DIY Tug

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rv7charlie

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Pocahontas MS
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.
I need to revise my post from last month (too late to edit it). I just took a look at the unit buried in the back corner of the hangar, and the motor actually has a gearhead on it, so it isn't simply a starter motor. Did use a single marine battery for power.
 

DanH

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May 20, 2019
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140
I'd love to learn how much this one cost you to make and how much you might charge for kits or complete units.
Didn't track cost carefully. WAG? $800 back when I built this one. Prices are higher now.

If you're a DIY guy and tight with a dollar, the elaborate motor controller (regen braking, left/right steer, infinite speed control, programmable joystick response) is not absolutely necessary. Simple forward/reverse at a single ON-OFF speed would save some bucks. Likewise, a single 12V would be less pricy than the large AGM batteries running at 24V. I'd like to play with some of these ideas, and recently ordered some motor sets for experimentation. Love the full-featured unit, but cheaper might sell better.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
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Drive units for power chairs are available separately:


Can be found both used and new for less than the link above - but it was just what poped up quickly on Google.
 

Kyle Boatright

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Nov 11, 2012
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Marietta, GA
Drive units for power chairs are available separately:


Can be found both used and new for less than the link above - but it was just what poped up quickly on Google.

Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Ebay are all decent sources for these. On the other hand, you can source a tarp motor (another potential source of motive power) from Amazon and a dozen other places too, and there are always various sizes of motors available that can be adapted for use. It is just a matter of picking an appropriate motor for your application and determining how you're going to gear it to the right speed, then figuring out how you're gonna control it... Forward/off/reverse? Infinite control with a joystick? Lots of options.
 

eschlanser

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Jun 24, 2021
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Any interest in kits, plans, or components for this one?
I’m interested in kit or plans. My Vagabond is getting heavy.

Also interested in components. My engine is getting tired in my old powered tug for my Tailwind. i would like to replace the gas engine with a battery and electric motor.
 

addicted2climbing

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Jan 27, 2012
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Glendale, CA
I bought a set of mobility chair motors with wheels, motor drivers with speed control inputs and planned to use harbor freight batteries. I already designed and 3D printed some harbor freight battery interfaces for the Red Bauer and Blue batteries I have on hand. I also bought an Arduino Dev learning kit and one of the tutorials is about getting two motors to work with a joystick. I already have it designed in Solidworks using 8020 type extrusion so it will be a synch to build. I ran out of time to build it before leaving on vacation but plan is to offer plans when done. Downside is buying surplus motors makes it hard to have plans as many have different mounting interfaces. Also the "why not" side of me wants to add a line follower sensor and paint a line on my hangar floor and outside and let the robot drive the plane in and out autonomously. Yet with myself having an E stop should it go nuts.
 

rv7charlie

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planned to use harbor freight batteries
I assume you're talking about some variation on lithium. For a nose dragger where you're going to pick up the nosewheel with the tug, I can see it. But if you use a tow bar or you have a taildragger, will you have enough mass on the wheels to generate enough traction? Lead-acid wet cells don't make sense due to their rapid self-discharge, but SLAs last a long time, have at least some mass, and cost a lot less...
 

keny

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Sep 27, 2022
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Compton Air Port
I have a used 110 volt electric motor tug for sale. Good condition. Forward. neutral , Reverse gear box. $450 Plus shipping. Thanks Kenny
 

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AES256

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Aug 18, 2022
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Arkansas
I bought a set of mobility chair motors with wheels, motor drivers with speed control inputs and planned to use harbor freight batteries. I already designed and 3D printed some harbor freight battery interfaces for the Red Bauer and Blue batteries I have on hand. I also bought an Arduino Dev learning kit and one of the tutorials is about getting two motors to work with a joystick. I already have it designed in Solidworks using 8020 type extrusion so it will be a synch to build. I ran out of time to build it before leaving on vacation but plan is to offer plans when done. Downside is buying surplus motors makes it hard to have plans as many have different mounting interfaces. Also the "why not" side of me wants to add a line follower sensor and paint a line on my hangar floor and outside and let the robot drive the plane in and out autonomously. Yet with myself having an E stop should it go nuts.
I would be interested in the plans as I have a need. Thank you..
 
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