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How To Build An Electric-Powered "Worker Bee"
For less than $1,000, you can build a piece of equipment that you can use all year around the farm. It tills up gardens, mows the grass, moves dirt, plows snow and operates a self-dumping power wheelbarrow. And with its quiet electric motor, the neighbors won't even know you are working.
  Lonnie Green designed and built the Worker Bee, an electric walk-behind tractor, and he has detailed do-it-yourself plans for it. (His do-it-yourself mini backhoe was featured in Vol. 34, No. 3).
  "We have chickens and a garden and I needed something to use year round; I also wanted it to be electric."
  Basically, the power unit is a battery pack sitting on a transaxle, he says, noting that the transaxles from riding mowers work great for the project.
  The Worker Bee turns on with a key and has a switch to go forward and reverse. Another switch on the handlebar operates the bucket. The motor is 1 hp continuous duty, comparable to a 3 or 4 hp gas engine.
  Green and his wife use two versions of the machine. The heaviest Worker Bee weighs about 340 lbs. and has four-12 volt, deep cycle batteries that charge overnight and last through 4 hrs. of hard work. Green only used two batteries in his wife's machine, which is lighter and smaller to maneuver around the chicken coop. Green installed a solar panel on the top of the motor box that fully charges the batteries in three or four days.
  Combined with an inverter, the Worker Bee can also be used to power a plug-in weed eater and other electric tools.
  Building a Worker Bee is a good offseason project, Green says, that takes about 50 hrs. to build.
  He appreciates the fact that the Worker Bee is a quiet machine that doesn't require fuel. "You can work and carry on a quiet conversation with someone watching you," he says.
  Green's 55-pg. plans include sources of where to buy transaxles, motors and other steel and auto parts many of which farmers may already have. He explains wheel size options and how they affect gear ratios and how to build a bucket, and attach a mower and plow.
  "The plans are so thorough you don't need to be an expert. You just need to know how to weld and a little about electricity," says Green, who is a certified welder and worked as an RV technician.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, The Greens Machines and Cycles, P.O. Box 441, Cedar Ridge, Calif. 95924 (ph 530 273-4208; www.thegreensmachines.com).

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2011 - Volume #35, Issue #4