat and even ground I use my two wheeled wheelbarrow. It can be used with one hand. I can move heavier loads too since no force is needed for balance. I also use it to mix stuff as it won't tip over easily. Its major drawback is that on uneven ground it's almost useless because the wheels follow every dip and bump.

My one wheel wheelbarrow feels comfortable on any terrain as long as I don't load it too much. It's more manoeuvrable in tight spaces and my garden has a lot of those.

In my situation if I had to choose one I'd go with the single wheel model.  I don't have to choose so I have both :)

Oh, and with flat-free tires please!
 
pollinator
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When I was a teen my dad bought a Garden Way Cart kit (from Rodale if I remember right). I loved it, and I was a teenager. We had 5 acres, fairly smooth ground, and we hauled everything in that cart, all the time—including not-so-small children. That was in Florida and it did eventually start to fall apart at the edges but it was so great while it lasted. I’ve wanted my own ever since, but they’re so expensive. I finally have one now (what? 35 years later?) LOL I built it myself. (Okay, DH helped a little.) I found plans in The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects by Spike Carlsen. Strangely, I couldn’t find free ones online, but the ones in the (Kindle) book were really worth the reasonable price. I didn’t use the specified bicycle wheels; I bought solid ones from somebody on Amazon. I also used screws instead of nails and used a 5/8” sheet of plywood instead of 3/4” (because I had one on hand.) I kind of regret using that, but it worked. I’d post a picture, but it’s dark and cold and snow-drifty outside. :’-( Maybe I’ll get a photo tomorrow and edit it into this comment.) I did paint it with good quality outdoor paint. The Garden Way one was coated with a light coat of stain. Hopefully the thick, dark-brown paint will be more protective.

Aside from mixing concrete, I’m not sure what I’d even want a regular wheelbarrow for. We have a lot of Hills and uneven ground. This is much better than a wheelbarrow. It’s even usable in snow, but a pick-up truck is definitely better for that. LOL. A sled would work, I suppose... The pick-up holds more bales, though. This cart should be able to handle three 45lb square bales relatively easily with one stacked on top. It’s easy to push, pull, turn, and a lot easier to navigate uphill than a wheelbarrow. The front end is sloped out, and the cart will sit on the front end unsupported, so—very easy to unload. One-handed operation, no problem. If you need a wheelbarrow for some of the things wheelbarrows work better for (mixing concrete is the only thing that springs to mind, but it is important) then I’d try to buy one at a yard sale, Craig’s List, etc. You don’t need a high-end wheelbarrow if you build this cart.

You can build this cart with one sheet of 3/4” outdoor plywood, a 1x4 board, a closet rod, two 20” wheels, a threaded rod that fits into the wheels, and the hardware to hold the wheels on (plus screws and wood glue of course). You need a circular saw and a drill/screwdriver and appropriate bits. A pencil... that’s pretty much it as far as I can remember. Paint recommended. It was an easy project, I thought. So worth it!
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Rufus Laggren
pollinator
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To add one more thought:

The single wheel barrow moves over any kind of ground better than most multi-wheel carts simply because, when moving, it remains upright on its one wheel w/out any muss or fuss regardless of the slope of the ground. A good wheel barrow will have a large fat air filled tube-type tire which handles soft and bumpy ground easily.  But it does require a  somewhat  level spot to stand, as will any of the carts.


Rufus
 
Juniper Zen
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The 4 wheeled carts and plywood 2 wheelers wouldn't work for my situation because I need to navigate tight turns, but it's good to have the info for others. I think I'll get a cart like this:
 
pollinator
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The rubbermaid carts are fairly ubiquitous around stables in these parts. Lots of volume, really nice when dealing with light bulky stuff. My parents have one and greatly prefer it to the wheelbarrow. (a cart, not a stable, thank FSM!)

As Rufus describes the single wheel barrows shine on rougher terrain.

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/rubbermaid-5642-big-wheel-farm-cart-7-1-2-cu-ft
 
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It seems to heavily depend on the terrain and how good the different lanes are and what you need to transport? If you can afford, take both. One can never have enough of them.



This looks nice.

I like these two wheeled Japanese barrows, though they are not cheap if quality built. The biggest problem with all those wheelbarrows, as long as its plain, they do a good job but a soon as it gets steeply, especially with mud and so on it can get a pita if you have >50 kg loaded...;-(
 
Posts: 160
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I want to make myself a new wheelbarrow sometime this year. I saw this article which has some really cool pictures of eastern designs that could be quite useful:

Low-Tech Magazine Wheelbarrows

I was thinking of some sort of design using the same principle of a large central wheel that holds the weight and is very maneuverable to go down a path in the woods and perhaps up a gradual slope. My idea is to use some sort of steel bar or tubing to make a frame with 2 or 3 hoops on each side to hold buckets. This way I could individually load the buckets, load them in to the wheelbarrow, and move stuff around my property. It would be nice to make something out of aluminum with some steel buckets for light weight and good strength, but using what I have on hand and making a functioning prototype with plastic bucket might be my first goal.

