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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

by Ken Gies of Fort Plain, NY

Editor’s Note: Genius pure genius – and elegant to boot. Here’s another clear bit of evidence that our future with the working animals is as bright as we choose to make it. Thanks and kudos to you Ken. LRM

I begin with apologies to Basil Scarberry. I can in no way equal his craftsmanship as seen in his ground drive pto forecart found in Winter 2005 SFJ, on page 30. My intention is to discuss finding a good ratio for the pto shaft. I also want you to avoid some of the mistakes I made. So let’s look at my rather crude differential based cart. It has worked well for me since 2003.

As we start, consider a few things when building a pto cart. Are big drive tires necessary? Is a lot of weight needed? What is cheapest? What is least complicated? Are replacement parts still available? What do you want to power with the cart? Will it take more than two horses? Will the pto need to run in slippery conditions? Hydraulics? Brakes? Lights? Will ground clearance matter? Does the width matter? Imagine the cart in use. Try to see it working where you normally go and where you almost never go. Will it be safe and easy to mount or dismount? Can you access the controls of the implement conveniently? Is it easy to hook and unhook? Where is the balance point? I’m sure you will think of other details as you daydream about it.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

I built my cart for two Haflinger ponies, but the tongue extends for full sized horses. I use three ponies on it occasionally, but still prefer using two. It is fifty-four inches wide with thirteen-inch highway tires on it. It has about eight inches of clearance underneath. Hay snags when I triple up windrows and straddle them, but I manage. It has no brakes, lights or hydraulics, but then again, I have yet to need them. It is easy to unhook. It runs my tedder nicely. I also use it to pull my manure spreader, hay rake, and sometimes a wagon.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

When you find a good differential, figure out what size of tires you will put on it. In order to get the pto speed right, the tires you will use should be on it. Many people think that bigger tires will give them more torque at the output shaft. There may be some gain because of traction increase, but the drive ratio will have a far greater effect on the performance of the cart. A good example is a #9 mower. The wheels are not that big, about 32” tall, but they still run the cutter bar adequately. I have seen some mowers with seven-foot bars doing a fine job. Normal 235-75R-15 light truck tires are between 26 and 28 inches tall. I think that for most applications this size is adequate. Differentials in this size range are not too heavy or wide, are readily available, and are repairable if a bearing ever goes. It is easy to rig up brakes too. I also know that tractor-style traction tires are available for 14, 15 and 16 inch rims should you really need them. If you intend to run a baler, you need more horses and an increase in traction through weight and improved/bigger tires. Which direction is the pinion shaft turning? Will it need to face front or back to turn the jackshaft in the right direction? Once all this is determined, then you can figure out the drive ratio to get the pto up to speed.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

Just a note on balers; some brands of balers need to run at a certain number of plunger strokes per minute. I worked as an ag mechanic for a year or so and “fixed” several balers that were having plunger problems and breaking shear bolts because the machine was operated at the wrong rpm. Check the baler manual before you get too far into this project if baling is part of your plan.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

I am not a mathematician. It took me a long time to figure out the final speed of the pto shaft. The number I wanted to find was how many revolutions the pto shaft needed to make over a given distance to get the equivalent of 540 rpm at horse speeds. Here is my attempt at the math. First, I took the speed that a good team moves. (This will be the basis for all calculations. If the ground speed differed significantly, a new value would have to be computed using similar messy math.) The average speed that many people use for horses is 2.5 miles per hour. The distance in a mile is 5,280 feet. Multiply the two numbers: 2.5 x 5,280 = 13,200 feet per hour. I reduced the feet per hour to feet per minute by dividing by 60: 13,200 / 60 = 220 feet per minute. Now I had common time units. I divided the revolutions per minute by the feet per minute to get how many revolutions per foot I needed at 2.5 mph to get 540 rpm: 540 rpm / 220 fpm = 2.45 revolutions per foot. I used 245 revolutions per 100 feet for figuring because a 100 ft tape is easy to obtain and it is not an extreme distance to push a differential. Remember that number, 245.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

When I first got my differential, I had two of my kids push it while I counted the number of revolutions the pinion shaft made in 100 feet. My differential pinion shaft turns 64 times per 100 feet. In order to get it up to the equivalent of 540 rpm I should increase the rpm four times: 245 / 64 = 3.8.

When using pulleys, sprockets, or gears there a few simple ways to figure out what you need. First, to increase the speed of a machine, place the larger pulley on the powered shaft. To reduce speed, mount the larger pulley on the driven shaft. Calculate speed increase or decrease by measuring the diameter of the pulleys. Place the powered pulley’s diameter over top of the driven pulley’s diameter in a fraction and solve it as a decimal number. Multiply that number by the revolutions per hundred feet on the pinion shaft of your differential. This should give you the change in rpm.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

On my cart, the actual increase in revolutions is only 2.25, increasing the 64 revolutions per 100 feet to 144 revolutions per 100 feet, about 320 rpm. 144 / 245 x 540 = 317.38. I derived the value 2.25 from the ratio of my pulleys. The larger pulley, 9 inches in diameter, goes on the pinion shaft. The smaller one is 4 inches in diameter and mounts on the jackshaft. (I used what sizes I had handy.) 9 /4 = 2.25. My tedder runs just fine. In fact, I use the low-speed setting on the tedder gearbox because the high-speed setting is too aggressive!

