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A wheelbarrow is a small hand-propelled vehicle, usually with just one wheel, designed to be pushed and guided by a single person using two handles at the rear, or by a sail to push the ancient wheelbarrow by wind. The term "wheelbarrow" is made of two words: "wheel" and "barrow." "Barrow" is a derivation of the Old English "barew" which was a device used for carrying loads.
The wheelbarrow is designed to distribute the weight of its load between the wheel and the operator, so enabling the convenient carriage of heavier and bulkier loads than would be possible were the weight carried entirely by the operator. As such it is a second-class lever. Traditional Chinese wheelbarrows, however, had a central wheel supporting the whole load. Use of wheelbarrows is common in the construction industry and in gardening. Typical capacity is approximately 100 litres (3.53 cubic feet) of material.
A two-wheel type is more stable on level ground, while the almost universal one-wheel type has better maneuverability in small spaces, on planks, in water, or when tilted ground would throw the load off balance. The use of one wheel also permits greater control of the deposition of the load upon emptying.
Modern day wheelbarrows are generally made from plastic or metal and generally come with either a pneumatic tyre, semi-pneumatic tyres, or solid tyre. Modern wheelbarrows come in four standard shapes, the home gardener shallow-tray variety, the builder’s barrow, the square tray utility barrow and the brick barrow. Plastic wheelbarrows can be beneficial as they are light in weight reducing physical demand on the user. But plastic wheelbarrows are also suited to lighter loads.
Steel wheel barrows can handle heavier loads with carrying capacities of up to 110 L (4 cu ft) wet, or 160 L (6 cu ft) dry. Steel wheelbarrows more effectively transport heavy, jagged material without damaging the wheelbarrow and are often better suited to construction applications.
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