Wheelbarrows should give years of service, provided they are used and stored properly. They must be stored upright or turned over in dry conditions, and never left holding damp items, or where they can catch rainwater or condensation.
Most main frames are made of tubular steel, and are far stronger than the rest of the barrow. Frames do not easily go out of alignment, but will show some signs of rust after many years of service. Check the handles for cuts or burrs that might catch unwary fingers.
The weak points of most barrows are the sheet steel struts that connect the front of the body to the main frame at the wheel bearings. These easily bend or break, allowing the body to shift forward until the wheel rubs against it. Stronger replacement struts can be made from angle iron, or mild steel tube with the ends ﬂattened, bent over and drilled.
The wheelbarrow body is usually made of sheet steel, and is susceptible to rust. Paint the outside as required, preferably using ‘Berlin Black’ paint, and oil the inside of the body once a month. The body is attached to the frame either by spot-welds or nuts and bolts. Check that welds are intact, or nuts and bolts are tight.
Holes in the body can be repaired by riveting on sheet metal patches, provided the body is still basically sound.
Wheelbarrows have either solid or pneumatic tyres. Though more expensive and liable to puncture, pneumatic tyres are recommended as they are much easier to use in muddy conditions. Fitting a strip of old carpet inside a tyre can help prevent punctures. Most pneumatic tyres are neoprene, rather than rubber, and quite thin. The carpet helps prevent thorns and other sharp objects penetrating through to the inner tube.
The wheel is usually held on by two cast iron bearings bolted to the main frame. Cast iron is fragile, so do not overtighten the bolts, or attempt to free the bearings with a hammer. Oil the bolts regularly to ensure they do not rust up and so make removal difficult.