Journey of the Cart

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This blog isn’t about making an ATV cart. It’s about a trampoline legs, a piece of ½” rebar, two 5/8” pieces of pipe, a plastic barrel, some washers, nuts and bolts, a black rubber bungee strap with one hook missing, two metal brackets, a metal bed frame, a can of primer, a can of red paint, two cotter pins, an used 1×12” pine board, two scraps of 2×2” fir and a rusty piece of 1x3x24” iron.

Our camping spot up in the woods is kind of river front property. River front if you don’t count the 200 yards of green way and the small creek you have to cross on the way to the river. The distance becomes somewhat of a journey if you want to spend the afternoon at the river and you have to carry all your stuff that distance. My oldest daughter, her husband and their friends like to camp at the place and have resorted to strapping as much as they can to their ATV and making a trip or two to the river with said stuff. When I saw what they were up to I thought it would be nice to have a cart to load up and haul their stuff to the river. Being a loving and caring father and probaby even more true, I do like to make things and if you have read any of my blogs, you will know I like to make things out of stuff I already have. Except the two tires, which I bought on Amazon for $11. each, I rounded up all the other items from around the farm and in my shop.

I think it’s called making things from scratch. The fun of making something from scratch is that you only know what your end product will be, but how you get there is a journey.

This journey, the Journey of the Cart, started with a frame made from two bottom supports for the legs of a 12’ trampoline. I love trampoline frames because the pipes are so versatile. There are pre-bent pipes, tapered ends of the pipe will slide into the other ends of pipe and some are both bent and have tapered ends. I started the frame with two bottom leg supports. Both ends of the supports are tapered, so I had to cut two 6” pieces of pipe to slide the two ends into to make a rectangular frame that was about 20” wide and 5’ long.

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I had decided that I was going to us a 55 gallon plastic barrel for the bed of the cart and the 20” wide frame would allow the barrel to lay in the frame and not fall through.

I wanted to give the cart a little more ground clearance so I needed to support the axel below the frame. I scrounged around and scratched my head and scrounged around some more. I finally found two heavy brackets that I had salvaged off some farm equipment and sometime in the past. They could be bolted onto the frame with the two holes already in each of the brackets and to better accommodate the axle I notched them, giving me a place to weld the axle solidly in place. DSCF7754

The barrel, when laid in the frame, sagged through a few inches and sat on and conflicted with the axle. I solved the conflict by bowing the axle down to conform with the barrel before I welded the axle in place. DSCF7757

The wheel barrel wheels had heavy-duty bearings and the hole for the axel was 5/8”. I didn’t have any 5/8” steel rod, but I did have two short pieces of thick wall pipe that were 5/8” and 12” long. The two pipes welded together was right length. To straighten the pipe I slid a ½” piece of rebar in the middle of the pipes before I welded them together.

The wheels were easy to install with a hole through both ends of the axles, a couple of washers and a pair of cotter pins

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My first attempt at a tongue for the cart was made from pipe with a cross support make from the angle iron cut from a metal bed frame, but after I got it bolted together I wasn’t convinced that the pipe would be strong enough when the cart was carrying a heavy load. I remembered that I had come across a piece of a rusty of 1x3x24” channel iron when I was scrounging around the metal pile. It was very strong and the right length so I pulled it out of the pile and swapped out the pipe with the iron piece.

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The tongue needed a post on the underside of the front end to slip down into the receiver hitch hole on the ATV, so I welded a large bolt on the tongue that would fit. To keep the post from popping out of the receiver hole, I drilled a hole through the bolt that a pin could be inserted through, act as a stop and to the keep the bolt from popping up and out of the hole every time the ATV hit a bump in the trail. To keep the pin from getting lost I attached it to a short chain and tack welded the chain to the tongue.

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A plastic 55 gallon barrel is about 3’ tall and the frame was 5’ long, so that left 2’ of frame unused. I decided that a wood platform for a cooler would be a perfect utilization of the space. I found a piece of 1x12x48” pine board that had been used for a shelf at sometime in the past. It even had a lacquer finish on one side. I cut the board in half and ripped the boards length ways into four 4-3/4” wide boards. I attached the four smaller boards to two 2x2x18” boards. The 2x2s were spaced 18” apart so they would slide down between the cart frame in front of the barrel.

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To make it possible to put stuff in the barrel I cut about a third of the side of the barrel away, leaving the two ends full round.

I wanted to make it easy to remove and install the barrel on the cart. To secure the barrel to the frame I put two large pan head bolts through the bottom of the barrel just below the angle iron that secured the back of the tongue to the frame. The two bolts will keep the front from popping out of the frame. To secure the back, I attached a 12” long black heavy duty rubber bungee to the frame with a bolt. One of the hooks on the ends of the bungee was missing so I pushed a bolt through the hook hole and bolted the bungee to the frame. With a hole drilled in the end of the barrel, the bungee can be stretched up and hooked through the hole securing the back of the barrel down..

