Our Unconventional Farm Equipment..Toy Tractors and Homemade Gadgets
Ed's "Little Tractor"
Farm equipment for an Appalachian mountain farm. Small, powerful, simple.
I suppose when you think of farm equipment, you envision huge tractors ,
combines, etc.. As you can see from the photo we don't do things that
way. Since our planting is confined to small beds, raised or flat, we
really can't use standard sized equipment.
Toy Tractors and Workhorses...
I have found we can do everything we need with Garden Tractors.The one in
the photo above is a Simplicity 2110 built in the 1960's and it's still
running strong. My wife calls this one my little Toy Tractor. That's
a 4 ft. sickle mower attached to it which I use to mow the roadside
ditches. It just creeps along in low gear and does a great job of
mowing. It sure beats weed eating.
We also have a larger Simplicity 7116 Garden Tractor with a 16 HP engine
and dual speed range. It's really the workhorse of all our farm
equipment, and is used for everything from tilling new planting beds to
pulling a small trailer up the mountain to collect firewood. It's great
to be able to go into the woods without having to cut a road.
I'm really not that partial to old Simplicities. The small one was given to
me, and I found the larger one on eBay at a decent price. They're very
rugged for the size, require little maintenance, and repair parts can still be found.
Most old Garden Tractors from that era were solidly built as scaled down
versions of larger tractors. There are very few, if any, built that way
If you have visited our page on
, you know our main ingredient is grass clippings. We use a large grass
Woodland Power Products
pulled by a 25 HP Sears Mower.
Our farm equipment also includes an 18 HP John Deere 295 Garden Tractor
with a hydrostatic transmission which we use to pull trailers. As a
future project, I am planning to built a small front end loader for it.
Move 'em up, head 'em out...
We use several trailers on the farm. Two of them are just regular 8 ft.
highway trailers. One we purchased from Lowe's and the other we traded
some work for. We also have a small utility dump trailer which I built
from an old C-band satellite antenna mount. I bought an axle and wheel
, fabricated the frame, put a wooden bed on it and it became a real nice
little trailer. As with all of the farm equipment I modify here to be
pulled by the Garden tractors, I used a 1-7/8" trailer coupler instead
of those silly little pins you find on most farm equipment this size.
All of the tractors have trailer balls on them. You wouldn't believe
what a difference this one little modification makes.
Mulch has become a very important commodity on our farm. It not only helps to
control weeds, it helps retain moisture and provides nutrients to the
soil as it decomposes. We heavily mulch all of our planting beds and
berry patches. We get a lot of mulch from a local tree trimming company
but also make a lot by chipping downed trees and shredding leaves.
We have a
70080 chipper/shredder which we use for leaves and smaller limbs. I
mounted it on a oak trailer frame with a hitch so it can be towed
around the farm with the garden tractors. This is a great little piece
of farm equipment. We have used it for about seven years during which I
have changed the belts once and have sharpened the blades several
times. It just does a good job with very little maintenance.
Yes Dear, we're cleaning the woods...
I used to kid my wife when we first moved here because she was forever
cleaning out the woods surrounding our cleared property. Well, when we
started "cleaning the woods" last year to start making campsites, she
finally got her wish, my approval and help to do it. We still
leave some wildlife trees (downed or standing rotted trees for homes
;woodpeckers to feed on) but the branches, wire vines, and poison ivy
are now removed. We trim our healthy trees, remove some to make room
for others, and generally, it has a woodland park look and feel to it.
Last year, when we started clearing for the campground, we realized we
needed a larger chipper. Great! More farm equipment. The trails through
the campground were rocky and uneven so we decided to cover them with
mulch. This not only provides a safer walk for our guests but also
helps control erosion and protects root systems. We needed a chipper
which could not only handle larger limbs but would blow the chips into
a trailer so we could spread them without handling them twice. We chose
a 19hp chipper from
DR Power Equipment
. It's perfect for what we do. We set it up, back a trailer up to it and chip away!
