“One of those great inevitabilities of working around the home and garden is moving is moving stuff. Bulky stuff. Heavy stuff. Awkward stuff. Now you can do it the hard way like this, or you can get smart and do it the easy way.
A trolley or a wheelbarrow may not be something that you pull out of your shed every week but you’ll certainly be glad to have one, when you do. Here are a few tips on picking the right one for your needs and using them safely.
To work out which is best for you the smart starting point is to get a handle on the major difference between the functions of the two.
Put simply, a wheelbarrow is best suited to loose loads, while a trolley is ideal for bulkier single item loads.
So first lets have a look at the important parts of a wheelbarrow that you need to consider when you’re shopping for one.
The major thing you need to consider first, is the tray. You’ll find poly trays or to give them their full name, UV stabilised polypropylene or steel trays. These are generally galvanised or powder coated. The difference between a poly and a steel can become a bit of a Holden vs. Ford thing.
Traditionalists are likely to stick with steel as it does tend to be easier to clean, particularly if you’re mixing cement. But in many respects poly is more durable as it tends to flex without denting, so it is ideal for bricks and rubble.
Barrows are mainly described by their tray volume. Both of these are 100L which is pretty typical for a medium to large sized barrow.
A wheelbarrow uses to principles of leverage to lift, so it stands to reason that you need comfortable and strong handles. Your hands should fit around easily and not feel like they’re slipping.
There are two material types. Tubular steel with rubberised grips and the old school hardwood handle. Personally I prefer the hardwood handles. They absorb the bumps and bounces a little bit more so that means less stress on you during a heavy-duty barrow workout.
If you’re after a heavy-duty barrow, it’s important to look at more than just the tray. The stays, these bits down to the front here, and the legs need to be pretty solid. Make sure there’s good cross-bracing too. Remember the legs don’t just take the weight when resting, they work as brakes as well. Here’s a bit you mightn’t notice but is very important. The baseboard ties the frame together and stops the whole barrow from feeling wobbly. The more substantial the base board, the more heavy duty the barrow.
And finally we arrive at the important part, the wheel. In many respects it’s a case of the bigger the better as the larger the wheel, the easier it is to get the barrow moving.
This one’s a 16 inch diameter. The tire width and profile is important too. For garden or landscape use you want a wide square or semi-square profile this one is 6 and a half inches wide. Wider square tires wont sink into lawns, soil or gravel as much as a narrow, rounded one.
And a couple of quick barrow use tips. Never fill your barrow so you can’t see the path ahead or the load is beyond your comfortable lift ability. Remember it’s not just about the lifting. You have to be able to push and control your barrow as well. Lift with your legs and not your back, so bend those knees. If you lose control of a load, do not try to stop it, just let it go. It’s easy to forget how heavy a load can be and once you’ve lost the advantage of leverage, it’s unlikely you’ll have the strength to save a tipping wheelbarrow without injuring yourself.
Here’s a simple trick for getting a bulky object into a wheelbarrow. Lay the barrow beside the load and roll the load into the tray. Then use the legs as a lever and roll it upright.
And what about steps? Well you can bump a barrow up or down a set of steps but you’re risking losing the load and it’s potentially dangerous. Or you can get one of these very spiffy do dads, a fold-out 2.2m ramp. It only takes seconds to put in place and you’ve got safe, heavy-duty access.
Now a trolley is much more single purpose, but very useful none the less. In many respects you’re looking for a lot of similar features to what you’re looking for in a wheelbarrow. You want comfortable, strong handles. You’ll find a range of configurations and often a lot of combinations of each such as this one, with dual handles and p-handle. A strong welded frame is a must and this one has load guards to help prevent scratching.
When it comes to load capacity, trolleys are rated by the maximum weight they can handle. Now this one is rated a 250 kilos, that puts it into the heavy-duty category and that makes it ideal for virtually anything you need to shift around the home and garden.
The size of the load you can carry is determined also by the size of the toe plate. It should be at least one third of the depth of the load. Tire type is very important. If you use your trolley mainly outdoors, then you’ll want wider tires. And rather than hard wheels, pneumatic are better outside as they roll over things like rocks and twigs without getting stuck. These tires are also gel-filled, so no flat tires.
If you plan to carry bags a lot then you’ll need a trolley with wheel guards so the load doesn’t rub on the tires.
And a few trolley use tips for you. To get a load onto your trolley, tilt the load forward slightly and then slide the toe plate forward underneath before tilting back. Avoid top-heavy loads, especially if the centre of gravity is above the handles and always strap taller loads onto the trolley.
Always face the load on your trolley and never overload the trolley so you can’t see where you’re going. And steps, trolleys can handle them quite well, just take it slow and steady, or better still, use a trolley with stair-climbing wheels.
Well that’s about it really. Oh but don’t forget, always make sure you store your gear clean and dry and put it away somewhere out of the weather. So, happy and safe shifting.”