2009 - Volume #33, Issue #3, Page #04[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Buggy Makes Garden Work Easier
"You lie down on it and pedal with both feet," he explains. "It's a low-tech machine with an 18 by 4-ft. plywood shelf across the rear for hauling planting material, harvested crops, or just extra weight for traction."
Hettler lies on a wooden platform fitted with a thick foam pad. A metal rod framework allows him to stretch a tarp over the top for sun and rain protection.
The unit is 48 in. wide to match the width of his rototiller and vegetable beds. It's supported by four front tires (3 by 21-in.) taken from dirt bikes, but he suggests mountain bike tires would also work well. He paid only about $20 per tire, rim and bolt assembly.
"The drive mechanism is made up of single-speed and 10-speed recycled bike parts, and the frame is thin-wall 3/4-in. tubing with 2-in. tube legs, which the wheels are mounted to," he explains. "The whole thing was built with a buzz box welder and a metal chop saw."
Hettler says the key to the design's success is gearing down the drive. He used double reduction so that four pedal turns equals one wheel revolution.
"I used the 5 or 6-tooth single-speed bike sprockets with the largest 10-speed sprockets, holding them with purchased pillow blocks and welding them to round rod," he says.
Because Hettler's design called for only one rear wheel to be driven, construction was simpler, with no need for a differential. The only drawback is occasional slippage on muddy soil.
The pedals have stirrup straps and are easily rotated with the feet, leaving the operator's hands free to work in the field. Metal steering arms reach to the front and are hand-operated when a direction change is necessary. Hettler says a tie rod across the front keeps the front tires aligned.
"We use the straddle buggy mainly for planting garlic, onions, lettuce, broccoli and strawberries," he explains. "We also like it for weeding young crops and for harvesting low-lying crops like strawberries and cucumbers."
The unit cost Hettler between $300 and $400 for materials.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Robert Hettler, 1568 Eagle Rock Rd., Armstrong, B.C. V0E 1B7 Canada (ph 250 546-3669).
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