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Mower Saves Back Picking Asparagus
After one season of picking an acre of new asparagus by hand, Chuck Dean says he realized he was "too old for that, so I got to brainstorming." Using an old mower and some miscellaneous parts, the Reed City, Mich., man can now pick up to 60 lbs. of asparagus in 30 to 45 minutes - all without an aching back.
  A rear engine 5 hp Toro riding mower is the heart of Dean's picker. He cut the mower frame in half, keeping the rear half with the engine, transmission, differential and rear axle. He saved the front wheels and tires and discarded the mower deck and other parts.
  Dean extended the mower frame with 1 by 2-in. tubing to make a 4-ft. wide wheelbase to straddle his 4-ft. wide asparagus rows. He made a coupler to add to the axles, added round stock and mounted another bearing outside the frame to get the right width. The front is about 1 ft. off the ground to easily go over asparagus; Dean sits in the seat and reaches ahead to pick asparagus when it's about 7 in. tall. He puts the asparagus in trays on expanded metal racks on both sides, and after every row and a half, he empties the trays into a storage box on the back that holds up to 45 lbs. - an average day's picking.
  The 8-ft. length accommodates the engine, seat and allows plenty of room to comfortably operate the foot pedal steering system.
  "I put on a connecting rod so the pedals oppose each other when steering," Dean says. "The transmission had a 5 1/2-in. pulley to start. I ended up with a 10-in. pulley to slow the speed. It can now travel slower than a walk.
  "It has worked pretty close to what I wanted, although I've made some improvements here and there," Dean says. "My brother and I ended up with about 40 hours each with all the steel cutting, welding, drilling and lathe work that was done." He estimates he only spent about $20 for steel thanks to friends who donated parts.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Chuck Dean, 8957 S. Lakota Rd., Reed City, Mich. 49677 (ph 231 832-2823).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2