I read that a certain brand of tractor-type sickle bar mower would cut well up to about 6 mph. Being curious, I calculated the revolutions per foot. 6 mph computes into 528 feet per minute. 528 fpm / 540 rpm… using sloppy math this works out to be close to one revolution per foot of travel! Realistically, I could run that type of mower at typical horse working speeds at less than half of the recommended pto speed and still get the correct number of revolutions per foot. In fact, Jake Blank, from I & J Manufacturing, told me that one of their pto carts only runs about 300 rpm. I watched it power a sickle bar quite well. The slower the ground speed, the slower the pto can turn for certain applications. This holds true for tedders and mowers. It may not hold true for balers or manure spreaders, which generally need a fast pto to work effectively. (Jake may argue that point based on his experience.)

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

My pinion shaft turns clockwise as you look at it. This is the correct direction for a pto. I mounted the pinion shaft facing the rear of the cart. If it rotates opposite, that is counter clockwise, it must face forward and feed the jackshaft over the differential to produce the correct rotation.

I mounted my drive pulley directly into the holes that the u-bolts mated with on the pinion shaft plate. I drilled holes into the pulley to match the plate and bolted them with 3/8 inch bolts. The smaller pulley caused me a bit more grief. I used a taper lock collar and ground in a crude notch for the square key. I bought a pto adapter and welded it onto a four-inch length of pipe that fit my jackshaft closely. Then I cut slits in the pipe. I drilled a half-inch hole through the pipe and shaft, and then bolted it very tight so the pto spline wouldn’t wobble on the jackshaft.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

I made two mistakes on my pto cart. I set the pto shaft too far toward the hitch pin hole. On a tractor, the pto is set away from the hitch pin hole. Measure a tractor and get the setback right. I cut my tedder pto shaft shorter to allow for the mistake. The mower I used worked without shortening the pto. I also got the balance point too far forward. I should have bolted the seat further to the rear to lighten the tongue more. With the manure spreader attached, it floats okay because of the spreader tongue-weight when loaded.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

I intended to install a lever-action belt tensioner, but never got around to it. The screw jack works and I have not been motivated to make the upgrade. The twin belt pulleys don’t slip under a heavy load even with the little tires and light weight. Sometimes I will run the belts a bit loose so that they slip on purpose if I am tedding over a rough piece of ground. The belts are quiet too. Often all I hear is a gentle swishing as I ted. The only thing quieter is the hay rake.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

The platform is an angle iron rectangle welded onto the spring blocks. Everything else mounts onto it based on what I had, and where it would fit. The hinge that holds the jackshaft has a pin welded onto the right rear corner of the frame. The screw jack bolts loosely to the other side on top and the frame on the bottom. The tongue socket is welded to the underside of the leading edge of the floor frame and a cross piece just in front of the differential. The seat stem bolts into the tongue socket. I used two inch square tubing for the tongue itself. It is stronger than the two-inch pipe I started with. I think that every machine should have a front guardrail. Mine is half-inch silo rods and a piece of one-inch pipe. I built this whole machine with a hacksaw, file, drill, and small 110v wire feed welder. Someone told me “If YOU can build it, ANYONE can!” He also brought me down to earth with, “It ain’t rocket science.” What a friend…. I hope that you can have the same satisfaction that I have by building and using a functioning pto cart out of the treasures in your scrounge heap.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

Spotlight On: Livestock

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

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There are hundreds of plants that can be toxic to livestock. Some grow in specific regions while others are more widespread. Some are always a serious danger and others only under certain conditions. Poisoning of livestock depends on several factors, including palatability of the plant, stage of development, conditions in which they grew, moisture content of the plant and the part eaten.

Living With Dairy Goats

Living With Dairy Goats

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Dairy goats are different than other types of livestock, even Angora goats. They are independent, unimpressed by efforts to thwart their supremacy of the barnyard (or your garden), and like to survey the world from an elevated perch. Though creatures of habit, they will usually pull off some quite unexpected performance the minute you “expect” them to do their usual routine. For the herdsperson who can keep one step ahead of them, they are one of the most enjoyable species of livestock to raise and ideal to small farms.

Finnsheep Sheep for all Economic Seasons

Finnsheep: Sheep for all Economic Seasons

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Another consideration for the Trimburs was health and ease of care. Heidi says, “Finnsheep, as a breed, won this one without contest! They are smaller, super-friendly, have no horns to worry about and no tails to dock. They are hardy, thrive on good nutrition and grow a gorgeous fleece. I love to walk out in the pastures with them. They all come running over to say hello and some of our rams love to jump on our golf cart and “go for a ride” – it is hilarious!

"Work Horse Handbook, 2nd Edition" by Lynn Miller

Draft Collars and How To Size Them

It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.

