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Volkswagen Spray Rig
A Volkswagen driving down the middle of an orchard creates a strange sight at the Keith Olson farm near Salem, Oregon but he's just operating his unique "made it myself" field sprayer.
Olson, who raises about 50 acres of nuts, builds and adapts machinery to fit different specialized chores on his operation. To build the sprayer, he first bought a 1957 Volkswagen for $150 after it had been rolled in a car accident. He cut the top off, mounted a 50-gal. drum as a spray tank in the back seat, and installed a 20-ft. boom on the front of the car.
"It's low enough to drive under the trees. Works better than a tractor," Olson says. He uses the sprayer to strip-spray for weeds between trees and to individually spray each tree for sucker control. He simply pulls a rope inside his car to release chemical out the end nozzles. The ends of the boom are spring loaded to protect both the spray boom and trees from damage.
In addition to his VW sprayer, Olson has also built a hydraulic lift platform, or "tree squirrel," that raises to a height of 12 ft. The machine is operated by an optional 4-way wobble stick or foot pedal.
The machine is different in that while other home-built high-lift units use mechanically driven axles, Olson installed hydraulic motors on each wheel so that speed is infinitely variable and he can steer by controlling individual wheels.
The hydraulic motors are driven by a 12-hp. engine. A hollow front axle doubles as a 12-gal. fuel holding tank. Olson figures he saved approximately 30% on his home-built unit over the cost of a commercial unit. He uses the platform to prune trees. It takes three weeks for two people to prune the orchard

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #6