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Power Wheelbarrow Is Easy On His "Aging Back"
Ron Mickle says his "maturing body" was making it difficult to keep his wheelbarrow balanced and rolling at the same time.
"It was a real problem, because I used the wheelbarrow so much," he adds.
So Mickle went to his shop and built the solution to his problem: a self-propelled wheelbarrow.
He started with a junked 12 hp Sears lawn tractor, which he bought for $50. "I cut it in half and extended the frame rails. The rear wheels bear the load and power the wheelbarrow. I replaced the old engine with a new 5 hp horizontal shaft engine. I ran a jack shaft across the chassis to change direction of the old transmission, so I'd still have the same number of gears forward and reverse," he says. A V-belt from a pulley on the engine shaft powers the transmission.
He put a centrifugal clutch on the engine, but put an idler pulley belt tightener on the V-belt in order to stop without powering down. He put new brakes on the old wheels. The tires on the old tractor were all rotten, so he bought new turf tires for the drive wheels.
He added handlebars made from 3/4- in. standard schedule 40 water pipe with handgrips from an industrial supply firm. He mounted a hand control for the throttle on the handlebars. He set the handlebar end of the frame on a single caster wheel with a pneumatic tire, so steering is done by just pushing it toward the side.
On top of the extended lawn tractor frame, he built a box that's 4 ft. square and about 1 ft. deep. The box has a steel frame, but is lined with wood. He pulled the power wheels on the tractor out as far as they'd go on the axles and then, in the space between the differential and the wheel, he hinged his box on the axle using pillowblock bearings. The box locks in place so it doesn't dump accidentally.
"I set the box dead-center over the axle, so as long as it's loaded evenly over the axle, it's easy to dump it. But if the load is on one end of the box or the other, you need to be careful when you dump," he says.
Mickle says the transmission in the old tractor was one of the things that made it work for this conversion. "It has three forward speeds and reverse in both high and low range. First gear in high range is about the speed of a slow walk. Geared this way, it has plenty of power for as big a load as I can put in the box," he says.
Not that he's lazy or anything, but Mickle figured such an easy-to-use wheelbarrow would be perfect if he just didn't have to walk behind it all the time. So he made a ride-on sulky from the old front wheels of the tractor by welding the steering knuckles tight and adding a seat and a trailer hitch. He mounted a ball behind the caster wheel on the wheelbarrow just for the sulky.
"The box holds about 1,000 lbs. of dirt or gravel, so it saves me several trips over a regular wheelbarrow, too. I use it for hauling everything, from leaves to firewood to stones," he says. "My wife and daughter use it, too."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ron Mickle, 37174 School Section Lake Road, Dousman, Wis. 53118 (ph 262 965-2479; E-mail: jmickle@execpc.com).

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2001 - Volume #25, Issue #3