Paul King says harvesting fruits and vegetables is a lot more enjoyable with the two-man, self-propelled harvesting cart he built out of a Sears Craftsman riding mower.
The harvester measures 60 inches wide and 48 inches high, and contains a pair of cargo racks designed to carry boxes that hold harvested vegetables. The machine still has the mower’s original 18-hp Briggs & Stratton engine, transmission, and rear axle and wheels. The engine and drivetrain mounts 4 feet off the ground on tall steel legs and is used to belt-drive the rear wheels.
“I’m a machine shop fabricator and built this unit for a customer who has a vegetable-growing operation. He says it works great. The rig has 4 feet of clearance so he can pick everything from strawberries to tomatoes. It took me three months to build because there was a lot of trial and error, but I think I could build another in two or three weeks,” says King.
King used 2-inch tubing to build the machine’s front legs and 2-by-6 tubing to build the rear legs. To drive the rear wheels, he disconnected the mower’s rear axle and wheels, lengthened each axle by 11⁄2 feet, and mounted a pulley on each one. Another pulley mounts at the top of each leg. Then he welded new material onto the mower’s drivetrain housing and welded the top part of each leg onto it.
Steering is done with a remote control that’s wired to a 12-volt winch mounted on a metal rack on front of the mower’s hood. The winch cable is connected to the mower’s tie rods. The remote control has two buttons, and pushing them causes the machine to turn either left or right.
The machine still has the original gearshift lever. A lever on back of the machine, connected by a metal rod to the mower’s clutch, is used to propel the machine forward.
The rig’s two swivel chairs are off of a fishing boat, and each one is mounted on an arm that can be swung sideways and also up or down. The front cargo rack can also be adjusted up or down and swiveled from side to side.
With the steering mechanism, there wasn’t room for the mower’s muffler, so King relocated the muffler to the side on front.
King says he’s willing to build the vegetable picker for about $2,900.
For more information, contact Paul King.Reprinted with permission from Farm Show Magazine.