The Mule Part 1

The Mule – Part 1

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There is no more useful or willing animal than the Mule. And perhaps there is no other animal so much abused, or so little cared for. Popular opinion of his nature has not been favorable; and he has had to plod and work through life against the prejudices of the ignorant. Still, he has been the great friend of man, in war and in peace serving him well and faithfully. If he could tell man what he most needed it would be kind treatment.

Ask A Teamster Tongue Length

Ask A Teamster: Tongue Length

My forecart pole is set up for draft horses. My husband thinks we should cut the pole off to permanently make it fit better to these smaller horses. What would be your opinion? Like your husband, my preference would be a shorter tongue for a small team like your Fjords. The dynamics and efficiency of draft are better if we have our horse(s) close to the load. A shorter tongue will also reduce the overall length of your outfit, thereby giving you better maneuverability and turning dynamics.

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster

The first step to a successful training session is to decide ahead of time what it is you wish to accomplish with your horse. In the wild the horses in a band require the strength of a lead horse. Your horse needs you to be that strong leader, but she can’t follow you if you don’t know where you want to go. On the other hand, we need to retain some space within ourselves for spontaneity to respond to the actual physical and mental state of our young horse on any given day.

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

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At the same time that U.S. commercial beekeeping is circling down in a death spiral, hobby beekeeping is booming and almost every beekeeping club in the country has at least twice as many members as it did twenty years ago. What this means is that if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with relatively clean and varied sources of pollen and nectar, the potential for a successful family-sized commercial apiary is better now than it has been for many decades.

Sheep A Logical Choice

Sheep: A Logical Choice

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Sheep have numerous uses on a smallholding. They are excellent grazers and are ideal at revitalizing old pastures as well as an excellent follower of the cows in a rotational grazing system. Cropping the grass at 2-3 inches that the cows have left at 8 inches encourages new growth in the spring. Their manure is usually in pellet form and is spread throughout a pasture as they graze. A sheep shares a ton a year of fertilizer with the earth.

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

You are probably thinking why would I want to dry up a doe? If the plan is to rebreed the doe, then she will need time to rebuild her stamina. Milk production takes energy. Kid production takes energy, too. If the plan is to have a fresh goat in March, then toward the end of October start to dry her up. The first thing to do is cut back on her grain. Grain fuels milk production.

The Brabants Farm

The Brabants’ Farm

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The Brabants’ Farm is a multi purpose farming operation whose main goal is to promote “horsefarming.” Our philosophy is to support the transformation of regional conventional agriculture and forestry into a sustainable, socially responsible, and less petroleum dependent based agriculture, by utilizing animal drawn technology (“horsefarming”), and by meeting key challenges in 21st century small scale agriculture and forestry in Colombia and throughout South America.

Hand Plucking Poultry

Hand Plucking Poultry

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I confess that I am cold-hearted and cheap. Though I love raising poultry, I hate spending time and money anywhere but on my little farm. So I process at home. If you are only raising a few birds for yourself, say 25 or 30 at a time, I recommend having a party and doing it all by hand. My journey backward from machines to hands started with a chance encounter with a Kenyan chicken grower visiting the United States. He finishes 15,000 broilers each year.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

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From reading the Small Farmers Journal, I knew that some people are equally happy with either model, but because McCormick Deering had gone to the trouble of developing the No. 9, it suggests they could see that there were improvements to be made on the No. 7. Even if the improvement was small, with a single horse any improvement was likely to increase my chance of success.

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

The Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association hosted their 50th Anniversary Plowing Match at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center in McMinnville, Oregon on April 9, 2016. Small Farmer’s Journal was lucky enough to attend and capture some of the action to share.

Cattle Handling Part 1 Basic Cattle Handling

Cattle Handling Part 1: Basic Cattle Handling

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If they understand what you want them to do, and you give them time to figure it out, cattle are very easy to herd. Pressuring and release of pressure at the proper times will encourage them to move (or halt) and to go the direction and speed you desire. The herd will also stay together, moving as a group if you herd them calmly and don’t get them upset and excited. Best results are had when you move them at a walk, controlling the speed and direction of the leaders.

The Milk and Human Kindness Part 1

The Milk and Human Kindness

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I know what it’s like to be trying to find one’s way learning skills without a much needed teacher or experienced advisor. I made a lot of cheese for the pigs and chickens in the beginning and shed many a tear. I want you to know that the skills you will need are within your reach, and that I will spell it all out for you as best I can. I hope it’s the next best thing to welcoming you personally at my kitchen door and actually getting to work together.

Calves that Don't Breathe at Birth

Calves that Don’t Breathe at Birth

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Heart rate is one way to tell if the calf is in respiratory distress, since it drops as the body is deprived of oxygen. Normal heart rate in a newborn calf is 100 to 120 beats per minute. Place your hand over the lower left side of the ribcage, just behind and above the elbow of his front leg. If heart rate has dropped as low as 40, the calf ’s condition is critical; he needs to start breathing immediately.

Work Horse Handbook

Grooming Work Horses

The serviceability of the work horse may be increased or decreased according to the care which is bestowed upon him. If he is groomed in a perfunctory fashion his efficiency as an animal motor is lessened. On the other hand, if he is well groomed he is snappier and fresher in appearance and is constantly up on the bit.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT