2004 - Volume #28, Issue #5, Page #25[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Electric Cart Built Out Of Old Garden Tractor
"It runs quiet and costs very little to operate," says Wilson, who started with an early 1980's Massey tractor.
Amazingly, he made his own electric motor using a Delco starter and the fields and generator out of a Chevy car. The motor, located under the seat, belt-drives the tractor's original transmission. A cable runs from it to a pair of 12-volt deep discharge marine batteries under the hood. To reduce the tractor's speed, Wilson mounted a small 3 1/2-in. dia. pulley on the motor and a 5-in. dia. pulley on the transmission. A foot-operated switch is used to put the tractor in motion. "Every gear has a constant speed. The only time I change speeds is when I shift gears," says Wilson.
He started out by removing the tractor's original engine, then cut the tractor in half and mounted a metal platform down low to make it easier to get on and off. To make the electric motor, he had to connect the armature in the starter motor to the roller bearings on the generator. One end of the armature shaft was too small to fit into the generator bearings, and the other end was too big. So he made a bushing to make one end of the armature bigger and turned down the other end to make it smaller.
He made the seat by covering sections of plywood with foam.
"It's fun to drive and runs quiet," says Wilson. "It always attracts a lot of attention wherever I go. In fact, I haven't been to an auction yet where someone didn't want to buy it. A lot of people who see it for the first time ask me where the motor is. When they see it, they can't believe how small it is.
"To operate the tractor, I put the transmission in gear and then use my foot to push the starter switch. I usually go in second gear. Top speed in third gear is about as fast as you can go at a real fast walk, and in first gear it just creeps along. The farthest I've driven the cart on a single charge is about three miles, which I think is pretty good. I've even gone to two-day auctions without ever having to recharge the batteries."
Wilson says he came up with the idea because he goes to a lot of auctions and needed something to get around that would run quiet. "I had been using a garden tractor but sometimes it caused problems with the public address system. If the tractor got between the microphone and the remote speakers, the magneto on the tractor's ignition would cause a lot of static on the speakers.
"I mounted a 24 by 12-in. metal platform on back of the tractor so if I buy something at a sale I can carry it with me. It also comes in handy for hauling a cooler."
Why did he build his own electric motor? "Just to see if I could do it," he answers.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Wilson, 44 Gable Road, Thompson Falls, Montana 59873 (ph 406 827-3006).
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