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Wheelbarrows: Home made to Power Wheelbarrows

Updated on March 29, 2014
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.


My first wheelbarrow was a cheap little model. Thirty years ago I probably paid under $20 for it. It had a small pan (that's the part you load stuff into) and metal handles with rubber handgrips much like bicycle handlebars. They quickly rusted out, leaving the pan bottomless.

Early Wheelbarrows Looked Like This, We've come a long way!
Early Wheelbarrows Looked Like This, We've come a long way!

Moving Up

I got a real work wheelbarrow as a birthday gift from my husband. I was thrilled with my big, red, 6-cubic-foot model. The wooden handles were warm in winter, and the tires held up fairly well under the work hours at the barn. The fact that the tire could be re-inflated or even repaired at the same tire center as my car was a plus. I loved that wheelbarrow. But, with the metal pan it did eventually rust out.

My next wheelbarrow was the same style except that instead of a metal pan it has a corrosion-proof polyethylene pan. I can leave it outdoors in the rain with no worry of rust. The True Temper model I bought retailed for $79.99. I still have to deal with the tire going flat from time to time. But, now there are heavy-duty wheelbarrows with flat-free tires. I will be shopping for one of those tires soon.

Inovative Easy Lift Barrow

The Ace Easy Lifter is a cool looking wheelbarrow. It has parallel stabilizer bars to make dumping easier. Retail price is $94.99.

Garden Cart

On Two Wheels

Speaking of tires I have used the two-tire model wheelbarrow. The advantage is with two tires you are not as likely to have a "tip-over." But with my thirty-year relationship with wheelbarrows, I seldom turn a loaded one over. I don't especially like the two-wheeler because I found it harder to turn in tight spots (like a horse stall) than the single-wheeled models, which can pivot like a Carolina basketball player. Couple that with the fact that now you have two wheels to go flat (unless of course you get one with the flat-free tires) and I just don't like this model. But that is just me, and many folks I've talked to really like the two-wheeler. I think if I had kids helping me at the barn I might like it because kids are always turning over the wheelbarrow, then whining because they have to re-scoop the poop. True Temper's 8 cubic foot contractor's wheelbarrow, with 16" dual wheels and heavy-duty undercarriage is a real work hog and retails at $119.99.

Some barn managers prefer the two-wheeled garden cart. These carts hold more than a wheelbarrow and work well for moving hay bales, feed bags as well as manure. I had a homemade one and loved it for a variety of jobs, although it was harder to dump than a wheelbarrow. The garden cart was handy for other jobs, though.

Favored by many barn managers, Muller's Smart Carts are lightweight, under fifty pounds, with a choice of 20-inch spoke wheels or a wide tread 16-inch turf tire for easy movement in deep sand or heavy mud. The Smart Cart has snap out polyethylene pans, with a no-bolts assembly. There are two sizes of pans that can be interchanged. The frame is aluminum and the axle is plated steel with a powder-coated cross brace, to resist the barn acids and heavy use around a stable. You can buy the wheels separately as well the pans. The versatility of this cart makes it a great tool around the barn. It has a lifetime frame warranty.


Last but not least for the ultimate lazy barn worker, or we older perhaps weaker ones, there is the motorized wheelbarrow. The rugged Power Barrow Company's Brutus is a wheelbarrow on four wheels with a motor. Ideal for those who have to push uphill, it will take a 30-degree grade and has a release lock for easy dumping. Brutus retails for $1999. A new smaller version, designed for personal use is the 8-cubic-foot Amigo, which retails for $1199.

There you have it, the lowdown on the wheelbarrow. We've come a long way since the early wooden one-wheel cart of our forefathers.


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    • profile image

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    • profile image

      Greg Salvadore 7 years ago

      I'm from Smart Carts in Maine and want to say thanks for this article and we would love to speak with anyone that has questions about our carts; why Fine Gardening called us the 'Cadillac of Carts' or

      why a prince from Qatar had us ship (12) halfway around the world. Please call if you would like more information 800.366.6026 Thanks.

    • profile image

      metalbandsaw 7 years ago

      I see the wheelbarrow history from your article.

    • profile image

      howto increasever 8 years ago

      Hi, Great Hub! Thanks for the eexcellent reviews and post...

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      I can't remember having a horse that was a habitual wheelbarrow turner-overer. But that trick you horse did sounds painful!

      Yes, on the motorized models breaking down - just like a lawn mower? I can see it being good for anyone with a physical problem, and going up your ramp it would be nice. My problem would be not being able to afford the gas to run it!

    • annemaeve profile image

      annemaeve 9 years ago from Philly Burbs

      Donna, I had never heard of a motorized wheelbarrow. How neat! Crazy, and begging to break down as soon as you REALLY need to use it, but neat! I prefer the two-wheeled large capacity ones for stall cleaning, because that means less trips up the icy manure spreader ramp in the winter. I hear you on the turning radius, though.

      Have you ever had a horse that liked to tip over wheelbarrows? We have one that will shove the handle up his nose and give it a good flip. His stall ALWAYS gets cleaned with the two-wheeled one! :P

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      No, I didn't even notice. I was just trying to see if I'd misspelled it. I think my Word spellcheck caught it for me.

    • dineane profile image

      dineane 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Ha! Proudgrandpa, did my mom show you my email? Mama, did you notice I spelled it wrong? It's one of those things I bet I won't forget again :-)

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Thanks for confirming that the 2-wheelers are harder to turn! Of course horse poop doesn't weigh that much, but I still would rather use the single wheel models.

    • proudgrandpa profile image

      proudgrandpa 9 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      I have witnessed the same evolution of wheelbarrows as you have. I have to add a tid bit that only those of us who have tried putting 400 pounds of concrete in the tub and trying to balance it have experienced. I have dumped one or two or .....of those in my contracting days. I tried buying the True Temper plastic tub with two wheels in the front to help carry the heavy load. It carried the load okay but it would not turn. Needless to say this was not good. I still have 3 of those in my shed if someone wants and exercise in frustration.

      By the way, I will bet if you ask 10 people to spell wheelbarrow you will get wheelbarrow more times than you would expect. I have reviewed estimates over the years from Architects that have made that mistake.

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane. NEIL