Slip Scoop & Horse-Drawn Bobcat
from issue: 39-2
Slip Scoop & Horse-Drawn Bobcat
by Steve Cornelius of Columbia City, IN
I live in northern Indiana and have subscribed to SFJ for around 30 years and have never seen anything on slip scoops (slip scrapers) but probably over 100 articles on plows.
A slip scoop is a very useful tool around the farm, I can level 20 tons of gravel or stone in an hour or so on a driveway or anywhere else it is to go. I also scrape the manure out from back of barn with it, and haul chicken manure with it. This country was built with them. All roads, big excavations for buildings etc. were dug with them.
You used to be able to find them at horse auctions on equipment day for $50 or so, sometimes even a wheeled one you can ride on. Most of the time the wood handles were broken off. As you can see I welded steel pipes on mine and give them a slight bend so when it is in tipped position they don’t dig into ground as you’re moving. If you’re on a farm and don’t know how to weld and use a torch take a short welding course somewhere, it’s very useful.
To dig with a slip scoop the dirt must be fairly loose. If it isn’t they used a hook shaped ripper to loosen it first. Your lines must be around your back under one arm only, not around your waist, because if that scoop trips unexpectedly (and it will) you want to be able to get out of its way. Ideally your lines should be just long enough that when starting out between handles you can stop horses by leaning back and to control speed. You don’t want to be leaning too far forward, it’s like a walking plow, you must be comfortable, it’s hard enough work without making it harder. Lines probably won’t be long enough if you tie them together, so get a strap with a buckle at each end with a convey buckle in middle for adjustment to buckle to your lines. You can also use this on other vehicles by putting around slat so if you drop a line it doesn’t fall on road leaving you with only one line. I also do carriage rides and log with horses so I am always on busy roads with them. You need a team for most slip scoop work but a single horse can handle it if you’re just hauling manure.
In this picture, I have stopped to adjust lines and set my feet to lift handles a bit, then horse moves ahead and front of scoop digs into ground and horse pulls scoop up and dumps load. If horses are quiet enough, it comes up slow, speed is not wanted – you could get bad hurt by handles hitting you. This horse is ½ Shetland – ½ Percheron. (about 1700lb).
My wife did a good job, she caught scoop in mid-air dumping. It looks like I have a hold of handles but I don’t, they are going past me. You can see horse isn’t pulling hard and this chicken manure is heavy. If your animals were small you would want two. The easier it is for them to pull the quieter they will be.
Scoop dumped and upside down. See why handles are bent up a bit, so it won’t catch on rough places. You can travel this way back to get another load but I don’t, I usually back horse up as I pull one handle to get right side up. If handle would catch on something it could get bent outward, that’s why I don’t travel upside-down
Right side up, I am traveling back outside the handles, if I see a rough place I push down on handle to glide over it. In midair slamming back to ground, they do bang around, horses must be used to noise. If horses can do this they can be driven to most anything else. No job for a green horse.
Traveling with a load of chicken manure you walk outside of handles often loaded so they don’t hit you if it hits something and trips. I am pushing down a little so front end does not hit pieces of ice and trip in driveway. Notice tight lines, horse is right into the bit, but still quiet, you want a quiet animal for this, you may get by with an antsy horse if you have a helper to drive. A slip scoop can be used with one or two horses. It is much easier if one person drives horses and another handles the scoop. Myself I never have any help so must drive like I would a walking plow.
I like to make equipment to use with horses. I figure if I can do it with them I’m better off. I also included pictures of my horse drawn bobcat or horse lift as I call it. There may be another one somewhere in some country, but since I’ve never seen the ocean (either one) or been in an airplane I haven’t seen one. Originally I wanted bucket ahead of horses instead of behind them, like a buckrake, but I couldn’t get it to steer right. I had front wheels pivoting instead of rear one. Maybe they could turn it if I hooked them that way with rear wheel turning. I had never tried. They would have more power pushing the bucket that way.
Here’s the one and only horse-drawn bobcat or skidsteer – not even the Amish have anything like this. Note weights and railroad iron under tongue to hold it down for counter balance. Horse must back over pivoting wheel to hook up. Note neck yoke tucked in so it won’t catch harness. You can see the bucket and seat and electric winch under seat that raises bucket. Battery is also under seat.
Here we are with horses hooked up, bucket goes as high as my shoulders, pulley is on cross bar in back of me. These horses are ½ Shetland and ½ Belgian 1300 lbs a piece.
After a 16” snowfall you can see pulley in back of my head as we are pushing snow.