I don't want to be cutting wide paths or running gas vehicles all over my property, so something relatively streamlined for moving sand, clay, bricks, tools or whatever else I come up with would be nice. I could omit the buckets and strap lumber or other longer items to the hoops close to the center of gravity. I could always come up with a two-wheeled cart solution with a single large cargo area for moving large items that won't fit in a bucket. I'm not sure what wheel I would use, perhaps a homemade wooden one or even salvage one from a dirt bike. Just spitballing some ideas I've had so it might inspire more creativity.

Another thing I saw that would be really great for someone moving lots of materials back and forth from the same locations is some sort of small rail system (think like a coal mine cart). I might eventually do something similar up one of the longer sides of my property. There is a really interesting YouTube channel that has some ideas in this space. Here is one video showing work on setting up a monorail:

 
Joel Bercardin
pollinator
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There's some discussion about the Chinese trad wheelbarrow concept here, including a video demo-ing a modern manufactured derivative...
https://permies.com/t/55649/Trad-Chinese-single-wheel-barrow

Yes, it's a good fundamental for some functions.  Have to admit I myself have not built one yet.
 
Joel Bercardin
pollinator
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Francis Mallet wrote:In my situation if I had to choose one I'd go with the single wheel model.  I don't have to choose so I have both :)

Oh, and with flat-free tires please!


Since you mentioned "flat-free tires" I thought I'd say that I like them a lot.  I've put them on our wheelbarrow and on a cart of the type you pull with a quad or garden tractor.  It can be a real pain to fix flats or even just have to fill-up tires that have lost pressure.

I'm in Canada, and can't say anything about sources in the U.S.  One Canadian source specializing in all sorts & sizes of flat-free tires is Levac Flat Free Tires Ltd, Sarsfield, Ontario.  Princess Auto (a chain that has locations in many Canadian cities) seems to carry only one or two of the most common wheelbarrow sizes, but it's worth exploring what they're offering and comparing prices.
 
pioneer
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Steve Thorn wrote:I have a Gorilla Cart and have really enjoyed it.

I had a similar issue as the reviewer did in the YouTube video below when I moved an extremely heavy load, but I was able to fix it myself though with a minor adjustment.

I got one a few years ago, and most of the people who have used mine bought themselves one.

They are super easy to maneuver with light loads, can be pulled with one hand, and can also be towed.



i agree with steve 100%  LOVE MY GORILLA CART!!! we use it daily...2-3 times daily!!! can pull it by hand with a pretty heavy load (mulch, straw, dirt, firewood...lucy) ...or with minimal work, can hook it up to the 4 wheeler for heavier jobs (moving rocks and granddaughters) or jobs further from the house (mending fencing).  marty bought ours as a gift for me last year and this has become our most used tool on the place.  that joker is a LOT more stout than i thought it would be when i looked at it first...im tough on our stuff...and this has been a good investment for our homestead.
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Carts and wheelbarrows both, of several sizes, depending on the task and the terrain! I'm constantly looking for better ways to move things round! I recently got what is called a "muck" cart, that I like very well and fills another hauling niche.  It's a sort of hand truck, with adjustable length handles, made of heavy weight tubular steel.  There are fat little balloon tires, decent clearance, and it has a bail that can swing up to hold a 70 quart bucket or the like (sold separately) or stay down for other loads.  And, there is a kickstand, so it will stand up with a load on, unlike other handtrucks.  It holds 350 lbs, very narrow wheelbase to get through barn aisles.  It really fills a gap in hauling for me. You have to assemble it, which was easy, and the components seem well made.  I haven't abused it long enough to really tell, but I think it will stand up.  

Here is one place that carries these, there are others.  Bucket is also listed there.  https://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=4a5499d1-fc8c-4d8e-b0fc-fa9e7151f53f&sfb=1&itemguid=f3bab2f0-5a83-4927-a91f-d0a515627c9a&utm_content=43933&ccd=IFM003&CAWELAID=120295250000431225&CATARGETID=120295250000465561&cadevice=t&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw4CfiZ3h4AIVWyCtBh3DfA7BEAQYBSABEgInMfD_BwE
 
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Agree with the review on the Gorilla Cart - worth the money - watch for sale at Tractor Supply - we got 25% off the list on this at one of their sales (rewards program - free to sign up)

Couple of things to watch though:
1) monitor tire pressure! if the tires get low they will get ruined - put the non-inflatable type on if that happens - well worth the extra $$ (available at Tractor Supply or Harbor Freight which sometimes have massive price drops on the tires/wheels but often not announced)
2) the dump body is not indestructible - ours has become cracked, chipped, and likely will need to be replaced this year after 3 seasons of average use around the garden

