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Pedal-Powered Farmall

Dan Rubison, Shelbina, Missouri, likes to get kids involved during the annual Northeast Missouri Old Threshers Show, so he's always working on something that will appeal to them.
  Last year he stripped the engine out of a perfectly good C Farmall, lengthened the frame a little, and mounted two banks of four bicycles. The result is a people-powered tractor with a working clutch and transmission.
  "The tractor was donated for the project and was in beautiful shape," he says. Aside from removing the engine and adding about 4 ft. to the frame, he made very few changes to the tractor.
  Rubison decided to use girls' style bike frames for the tractor. He says finding eight decent single speed bikes was the hardest part of the whole project. He put out the word that he needed bikes and a mountain of them appeared shortly, most left at his shop after hours. "There must have been 100 or so, and with all those, I still had to go looking for more because there weren't enough alike that worked," he says.
  He mounted the bicycles back to back, so four riders face out on each side. Seats, pedals and sprockets for the single speed bike frames were left in place. The front wheel has been removed. Instead of a rear wheel, the bike riders power a shaft that Rubison says connects to the clutch and transmission. Regular bike chain transmits power from the bike cranks to a drive shaft.
  Each bank of bikes powers a separate shaft, so there are two power inputs to the transmission and just how this works, Rubison won't tell. He also won't say whether he used the original clutch or whether he added weights or a flywheel to help maintain momentum.
  "You'll just have to come look for yourself," he says.
  All he'll confirm is that he left the coasters in place on the old bikes, so if somebody stops pedaling, his or her pedals don't continue to turn.
  He says just one person pedaling can move the tractor. With eight football player sized pedalers, the tractor pulled a sled about 100 ft.  
  The project was completed in three weekends, with two or three people working on it, at an out-of-pocket cost of only about $350. "The tractor and bikes were all donated. I spent about $300 for steel and chain, and another $50 for red paint," he says.
  Rubison's pedal powered C will be at the steam show again this summer. And he's still working on that pedal-powered dozer. He's already got the Caterpillar tractor he'll use. The Northeast Missouri Old Threshers Show, held in Shelbina, is always the first weekend after Labor Day.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dan Rubison, Four R-D Repair, 403 East Maple St., Shelbina, Mo. 63468 (ph 573 588-4444).

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2004 - Volume #28, Issue #1