The Garden Tractor Story...

This is a work in process. From dead with a busted engine, the tractor now sports an electric motor, batteries, and snow plow. Hopefully it will mow grass this spring. It looks like this..

picture of mower
Here's were I am with it...

It started about five years ago when I realized my new (one season old) garden tractor (riding lawn mower if you're from the part of the country I grew up in) had a blown engine. It was a 12 hp Murry with 42" deck with about 2 months use. The wife (naturally) hid a property line stake and it broke the crank. I shopped around for a replacement ICE engine to no avail. They all cost more than the mower. I removed the engine and trashed it. The mower set in a shed for several years and survived a move or two. I had plans of replacing the engine with a vertical shaft motor to make it an electric.

Since I wanted to eventually convert an automobile, I planned to build a charger, PWM motor controller, and use it as a test bed for my Electric Vehicle stamina.

During the winter of '94, I decided to work on the conversion. I had obtained a dozen used batteries from a PBX UPS system. Most were bad, but I salvaged enough for the project and began conditioning them.

I couldn't find a decent motor at reasonable prices. Getting desperate for a motor, I checked out yellow page listings for "automobile starter/generator rebuilders". One guy had a 12 volt motor he didn't know what to do with. Sold it to me for $20.00 with a promise to buy it back if I couldn't make it work. I think it's actually a generator from a tractor. It's about a foot long, 5" in diamater, and is John Deere green. Came with a 3" pulley attached to a 3/8" shaft.

Since the engine had a 7/8" shaft, the pulley arrangement wouldn't fit. I couldn't wait to build a spacer for the shaft, so I mounted the motor with it's included pulley on the chassis using the old belt to drive the transmission. It worked as a mule quite well. Drove around the property for about 30-45 minutes with plenty of battery energy left. But, the 3" pulley was too small. Not enough speed. Electrically, I'd put three batteries in series and built switching for 24/36 volts. Since the tractor had a 5 speed transmission, I always left it in the 36 volt position.

That's the way it stayed until December of 1995. At that time, I bought new tires to replace the dry-rotted ones, put a "Farm and Fleet Universal" snow plow on it, and began using it to plow the driveway. It works ok, but needs chains on the drive wheels. Still no real motor control, still no real charger. But it works! What's next...

In 1999, I sold the tractor. I didn't have time to complete it and I had been working on it for several years. When I received an offer for it (minus the motor, which I still have), I couldn't say no. The project is gone, but memories last forever :).

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