Otherwise it is certainly better than a wheel barrow, carries a substantial load - especially if you add a set of stake boards which you can make as tall as you'd like, and is about as large as most wheelbarrows.
The dump feature is fairly easy to use with slightly more effort than a wheelbarrow due to the difference in leverage. Can be a bit difficult to lift with just the release handle if you have a heavy load
- if attached to tow vehicle, it is easier as that keeps the cart from moving while you are trying to lift the dump bed.
 
pioneer
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Jim Fry wrote:Also the tires on the carts are thinner, so if you have thorns or puncturing stuff, you'll have more flats with the cart.


I have a lot of that puncturing stuff and therefore have experienced many flat tires on my cart. That's the main reason I use my wheelbarrow most of the time.
 
Posts: 13
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I had to remove a number of larger rocks from a newly cleared yard and found that a large two wheeled wheelbarrow was easiest to roll rocks onto and move them through soft dirt.  Though sometimes I had to turn around and pull it.  I also noticed that after using a cart with a loop type handle for a day that my fingers were sore, stiff and the joints seemed to loosen up some.  Maybe I needed a harness.  
 
gardener & hugelmaster
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We have a cart like in Wayne's picture. Wore out another just like it. Very useful & easy to move over lumpy terrain. BUT our 2 wheeled wheelbarrow has lasted longer & is used more often. It has a slightly smaller volume but can handle more weight & is easier to maneuver. It get's my vote.
 
pollinator
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We use several types of things. We have a two wheel, wheelbarrow that holds 10 cubic feet, great for moving soil and compost sort of loose martial. My husband build a compost sifter that fits over the top so we can sift material right into the barrow. We also  have a metal cart with fold down sides which we use for not just garden/farm work, but for me, I use it to load groceries  and tow it all the house. I have a heart issue, so I carry much at a time. My father-in-law also gave us a used cart to attach to our riding mower which is a big help when moving a pile of rocks. It also is a big help to my husband who is on O2 and he can put his tank in the cart and get around better. We did pick up one of those plywood carts with the bicycle wheels from the dump, with the intention of replacing the plywood which had rotted. The grandchildren have so much fun wheeling the wheels and axle around our place that we haven't rebuilt after all. I also use a very low tech thing to move small amounts of martials, An old child's plastic sled, another dump find. We just added a tow rope, and I can pull that all over our place. It's great for raked up grass clippings to add to the  compost pile.
I just bought a shed full of garden supplies that came in the shed I bought from a closed garden center just down the road from us and in it were several, two sizes  of these carts, I'll add a photo. We just got it in late fall, so we've only tried it one when we gathered fallen leaves from my in-laws, since we don't have many hardwoods here. It worked pretty well, you can clip a bag inside the cart if you're filling multiple bags. I selling the garden stock that she sent with the shed to pay myself back for the cost of the shed. A 14'x32' shed, on a on a mobile home trailer.
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Isa Delahunt
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Another thing I just remembered to say is that wheelbarrows are build for tall people, generally.  If you are short, they are very difficult to use.  A tall person bends over, or bends at the knees, and lifts up on the handles.  When they are standing up, arms straight and fully extended, the back support on the wheelbarrow is off the ground the weight is on the wheel and viola, they're good to go.  I am 4'10".  When I am standing straight up, holding the handles of the wheelbarrow, my arms are already at full extension.  I lift up, and to clear the ground in back, I have to lift my shoulders way up, and my arms are bent halfway up to my armpits.  It's bad body mechanics, and not as stable as it ought to be--I've lost many loads to save tweaking my back or wrists.  It's possible to choke up on the handles, but I'd have to be right at the back of the body to be at the right height, and round off the handles there as well.  Also bad physics.  I tend to use carts and the like more, because they work better for short folks.  
 
pollinator
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I find wheelbarrows much more durable than those 4 wheel carts.   The carts only last for 3 to 5 years before handle hinges and steering linkages start to wear out and fail. I've gone through several of these carts whereas I have wheelbarrows bought in the 1980's that are still in service.  The only failures I've had on wheelbarrows is their tire rubber starts to crack and leak after a decade of use, necessitating the installation of an inner tube and sometimes the bucket rusts out holes necessitating the use of jb weld to patch them up.
 
master gardener
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Personally, as a 120 lb wimp, my #1 preferred set of wheels for many tasks on our farm is one of my two adapted hand-trucks. I move mulch and manure in garbage cans, and other things in buckets. The only adaptation to the grey hand-truck is the addition of an adjustable strap with a clip on it. On uneven ground, things tend to fall off without the strap. The other hand-truck is lighter duty and the platform has been extended with plywood and supported by two chains. The downside is the it can no longer hold anything wider than a garbage can. The upside is that the chains stop the cans from slipping off. I use it a lot in the summer, but its wheels are smaller and more likely to get stuck in the snow and muck we're currently dealing with.