Anything too big for this guy is "firewood". Excellent small farm
Other Farm Equipment
Our driveway into the farm is a gravel road about a quarter of a mile long.
The gravel gets pushed out of the curves and ruts wash into the road in
several places. I had maintained it as best I could with a blade on our
garden tractor but it seemed to always need maintenance somewhere. Two
years ago I saw an ad in a magazine for the "Power Grader" from DR
Power Equipment. The ad made some pretty bold claims about restoring
gravel roads and, as with most of their equipment, it had a six month
return policy for a full refund. Not having anything to lose, I ordered
Goodness Gracious, burn that packing!
When it arrived, I unpacked it, read the instructions, assembled it in about
30 minutes, hooked it up and starting grading. I remember one of the
first items in the instructions was how to unpack the equipment so as
to save the shipping box and pallet in case you wanted to return it. I
made about two round trips on our drive with this thing, loaded the box
and pallet on a trailer and hauled them to the burn pile. This piece of
farm equipment isn't going back!
It still amazes me when I use it. Instead of spending a couple of days
with a blade, I just pull the "Power Grader" back and forth on the
drive for an hour or so . Nothing could be simpler!
As I said on Our Farm Page, this place is very rocky. The road bed still
has some pretty big rocks just below the surface. The ripper teeth on
the "Power Grader" will generally catch these rocks, pull them out and
grade over the holes. I'm still amazed at how handy this one piece of
farm equipment has become around here.
Other useful tools and tip's from Ed's world...
Farm Equipment, handy hand tools...
If you use pruning loppers at all, you should consider DR's "Telescopic
Rachet Anvil Lopper". That's a long name for such a simple tool. The
handles on this tool extend with the push of a button and it ratchets
which allows you to cut larger branches with less power. It is by far
the best set of loppers I have ever used. Check them out. Don't let the
low price fool you. They are the real deal!
We've tried several brands of loppers on this farm, good medium-grade brands,
like Craftsman and Fiskars. These loppers from DR are the Cadillac of
pruning loppers. You can cut a large 2" limb or sapling in a skinny
Here is another little jewel I've found. I buy lawn mower blades from
company at about one third the price of the blades at Sears. They have
blades and other parts for a variety of makes and models.
Warning ... Garden Tractor Addiction link...
This place at
is a neat place to visit if you are interested in old Garden Tractors
and small Farm Equipment. But be forewarned, they can become addictive!
Well, my toy tractor finally started having problems. I'd a lot of trouble keeping the engine running.
I traced the trouble to the ignition system which was the older points and condenser type. I replaced them
with a solid state system but the timing was off and I couldn't adjust it. I researched the problem and found that
evidently the flywheel magnets needed to be re-polarized to work with a solid state system.
I was really lost until I contacted Briggs and Stratton about the problem.
Believe it or not, they re-polarized the flywheel for free. All it cost me was the shipping cost to get it to them.
They even paid the return shipping cost.
I haven't finished this project yet! Building a campground has consumed most of my time.
Is there an electric tractor in my future?
For several years now I've been toying with the idea of converting our garden tractors to electric power.
The idea really seemed logical when gas prices hit $4.00 a gallon year before last.
I started researching this idea and looking for parts to convert one tractor as a trial.
I found an old used 36 Volt DC Motor in a junk pile at my father-in-laws shop.
That set the system voltage I plan to use. I bought a 36 Volt Controller on eBay and three 12 Volt
Deep Cycle Marine batteries at Wal-Mart.
The old Simplicity I mentioned above seems like a great candidate for conversion. It has a drive shaft from the engine to a
transfer case. I could replace the existing engine with the DC motor. I'll just need a coupling from the motor to the drive shaft.
There is room above the motor the three batteries wired in series to produce 36 volts and the controller will mount on the
firewall. I still have to acquire a speed control rheostat and a battery charger.
This is a long term project but I'll post progress here. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, please send them to me through our contact page.
Any and all help is appreciated!