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Horsedrawn Equipment Accessories
Horsedrawn Equipment Accessories
Spreading compost in a cover crop of rye. The guard rail is cheap insurance, preventing the teamster from falling forward into the path of the manure spreader with potentially disastrous consequences.

Horsedrawn Equipment Accessories

by Anne and Eric Nordell of Trout Run, PA

In the Winter 2016 SFJ, we briefly noted equipment modifications to make fieldwork easier and safer for Eric as he recovered from a debilitating autoimmune disease. Thinking that these add-ons might be of interest to other teamsters, we decided to briefly describe the three we consider valuable now that Eric has regained most of his strength and balance.

Horsedrawn Equipment Accessories
Platform with guard rail and stirrups custom built by E-Z Spreader Mfg. for our New Idea 10A manure spreader.

Manure Spreader

Guard rails are standard safety features on new horse drawn manure spreaders. That is not the case for the older four-wheel models, like our New Idea 10A manure spreader which we use for applying compost in the market garden. Since E-Z Spreader Mfg. in Sugarcreek, OH (330-852- 2666) makes new spreaders very similar to the 10A, we talked with the owner, Mose Erb, about building a foot rest platform and guard rail to fit our machine. We also discussed the possibility of adding a stirrup on each side of the platform to make it easier to climb up to the seat. Mose built us exactly what we wanted for $115 plus freight. The only change we needed to make to the 10A was using a longer tongue so that the evener did not hit the stirrups when turning.

Horsedrawn Equipment Accessories
This home built guard rail made it safe for Eric to stand on the cultipacker when he was not able to walk behind it.

Cultipacker

If we had welding tools and skills, we could have made our own platform and guard rail for the manure spreader. Likewise for our cultipacker, which was long overdue for this safety feature. Instead, we put together an inexpensive, if not attractive, framework and railing using off-the-shelf, lightweight angle irons and tubes, pre-punched with three-eighth inch holes. Assembling this oversized erector set was extremely easy other than drilling holes in the cultipacker frame to attach the uprights and diagonal bracing.

Horsedrawn Equipment Accessories
Rolling minimum-till vegetable beds with the cultipacker. The more common practice of pulling the cultipacker with a forecart would not be ideal for his application because the wheels of a standard forecart would not line up with the paths of the 34” beds.
Horsedrawn Equipment Accessories
Opening up planting furrows for no-till garlic with the McCormick riding cultivator. Despite our preference for simple, traditional horse drawn equipment, we are sold on push button technology for our frequently used cultivator. We think the hydraulic lift might also be a game changer for teamsters who do not have the strength or length to operate the long depth lever.

Cultivator

A much more significant expense was replacing the long depth lever on our McCormick riding cultivator with a hydraulic lift. We hired Jonathan Beiler, the owner of Crossroad Cultivators in Brogue, PA (717-927-1697), to do this major modification because of his working knowledge of the implement and ability to test drive the system before shipping us the components. His machine shop specializes in restoring McCormick cultivators as well as manufacturing new ones and cultivator parts.

The Crossroad Cultivators hydraulic lift setup. To the right, a solar panel charges the 12 volt battery which powers, on the left, an electric pump activating a hydraulic cylinder which raises and lowers the cultivator gangs. This old cultivator also benefited from new axles, evener and tongue bracket manufactured by Crossroad Cultivators.

Although Eric’s condition was the incentive for investing in this first-of-its-kind upgrade, now that we have used the hydraulic lift we would not want to be without it. In addition to cultivating vegetables, we use the McCormick for forming and renovating planting beds, marking rows for transplanting and direct seeding, hilling potatoes, no-tilling garlic, and most of our primary tillage. Since our fields are only 380’ long, that adds up to a lot of wear and tear on the old shoulder, raising and lowering the cultivator gangs by hand.