Vegetable Crop Picker Built From Riding Mower

Paul King says harvesting fruits and vegetables is a lot more enjoyable with the 2-man, self-propelled harvesting cart he built out of a Sears Craftsman riding mower.

The harvester measures 60 in. wide and 48 in. high and contains a pair of cargo racks designed to carry boxes that hold harvested vegetables. The machine still has the mower's original 18 hp Briggs & Stratton engine, transmission and rear axle and wheels. The engine and drivetrain mounts 4 ft. off the ground on tall steel legs and is used to belt-drive the rear wheels.

"I'm a machine shop fabricator and built this unit for a customer who has a vegetable growing operation. He says it works great. The rig has 4 ft. of clearance so he can pick everything from strawberries to tomatoes. It took me 3 months to build because there was a lot of trial and error, but I think I could build another in 2 or 3 weeks," says King.

King used 2-in. tubing to build the machine's front legs and 2 by 6 tubing to build the rear legs. To drive the rear wheels he disconnected the mower's rear axle and wheels, lengthened each axle by 1 1/2 ft., and mounted a pulley on each one. Another pulley mounts at the top of each leg. Then he welded new material onto the mower's drivetrain housing and welded the top part of each leg onto it.

Steering is done with a remote control that's wired to a 12-volt winch mounted on a metal rack on front of the mower's hood. The winch cable is connected to the mower's tie rods. The remote control has 2 buttons, and pushing them causes the machine to turn either left or right.

The machine still has the original gearshift lever. A lever on back of the machine, connected by a metal rod to the mower's clutch, is used to propel the machine forward.

The rig's 2 swivel chairs are off a fishing boat, and each one is mounted on an arm that can be swung sideways and also up or down. The front cargo rack can also be adjusted up or down and swiveled from side to side.

With the steering mechanism there wasn't room for the mower's muffler so King relocated the muffler to the side on front.

King says he's willing to build the vegetable picker for about $2,900.

Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Paul King, 6215 La Pine Rd., Brooksville, Fla. 34602 (ph 352 400-6737;