School Bus Manure Spreader
"Everyone says it's the strangest looking machine they've ever seen, but it works great," says Leonard Olson, Gay Mills, Wis., about the 350-bu. self-propelled manure spreader he built from a 60-passenger school bus.
Olson bought a 1973 International schoolbus equipped with a V-8 gas engine. He stripped away most of the body and mounted a 17-ft. long, 6-ft. wide used Farmhand manure spreader on the frame. The spreader is chain-driven by a 6-ft. long pto shaft that runs off the bus's transmission.
"It's in real good shape and cost very little to build," says Olson, who raises hogs, beef, and dairy cattle. "When I bought the bus I had planned to convert it to a round bale hauler. Then I found out about the manure spreader. The previous owner had converted it to a fenceline feeder by adding a cross apron in front and side rack attachments. He never used it much to haul manure so it was almost like new when I bought it. It had been mounted on a truck.
"I have a liquid manure handling system so I use my spreader only seasonally to clean up solid manure around my feedlots. I load it with a front-end loader. Buses are generally well-maintained and don't get as much wear and tear as farm trucks so they last a long time. My school bus spreader is classified as a farm vehicle so I don't have to license or insure it. I can go as fast as any truck on the highway. The 5-speed transmission is geared low enough that I can drive it in the field in first gear at normal tractor speed. The bus's 345 cu. in., 175 hp engine has plenty of power."
Olson used a chop saw blade mounted on a skill saw to strip away the body behind the front row of seats. He cut 4 ft. off the rear of the frame to match the length of the spreader, then removed the cross apron and racks and bolted the spreader onto the frame. He used the same brackets that originally attached the bus's body to the frame. "I never closed up the body of the bug, but it hasn't been a problem for the driver," says Olson.