2019 - Volume #43, Issue #3, Page #24[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
“Bucket Truck” Turned Into Pull-Type Manlift
“I was able to buy most of the components cheap so it didn’t cost much to build. My total expense was only about $1,500,” says Peterson. “It’s licensed as a trailer so it’s covered by my pickup’s insurance policy, instead of needing separate coverage. Also, it requires much less maintenance than a bucket truck.”
Peterson bought the bucket truck at a local wrecking yard. It had been used by a railroad company to drive alongside railroad tracks where workers performed maintenance work on power lines paralleling the tracks. The manlift, located just behind the cab, used a pto off the truck’s transmission to power a hydraulic pump that operated the manlift.
He cut the truck’s frame off just ahead of the cab firewall, keeping only the service box and a 4 1/2-ft. section of frame that extends out front. He welded on lengths of 5-in. channel iron to box in the frame, then bolted on an industrial Wisconsin 4-cyl. engine with 3-speed transmission. The transmission drives a big hydraulic pump that operates the manlift. The manlift has 2 sets of controls - one on the bucket and one on the service box.
“I use it to do everything from cleaning gutters to pruning trees - anywhere a stepladder can’t reach high enough,” says Peterson. “One time I even drove it to a Ford dealership that needed some security cameras replaced. People ask me all the time if they can borrow it, and some even want to paint their house with it. I tell them I’m okay with that, as long as they don’t splash paint all over everything.”
The tongue with engine weighs about 1,800 lbs., and the entire unit weighs about 4,000 lbs. so it’s very stable, says Peterson. “With all that weight I can run the boom straight out to the side almost 40 ft. without any problems. The boom may rock back and forth a little, but it won’t tip over. I used 3-in. square tubing to make outriggers at each end of the service box, but I’ve never had to use them.”
He paid only $200 for the bucket truck. “It had spent years running over railroad ties alongside the tracks and the front suspension was fatigued, which is why I got such a good deal on it,” says Peterson. Since the unit is so heavy, Peterson welded mechanical surge brakes on it to keep the trailer from ever jackknifing. “The surge brakes use the trailer’s natural momentum to actuate the brakes. Applying the brakes on the towing vehicle automatically activates them.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Michael C. Peterson, 2112 Yew St. Rd., Bellingham, Wash. 98229 (ph 360 676-0971; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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