I do use my wheelbarrows (although the second one I got  second-hand had the issue Isa Delahunt mentioned - I was too short to use it. I had a friend carefully increase the bend of the metal handles at the point they meet the barrow support so that when I hold the handles with my arms ~straight, it now runs smoothly). Because I'm not particularly strong in the shoulders, I'm *much* more likely to have a wheel barrow tip on me and dump the entire load. When I'm pushing  the wheelbarrows, my finger strength is also limiting, whereas I have ways of using my body position to compensate with the hand-trucks. I can easily use the trucks by either pushing or pulling them, which is a major asset over our terrain.

Until my husband broke it, I also liked the "feed cart". Its an old running cart adapted to hold two square buckets with some cubbies to hold other useful things I might need. The wheels are narrower than the hand-truck wheels, but they're also larger so they're less likely to fall into chicken holes. It has an excellent balance point over the two rear wheels, so it did a lot of the work for me.

I also made myself a garden cart out of mostly salvaged material. Not being an engineer, it has its faults, but it gets a fair bit of use despite that. Today we used it to move 8 teenager Muscovy ducks (4 in each crate) out of the field. With that large a load, I prefer to have hubby push it as the hill up is fairly steep and at the moment covered with icy snow. Compared to paying $300+ for the really nice garden carts, it earns its keep. It will move larger things like the dog crates, a bale of hay etc, with a very low lift-over height. Occasionally I need to move a bunch of feeders or waterers around and this cart is good for that.

We also have a couple of wagons which I generally avoid using. Even swapping from hand to hand periodically, the asymmetrical nature of pulling a wagon is *much* harder on my back.

hand-trucks.JPG
hand-trucks
hand-trucks
hand-truck-with-two-cans-of-mulch.JPG
I can get that load up our hill twice in one day.
I can get that load up our hill twice in one day.
feed-cart.JPG
I really want to get this fixed, but it need a couple of plastic pieces replaced with metal.
I really want to get this fixed, but it need a couple of plastic pieces replaced with metal.
red-garden-cart.JPG
I admit - it's a Charlie Brown cart, but it still works
I admit - it's a Charlie Brown cart, but it still works
 
Juniper Zen
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I purchased my 2-wheeled wheelbarrow/yard cart and have been pleased with it. I even managed to move straw bales with it, with the help of a bale hook to keep it in place.
19-02-16_yardcart.jpeg
2 wheeled cart
2 wheeled cart
 
Jay Angler
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@ Juniper - that's a very nice looking set of wheels! I've seen some two-wheeled barrows with the wheels much closer, but the version you've bought looks as if it will be very stable. How's it for turning?
 
Josephine Howland
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Jay Angler, I like the idea of the added plywood to the hand cart. I have just like that, and I have been thinking that it really needs an extended base. I like your Charlie Brown cart too.
 
Jay Angler
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@ Josephine Howland - Yes, that plywood/swing chain fix was cheap and *very* useful. The wheels aren't original as it got so much use the originals wore out. The chains are important unless you use a much thicker and better quality plywood than I used.
 
Juniper Zen
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Jay Angler wrote:@ Juniper - that's a very nice looking set of wheels! I've seen some two-wheeled barrows with the wheels much closer, but the version you've bought looks as if it will be very stable. How's it for turning?


I had to do multiple 90 degree turns to get the straw bale in and out of the animal pens, and it was a easy-peasy!
 
pollinator
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I bought a 4 wheel garden cart that is rated for 750 lbs.  I know it will hold that because I've loaded a dozen 60 lb bags of concrete mix on it and used it to transport it to the work site.  I used some scrap lumber to make removable sides for it so my wife has an easy way to transport leaves to the compost bin.

I needed a wheelbarrow and bought one with 2 front wheels and "comfort grips" from Menards.  Having those 2 front wheels sure makes a difference, and the "comfort handles" and metal brace sticking out in front of the wheels make it much easier to dump.  Whoever invented the single wheel wheelbarrow must have made it as a prank gift for the annoying brother in law!
 
pollinator
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I'm a big fan of my Gorilla Evolution cart. Strong, pushes and pulls, rocks up to dump completely, and low center of gravity.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gorilla-Carts-7-cu-ft-Evolution-Poly-Yard-Cart-GCR-7/305093233
 
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I'd like to follow Cindy's advice and build a two-wheeled cart. Thank you for the post on that and for pointing me in the direction of the plans. I've always used a wheelbarrow, but after a back injury, I'm afraid to do that this summer and I need a way to move around materials without hurting myself. Perhaps this is it.
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