Are you tired of carrying a mountain of supplies, or dragging a heavy, ineffective wagon piled with junk down to your spot on the beach? Because all you really want to do is sit back in the shade and relax with a cold drink in your hand, right? Do you spend all night dreading the fact that you’ll spend half your morning, and let’s face it, half your afternoon trudging through the thick, soft, hot sand struggling to move all the necessary gear from one place to another?
Well dread no more! This incredible Electric Beach Wagon from Red Beard Labs is for you. Make your beach trips so much easier, and get those terrible, yellow, under arm stains out of your shirts. Now you too can rebuild your kids old Power Wheels or Mighty Wheelz into a much needed Electric Beach Wagon, read more to see how...
Maybe I’m just lazy, but I was tired of working my a@# off moving my beach supplies back and forth when i'm on vacation trying to relax and take it easy. I felt like a motorized wagon or cart would help greatly. After some research, I found not all beaches allowed gas engines, so an electric motor was the way to go. Power Wheels instantly came to mind. I looked at different designs, but finally landed on the Mighty Wheelz Jeep. I felt like it could be modified to carry coolers, chairs, umbrellas, tents, and bags without a huge redesign. Stupidly, I went out and bought a new one, this was before I figured where to get Power Wheels. Yard sales, thrift stores, neighbors, and Goodwill are where you need to go to find used Power Wheels.
Anyway, when you buy a new PW it comes partly put together in the box. My first mission was to study it and put together a plan and a design as I always do. I then stripped the unit down to the frame and body.
I didn’t want to use any of the stock switches, relays, or battery, just the motor and gearbox assemblies, so I left the wiring harness from the motors, and removed everything else.
The front steering frame/axle was not meant to be pulled forward with a handle, so to add strength I bolted in two angle brackets for extra bracing.
Obviously I had to remove the steering wheel and shaft and then modify a handle that would be able to be pulled and steer the wagon. A problem I didn’t foresee was the tie rod end shaft needing to be flipped to correct a clearance issue. To make the handle steering shaft I took a two foot piece of tubing and flattened one end about two inches up from the bottom. The flat portion was drilled and bolted to the center of the tie rod end shaft on the wagon. I then drilled and bolted it to the center of the front frame. I used flat washers on both sides of the handle shaft and added grease so it would swivel easier.
I then painted the handle steering shaft black and reassembled it. This is a picture of the bottom of the wagon once that portion was complete.
Next I started on the top. The Jeep didn’t come with doors, so I needed to fabricate sides to create a cargo hold. When I thought about beach wagons, Woody Wagons came to mind, so I used wood slats and crafted, yeah I said crafted deal with it, the sides. To carry the wood theme throughout I built a wood cooler rack for the back where the seat use to be. I ran into a slight issue with the rack and cooler that I’ll go into later.
I didn’t want to use the stock electrical system because I had a different idea that I thought might work better. The stock “gas pedal” power switch was a big clunky momentary on/off switch. I wanted to use a higher voltage battery and a variable speed momentary switch. A cordless drill had both and more, so I went to Harbor Freights and bought one for about twenty bucks.
The drill gave me an eighteen volt battery, and the switch I wanted with reverse, forward, and neutral in one assembly. I even got the easy connect/disconnect assembly for the battery. I also gained a motor/gearbox assembly and a L.E.D. light I can use in some future project. That’s what we in the industry like to call a score!
I knew in my head what I needed to do as far as wiring, but I always draw it out to make it easier. You may be able get more thinking power out of the brain in your head than I can get out of mine. Mine gets bogged down with beef fat, two year old distractions, lack of sleep, and beer. The diagram in the picture is a drawing found on a cave wall left by a clearly advanced caveman.
One of the things you have to think about is getting the wagon packed in the car and to the beach. I thought it might be helpful if the pull handle was able to be detached and reinstalled easily. My solution was to use a pig tail or tail light wiring harness which I picked up for cheap at HF.
I also got wiring wrap to protect the wires from rubbing and shorting out where they go into and out of the handle tube assembly.
I came up with an ingenious plan to use the drill casing and have it be a comfortable way to hold the handle and still be able to press the switch. I drilled a hole slightly smaller than pull handle tube in the back of the casing. I then mapped out how the wires would come out of the tube inside the unit and down to the switch. I found I could use two wood screws to hold the tube and casing together in the back and some wood blocks wedged in around the tube on the front side with screws going in from the top & bottom. I was able to cut a hole in the tube just after it entered the casing but before the screws so there would not be any interference. I then wired the switch and harness up, soldered the connections, and wrapped them up good with electrical tape.
I played around with the actual handle and drill casing to get the best possible placement to make it easy to hold and press the switch. Picture your hand position when pulling a wagon behind you then add a switch a little lower and to the side right where your thumb naturally lands. Once I found the sweet spot I used wood blocks to hold the handle in place. I was very careful the nuts and bolts did not come in contact with the switch or any of the wiring.
This is the completed pull handle and handle steering shaft joint with the tail light wiring connector. I happened to have an old broken beach cart lying around, one of those that looks like a dolly or hand truck. The front part folded down and locked into place with these plastic angle brackets. I used one as the handle joint. It works great because it allows the handle to be “locked” in the upright position and easily be pulled down when you are ready to go.
The last piece of the wiring was under the hood. I verified which wires, when hooked up, made the wheels spin in the same direction. I then wired and soldered them together with the switch output wires. I then soldered and wired the battery to the switch input wires. I also added a twenty five watt inline fuse and an on/off toggle switch. I mounted the switch out of site, but so that the toggle was accessed from the outside. I didn’t want to have to open the hood every time I wanted to turn it on or off. I used bungee cords to hold the battery in place using preexisting holes in the body.
One of the cooler problems I had was that it was not able to sit far enough back and it hung over the front part of the rack into the cargo area. The other is it doesn’t seem to hold booze very long. I’m still looking into that issue. You have the same problem? I think it’s pretty common.
My solution to the cooler/rack problem was to cut the back section out and add wood plates to cover the holes left behind. You might also notice the addition of a license plate (lightning bolt BCHWAGN). I came up with that all on my own. Can you believe it?
This is the final product with the handle in the upright position. As you can see I painted the fenders and the middle part of the hood white. I, with the help of my wonderful wife, we added a homemade beach decal, complete with palm trees, to the hood.
I was able to get 1 large cooler, 1 small cooler, 2 umbrellas, 5 chairs, and 1 bag loaded up and was surprised to find that there was room for a little more. I bolted four small eyelets into the back section of the wagon and used bungee cords to secure everything.
This is me taking it out for a stroll around the cul-de-sac. After seeing this picture you may be thinking that guy could use a few walks pulling a non-powered wagon. That may be true, but just think how much farther I will be able to go with an electric powered wagon.
I at least hope this makes you want to go get your own power wheels or Mighty Wheelz and turn it into an electric beach wagon. You buy this one right now on ebay, click here!
What are you working on? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
What are you working on? Leave a comment and tell us about it.