DIY Tug

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Dec 17, 2007
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I have an older walk behind self propelled mower that needs engine work but the transmission works perfectly.

I was thinking of removing the deck and installing a pair of batteries + electric motor to make a tug to pull my aircraft out of the hangar.

wg32a-commercial-walk-behind-mower.jpg

Has anyone built something similar and can tell me what to avoid? (pic is similar to what I have)
 

mikoman

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for those in northern climates with access to old snow blower machines. Mine had6 forward speeds and I think 2 reverse. Course I have no idea how much weight it would have pulled or pushed. As I live in the south now and don't need one but it would have been fun to tinker with that idea. Good luck
 
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Sounds like a great way to repurpose an otherwise useless pile of scrap!
The battery powered lawn mowers have been around long enough maybe you can find one at a garage sale for a donor?
Just bought a new industrial grade string trimmer because the battery died on the old one*. A whole new unit was only $20 more than the replacement battery. Replacement LiPos for garden/construction tools have gone WAY up in pri$e recently. I now have a spare BLDC motor. An old mower motor won't care if the electrons come from LiPo, NiMH or lead acid. Weight might even be an advantage?


* probably the BMS, but I haven't performed the autopsy.
 

TFF

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Not similar but my old company bought a new Craftsman riding mower 20+ years ago to use as a tug. Never cut a blade of grass. Took deck off and added trailer hitches front and back. Still going today pulling out of hangar and making the quarter mile trek to the fuel pumps and back.
 

Vigilant1

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I have an older walk behind self propelled mower that needs engine work but the transmission works perfectly.

I was thinking of removing the deck and installing a pair of batteries + electric motor to make a tug to pull my aircraft out of the hangar.

View attachment 127454

Has anyone built something similar and can tell me what to avoid? (pic is similar to what I have)
If you just need a tug to get the plane out of the hangar, this sounds like overkill (unless it is a REALLY big plane). IIRC, some tugs are made with repurposed cordless wrenches or drills etc driving a pair of wheels through a driveshaft and universal joint. Simple, light, cheap, takes up very little room.

Similar to ones sold here:
Portable Lightweight Aircraft Tugs | Minimax Aircraft Hand Tugs
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2007
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If you just need a tug to get the plane out of the hangar, this sounds like overkill (unless it is a REALLY big plane). IIRC, some tugs are made with repurposed cordless wrenches or drills etc driving a pair of wheels through a driveshaft and universal joint. Simple, light, cheap, takes up very little room.

Similar to ones sold here:
Portable Lightweight Aircraft Tugs | Minimax Aircraft Hand Tugs

I have tried one of those, they are so lightweight and the inherent lack of traction makes it's almost easier to simply pull the plane out by hand.

I had the old mower collecting dust+rust and thought "How can I repurpose that?".

There are three planes in my hangar so when I want to fly the one in the back I have to pull two others out first.
 

Pops

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Not similar but my old company bought a new Craftsman riding mower 20+ years ago to use as a tug. Never cut a blade of grass. Took deck off and added trailer hitches front and back. Still going today pulling out of hangar and making the quarter mile trek to the fuel pumps and back.
Had a junk MTD lawn mower that had a good twin cylinder 16 HP B&S engine. Scraped the deck and installed hitches. Neighbor did the same to pull his Nanchang CJ-6 out and in his hanger. Buy at yard sales for very little.
 

rv7charlie

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for those in northern climates with access to old snow blower machines. Mine had6 forward speeds and I think 2 reverse. Course I have no idea how much weight it would have pulled or pushed. As I live in the south now and don't need one but it would have been fun to tinker with that idea. Good luck
I think there's a thread on VAF about doing this, with a brand new snowblower. Still cheaper than a purpose-built tug, even using the new machine. Unfortunately for those of us south of the Willie Dixon Line, snowblowers are hard to get.
 

rv7charlie

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I've got a taildragger dragger in my hangar that was abandoned by a former hangar partner to tow his C170. Looks like God's Own towbar, but has an old starter motor that chain drives the wheel, and uses a full size car battery or deep cycle marine battery for power.
 

tralika

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If you search Youtube for DIY or homemade airplane tug you'll find lots of videos. Everything from lawnmower to electric chair conversions.
 

Victor Bravo

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Any interest in kits, plans, or components for this one?
That seems like it would be a pretty neat thing to have. You might do reasonably well with that as a little side business.

Mike Patey seems to have done reasonably OK with his big airplane tug business, ain't no reason you can't make a go of it on the smaller end. :)

FWIW I'd sell it as both a kit and a complete unit less batteries. Specify two or three batteries that will fit in the unit, and let the customer source them. It lowers the sticker shock, and lowers the shipping cost, and lowers your cost of keeping batteries in stock.

Make sure it can tow 100 different types of airplanes, not just the RV in the photo. Nosewheels, tailwheels, wheel pants, tundra tires, etc.
 

TFF

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You could do like Patey’s tugs and scoop the nose or tail wheel between the front mower wheels and and get rid of any tow bar hitch need.
 
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You could do like Patey’s tugs and scoop the nose or tail wheel between the front mower wheels and and get rid of any tow bar hitch need.

That was my plan, create some type of mini platform for the nose o tailwheel to ride on and use the differential steering of the mower to jockey the plane around.
 

TFF

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A consideration is if you have a noes wheel with a pant, make sure there is clearance so it doesn’t crush it. A friend’s Cirrus got nicked on the bottom from a different type at an FBO.
 
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