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After I was sure everything was going to work, I wire brushed the frame, cleaned it, primed it and painted it. I was going paint the frame black, but black metal is boring and red is a lot more fun. With the red frame, the white wheels and the blue barrel the cart is quite patriotic.

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I will admit that it takes longer to build a cart, or anything for that matter, without a well thought out plan, but for me, as I get older and have a several hundred projects under my belt, it’s much more fun, challenging and rewarding to just start with an idea and a shop full of stuff.

So back to my statement at the beginning; This blog isn’t about a ATV cart. It’s about a trampoline legs, a piece of ½” rebar, two 5/8” pieces of pipe… It’s about taking what you have and making what you want.

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Anyway…for what it’s worth.

 

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A mower to tow behind your ATV

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Converting a riding mower to an ATV tow behind.

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Some friends of ours own some wilderness property next to our property up in the Elkhorn Valley. They don’t spend as much time up there as they use to when their kids were younger, so I take care of their property along with ours. I don’t mind because they let our family use their fire-pit and ¼ acre meadow. That gives us about ½ acre of meadow to expand onto when we need more room.

One of the maintenance items that I like to do a couple times a year is mow the meadows to keep the grass and weeds down. I used my riding lawnmower for a few years, but then our friends gave me an old Craftsmen riding lawnmower keep up at the property so I wouldn’t have to use my nice mower when I needed to mow. The old mower ran pretty well, but the steering gear was going out. I brought it home a couple of times and fix it, but it kept going out.

My oldest son, Justus, has a home on a couple of acres near Estacada Oregon. The property is mostly on the side of a hill and very slopped. His father-in-law gave him a MTD riding lawnmower to mow his pasture. Unfortunately, it didn’t have enough power to mow up the hill that was at one end of the pasture and it tended to want and tip over when driving horizontal to the slope. He called me one day and asked me if I would help him make a mowing deck out the riding lawn mower. His idea was that he would tow the mowing deck with is ATV. I wasn’t sold on the idea of tearing the mower apart and mounting the motor on the deck to run the blades, but I’m always up for a project, so I told him to bring it on over.

After he got the mower here, we scratched our heads and talked about different ideas to accomplish what he wanted. I finally suggest that we remove the back wheels and fender, add a tow bar and just tow it backwards with his ATV. After he could visualized it and I convinced him that the mower would cut backwards as well as forward, he was all for it.

Here is how simple it was. We removed the belt and pulleys that drove the back wheels. We then removed the back wheels, axle and fenders. The steering wheel and seat were not longer needed so they came off too. We locked the front wheel so they wouldn’t move left or right and the mower would tow straight.

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Basically, we remove everything that will not be needed and to make the mover as lightweight as possible. When we had it stripped down to the essentials; motor, mower deck, front wheels, gas tank and battery, we bolted on a 4’ long 1-1/2” square bar that would attach to the ATV. Like most ATV, his had a hole in the back towing plate, so we welded a small rod on the tow bar that would drop through the hole. We make the bar long enough that when you turned a sharp corner the back wheel or the ATV wouldn’t hit the mower.

To use mower, you simple hook it up to your ATV, turn the key and start the mower, lower the deck to the desired height and mow away.

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After we built his mower, it occurred to me that I could do the same thing with the mower I was using up at the property. The steering was going out anyway, so a tow behind was a great solution. I did the same basic things to Craftsmen as we had done to Justus’s MTD, but my mower didn’t have a good battery, so I cut one end off an old set of jumper cables and attached them to the mowers battery cables. Then when I wanted to use the mower I just hook the jumper cable clamps to the battery on my ATV.

They worked great, but Justus now has a tractor with a mower deck that he attaches to the back and the motor in mine lost all the oil one day and blew up. But it’s all good. It was still a fun project.

ATV: From ugly duckling to swan.

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Last year I had three grandchildren. This year that number will double. That’s a lot of pressure on this grand dad because it’s three more grandchildren that I have to try and buy their love by providing them with ATVs as they reach the “appropriate age”. Out growing an ATV is like outgrowing clothes, when a child out grows something, they get a bigger size and their smaller size is handed down to a smaller child.

A few months a go I found a good deal, $120, on an ATV that I thought would be a good size for my oldest grandson. His little brother was showing interest in riding, so I wanted to be prepared to…, buy his love. The guy that sold it to me thought it was a 70cc, but after I got it home I discovered that it was actually a 90cc. A little larger than I wanted, but, you know, gift horse.

The ATV ran, but it had the wrong size air mixture screw in the carburetor. There were other things wrong with the bike; there was no seat, no foot platforms, no hood/battery cover, the back fender was cracked in a couple of places, the plastics were very oxidized, the air filter was missing and it was ugly.

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I started by making a seat platform out of a piece of a plastic barrel from a paper pattern I cut and fitted. The platform had to have two small tabs at the front and one larger one at the back that would clip into the frame brackets to hold the seat in place. IMAG0404

I next made the hood/battery cover and two foot platforms out of plastic from a barrel.

