Welcome to the Mystic Midway!
We are so glad you may be joining us and your extended family at Burning Man, Carnival of Mirrors! By now you have probably given some thought to which of the 7 Mystic Midway Families you belong to. And perhaps you are considering stepping even deeper into your role and building a Mystic Midway Wagon. Bravo!
Mystic Midway Wagons are perfect Burning Man bikes because they are stable, they protect you from the sun, they have space to cart your stuff around and of course, they enhance your persona! We would be delighted for you to peddle along with us as we take the show on the road and unleash the magic out on the playa!
Here’s how to build one.
I. Get a Tricycle – new for ~$300, used for cheap!
• Check Amazon, EBay, Craigslist, Freecycle for good deals.
• Take off the back basket to expose the chassis.
• The main base of the wagons is built from a wood box bolted to the chassis.
II. Get Materials – around $100
• Thin ply wood, ¼ - ½ inch, small sheet
• 1x1 pine, approx. 23 feet
o 4 @ 4’
o 5 @ 1’
o 2 @ 2’
• Wood, trim or other thin strips, approx. 9 ft
• Wood glue, wood screws, small nails
• Corplast (corrugated plastic sheeting) or similar lightweight flexible material for the curved roof and side panels. Fabric and cardboard works too.
• Fabric for the roof
• Armature (frame on which a sculpture is built) –optionally, to create a “finial” shape on top of the roof
• Decorations: cloth lantern, paint, fabric, fringe, posters, trinkets, found objects…up to you…
• Lights – LED strips for the wheels, other lights…up to you…
III. Build Base Frame
1. Cut a piece of plywood to fit the challis of your trike.
o You can cut the back of the base piece so it is curved.
2. Find the holes in the chassis that the base needs to be bolted to and drill holes in the base to align with them.
3. Build a three sided box on top of your base.
i. The front panel should be cut so that it fits under your seat.
ii. The two side panels can be cut to whatever height you choose.
iii. Four posts made of 1x1 pine will provide the frame for your walls. They should be cut to a length that will ensure the roof clears your head by several feet while you are on the bike seat.
iv. Screw one hole into each of the four 1x1 posts. The hole should be located within an inch of the end of the post. This will be used to screw the roof of the wagon onto the posts.
v. Cut three more “brace pieces” of 1x1 to go along the perimeter of the bottom of the box as shown in the photo below. Determine the length and exact position of this 1x1 brace piece by staging the posts and side panels in the positions where they will be attached.
vi. Screw or bolt the 1x1 brace pieces through the base of the box into another thin strip of wood on the underside. Do this on all three sides of the box.
vii. Attach the 1x1 posts to the box by wood gluing and screwing them to the side and front panels.
viii. Attach the base frame, (the side panels attached to the four posts and additional pieces of 1x1) to the base using wood glue and by screwing the side panels to the 1x1 brace pieces.
IV. Build Roof frame
1. Cut 3 half-elliptical shaped pies of plywood
o The elliptical shapes should be the same width as your base and whatever height you choose.
2. Cut 4-6 pieces of pine to form the rectangular frame of your roof.
o 2-4 pieces should be cut to match the width of your base. These are the end pieces and cross supports.
o 2 pieces should be longer. These will be the sides of the roof frame and will determine the length of your roof. The roof will be longer than the base so it covers your head as you sit on the bike seat. Be sure it doesn’t cantilever out too far to support the weight of whatever will be on top of the roof.
3. Drill two holes each into two of the cross supports for the roof. These holes will be used to bolt the roof frame to the 1x1 posts. The holes should be lined up exactly with the holes at the end of the four 1x1 posts. Bolting, rather than screwing, the wood frame onto the poles makes it detachable.
4. Screw and wood glue the roof frame around the elliptical pieces. (The photo shows an example of how.)
5. Screw and wood glue the cross support pieces to the perimeter of the roof frame. The position of the cross supports within the roof frame will determine the position of the roof frame over the base.
* It is important to ensure that the wagon is properly weighted when determining the position of the roof over the base. The entire weight of the wagon, including the weight of the rider, must be concentrated over the center of the trike. Test before securing cross supports to the wood frame.
6. Screw two longer pieces of wood to the sides of the roof frame. These will determine the length of your roof canopy.
V. Attach Roof Frame to Posts
● Line the wood frame up over the 1x1 side posts and put bolts through the holes in the four 1x1 posts and the center and rear cross supports in the frame.
VI. Add Roof Canopy
1. Cut a piece of Corplast or similar flexible (preferably rain proof!) material to cover the roof.
2. Glue it to the sides.
3. Attach canopy to roof frame by adding a strip of wood trim over the Corplast, sandwiching it against the wood frame and screwing it to the roof frame. Do this on both sides of the roof frame.
VII. Add Sides
● Cut sheets of Corplast or similar material for the sides and attach with glue and screws or nails to the 1x1 posts. Cardboard and fabric also work for the sides.
VIII. Add Adornments
1. Curved striped circus tent roofs may be created from fabric stretched onto armature (frame used for making sculptures.)
2. Light the roof from underneath.
3. Add LED strips to backlight the side panels and any art you attach.
4. Add decorative wood or cloth trim.
5. Find wood, small mirrors, and other lightweight ornamentation.
6. Mystic Midway wagons have the “Lamp of Stories” hanging off at least two points. Consider getting a cloth lantern and light it inside.
7. Hang a cloth curtain between rider and interior.
8. Go to town…
IX. Trick out Wheels
● Mystic Midway wagons have LEDS and large stars attached to the spokes. Optional.
● Consider using oversized wheels to contend with playa dunes.
See photos below for inspiration!