Kids cart

When we took our kids to their first festival (Shambino in 2021) Max was only just two years old and Hazel only just four. We decided it would make life much easier if we had some comfy transport for them. Particularly transport they could sleep in if we took them out at night. Also a bonus for carrying all the junk to campsite. So we embarked on our festival cart build.

I considered starting completely from scratch but in the end decided it was much easier to do what most people do and start with a generic “garden trolley”. Having seen many a collapsed trolley with missing wheels at Glastonbury over the years I decided I wanted one that was well over spec for the weight and had big wheels to deal with mud. It was very hard to distinguish online between awful, moderate and good quality ones. We ended up with this;

Ours came from eBay though. It wasn’t cheap(~£130) and I’m not sure I’d fancy loading it up to the claimed 500kg capacity but I was reasonably happy with the quality. We’ve had one tired adult and a couple of toddlers in it with no problem.

Clearly, we couldn’t just leave it as a boring old green trolley so we set about decorating it. We settled on a yellow submarine theme. To make a template I found an image of the Beatles sub from the film and blew it up so that the length was slightly longer than the trolley, printed it out then spray mounted it on cardboard. I used the marvellous Rasterbator website to do the size manipulation and print out. 

I was going to cut the profile out of plywood but I didn’t have any on hand. For some reason I did have a couple of big sheets of 6mm thick black Perspex lying around so I just used them – cut by hand with a fret saw. They weren’t quite long enough so the final profiles are made up of a couple of pieces. The profiles were then bolted to the carts mesh side panels with a load of M4 bolts. This has proved to be very robust and has endured a few festivals worth of kid abuse without damage. Once attached they were painted by my talented wife Evelyn, using acrylics, sealed with some spray over varnish.

We added a couple of baskets cabled tied to the handle end of the trolley as show storage to try and keep mud out of the cart. The mattress is an old one from a cot the kids have grown out of, crudely hacked to size with a bread knife!

I wanted the cart to have a bubble machine at the back. The easiest way to do this would obviously be to buy a cheap battery powered bubble machine. For some reason I didn’t and bought a decent, mains powered, stage bubble machine. Upon taking it apart I discovered the fan for blowing the bubbles was 12V, powered through a crude regulator, while the motor turning the ‘wands’ was 240V straight off the mains feed. I swapped the wand motor for a 12V geared motor equivalent ( Power is provided by a Makita drill battery, through a 12V regulator. The machine is operated by the big yellow arcade button that sits at the back of the cart. Pushing the button triggers a 5 second delay-off timer, so you get 5 seconds of bubbles per push. The buttons lit up while the bubble machine’s running. There’s a switch on the side to disable the button for when we don’t want any bubbles but our cart passengers are being uncooperative. I put an inline fuse on a battery wire just in case we get a short somewhere. There’s no low voltage cut off so in theory it could run the battery low enough to damage it – in practice it’ll run the bubble machine more or less constantly for days.

The 12V regulator also has a USB output in case we need to charge the little USB packs I occasionally use to power other gizmos. We’ve also charged the odd desperate strangers’ phone!

Waterproofing is via a sewed vinyl roof made by Evelyn. This is supported by a 20mm ABS pipe frame – some of this is glued for strength, the rest just pushes together into couplers. It comes to pieces easily when we don’t need it.

The cart’s a massive hit wherever it goes. We often gather a pied piper trail of kids, and occasional adults, playing with the bubbles.