With all the recent interest in electric garden tractors, my tale for today is timely. First, it was Steve’s swimming hair ball, now it’s diving tractors?
OK, here’s the deal…..I’m helping my wife in our backyard doing un-Plasma Boy like ‘yard stuff’…after all, it’s a long three day 4th of July weekend, the weather’s a near perfect 71 degrees or so, and there’s no rain right now. We had a big, very special lemon yellow Rhododendron that’s been in a large 3 – 4 foot diameter pot for many years now, unlike all the other Rhodies we have planted all around. This one came from a nursery in this big pot, but we had finally decided to make a new place for it and had dug a deep hole to plant it into. This thing probably weighed 400 lbs. in its big pot, and we needed to move it from the crowded side yard where it had sat for several years next to the large stone wall and the corner of the house garage. Those who’ve been to our place can probably visualize things as this story progresses.
In between yard stuff, I’m also working on the race car, organizing my EV shop, and doing other more Plasma Boy-like stuff. Soooo…my wife is wondering just how we’re going to move this big heavy plant the 25 feet or so we need to get it over to where its new home is, when I pronounce that my recent rework of the Heavy Metal Garden Tractor (HMGT) is complete, and it’s up and running, ready to show her what it can do with its fresh pack of 6 Exide Orbitals.
As she and I are digging this big hole in the ground, the HMGT is poised near us in the small wooded back yard, her favorite Eagles CD in the slot, tunes playing in full fidelity, though at a more a subdued volume so as not to bother our neighbors. The time comes for the work to be done, and after securing a nylon tow rope around the base of the big pot with a second tow rope connecting it to the tow hook on the rear of the HMGT, it was time to let a little electric torque help us out. With Cheryl at the controls and in the tractor’s seat, I was keeping the plant upright. Without much trauma the little garden tractor effortlessly tugged and pulled the big potted plant as it slid along the ground while I guided it and kept it from being toppled over.
After successfully moving the plant to near the hole, we then needed to get the plant out of the pot, and, do it while not destroying the pot, as my wife wanted to keep it for another replanting project. It’s not that easy, when it’s so big and heavy, and try as we did, we could not separate the plant from its pot….enter the HMGT again. We carefully tied two nylon tow ropes around the tree-like trunk of the Rhodie and hitched the other ends to the tractor. I gave the HMGT about 1/2 throttle as it started to tug, then begun spinning both rear tires by itself, as I was off the tractor and helping Cheryl pull the pot away from the compacted root ball. It worked, as suddenly the whole thing came loose from the pot……unfortunately, so did the nylon tow ropes off the tractor’s tow hook
Off went the tractor, dead straight towards our back yard fish pond that’s about 3 feet deep! I hadn’t noticed, but the speed selector of the variable pulley-tranny affair, was in 7th, or top speed. I mean, it was heading dead-on at the pond’s end flat rock, which overhangs a 3 foot deep hole large enough to easily swallow the entire tractor! As it sped away towards the pond it ran over and flattened my wife’s designer largish sized watering can (not good) then smacked into a potted small tree tipping it over and moving it out of the way, then into two more potted plants. It was about a foot shy of flying over the rock as I caught up with the runaway tractor and did something I normally try not to do…flip the reversing toggle switch under load! Instantly, the motor reversed, the controller lived through the ordeal, and with rear tires churning up soil and rocks, the tractor barely missed going into the pond and was now really pissed off and coming backwards at me! I was able to leap aside and pull the throttle down where the possessed HMGT simply went silent and sat there…..whew!
I tell you, it was really weird! An inspection of the front of the tractor showed no signs of damage….nothing. The watering can was pretty lunched and one of the pots was cracked, but the front of the tractor looked fine. Once I had the tractor back in the EV shop, I found the front tie rod was bent, but that was an easy fix.
See Ya….John Wayland