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“Rowatonna” Paddleboat At Home On Land Or Water
“My cousin had an Owatonna swather and we had a boat. So we put them together,” says Ken Heley, who can drive his amphibious “Rowatonna” paddleboat on land or on water. It’s powered by the swather’s 300 cu. in. Ford engine.
    “It was a project to do with my 2 sons,” explains Heley. “We wanted to make something that we could use on land and water.”
    Heley cut out the fiberglass insulation on the floor of the boat and added an interior and exterior frame, sandwiching the sides of the fiberglass boat between 1 by 3-in. steel. When finished he re-insulated the bottom with foam.
    One of the swather’s rear caster wheels mounts on front. The hydrostatic drive wheel motors and wheels mount at the back.     
    The original swather operator’s platform is mounted inside the boat. The valves that once controlled the swather now control the wheels. Linkages for the drive wheels had to be shortened when they were mounted to the steel frame. Rather than cut holes in the boat, Heley ran them over the side to the wheel motors and to the paddle wheels at the rear.
    Initially Heley had tried several different propeller systems. After seeing a paddle wheel boat while vacationing in Alaska, he returned to fabricate a set for the Rowatonna.
    “Once we drive it into the water, the oil flow is redirected to hydraulic motors on the paddle wheels,” says Heley. “Turn the steering wheel either direction and the opposite paddle wheel goes faster while the paddle wheel to that side slows down or even goes in reverse.”
    Small pontoons on either side provide additional flotation and stability in the water.
    Heley says the Rowatonna is street legal, complete with turn signals. With a top speed of 11 mph, he doesn’t take it far on land, though he does drive it in a local parade each summer. He also drives it to nearby water bodies, no boat launch needed.
    “The big question was how to register it, as a boat or for the road,” says Heley. “My insurance agent just shook her head and said not to even try to insure it.”
    Check out the Rowatonna in action at FARMSHOW.com.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ken Heley, 8895 160th Ave. S.E.,
Lidgerwood, N. Dak. 58053 (ph 701 640-0136; kendonna95@rrt.net).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2