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Two-Wheel Tractor Converted To Electric Power
Reid Allaway converted a two-wheeled BCS-brand walk-behind tractor from a gasoline engine to a battery-powered electric drivetrain. 
A DC motor originally used in a Motrec utility cart delivers power and torque for the tractor. It’s powered by a pair of battery packs made from 24-volt modules pulled from a Chevrolet Volt battery pack.  A pallet truck controller regulates power delivery to the motor. Allaway installed a thumb throttle and rocker switch to provide the precise control and smooth response that he says were sometimes lacking in the original configuration with the gas engine and cone-type clutch.
Allaway removed the clutch and fabricated an adaptor plate and shaft coupler to mate the DC motor to the BCS transmission’s input shaft and bell housing.  He also eliminated the mechanical reverser, opting to have the motor controller simply reverse the motor whenever reverse is needed.  Gear changes of the original all-gear BCS transmission are accomplished whenever the drivetrain is stopped. That’s done whenever the thumb throttle is released. 
The battery packs are removable and assembled inside waterproof ammo cans.  A spare pair of batteries provide extended run-time as each pair of batteries lasts an hour or more. Recharging takes only a couple hours with a 500W charger.
“Manueverability, safety and precision operation are all greatly improved with the new controls,” says Allaway, “and power is comparable to the original 11 hp. Honda engine without any noxious fumes.” The BCS is used almost exclusively indoors in his large unheated greenhouses.  For a BCS that spends most of its time outdoors, the cost and complexity of the conversion probably aren’t worth it.” he says.
Using primarily second-hand parts Allaway figures he spent about $1,000 to $1,500 on the conversion. He thinks that a conversion using all new parts might double the cost.  He also warns that keeping the assembled package compact requires fastidious attention to detail and made the fabrication time consuming for a one-off project.
“Now that really good lithium batteries are out there and available at more and more accessible prices, this kind of project can be pursued,” Allaway says.  “Front to rear balance is obviously crucial for a two-wheeled tractor. Battery-electric power simply wasn’t conceivable in the era of lead batteries because the machine would fall on its nose with 500 lbs. of lead where I now have 50 lbs. of lithium.” 
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm, 1025 Chemin St-Dominique, les Cedres, Quebec, Canada J7T 1P5 (ph 450 452-4271; info@fermetournesol.qc.ca).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #6