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My Droid Tractor

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#1 pengyou OFFLINE  

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Posted March 16, 2014 - 05:06 AM

I am shopping for a piece of land now - about 10 acres - with the intention of planting about 3 acres of it for field crops and growing veggies and fruits in a large green house.  I am kicking around an idea that I would like input on.  I have attached a photo to this post - I would like to make a multipurpose "tractor" that looks like this that will:

- be able to plow, disc and till the 3 acres.

- have a robotic arm/crane on it that will enable it to lift heavy objects on and off of the platform

- will be used often as an intelligent wheelbarrow, an "i-barrow" (sorry Mr. Jobs)

- can be used as a mobile power source to operate other electric appliances for a short time when necessary, i.e. water pumps

- can be used indoors (hence the desirableness of electricity)


This tractor will not be working with virgin land.  All of the land will already have been plowed, moved, contoured by heavier equipment. The land is likely to be in Arizona or very southern New Mexico, so will have a higher sand content than usual.  I might even ditch the use of the tracks to save a few hundred $.


I would like to use 4 or 6 geared hub motors to power this, making it all wheel drive.  I think I have found a source for 1 and 2kw geared motors with peak performance reached at 350 rpm. I like the idea of hub motors because there is no need for transmissions or drive trains.  Hub motors may not be quite as durable as other kinds but I am hoping that this factor may be overcome with duplicity.  Top speed of 8-10 mph is ok.


How much torque do I need from these motors to make my little droid do it's job?  There will be a pto on it, operated by a separate motor or even a hydraulic pump operated by an electric motor, depending on the accessories that I can find.  So I need one set of specs to have the droid pull and carry and one to have it power the accessories.  Ideal maximum width is 36", so that it will fit through the greenhouse door.  There are a variety of accessories from garden tractors and walk behinds that look like they could be used with this width.  Assuming it is 3' by 4', (with batteries) the weight would be about 500 pounds, depending on the type of the battery and desired run time. 



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#2 superaben OFFLINE  


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Posted March 16, 2014 - 06:38 AM

This is over my head, but welcome to the forum.  I'm sure we have an engineer here somewhere that can help.


It sounds like you have a neat idea, and something I would love to play with, but I wonder if the cost will outweigh its benefits? 


Ben W.

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#3 KennyP ONLINE  



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Posted March 16, 2014 - 06:53 AM

:wave: Welcome to the forum. Sounds like a neat project, but beyond me how to make it work!

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#4 petrj6 OFFLINE  

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Posted March 16, 2014 - 07:42 AM

:biting_nails: :say_what: :reading_the_manual: :hitting_self_roller: :smashing_pc: :wallbanging:     Way over my head, good luck and welcome to the club.  take lots of pics so we all can learn new things.

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#5 IamSherwood OFFLINE  


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Posted March 16, 2014 - 07:50 AM


Welcome to GTT.

Cool idea.

Maybe you can find an engineless one of these.


A good starting point.

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#6 tractorgarden OFFLINE  


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Posted March 16, 2014 - 08:08 AM

Will beat me to it, but a stand up skid loader less engine is a good starting point. They bring high
prices on average,but used mechanic specials can be had cheap. Welcome to the forum! Shawn
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#7 IamSherwood OFFLINE  


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Posted March 16, 2014 - 08:48 AM

I can't find it here now, but there was a YouTube video posted

here about a month ago, of an electric tracked unit, that pulled you

around in a sulky, or sleigh. Some guys in Quebec Can. trying to sell


It may give you some ideas. Do a search on YouTube.

#8 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted March 16, 2014 - 09:21 AM

Welcome to GTT. I'm a Civil Engineer and frankly, its over my head too. I do see some red flags. 1. It needs ground clearance. 2. It must weigh much more than what you pick up or it will fall over. 3. It will need weight for traction in order to plow. 4. Prototypes usually have many unforseen problems. 5. The areas you are talking about are having water shortages.


Please be carefull. When starting a new venture it is best to start with good reliable equipment. Don't be like the guys on Gold Rush. Carefully examine everything and all options. Good Luck, Rick

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Posted March 16, 2014 - 09:56 AM


#10 UncleWillie OFFLINE  


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Posted March 16, 2014 - 12:50 PM

You are posting from Shenzhen, China, and the Tractor will be used in Arizona. Are you planning a move soon.

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#11 Titus OFFLINE  


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Posted March 17, 2014 - 11:39 AM

Being a golf cart electric fanatic, I see many red flags in what you're looking for.


I would look at a 72 volt system. A utility cart can handle many of your needs. Cushman (Ezgo) makes a Cushman hauler 72V, can carry 1000 lbs and travel 50 or so miles on one charge.


Details here:




I sell the heck out of them, excellent machines!

