2002 - Volume #26, Issue #6, Page #33[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Veggie Cart Built From Double Bike
He says most of the physical wear and tear came from bending over or getting down on their knees to work. To make the work easier, he started working on a wheeled machine that would straddle his 3-row, 48-in. wide beds.
At first, everything he came up with was too heavy or too awkward. And then one day, while delivering produce to a customer, he noticed a double-framed 4-wheeled bicycle sitting in the garage.
"It was designed to hold a family or two adults and cargo, with bucket seats for two pedalers up front and a bench in the back," he says. "They weren't using it and it was exactly what I needed. We negotiated a trade and I took it to my machinist to begin modifying it into a farm machine."
They took off the bucket seats and widened the frame so the two sets of wheels spanned Johnson's vegetable beds. Between the two bike frames, they added supports for a board that allow a worker to lie down, facing downward, at just the right height so he or she can reach the soil to set out plants, thin, weed, or pick.
The worker lies on a padded board, like an ironing board, which supports him or her from top to toe. The board can be adjusted from side to side across the frame to make it easier to reach all of the planting bed.
Steel frames in front and over the rear wheels hold flats of seedlings for transplanting or baskets to hold picked crops.
Both of the bike frames have pedals that power the rear wheels. The worker can propel the bike through the field by hand, simply by reaching to one side or the other and turning the pedal.
The bike has 22-in. wheels up front and 26-in. on back. It has 5 speeds and could have more, but only the slowest speed matters in the field.
It has a rider's seat that can be flipped into position, so you can sit upright to ride it from field to field or to the cooler to store the produce when you've picked your baskets full.
Johnson says it lets them do many jobs 30 percent faster. "And after 8 or 10 hours of weeding or thinning, my back and knees weren't sore and stiff. It's not like sitting back in an easy chair with a cool drink, but it's a lot easier on the back and knees than doing the work on foot," he says. "I could have gone out dancing after a day's work."
Johnson sees his double bike rig as an essential for smaller vegetable producers where labor is hard to find. And he believes something like it would be great for larger operations looking to save money on hired labor.
Johnson figures his machine is easily worth $1,500 or more to the serious vegetable grower, and he's considering building them for sale.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Glen Johnson, 20482 Skagit City Rd., Mount Vernon, Wash. 98273 (ph 360 661-6099; E-mail: email@example.com).
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