After the seat blank was finished I started with the cosmetics. The oxidation on the plastic had to come off, so I attached a circular wire brush to my drill and went to work. It took some time, but the spinning wire brush took the loose plastic off and I was happy how much better the plastic looked. IMAG0410

For years my boys and I have experimented with different ways to repair cracked plastic fenders and other plastic parts of bikes and ATVs. Nothing we tried really worked. I knew that had to be something that would work so I scratched my head and looked around the shop for a better idea. My youngest son had left a can of plastic dip in the shop several months earlier. Plastic dip is liquid plastic that you dip handles of tools in, like a pair of pliers, to coat the handles. The can was half empty and when I opened it and found that the plastic dip had started to stiffen, but was still useable. I felt like I would need something to reinforce the repair before applying the plastic dip and remembered that I had a roll of fiberglass tape used for taping drywall joints. The tape is 1-1/2” wide, woven so there is 1/8” gaps between the strands of fiberglass and is sticky on one side. Perfect. I taped the cracks in the plastic from the underside and slathered the plastic dip over the tape. On the topside I filled the cracks with paintable silicone caulk and smoothed it out.  After it dried it was very strong and flexible. So far, after a summer of riding, the repair has held with no evidence of failure.

Have I ever mentioned that I love spray on bed liner in a rattle can? I do, so I sprayed all the plastics with it. The stuff is so great for sticking to everything and offering a good base for paint. IMAG0414

The next step was to cover the seat with foam and black vinyl and to paint the plastics.

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Many years ago I learned the importance of having an air filter on motor. I bought a Fiat when I was seventeen that had no air filter. I tried to retro-fit different filters onto the carburetor, but nothing really worked. I finally gave up and ran it without an air filter. It wasn’t long before the motor loss power and started to burn oil. So lesson learned and the last item of business was to make an air filter for the ATV. I discovered, after much trial and error, that an 1-1/4” PVC coupling fit snugly over the carburetor’s throat. Then all I needed was some foam, something to hold the foam in and to epoxy it to the coupling. I used a sippy cup to hold the filter foam. I cut slots in the cup to allow for air-flow and assembled it. IMAG0412

I put it all back together and the end product turned out pretty sweet. Someday I’m going to have to get the proper air mixture screw because the motor loads up with gas if it’s ran at full throttle, but for now the throttle governor is set at the slowest setting possible and will stay there for a few more years

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ATC to ATV

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  Three wheels to four!

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One day I was over at a friends house and noticed a Honda ATC  90cc three wheeler that was sitting behind his garage. The balloon type tires were flat and it was covered with dirt and leaves. I asked him about it and he told me that he and his son use to ride it around the field, but that was many years ago. He knew that I had sons and asked me if I wanted it as a project. I was always looking for a fun project as an excuse to spend time with the boys, so I hauled it home.

With very little encouragement my youngest son, Marcus and I got it running. We decided that it would be worth our time to fix it up. Marcus had become our carburetor guy, so he took it off and started tearing it apart, cleaning it. I got to work on changing the oil, changing the gas and making other needed adjustments and small repairs.

Within a couple of hours we had it running like a top. Marcus jump on and started tearing around the yard. The problem with it and most three wheel ATCs is that they tip over easily when turning a corner. The balloon tires made this ATC even more unstable and not that much fun to ride.

Several years earlier I had bought a riding lawn mower that was missing the mowing deck. It was the style where the motor is mounted in the back. I paid $50 for it and the boys rode the heck out of it, until the motor blew up. I suggested to Marcus that we use the front off the mower to make the ATC a ATV. He, of course was always up for the “Project”.

To our surprise and delight we discovered that the front of the three wheeler was held on with one big bolt. And, better yet, the front of the mower would bolt right on to the ATC by using a slightly longer bolt. Almost instantly, the ATC was transformed into a ATV.

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To help stabilize the front addition we welded on a couple of bars from the front deck back to the bottom of the neck.

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We also added a arm, with elbow, made from pipe we welded together. We bolted it to the front column and ran it back to the motor mounting bracket. It bolted right on to the motor mount when we welded brackets or ears on each side of the pipe and drilled holes in the two brackets in the appropriate places. Too easy!

The front wheels on the mower were too small and too wimpy. We took the back larger tires off the mower, but the center holes were too large to fit the front axle. I remembered that I had salvaged some high speed bearings from the mower deck of a riding lawn mower. The bearing were the ones used for the two mower blades, so they were very heavy duty. The holes through the bearing fit perfect on the front axles. The bearings mounted to the mowing deck with four bolts. We mounted the bearing to the front wheels with four bolts.

We made some front fenders from a plastic barrel and metal brackets to hold them over the front tires. At that point it was time to take it for a test ride. Marcus first of course.

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Interesting fact. Honda first made the ATC 90cc for hunters to get around in the woods and to help them get their kill back to camp. They were very popular and could haul around a lot of weight. Including my fat butt around the field.

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We made a few more adjustments and additions, including paint and a new seat cover. We rode that thing for several years, until we moved into the dirt bike faze of our lives and I bought a Polaris Trail master ATV for use around the farm.

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