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#12 Sparky OFFLINE  



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Posted March 17, 2014 - 04:42 PM

The biggest red flag is his expectation that people will PM him and therefore give him their email ( IP ) info from which he can get more info any way he can . My three cents worth . He is fishing for supposed financial help in his endeavor .   -  SCAM

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#13 pengyou OFFLINE  

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Posted March 20, 2014 - 11:36 AM

Thanks for the many warm welcomes!  Yes, I am hoping to buy some property in the next 3 years and then leave China.  I have been teaching in China for the past 15 years and, while I like many aspects of life here, I never lived in a big city before I came here, and have found that living in big cities really STRESSES me out!  Ever since I was 12 years old I have dreamed about being (mostly or completely) self sufficient, so now am looking to live out my dream in my pre-retirement and retirement years.  I am collecting data now on where to live, as well, so there are a few things up in the air.  I am also starting the thought process on a few other key areas of my life now, like this little tractor- droid, to help me minimize the cost of it - especially by avoiding mistakes.  Weight improves traction, and weight on any evehicle can be increased easily by using more batteries - especially if lead-acid are the order of the day, by adding a water tank or just by strategically adding some good old pieces of concrete that were shaped for the task.  Ground clearance is important also.  I am planning on using attachments from 2 wheel tractors (2wt) as well as the same wheel size from the 2wt, which would give me the same ground clearance - I am not 100% certain that I will use tracks at this point.  I have seen a lot of 2wt that weigh in at about 500 pounds, so was thinking that my little 6 wheel droid would perform about as well as a 2wt if it weighed the same. It could easily end up being 700 pounds.  I have found a few 2wt that use the Honda GX390 for their muscle, which puts out 12 hp, 20ft/lb, so am going to use this as my model to plan around.  I know that one of the benefits of using a 2wt is that the wheels form a fulcrum - the operator applies pressure to the handles - so that the actual pressure applied is much greater than the total weight of the machine and accessories.  It may be necessary to add weight to the accessories - maybe even buy a gas powered tiller attachment.  This is one of the areas I know the least about.  72 volts makes a really hot electric bike because speed and rpms are related.  It may work out that there are 72 volt options, but most low rpm hub motors are 24-36v with mega amps for power. 


The cost?  I gave a rough sketch of the frame, including the mounting points, to several fabricating shops nearby.  Cost of labor for making them is about US$200 (remember, it is China).  Cost of materials for the frame will be under $500  (it is not going to be beautiful and streamlined, just very practical and strong), 6 electric motors, controllers, and remote control possibly $1,000 (I have to do more research on the power needs - there are a lot of variables and options - once the power needs are set, the estimate can be more accurately made.)  Batteries?  will also depend on the motors, power needed and total weight of the machine, so it is a recursive element (the heavier the machine, the bigger the motors, the more batteries needed, etc) .  It is my thought that $3,000 will create a mobile platform that can move, carry and pull, but does not include the accessories.  This puts it in the same cost ball-park as some of the 2wt that I have seen - sans accessories.  I am not sure yet whether it will need a pto or hydraulic pump.


Pictures will come, but the actual making of this - or purchase of something similar - will not happen until the land is purchased and I have a place to store it, about 2.5 years later.  


Again, thanks for your input.  I have driven small tractors from time to time but never considered the physics and geometry of their design.  Any more suggestion/input would be welcome.

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#14 coldone OFFLINE  



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Posted March 20, 2014 - 05:27 PM

I have not seen anything in your description that hasnt already been addressed by older garden tractor designs. There were factory made electric and propane powered GTs. There are several members that have converted their gas powered GTs to electric. I think you will be disappointed in trying to tend 3 acres with electric powered machines. The energy storage is not there yet.


$3000 will get you some great GTs and put them into great shape. I think you are going to need a combination of electric and fuel to do everything you want to.


For rider style GTs look up GE electraks. Everything you have described can be accomplished with this.


As for 2 wheel tractors, over seas have alot more veriaty to choose from than here. 2wt just werent big sellers here. The Gravely 2 wheeler was the cadillac of 2wt and the closest thing to some of the overseas units. The modern units came with kohler engines that can be converted to use propane. The Gravely 2wt is no longer in production but the used market is booming.


There are 2 modern 2wt that is imported over here and has a following, BCS and Grillo. That is the only thing in todays market here in the US.


Your time and money maybe better spent adapting one of the 2wt in China over to electric. Now if you are just trying to design a unit from the ground up for fun and to see if you can do it. Disregard everything I have said and enjoy yourself and keep us posted of the progress. We love pics and new ideas.

Edited by coldone, March 20, 2014 - 05:30 PM.

#15 Auburn David OFFLINE  

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Posted September 14, 2014 - 10:38 AM